Treasury Reporting Made Easy
by Hubert Rappold, CEO, TIPCO Treasury & Technology
Hubert Rappold puts forward the case for a treasury information platform (TIP), which acts as a lightweight and flexible reporting platform for the treasury department and reduces companies’ reliance on error-prone Excel-based solutions.
A typical treasury department runs a number of systems: a treasury management system for day-to-day operations, a trading platform, a market information system, electronic banking software and so on. So why on earth would you really need a separate treasury information platform? After all, the data already exists in a multitude of other systems. Well, that is certainly true but also part of the problem.
If there is no single place where all the treasury data can come together to create your reports at the press of a button, you will most likely be forced into an inflexible data warehouse solution not suited for treasury purposes which is also used by other departments or into a ‘handmade’ spreadsheet-based solution with all its drawbacks. On top of that, even in an ideal world, when all your data is in a single system, there are circumstances where it is almost certain that you will need to integrate additional data. Just think about acquisitions. It usually takes years before the systems are harmonised.
So what do you do in the meantime?
1. Requirements of a TIP
A TIP needs to fulfil a range of requirements in order to satisfy the needs of treasury departments.
- It needs to be easy to use
- It needs to be based on existing data sources
- It needs to have a flexible reporting engine
- It needs to be easy to maintain
- It needs to be extensible
What happens if these requirements are not fulfilled is quite easy to imagine. Your reporting will be cumbersome, error-prone and data quality will be poor. Ultimately, the reporting project will fail and a new generation of interns will develop yet another Excel-based monstrosity doomed to failure.
Let’s look at these requirements in greater detail:
- If it is not easy to use, it will not be accepted by your users, resulting in poor data quality and frustration. The benchmarks are spreadsheet-based solutions. If the handling is as easy as in these systems, then your users will be happy.
- If it is not based on existing data sources, you force users to duplicate entries, resulting in frustration and hence in poor data quality. Of course this is not a one-way street. Think about the FX exposure captured by your subsidiaries as part of the forecasting process and locally contracted FX transactions. Your risk manager will be more than happy to have this information in his or her treasury management system. Think about payment advices. Collect this information and you can use it to optimise the funding of your cash pools. Your TIP will act as an information hub for the treasury department, passing data back and forth between various systems.
- If it does not provide a flexible reporting engine, you will not be able to react to everchanging requests from internal and external sources and will essentially resort to time-consuming, cumbersome and error-prone spreadsheet reporting. Flexible not only means that it covers all functional aspects. It also means that even without being an IT guru you should get meaningful information out of the system. However, be on your guard if you are promised that you will be able to create sophisticated reports within minutes without any training. That only works well in promotional videos. Invest some time in proper training and be the master of your reports.
- If it is not easy to maintain, you will be frustrated by the administrative overhead of the system instead of working straight on the analysis of the data. It needs to be straightforward to add new users, companies and company groups. Whether via manual input or interfaces, the data needs to end up in your reporting solution without delay, without reprogramming, and without any external expertise.
- If it is not extensible, you will be forced to install even more systems if a new function is required, such as cash flow forecasting, bank relationship management and guarantees. Therefore, think ahead. Before selecting a system, state clearly what you want it to do now and in the future.