SWIFT Alliance Lite2 for Rapid Strategic and Operational Advantage
by Alawi H. Al-Shurafa, Treasurer and Shayan Rafi, Assistant Treasurer, Saudi Chevron Phillips Company & Affiliates
Saudi Chevron Phillips (SCP) operates a shared service centre (SSC) to manage the cash, treasury and risk management requirements on behalf of all five Chevron Phillips’ joint venture companies in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Each of these companies operates independently and therefore has different treasury policies, liquidity requirements and banking relationships. As part of its commitment to demonstrating industry best practices and offering service excellence to the entities it supports, SCP made the decision in 2013 to review and revise its bank communication strategy. As a result, SCP became the first organisation in the Middle East region to implement Alliance Lite2 for SWIFT connectivity as Alawi Al-Shurafa, Treasurer, and Shayan Rafi, Assistant Treasurer explain in this article.
Legacy bank communication
In the past, we used a variety of banking platforms to communicate with each entity’s cash management banks. As each company appoints its own partner banks, this presented considerable operational and integration challenges due to the number of banking partners and proprietary systems involved. Users needed to work with multiple systems, each of which had diverse functionality, user profiles and access requirements. Each interface needed to be defined and maintained individually, which added operational risk and cost, and made it difficult to make changes to our treasury system infrastructure. In addition, we were considering implementing a payments and collections factory to process, control and execute incoming and outgoing cash transfers, so we needed a more robust and cohesive bank communication strategy.
We considered a variety of cash and treasury management solutions that offered connectivity and payment factory functionality. We were close to making a decision for one of the leading solutions in this area but we were then made aware of SWIFT AllianceLite2 through an article in the treasury press. We decided to research this option further and soon realised that AllianceLite2 could offer the secure, robust, ERP-agnostic and bank-agnostic bank connectivity that we were seeking.
Although AllianceLite2 is not designed to replicate the cash, treasury and payments management capabilities offered by treasury management system (TMS) or payment factory vendors, we already had much of this functionality in our existing ERPs and opted for the Swift Alliance Integrator middleware to bridge the gaps. Alliance Lite2, meanwhile, addressed the bank communication challenges we were facing in a cost-effective way, without the need to reconfigure our cash, treasury and payments processes. For example, the solution could be integrated with the two ERP systems that we use for treasury and payments (SAP and Microsoft Dynamics) allowing us to continue with our existing workflow, such as initiating and approving payments in the ERP before passing through to the relevant bank. SWIFT Alliance Integrator is being used to modify the file formats produced by the ERP to send on to the bank(s) which avoids the need to make costly changes to our ERP.