The treasurer has had a lot to deal with in recent years. The finance function has changed irrevocably as a result of the financial crisis and various other world events, and they are now increasingly being relied on to help cut costs across the organization, on top of their other tasks. They are also now expected to add value and work in closer partnership with the CFO. This is being driven in large part by technological advances.
The central challenge for treasurers is, and always has been, to do more with less, which the Cloud facilitates. According to a 2014 Citibank report, SaaS makes up 8% of the total software budget at the moment. This is expected to increase to 70% in the coming years. However, a 2014 report from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountant found that just 19% of firms use Cloud technology to record daily finance transactions, compared with 31% for CRM and 59% for other business processes, suggesting that treasurers are yet to realize the benefits of using the Cloud.
Perhaps the most important issue facing treasurers is globalization. The Cloud greatly facilitates the movement of money between countries, as well as information. It renders obsolete the need to have a centralized treasury team in each country, as a shared Cloud platform means that operations can be managed from anywhere in the world, and all staff can access data in real time. A powerful cloud-based treasury management system helps to communicate automatically with parties outside the organization too, such as banking partners. This means that bank accounts can be managed quicker and more easily.
The ability to input and share data, and view it in real time, is also a tremendous boon to forecasting. With global events constantly in flux, treasurers can no long afford to rely on the traditional 12-month budget cycle, and must be more fluid in the way they operate, using rolling forecasts so they can pivot as and when is needed. Real-time data can be taken from all relevant elements of the financial ecosystem, and be used to calculate comprehensive overviews of cash positions, and provide real-time visibility of any payments that are currently in progress.
The central issue preventing treasurers turning to the Cloud is the safety and security of data, which if lost spells disaster for the company. The finance function deals with a firm’s most sensitive data, and the idea of relying on an external agent to look after it is often unpalatable.
This is largely an unfounded concern though. Most Cloud providers actually have better security in place than in-house systems are able to provide as they have greater expertise. For treasurers, overcoming the perceived risk is vital to keep pace and integrate more into their firm as a business partner, to add value and curb costs.