by Xavier Hourseau, Director, Information Systems and Operations, Alcatel-Lucent
Until 2005, Alcatel had been using a banking system provided by one of its primary cash management banks for high volume payments and we had no immediate plans to change. However, in December 2005, the bank announced that the system would be decommissioned during the course of the following year, which meant that we had no choice but to change the way in which we made our payments. We had two options: either to migrate to the new web-based banking system that the bank proposed, or find an alternative, bank-agnostic tool for bank communications. We reviewed the new web-based banking tool, but decided that it was less user-friendly than we would have liked, and we saw the attraction of a bank-independent system. We also wanted a solution that would support IBAN (International Bank Account Numbers) in anticipation of SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) which the bank’s system did not do.
Another issue which we needed to deal with was the lack of visibility over cash across the business, for which we needed a global treasury management system (TMS) to replace our existing software. We went through a selection project and chose a vendor; however, this coincided with the merger between Alcatel and Lucent. Lucent already had a TMS in place, so the decision was made to freeze the project until the merger become effective in December 2006. Since then, we have returned to our TMS project, selecting SunGard’s AvantGard Quantum to implement across the business.
Payments automation and bank connectivity
As part of the project to migrate to a new bank communication tool, we recognised the need, and opportunity, to further automate our payments process. We looked at technology solutions available in the market, and the clear solution was Trax, now SunGard AvantGard Payments, particularly having spoken to existing users of the system, such as Air France, who were very satisfied with the solution, based on ETEBAC 3 formats.