Making a big change is always challenging, but how hard is it to implement a sweeping new financial regimen like an in-house bank while your company is being forced to downsize? Ask the treasury at Lucent Technologies Inc.

Since 2001, Lucent has watched all its numbers plummet: Revenues at the telecommunications equipment company fell from more than $21 billion in 2001 to less than $9 billion last year; it has posted losses for the last three years; and expenses and headcount had to be chopped by 70%. Yet, Lucent came up with the resources to build an in-house bank–a three-year undertaking that required the work of more than 50 people worldwide, including not only treasury employees but also staff from IT, accounting, tax and other areas. Finally, in January 2004, treasury watched as the new bank processed its first transactions. Was it worth it?

"It was crystal clear that this was the absolute right thing to do and that the return on investment was compelling and on multiple fronts," says Frank D'Amelio, Lucent's CFO and executive vice president.

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