Innovation in Treasury
By Tarryn Hoare, Executive Head of Department, Vodacom Group Treasury
Sitting at the kitchen table, laptop in front of me and my three-and-a-half year old daughter on my lap wrapped in a blanket eating a cream and strawberry jam biscuit, I think about what innovative ideas or methods we have implemented or are implementing in my team. What we are doing in treasury is very similar to how my daughter is eating her biscuit: she pulls the two sides apart and inspects the filling of cream and strawberry jam, asking many questions about how and why it was put together.
Our team of five is taking all the existing treasury processes and reports, pulling them apart like a cream and jam biscuit, inspecting the ‘filling’ and asking questions to rationalise the usefulness and relevance of each part. As this exercise progresses we are aware that needs are constantly changing and the reason you required a process or a report a few years ago may have evolved or changed. Therefore to keep up with the changing times treasury’s processes and reports require the same fluidity.
Analysing treasury processes and reports
This dissection has been carried out in different stages. Firstly, we shine a light on the information we collect from our entities, look at the detail from different angles, and by doing so we peel apart the layers and unveil very interesting trends and insights into our group-wide business behaviours and methods. Interestingly enough these findings have been sealed within the data we have always had access to and all we have done is ask questions in a different way via healthy and transparent engagements with our entities.
These exercises enable us to support each entity and collaborate with them more effectively to achieve shared goals as we better understand their operational requirements and challenges. We also subscribe to the saying ‘knowledge has no value unless you use and share it’; therefore knowledge-sharing is an active part within our team dynamics and we also disseminate it to the entities to assist them with their challenges to achieve solutions at a swifter pace.
Secondly, we deconstruct our existing reports and rationalise each section to ensure it is still relevant. We consolidate reports wherever possible to reduce the number of emails distributed as we are in an era where managing incoming emails is a task all on its own. We also make the updating of the reports as automated as possible so they are readily available and usable by the audience to make informed business decisions. We understand our audiences’ requirements and appreciate their tight and busy schedules and therefore have both a detailed and a snapshot version of each report to ensure that our executive team have a quick treasury overview of the markets we operate in. If more detail is required, this is also readily available.
Thirdly, we audit and cleanse our policies and procedural documents and ensure they are aligned to our existing and new processes within treasury and that they continue to uphold the strict segregation of duties we follow. Policies should be clear and simple and seen as the recipe to guide and support all of treasury’s major decisions and actions. Procedural documents are seen as the kitchen appliances to carry out the heavy-lifting work and they provide step-by-step guidance as to how each policy will be put into action.
Brilliant at the basics
Going through the three stages above ensures that treasury continues to be the first go-to hub for information and analysis requests, as treasury is at the heart of the company and needs to be nimble and quick off the mark to provide a service of excellence to many divisions on operational and strategic projects.
We report directly to the Vodacom Group CFO, and share his ethos which is ‘be brilliant at the basics’. This encompasses achieving operational treasury best practice from the ground up, which means that the same level of accuracy, attention to detail and professionalism is applied by each team member to each of their tasks, roles and expectations within treasury.