eBook

Team Treasury: Your New Remote Treasury Implementation Playbook

With many treasury teams engaging in remote work, remote implementation of critical projects has become part of the new normal. For treasury teams, the best practices around remote implementation have come into sharp relief very quickly. Following this new playbook enables treasury teams to work from anywhere, while offering best-in-class levels of efficiency and automation. Yes, remote implementations of treasury systems aren’t new, but concerns and reservations have amplified since the pandemic, and leaders and delivery teams need to know how to address any issues in the process.

In this easy-to-read playbook, co-produced with Clearsulting, the finance transformation consulting firm, treasury team members will overcome reservations about remote work with a surefire plan, featuring:

  • Implementation best practices
  • Taking advantage of technology
  • Essential ingredients and stages of implementation
  • Optimizing the benefits of remote implementations

In this eBook

You will learn about the common concerns leaders may have about remote implementations, and how these can be overcome by following best practices. You will also learn about the role technology can play in keeping remote delivery teams productive and engaged – and how to optimize the benefits of a remote implementation.

Despite the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have not been deterred from implementing new treasury systems.

In fact, the rise of working from home has underscored the importance of solutions that enable treasury teams to work remotely, while offering the greatest possible levels of efficiency and automation. In particular, an over 667 percent rise in fraud (according to Barracuda Networks) and the growing need for visibility into liquidity have prompted some treasurers to accelerate their implementation time lines.

But what about the implementation process itself? Traditionally, new solutions have often been adopted via an on-site implementation process, complete with face-to-face training – all of which may currently be unfeasible because of lockdown conditions and social distancing requirements.

The answer is a well-structured remote implementation process. Remote implementation is not a new phenomenon: even before the COVID-19 crisis, some vendors already provided the option of managing implementations remotely when needed. Nevertheless, leaders who do not have experience of remote implementations may have reservations about the lack of face-to-face contact and may question whether critical deadlines can be met.

For delivery teams – which typically include the vendor, internal team members, and any external consultants used – there is plenty that can be done to ensure time lines are fulfilled. In addition, harnessing best practices and available tools, including regular collaboration, secure file-sharing and videoconferencing solutions, can facilitate regular, productive communication, while also keeping the team productive and engaged. In fact, a remote implementation can deliver certain benefits above and beyond an on-site implementation, including cost savings and productivity gains.

Remote Implementation: Common Concerns

For some leaders, the prospect of implementing a system remotely brings several concerns about the possible pitfalls, from the lack of face-to-face contact to delays to the project time line. Here are some of the concerns most commonly expressed by leaders:

  • Lack of face-to-face collaboration. Leaders are often concerned that their delivery teams will work less efficiently without face-to-face communication. At the same time, delivery teams may feel that leaders lack an understanding of how effectively they are working.
  • Limited access to information. When carrying out an on-site implementation, it is usually easy to access physical documentation or speak to someone in the next office about a query. In a remote working environment, this is more difficult – so leaders may be concerned about the added time and effort needed to locate information from team members.
  • Miscommunication. When working with global teams, time zone differences, cultural differences and language differences can sometimes result in miscommunication, particularly when emails and instant messages are taken out of context.
  • Interpersonal challenges. On a similar note, it can be harder to interpret other team members’ tone and body language when working remotely.
  • Meeting deadlines. Some managers may have reservations about the timings of a remote implementation, suspecting that working remotely will delay the project time line and make it harder to meet critical milestones.

These are valid concerns. A poll during a recent webinar by Kyriba and Clearsulting found that 42 percent of participants had been affected by a lack of personal interaction impacting their work or projects during the past six months, while 18 percent cited interpersonal challenges. However, with the right approach, these pitfalls can be avoided, and a successful remote implementation achieved.

Implementing Best Practices

While remote implementations are not without their challenges, these can be addressed by adopting best practices. Companies should consider the importance of:

  • Establishing the rules of engagement at the outset
  • Communicating extensively
  • Scheduling regular huddles
  • Developing and sticking to a project plan
  • Encouraging and supporting the team

Rules of Engagement
It is important to establish expectations for communication and collaboration from the outset. This should include spelling out how often people are expected to communicate, and which channels should be used for different types of contact. For example, videoconferencing could be used for daily checkins, while instant messaging services could be used for urgent queries or general conversation.

Also important is establishing any best practices for the chosen communication channels. For example, when using videoconferencing it is good practice to advise people to stay on mute when they are not talking and to make sure everyone on the video call gets the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Communicating Extensively
Effective communication is more important than ever in a remote environment. This includes making sure that everyone involved is aware of the current state of play, as well as updating the project plan with the current completion status.

It is also worth noting that good communication sometimes means seeking more detail from other people. If the answer to a question is a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it can be helpful to seek elaboration in case any nuance is missing.

Schedule Regular Huddles
Another element of effective communication is to schedule regular huddles to address any knowledge gaps and make sure everyone knows what they need to accomplish and when. Sometimes this will mean arranging meetings for the whole group – but sometimes it will mean one-to-one meetings with individual team members. Huddles may also include informal conversations, which can help to build team camaraderie.

As well as keeping focused on project time lines, it is also important to remember that team members are individuals who may have other obligations while working from home, such as child care. As a result, some people may need more flexibility over the hours they work during the day – and any individual requirements should be communicated to the team.

Developing the Project Plan
Developing – and sticking to – a project plan, and tracking progress on key milestones, is essential to the success of any project. To achieve this, companies should make sure that everyone knows which assignments they have, when they are due, and what information they will need to complete their tasks. A small group should also have ownership of the project plan, rather than having too many cooks in the kitchen.

Encourage and Support the Team
Finally, working remotely can be an isolating experience – which makes it important to check in regularly with other team members to make sure everyone is engaged. Actions such as promoting positivity, and measuring performance rather than perceived presence behind the computer screen, can also help to build a culture of trust and empower the team. Further, during remote work, teams are encouraged to take mini breaks, take a walk, take time to disconnect from technology, or socialize with family or neighbors.

Taking Advantage of Technology

There is no question that technology plays a critical role in keeping delivery teams engaged during a remote implementation. The use of these technologies has quickly ramped up in recent months. In a poll taken during the webinar, 98 percent of participants reported an increase in their use of technologies such as project management tools, collaboration tools and video chat. Technology can help in four key areas:

Organization. Tools like Smartsheet and Microsoft Project can help the team track and celebrate milestones, as well as monitor any outstanding issues, so people are better-informed during status calls.

Collaboration. Simple communication tools such as Skype, Teams and Slack can be used to chat, keep notes and deal with any ad hoc requests, thereby reducing the need for meetings.

Face-to-face interaction. Research has shown that 80 percent of communication is nonverbal, and while meeting in person may not be possible during a remote implementation, face-toface interaction using videoconferencing technology like Zoom, Teams and Skype is the next best thing. Equally, though, it is important to make sure meetings are not too long, as people can lose focus.

Secure file-sharing. During an on-site implementation, it may be straightforward to access the local network. But in a remote implementation, different methods are required to share files. When approved by IT, the use of cloud-based secure filesharing can save time, avoid duplication and support real-time collaboration.

Essential Ingredients of a Remote Implementation

As with an on-premises implementation, it is important to consider whether the following critical items are in place before embarking on a remote implementation:

Project Management

  • Executive sponsorship
    Has this been secured?
  • Project management
    How much is needed to keep the project on track?
  • Sufficient budget
    Is enough budget in place?
  • Realistic time lines
    Can the team realistically meet the agreed time lines?

Resources

  • Internal resources
    Do they have the required bandwidth for the project?
  • Key stakeholders
    When do they need to be brought into the project?

Design and Build

  • Design planning
    Which interfaces will be needed with existing technology?
  • Reviewing inefficient processes
    Can inefficient processes be improved rather than replaced?
  • Sufficient testing
    How much testing is needed to iron out any issues and
    which teams?
  • Documentation
    What documentation will be needed to communicate information about file formats and configuration to other users?

Stages of Implementation

The implementation process includes the following stages, each of which will need to be tailored for a remote implementation model:

Discovery. Using videoconferences to define what the project is intended to solve, as well as identifying any quantitative data that will be needed to configure the system.

Developing a road map. Prioritizing modules that will be included in the implementation strategy and creating an implementation road map.

Design and configuration. Gathering static data and creating a document that outlines how the solution will be implemented; defining bank connectivity and workflow configuration; gaining approval for design decisions.

Build. Configuring each module based on the company’s business requirements; carrying out core user training via video; performing a quality-assurance review.

Testing and validation. Testing integration points and interfaces; performing and documenting system integration testing (SIT) and user acceptance testing (UAT).

Preparing for go-live. Building a communication plan and preparing any necessary documents.

Go-live. Executing go-live plans; ensuring documentation matches everything needed to sustain the benefits of the new system.

Operation. Performing a project postmortem and documenting the lessons learned; identifying opportunities for continuous improvement.

Optimizing the Benefits

Following any implementation, it is important to understand the improvements that have been achieved. This should include taking a pre-implementation snapshot of the company’s liquidity and risk processes, and measuring these again after the implementation to demonstrate all the qualitative and quantitative improvements that resulted, such as interest expense savings, bank cost savings and productivity gains.

Benefits of Remote Implementation
Alongside the benefits to be achieved by adopting a new system, it is also important to note that a remote implementation is not simply a series of challenges to overcome: This approach can also bring a number of benefits in its own right.

For one thing, travel expenses account for a significant portion of the total cost of an on-site implementation – but these costs are saved during a remote implementation. And with many surveys finding that employees are more productive when working from home, a remote implementation can harness those productivity gains. In addition, when used effectively, the use of technology such as videoconferencing can also help employees feel more included, valued and celebrated.

Reaping the Rewards
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous challenges for economies, businesses and individuals, one silver lining is that companies are now seeing the benefits of remote working. In fact, many have said that they wish they had invested sooner in digital technology and cloud systems.

There is also a greater focus on achieving more automation in processes, with companies now looking at how they can create the capability to achieve transformation and automation across their businesses.

Conclusion

The prospect of a remote implementation might seem daunting for companies that have previously opted for on-site implementations. But with the right approach and tools in place, delivery teams can keep on track with key milestones and remain motivated and engaged – particularly when working with vendors that already have extensive experience with remote implementations. The resulting implementation process may be faster and cheaper than the equivalent on-site implementation.

To ensure a smooth implementation process, delivery teams should aim to take advantage of best practices, from establishing the rules of engagement at the outset to tracking the project’s progress as closely as possible. Key to this is the use of collaborative tools, videoconferencing services and file-sharing solutions to facilitate close communication and overcome the obstacles that a remote approach can present. By adjusting each stage of the implementation process to the remote working environment, companies can gain the full benefits of their new system – and may even find they are better positioned to embrace new ways of working elsewhere in the business.

Want to learn more about how to prepare for remote treasury management system implementations and avoid project risk? Check out this webinar.