Corporate treasuries are still cost centers, despite their vital functions of maintaining corporate cash and making it readily available for acquisitions, stock buybacks and other strategic moves, and treasurers are often expected to do more with less.

Technology developments have facilitated cost cuts by automating more and more processing. And technology vendors offering portals for trading financial products have increasingly reached deeper into treasury departments' back offices, helping automate the very workflow that keeps corporate cash flowing.

Eli Lilly, for example, uses Bloomberg to trade commercial paper, SunGard to trade money-market funds, and FXall for foreign exchange transactions. Over the last decade the company has cut its treasury staff by half, to the current level of 15. Treasurer Thomas Grein says he can't correlate technology-driven efficiencies with staff reductions. But, Grein says, systems like FXall's "have helped us come down in headcount and become a lot more efficient."

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