The treasury organization at $3.2 billion Diebold Inc. came up with an unusual way to do more with less and free up time for strategic projects. They did not do it through a big automation project, although some tactical automation occurred. They did not do it because of a corporate reorganization or migration to a new technology infrastructure. The spark was a request from Tim McDannold, newly elevated to the position of treasurer and vice president, for a review of how
the people reporting to him--more than 150 of them--were organized. Diebold's treasury was divided into functional groups: global treasury, risk management, asset management, global facilities, a captive finance company and a North America shared services center for accounts payable, order management and accounts receivable. McDannold wanted to add organization by skill sets.
He knew each treasury group was handling its own strategy and administration. After a month of meetings, McDannold split the whole organization between those with administrative duties and those with strategic duties, to leverage people's strengths and streamline their jobs.
"I'm a lot better at strategic activities than I am at administration," says Steve Wolgamott, director of global treasury, "yet I used to spend 50% of my time doing administration. Now that's more like 15%." Nick Codispoti, director of treasury administration, says, "I'm just the opposite; good at administration but not so comfortable with strategic activities, and now I'm focused on administration."
Diebold didn't bring in any consultants; the treasury staff did it themselves, by sitting down and talking about what their jobs were and how they did them. Then they started brainstorming about how to take the existing staff and duties and put together job descriptions that made more sense. These new positions essentially redistributed the workload in ways that gave each employee a more focused, consistent job and gave Diebold a cleaner, more logical org chart.
"Everybody was teaching someone and was learning from someone else," Codispoti explains. "A lot of people had
other tasks that had been added over time, and they did those other jobs when they could find time. Now everyone has a fuller primary job."
"It's definitely a more efficient and effective organization now," says Wolgamott, "but more importantly, we've been able to take on more responsibility."
Some of the efficiency gains came from taking scattered pieces of treasury administration from various people and making it a core competency with its own staff and leader. That opened up opportunities for Codispoti, who had been controller for the captive leasing business and excelled at administration. Now he's head of a group that handles administrative tasks for the entire organization. "It lets us smooth the peaks and valleys in workflow and put more resources on a job at peak times," he explains.
Another result of the time freed up for strategic projects was Diebold's link to the Bank of New York Mellon investment portal. "We have more visibility now into how our money market investments are performing and have been able to improve our return by 70 basis points," Wolgamott says.
Doors also opened for Tim Szink, who had been billing manager in the accounts receivable department but now serves as global cash manager, responsible for cash and bank relationship management, under Wolgamott. "It exposed me to a whole new area of cash and banking," Szink says.
Stephanie Drzik, a senior treasury analyst who had been handling Diebold's 401(k) and pension investments, added responsibility for Diebold's global investments outside the employee benefit funds in the reorganization. "I handed off some other duties and took on global investments, which allows me to leverage my resources and contacts in the investment world and focus just on that," she explains.
Wolgamott says Drzik's sharp focus on Diebold's invested cash allowed the company to manage through the market liquidity issues in late 2008. "We had nothing trapped in money market funds, while other companies found much of their cash temporarily illiquid," he says. "She asks the right questions and monitors closely where our cash goes."
Julie Feld was an accounting and budget specialist for international treasury, but when facilities management needed help with budget issues, she got involved in facilities management and now does budgeting and forecasting for a larger group that includes facilities management. "I walked into a larger role," she says.
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) controls also improved as a result of the cooperative specialization. "We enhanced our SOX compliance and have tighter controls now that Julie's team can focus on it," Wolgamott says.
Automation also helped. Feld's team now spends just 10% of the time it used to take to book and reconcile their in-house bank transactions. "It used to be a very manual process," she says. No longer burdened with administrative tasks and also because they are now consolidated as one team, global treasury was able to consolidate international and domestic processes. "By taking the best of the processes and adding some new capabilities, our day-to-day treasury files now reconcile transactions while generating the accounting entries automatically," says Wolgamott.
"We used to generate a stack of paper at [monthly] closing, half of which was mine," says senior treasury analyst Marsha Campbell. "Now it's just a few reports."
Morale in the treasury group has risen as a result of the changes. "Coming to work now is a joy and a challenge," notes Campbell, a 40-year Diebold veteran. "Before, things were getting routine and I often felt like I had run into a wall. Now it's more enjoyable, and I like the higher level of teamwork."
If another treasury organization wants to do what Diebold has done, "it has to be a team approach," McDannold says. "Check your egos at the door and get ready to brainstorm openly about how you can work together better.
"Start with team members' strengths compared with the functions that need to be done," he says. "Then consolidate tasks around skill sets so that people can concentrate on what they do best. Also, make sure to give them ownership of that area." The result is that team members with a sense of ownership take more pride and responsibility for the performance of something they own.
But the process should be structured, Wolgamott adds. "We had a formal project plan and a 2008 objectives schedule. We stuck to those plans and updated them continuously. We knew there was a finish line." Starting from an initial team meeting in November 2007, the reorganization and global treasury process consolidation was essentially completed in the fourth quarter of 2008.