For many corporations, the global financial crisis highlighted the importance of flexible banking relationships and the need for real-time visibility to global cash positions. For Accenture, it also highlighted the need to develop capabilities that would future-proof the company by creating a more flexible technical infrastructure to address future challenges in the banking industry as well as gain better insights through digital solutions.
Accenture’s Finance and internal IT organization initiated a treasury transformation program to address the issues. The successful outcomes of this program laid the foundation for more recent efforts to digitize Accenture’s cash management. Digitization efforts included addressing the operating model, business processes and technology architecture, including SAP S/4HANA®, in support of Accenture’s broader journey to intelligent finance.
When tech meets human ingenuity
Laying the foundation on SAP Treasury
For the treasury transformation program, internal IT configured and deployed the SAP Treasury and Risk Management solution. This established a common global infrastructure to communicate with Accenture’s banking partners on the SWIFT platform, removing reliance on proprietary bank integrations. Additionally, the program involved implementing an in-house cash banking structure to streamline the intercompany settlement process. It also enabled trading platforms to support foreign exchange hedging.
Accenture gained greater flexibility in managing its cash and can now switch banks within weeks rather than months to effectively become bank agnostic. The manual effort devoted to withholding tax calculations and processing intercompany charges is largely eliminated. Additionally, Accenture can settle intercompany 50 percent faster as a result of automating the process and shifting from primarily cash to cashless transactions.
Leveraging the power of digital
Accenture’s implementation of SAP S/4HANA presented Treasury with the opportunity to build on its foundation. Operating in a financial world of increasing speed, globalization and regulation, Accenture recognized the need to enable more real-time analytics to respond to ever-changing global market conditions and to further automate and streamline operations to refocus the Accenture Treasury organization on more strategic activities.
As with the initial program, Accenture’s internal Treasury, Tax and Controllership collaborated with Accenture Strategy’s CFO & Enterprise Value experts and our SAP Business Group, along with SAP’s services organization to drive this latest transformation program.
Moving to intelligent finance
Accenture was an early adopter of SAP S/4HANA, including the new SAP Treasury Cash Management module. In addition to implementing new bank account management capabilities, the module leverages SAP Fiori® and provided an opportunity for Accenture to improve the overall user experience.
With SAP Treasury Cash Management, Accenture is leveraging three capabilities:
Bank account management. Accenture is using SAP’s Bank Account Management feature that provides a degree of self-service master data management. This enables business users to update data in real time with more transparency, resulting in less room for error through fewer hand-offs. It also allows Accenture to move off third-party platforms and eventually will enable Treasury to manage and track all Accenture bank account information in-house. This move will result in a single source of bank account maintenance, ultimately eliminating reconciliation efforts and simplifying regulatory reporting.
Liquidity planning. SAP Liquidity Planner is helping address the Treasury function’s business need for automation on a global scale. It runs automatically, is real time and provides more accurate liquidity assignments. This enhanced liquidity planner will provide Treasury with more granular and accurate reporting on detailed daily cash transactions to ultimately support predictive analytics in cash forecasting.
Cash position. Providing similar functionality as in the past, the SAP Cash Position report has a new look and feel. The dashboard enables a user-specific view, eliminating the need to navigate to multiple locations. The redesigned back-end is more streamlined in that there is one repository of data for cash and liquidity purposes.
Intelligent reporting and analytics
Treasury and internal IT collaborated to implement a new SAP HANA® data mart in the public cloud to support treasury and accounts receivable analytics. The platform provides real-time integration with Accenture’s SAP enterprise system and SAP Business Warehouse platforms. The solution accesses live data (using SAP Landscape Transformation [SLT] Replication Server) and delivers analytics capabilities previously unavailable in the finance domain. The new reporting empowers Accenture’s Treasury professionals to effectively manage the company’s global cash and make liquidity decisions by leveraging alerts and flags, helping to reduce foreign exchange risk.
A valuable difference
Accenture has a business imperative to transform its treasury capabilities to address ever-changing conditions in the financial world and to operate more effectively and more intelligently. Accenture has progressed on a multi-step journey of building on a host of initiatives, including integrating with Accenture’s enterprise system and then upgrading to SAP S/4HANA.
Accenture’s Treasury function together with internal IT continues to leverage SAP Cash Management and SAP S/4HANA to modernize bank account structures and improve efficiency. They are the foundation for providing the data for the future wave of treasury analytics. The road map includes revolutionizing forecasting through predictive analytics; implementing economic watch flags; optimizing decisions around cash movements; and developing intelligent forecasting to make smarter liquidity decisions. The transformation journey is ongoing and will also focus on implementing automated fraud risk detection through artificial intelligence and machine learning amongst other innovations.
"Today, Accenture’s Treasury function operates faster and more efficiently. We are now setting our sights on building digital capabilities to let technology do more tasks and generate more insights."
— ONKAR LIDDAR, Director – Global Liquidity and Banking, Accenture