Why ERP upgrades are an opportunity not to miss for treasurers
December 23, 2020
A growing trend among ERP vendors, including SAP, Oracle and Microsoft, to offer their customers significant cloud-based upgrades presents a great opportunity for the treasury community. Such upgrades boast a wider range of modules, increased ease of use and more powerful functionality, including in the cash and treasury space.
SAP is offering the HANA version of its ERP system and plans to end support for the current ECC version by 2027. Oracle plans to offer version 12.x and Microsoft is also upgrading its solutions. Indeed, I expect all ERP products to follow suit over the coming years.
This is an opportunity for the treasurer to improve the use of technology, controls, process efficiency and value add in their treasury by piggybacking on a large ERP change project, rather than having to justify a specific treasury change budget.
Even if they have never used ERP products for treasury and cash activities in the past - preferring perhaps a combination of specialist treasury management systems (TMS), spreadsheets and banking platforms – this opportunity presents several benefits.
Firstly, some of the upgraded ERP products have good practice treasury, cash and payment functionality that would enable treasurers to replace some - or all - of their TMS / spreadsheet reliance. Bank connectivity, payment formatting, cash management and integrated cash forecasting are perhaps the key area to explore.
Secondly, even if after examining the options the treasurer and their finance colleagues decide not to use the ERP for treasury, there is the opportunity for the treasurer to ask for the ERP change to include improved business information and cash forecasting plus improved payments, statements and accounting interfaces between ERP and TMS.
Thirdly, there may actually be an opportunity for the treasurer to get more out of their existing treasury products as a result of ERP change. Many specialist solutions have enhanced their functionality in recent years, in areas such as bank connectivity using SWIFT, API or host to host or in-house bank, such that it may be significantly better than the ERP alternative. Given that many TMS vendors have invested in pre-building their ERP interfaces making any integration effort and complexity much less of an issue, using a treasury solution instead of the ERP in key areas post upgrade may make perfect sense.
However, to benefit from the significant opportunities presented by ERP upgrades, I believe the treasurer must request a seat at the ERP design table so they can influence the change to meet their requirements
In future blogs, I shall be exploring specific issues around ERP change that I would encourage the treasury community to engage with. And if you want to discuss any of the issues raised, do please get in touch.