Handing off IT chores may be the biggest selling point of a move to the cloud, but treasury executives cite a number of other advantages as well, ranging from cost savings to the community of users.
At Rockefeller Group, a New York City-based commercial real estate developer, owner and investor, the adoption of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) treasury solution from Kyriba freed the treasury team from the work involved in upgrading and maintaining the system, which had been a burden for the relatively small group, according to Sam Pallotta, the company’s treasurer and vice president.
Previously, when treasury used an installed workstation, “whenever there was an upgrade to the system, we would have to do a lot of beta testing and work to make sure the application was still working correctly based on our specifications,” Pallotta said. “We only have four people [in treasury], so all of the sudden one of my two cash management employees was focused on this beta testing.
“The cloud allowed us to have all of that done virtually, behind the scenes, and let us not be involved on the day-to-day implementation of that,” he said.
The move to a SaaS treasury system also means the treasury staffers have access to the system in real time from anywhere in the world.
“We’re a very lean staff,” Pallotta said. “If any one of us is out of the office, it can create challenges.” Now the team can handle such tasks as payment processing, cash management reporting, and accessing information more easily and in real time.
“Even our business continuity processes, some of those are on the cloud so we can access them in case of an emergency,” he said. And Pallotta noted that daily reports, which used to go out at 9 a.m., now are distributed at 6:30 a.m. because the cash manager can do the reports from home.
“There are multiple examples where the cloud allows us to process payments and communicate information, and we don’t have to be tied to the New York headquarters,” Pallotta said. “I was on vacation recently in Europe and received a question about what our cash balances [were] on this account.” He was able to look into the matter and report back with the information requested.
We find the user meetings and the community
to be very valuable. We can more easily leverage
the best practices of other treasury organizations.
—Sam Pallotta, Rockefeller Group
Another plus of being on a cloud solution is the community of users, he said.
“We find the user meetings and the community to be very valuable,” he said. “We can more easily leverage the best practices of other treasury organizations—meet with them, hear how they’re using the application. And because it’s the same application, it’s easier for us to apply those best practices back into our organization.”
When Rockefeller Group’s treasury was using an installed solution, “you’d get these lessons learned and they wouldn’t apply as directly to your application, or you’d find out someone was doing something and find out they were in a more current application,” Pallotta said.
When Rockefeller Group’s treasury began shopping for a new treasury system, it looked at its options and decided a cloud system would offer a significant advantage.
Pallotta said the treasury team combined forces with the company’s IT and internal audit groups and senior management to assess the security of the cloud system.
“Our IT people talked to their IT people,” he said. “They went and toured some of the data warehouses and vaults, and saw both the physical security and applications as well. After walking through all of that and understanding that, we became comfortable that the process was as secure as a traditional system.”
The move to the cloud solution also provided savings, Pallotta said, citing both a reduction in direct costs and greater efficiencies that freed up time for both treasury and IT.
When the privately held French fashion company Chanel was deciding on a treasury system five years ago, “the cloud was not a deciding factor,” said Kimberly Karg, assistant treasurer at Chanel.
“Ultimately we went with a system that had the best functional fit for us, but I will say that now being on the cloud and taking advantage of what software as a service can provide for us has definitely been a benefit,” Karg said.
Prior to implementing Reval’s system, Chanel’s treasury had used multiple systems to get the job done, including a cash forecasting solution, a netting solution, and a system for FX and intercompany loan management.
For the first time ever as a global company,
we have a single view of all our cash worldwide,
in bank and in country, which is very valuable.
—Kimberly Karg, Chanel
“What we were able to do with Reval was bring all of those systems onto one platform and obviously benefit from the integration within the platform,” Karg said. “For the first time ever as a global company, we have a single view of all our cash worldwide, in bank and in country, which is very valuable.
“We also don’t have to move information back and forth between systems,” she said.
Karg said that over the last few years, concerns about cloud security have evolved to a “realization of the benefits of letting someone else handle that [security] for you.
“Ultimately security has to be a core of Reval’s business model, and they have a lot more at their disposal in terms of technology tools, such as intrusion detection,” she said. “Also, because they’re a multi-tenant solution, if there’s an issue that comes up for one client, they can address it for the whole client base at the same time, which gives me comfort in numbers.”