Project Description

If you’re like most organizations, you’ve invested significant time and resources to streamline your cash management. Moving away from clunky, paper-based processes and outdated systems improves productivity and increases accuracy.

These same automation initiatives can also make a positive impact on cash forecasting and working capital. Showcasing this link can give treasury another way to demonstrate value to the organization—and to improve the ROI on your technology investments.

Automation streamlines data collection

Actively managing your working capital yields many benefits, but it becomes particularly important during specific economic cycles, such as recessions, or when interest rates fluctuate. Timely access to working capital gives your business more options. For example, instead of borrowing, or delaying major expenditures, you can use excess cash to help pay down debt, fund strategic initiatives, or simply strengthen your overall balance sheet.

Making these decisions, however, is difficult without strong data. In most companies, even obtaining current account balances can require hours of staff legwork, logging into various bank portals and copying data to spreadsheets or finance applications. Finding time to accomplish these tasks is one of the biggest obstacles. According to a recent study, one in three treasury groups lacks sufficient time or resources to complete all their responsibilities.1

Not surprisingly, these organizations identify manual processes as the number one operational challenge for treasury.1 The three most time-consuming activities are managing payments, forecasting cash, and cash positioning.1 And, when deadlines loom, cash forecasting becomes the first project they skip—despite its importance to the organization.1

Three tools to simplify liquidity management

Automation helps address many of these stubborn issues. With better technology, treasury staff can become more productive, and concentrate their valuable time on important projects like cash positioning and liquidity management.

Here are three automation initiatives that can make an impact on your ability to manage working capital:

  1. Streamline workflows. When every payment method requires its own process and data stream, treasury expends unnecessary energy on day-to-day payables and receivables. That leaves little time for more strategic efforts.
     
    Modern tools can consolidate all these channels (including checks, ACH, debit and credit cards, and wire transfers) into a single data file that’s pre-formatted to the specific requirements of your accounting system and your bank. More efficient processing means more resources to apply elsewhere.
  1. Build a bot. Calculating your daily cash position is critical for smart working capital management. However, even with electronic access, gathering data across dozens of accounts can be time-consuming. Enter the bots, or specifically, Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This powerful software operates like a macro on steroids, replicating hours of system-to-system work with the click of button.
     
    Many companies now leverage RPAs for the tedious steps of logging into bank portals, gathering account balance data, entering it into spreadsheets or treasury workstations, and performing basic calculations.
     
    Companies like Verizon and Allianz Life Insurance have successfully integrated RPAs into their workflows and reporting processes, in Verizon’s case, saving one FTE a full day’s work each month.2
  1. Access real-time data. The more current your data, the stronger your decisions. An API interface between your systems and your bank gives you the most up-to-date access possible today. It provides near real-time connectivity, with the ability to customize how you receive the data in your systems.
     
    A great starting point for stronger working capital management is an account balance API. Depending on your needs, you can access multiple account balances simultaneously, either on-demand or at preset intervals you determine.
     
    APIs can help both humans and bots. Combining an API connection with an RPA tool increases efficiency and automation. For example, the API can pull in necessary data with lightning speed. The RPA can then format, distribute, or calculate the desired end product.

As your company pursues automation initiatives, make sure working capital finds its place on the overall technology agenda. Tap into your bank as a resource for the latest technology, best practices, and case studies to help your implementation move smoothly.

For more information, contact your Wells Fargo representative or fill out the Contact Us form on this site.

1 Strategic Treasurer, “Treasury Perspectives Survey Report,” 2019
2 AFP, “Are Bots Part of the FP&A Team?,” April 9, 2019, accessible at https://www.afponline.org/ideas-inspiration/topics/articles/Details/bots-on-the-fp-a-team