Automation key to cash forecasting in a crisis
Digitalisation could be vital to cash management amid financial crisis
As businesses face drastic cash flow issues caused by the pandemic, digitalising cash management can be key in minimising risk.
"Digitalisation can mean that you have more data in your systems electronically and that, of course, helps when you need a full picture of everything. With artificial intelligence you can find patterns that are invisible to the human eye but could be quite groundbreaking. The data has been around in the ERP systems and treasury management systems electronically for quite a while," says Karl-Henrik Sundberg, Presales executive lead at Nomentia.
"Many corporates are putting data in Excel sheets and sending Excel sheets between themselves. When you’re doing spreadsheets, there can be errors in formulas, and it’s a manual work. Nomentia compiles everything system-wise – data file integrations or APIs, so it’s no manual work involved at all."
In times of financial crisis, reverting to a single cash management system can be highly beneficial for businesses seeking to get insights into their currency positions in real time, so they can react to internal and systemic pressures.
"When you are operating in a global environment and the business is complex, you have very different legal entities in your group, and you have many currencies and quite a lot of bank relations and bank accounts scattered around the globe. As this is not easy, having a software tool can enable you to consolidate everything into one place.
"We offer a multi bank, so you can log into Nomentia, and see all your balances across the globe in one view. Particularly now in these times, the CFO, or the head of treasury really needs to know, 'what do we have on our bank accounts in Italy? Or what is the status of our cash right now in North America," explains Sundberg.
To bridge the gap of uncertainty, Sundberg advises businesses to focus on cash visibility and forecasting through the process of automation – easing the role of treasurers controlling finances amid a crisis.
"Get the cash visibility up and running. In today’s fast paced environment, you can’t really come out to your subsidiaries around the globe and ask for a weekly cash report on a spreadsheet – that’s why we automate this as much as possible. When I was heading cash management operations & treasury back office for a global corporate, getting the visibility on cash positions was vital for succeeding in our work.
"The second thing after that is cash forecasting. With an efficient tool, you can also get a picture of all your future cash flows. You should be looking for to import, for example, accounts receivables; accounts payables; purchase orders; and sales orders. The same goes for cash visibility – if you’re a global company and you have operations all around the world, most likely you have this data in various systems. Through automation, you can combine this into one place and offer a consolidated view of future cash, cash positions and cash flows," he says.
Access to real time data on cash flow can enhance treasurers’ confidence in pursuing business decisions, particularly as automation allows them to forecast the impact of crises.
"As a business leader, treasurer, or CFO, having that information can make you be more confident. You can use this investment to generate business growth or have the power to act on – meaning it also impacting business decisions.
"In rough times, with automated cash positions and cash flows, you can immediately see if things start going in the wrong direction as you log in into the system. It’s a kind of alert system when embarking in the wrong route. Without the system, it might take weeks before you discover it and then it might even be too late. Of course, we are not spotting the Coronavirus in the system but we are spotting the effects of the Coronavirus reflected in the cash flow," Sundberg explains.
As part of its cash management solutions, Nomentia offers a basic version of its cloud-based module for cash forecasting to facilitate access to treasurers’ cash positions for free until the end of 2020. This basic version can be easily extended into a full-blown cash forecasting & analytics solution, or a payment hub incorporating a multi-bank solution for outgoing payments and a matching tool to automate the incoming money with accounts receivables.