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Sure, companies as big as Microsoft Corp. or ExxonMobil may have treasury units with dozens of employees and budgets in the multimillions. But Chris Afarian, treasury operations manager for the Sunnyvale, Calif., computer data storage venture Network Appliance Inc., claims to suffer no treasury envy, although he has only three treasury colleagues and a budget closer to $1 million. At NetApp, the advantage that Fortune 500 companies derive from economy of scale has been replaced with courageous use of cutting-edge technology. “I’m not aware of many companies that run as efficient a treasury function as we do or take such full advantage of the latest technology. We’re a midsize corporation with a large corporate feel within our treasury operation,” Afarian claims. “We built this operation deliberately and recently enough to be state of the art.”

Even its bankers, who are often pushed to provide just a little bit more, agree that the 12-year-old company is well ahead of its peers. “Network Appliance is an excellent example of an upper-middle-market company that takes full advantage of the latest technology and combines browser-based tools with straight-through processing,” observes Danny Peltz, executive vice president for wholesale solutions at Wells Fargo & Co. in San Francisco. “The treasury staff at NetApp is savvy, always looking for ways to use technology to simplify operations,” Peltz continues. “They’re progressive thinkers, not afraid of change. They’re good at combining products and services to craft an overall solution. They know everything we offer and have found ways to use most of it.”

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