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Pioneering SWIFT Corporate Access in Poland

by Eric Finat-Duclos, Finance Director, EDF Polska CUW

Ever since EDF began its operations in Poland in 1998, we have been committed to adopting efficiencies and best practices to benefit customers and shareholders alike. We now have 11entities in Poland, not all of which are operating under the EDF name, although it is our intention that this will change in the future. Due to legal constraints and a large number of different stakeholders in the business, including the Polish state, we recognised that establishing a shared service centre (SSC) would be an efficient way of managing all of our entities in Poland cohesively without merging entities. The SSC includes our finance function, including payments, which we sought to optimise as far as possible. With a relatively young banking infrastructure, Poland has efficient payment instruments, but we wanted to enhance our payments activities further with automated, secure processes and bank connectivity.

Building shared services

We first embarked on a study for a SSC in 2008, and started delivering shared services in finance, purchasing, IT and engineering in July 2010. It is unusual to include engineering in a SSC but we wanted to optimise our resources with the building of the new electricity plant. Since then, we have also added human resources and internal audit. In January 2011, we started to implement a new ERP across all 11 companies in Poland, with a view to rationalising IT costs and harmonising processes and reporting.

In Finance, we wanted to introduce highly automated processes, leveraging existing experience and solutions from across the EDF group wherever possible. We analysed our payment processes, and opportunities to enhance them. Like many companies in Poland, we were using our banks’ electronic funds transfer (EFT) systems. We had no automated, secure interface between our ERP and EFT, which compromised our transaction efficiency and security. We therefore made the decision to implement SWIFT connectivity in order to resolve this issue. Our head office operations were already using SWIFT for our group payments factory very successfully. We recognised that by implementing SWIFT, we would achieve straight-through processing between our ERP and our banks, and leverage the high level of security available through SWIFT.