A Brighter Future for Treasury Automation and Visibility
by Amanda Pilipovic, Assistant Corporate Treasurer, Brightstar Corporation
Brightstar’s treasury team is centrally based in Miami, Florida and has overall group treasury responsibility in addition to supporting regional treasury requirements for North America. Outside North America, treasury is largely decentralised, with treasury managers operating in most major markets. Until recently, the team in Miami was relatively small, comprising seven or eight treasury professionals. Over recent months, we have expanded the team to around 20 people to support Brightstar’s growth trajectory. That growth came in part from restructuring an existing finance group directly into Treasury, as well as creating new roles and functions that did not previously exist. As part of our new treasury organisation, we have a strategic focus on global debt and liquidity, operational excellence, and strategy and planning. Consequently, having expanded the team and developed our treasury strategy, we needed to ensure our technology infrastructure would meet our current and future needs.
Technology infrastructure and challenges
Having evolved from a largely decentralised organisation, we had a variety of treasury systems in place. Although we had a treasury management system (TMS) in use, it was not fully deployed, and was supported by a combination of ancillary systems, and manual processes. With more than 90 banking relationships worldwide, we also had a wide variety of different banking solutions in place that added further to the complexity of our infrastructure.
We recognised that the scale and complexity of our treasury operations was increasing, so we needed a treasury technology infrastructure that would support our changing needs and enable economies of scale. We were looking to overcome a variety of challenges. Firstly, we needed to ensure that we had the functionality in place to meet our evolving treasury management needs including core cash management, debt portfolio management, and treasury accounting. Secondly, with a number of different ERP and treasury systems in place, the overall solution needed to support the efficient flow of data between systems, particularly as our integration needs are likely to become more complex in the future. Finally, we were looking to achieve greater visibility over information to allow us to perform more sophisticated analytics and aid faster decision-making at leadership levels. A key treasury responsibility is stewardship of Brightstar’s financial assets and timely, accurate and complete visibility of data is essential to fulfil this responsibility.
As a business, our most important priority is to support the needs of our customers, so we first considered what needed to be done to achieve this. We were fortunate in the timing of our project in that we launched a global initiative in 2013 to roll out a single ERP across the business, as well as implement a shared services model to support customer needs more effectively. Consequently, we were able to leverage this project’s infrastructure and timeline and link in our treasury connectivity, integration and functionality requirements as part of the wider finance transformation.