Treasury departments continue to rely heavily on manual processes, and those that do automate often find they are disappointed with the results, according to the Association for Financial Professionals' second annual benchmarking survey.

That gap between companies' expectations about automation projects and the results they get might be attributed to "ineffective sponsorship" of the projects, rather than technical complexities, says Jeff Glenzer, AFP's managing director for product development and policy. "The biggest source of failure in automation projects, at least according to our respondents, stems from weak management, which leads to inadequate resources," Glenzer says. "Not having a champion or not having an effective champion, and also resource constraint after the project had begun–staffing being redirected, dollars being restricted."

Spreadsheets still rule, with the survey showing that 82% of companies still use them for cash-flow forecasts, 70% to analyze bank fees and 59% to manage financial risk. Areas where automation has made more headway include managing in-house bank accounts, where 42% use some sort of software or workstation; producing treasury accounting entries, where 60% use some sort of system; and processing electronic fund transfers, which 95% have automated.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.