An Innovative Approach to Extending Treasurers’ SAP Functionality through bdf Consultants’ Cash Cockpit
An Interview with Thomas Dohmen, CEO Treasury and Finance and Uwe Herrmann, CEO Product Development, bdf Consultants
In this month’s Executive Interview, we feature Thomas Dohmen and Uwe Herrmann of bdf Consultants, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, who discuss the company’s innovative new cash positioning tool, the Cash Cockpit, which supplements corporate customers’ SAP installation.
Not all our readers will be familiar with bdf Consultants. Please could you tell us more about the company?
We provide consultancy to multinational corporations both in Germany and across Europe, with a focus on optimising our customers’ use of SAP across a broad range of business applications, including cash and treasury management. We have around 45 consultants, including business and SAP technical expertise, and SAP development resources.
What is the background to the development of the Cash Cockpit?
The Cash Cockpit provides a complete, integrated view of the daily cash position, including bank statement information and maturing treasury transactions.
Over recent years, our customers have increasingly asked us to become involved in treasury and payment-related projects, and consequently, we have built up a specialist consulting team in this area. One particular topic of concern amongst our customers was that their SAP installation lacked the functionality and tools that they required for their daily cash disposition.
We developed a tool that supports the treasurer along his daily ’value chain’. The Cash Cockpit provides a complete, integrated view of the daily cash position, including bank statement information and maturing treasury transactions. It supports the gathering of information on payments and collections planned by subsidiaries. Furthermore it allows fast funding decisions via a dashboard that not only displays key data on available credit facilities, but also offers a user- friendly and fast way to capture drawdowns.
Overall it reduces the time that you need between the decision and the execution of a payment resulting from this decision. This is a crucial process that exposes treasury departments every day to the same challenge. You want to delay the final decision on your funding or investment requirements as far as possible, because the information available to you becomes more accurate the longer you wait. But you need to make your decision and payments connected to your decision before the cut-off time of your bank.
Our solution represents a major advantage as the relevant data to construct a daily cash position is held in different parts of SAP, and it is time-consuming to piece together all of the various data elements manually.
A further challenge arises from the integration of business units which did not have access to SAP.
How did you go about the development process?
As bdf has both business and technical expertise in-house, we were well-positioned to develop a cost-effective, efficient cash positioning tool that was closely integrated with SAP, easy to use and met our customers’ demands. We spent about two man-years on development, which was an iterative process in order to incorporate customer feedback at every stage.
How does the implementation work in practice?
We hold customer workshops based on the standard Cash Cockpit product, and identify any additional functional requirements. If no further developments are required, it takes around a week to install and implement the tool, plus testing and remote customer training. We also provide on-going support to our customers through email and telephone support.
If additional developments are required, we scope the functionality with the customer, and then go through a realisation, testing and training process in the same way. In most cases, a customer can expect to be using the Cash Cockpit in live operation within a month of making the decision to implement it.