Project Success in Complex, Pan-European Payments and Cash Management
by Gregory Cronie, Head of Sales Cash Management Corporate Clients Netherlands, ING Commercial Banking
In the last edition of TMI, Peter van Rood and Gerrit Gramser of AkzoNobel described their process for defining their cash management objectives, appointing regional banking partners, and implementing the first stages of their payments and cash management project. ING was delighted to be appointed as AkzoNobel’s European cash management bank and is proud to be supporting AkzoNobel in its transformation project. In this article, we look at the AkzoNobel cash management project in more detail, illustrating how we work with our multinational clients with implementation needs in multiple countries.
ING received AkzoNobel’s request for proposal (RFP) for European cash management in December 2008 and we submitted our response in March 2009. Over the next few weeks, we provided clarification on our products and services, and provided details of reference customers. As a consequence of this process, we were included in a shortlist with four other banks, and presented our solution as part of a ‘beauty parade’ in June 2009. The shortlist was reduced further and we conducted a series of workshops with AkzoNobel addressing specific aspects of our solution. ING was then appointed as AkzoNobel’s European cash management bank in June/July 2009.
For ING, fulfilling a client’s needs and expectations starts at the point of first engagement. Therefore, on receiving AkzoNobel’s RFP, we put together a deal team comprising professionals from sales, relationship management, implementation and project management, supported by senior management, who would be able to manage AkzoNobel’s project from bid to implementation. This proved a highly successful strategy, not only to ensure that AkzoNobel received all the information they needed to support their initial decision, but to facilitate a rapid implementation. The cash management project had to be aligned with other elements of the treasury transformation project, specifically the in-house bank and SAP implementation, so we had to start immediately in order to facilitate an April 2010 live date. Without the deal team in place right from the start, it would have been difficult to bring the necessary individuals up to speed in time to support the project timescales.
Scope and complexity
The project includes local and overlay cash pools that will allow AkzoNobel to centralise its cash across 27 countries. In addition, the payment factory is being extended from four countries to cover commercial payments in 27 countries, and support both local and central services. SWIFT is being used as the bank communication platform across the group.
A project of this scope and complexity inevitably brings challenges, one of which is how to manage the payment factory and cash management requirements at a pan-European level, whilst also ensuring that local needs are accommodated. It quickly became clear that although the pan-European elements of the project had been defined, there were additional requirements that were not fully clear during the RFP phase. To address this, ING took a flexible approach, and undertook a series of scoping sessions covering each location, involving local controllers, to understand the specific issues in each country. This then enabled us to formulate a detailed project scope that satisfied the needs of group treasury and local business units.