Most treasurers are well-aware that inefficient processes in the treasury function can spill over into other areas of the business. On the flip side, centralizing, standardizing, and automating treasury activities can improve decision-making throughout a corporation.
The problem is, for global organizations that’s much easier said than done. That’s why Treasury & Risk recently discussed treasury transformation with Jenny Seitanidou, group treasury business process leader for Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC).
T&R: So, what area did you tackle first?
JS: The first year, in 2010, we implemented our common SAP platform and a multibank trading platform, which integrates with SAP. We also developed SWIFT connectivity with our main relationship bank. We set up SWIFT messaging so that payments, confirmations, and bank statements could all flow directly in and out of SAP. This was critical in automating our treasury processes, but it was also really complicated. We didn’t have the in-house expertise to do it ourselves within our tight project deadlines, so we decided to work with Fundtech, which is a SWIFT service bureau. We used their expertise to help facilitate and expedite the process. We also hired a third-party consulting firm to help with the systems implementation.
T&R: Have you reduced the total number of banks you work with as a company?
JS: Yes. As a big corporate operating in 28 countries with different country specialties and restrictions, we’re always going to have multiple counterparties, but we have greatly reduced the number of bank accounts we use. This is the result of business change management activities and automation of our systems infrastructure.
We’re also using SWIFT connectivity for all our treasury payments and the majority of vendor payments. Our payments are processed through our shared-service center in Bulgaria, and because we’ve standardized our payments so much, we’ve achieved SWIFT straight-through processing for most payments. This increases security, as well as efficiency.
Because we’ve reduced many cumbersome administrative tasks, our treasury team can focus on taking the right decisions based on the information coming out of our systems. We still have room for improvement on automation—and primarily on reporting—but when I compare where we are now with our old Excel-based processes, it’s clear that we have come a very long way.