Businesses of all types are looking to implement first-quarter strategies that will help them improve efficiency for 2021. Going live with a new banking or treasury solution is a top concern for many accounting and finance professionals as the year draws to a close.
What motivates these forward-thinking business leaders? According to a 2019 survey from Deloitte, the top driver for applying treasury technology was the desire to automate manual processes, with 72% of respondents saying that doing so was a critical or very important concern for them. At 68%, the second most important cause was risk mitigation, including a need for greater security and less human error.
Top 6 tips for going live with your treasury or banking solution
If you want to reap the benefits of a new treasury or banking solution, getting a head start with these six tips can help ensure that your implementation succeeds in achieving the business's goals.
1. Solidify processes first
One possible issue for implementing a new banking solution is attempting to use the setup and integration timeline to also smooth out difficult processes that have previously been conducted in an ad hoc or nonstandard fashion. In reality, all business processes that interact with the new solution should be firmly established prior to the implementation. The technology is not meant to help organizations troubleshoot and re-engineer existing processes. It is intended to streamline and improve those operations. Think about it this way: If you can't explain a particular process to your integration partner, then they certainly can't explain that process to a computer program.
2. Avoid siloed decision-making
Banking and treasury solutions should be part of the conversation as soon as you begin to explore how your enterprise resource planning (ERP) software will handle finance functions. If you think you will need outside support for a banking or treasury solution, involve your potential partners early on, and allow them to inform your decision-making process for the overall ERP setup. For example, your bank may use one of several different platforms — like a host-to-host platform or a portal. If an ERP implementation proceeds without considering downstream effects like these, it could be difficult to readjust once you're ready to focus on your treasury solution.
3. Bring in the bank — or the banks — early
Lead times for your bank could present a hurdle, too. Keep in mind that it could take between six and 12 weeks to set up a new service with these institutions, and testing will take time as well. Build that timeline into the scope of your larger ERP planning.
Multinational companies may have relationships with several different banks around the globe. If they're looking to streamline and create efficiencies with their ERP implementation or a new banking solution, consolidating their efforts to work with just one key financial partner, or a few, may be part of the strategy. If this is where you think you might be headed, it's important to make this decision in the initial stages of the project.
4. Complete robust testing with the bank
As we mentioned, testing the new treasury solution with your bank can take time, but this is a crucial step. Make sure to not skip past it. In fact, wherever possible, opt for robust, realistic testing scenarios instead of just accepting the minimum standards for executing the implementation. In particular, make sure that you test at a comparable payment volume to your normal delivery loads. Also, include testing for country destinations where you'll be delivering payments in the future. If you regularly send out hundreds of payments to several different countries, you should verify that these parameters will work under your new solution. The same holds true for testing imports like bank reconciliation and settlements.
5. Manage your transition period thoughtfully
On the date that your new banking solution is scheduled to go live, you should be cautiously optimistic about the execution. However, this isn't the time to test out mission-critical million-dollar international vendor payments. The transition period, known as a cutover, is a crucial time. Run key payments on the old system before cutover, and you'll breathe easier.
6. Stick it out with your partner
Your treasury solution should add value for your organization. In order to make sure that you maximize the benefit you receive from implementation — including for reconciliation, cash application and vendor payments — keep your supporting partners on through the end of the month. They'll help you tweak processes and operations for optimal efficiency going forward.