Pfizer’s winning project took a series of long-standing and highly manual processes associated with its very substantial global inter-company processes and created in its place an automated, re-engineered, end-to-end workflow that thoroughly overhauls and modernises the process.
Photo of Fiona O’Leary, Raj Ramapatna and Susan Webb.
Managing Director, Pfizer Dublin Treasury Centre
Pfizer is the world’s leading biopharmaceutical company operating in 150 countries and employing 100,000 people. Pfizer makes medicines and vaccines that help people and animals when they are sick and that prevent them from getting sick.
Internal skills and expertise have been utilised to develop a product that is intuitive, automated and delivers significant benefits for multiple groups across the group,” explains Susan Webb, Managing Director, Pfizer Dublin Treasury Centre. Here’s how it works. Pfizer, via its global treasury centre in Dublin, Ireland extends loans and accepts deposits from its affiliates around the world. This programme runs into the tens of billions of dollars with hundreds of affiliates, in an environment that is constantly changing. Each loan or deposit arrangement is governed by a loan or deposit facility agreement, which has to be preapproved by various groups. In addition, the agreements have to be drafted, signed by the different parties, stored safely and monitored against inter-company loans and deposits.
Webb explains: “As things stood, the process was extremely manual, taking a long time to complete at each stage due to the multiple parties and distances involved. The objective was to create a fully automated end-to-end solution using a central web-based system developed in Microsoft ASP.net, SQL Server, and digital signatures – to significantly reduce the time and the risk of incomplete documentation and unauthorised inter-company loans and deposits.”
Upon initiation, details of the new loan or deposit request are entered into the system. Once this is done, the following steps are automated:
Requests for approval are sent to the relevant approvers in different departments across Pfizer. Approvals are tracked with automated follow up if there is no response. Once approved, the loan documentation is automatically generated based on the initiation details and sent to authorised signatories for approval.
Digital signatures are utilised with an option to use a wet signature, depending on the jurisdiction. There is a standard naming convention in place to enable automated filing and retrieval of loan documentation.
The system automatically pulls loans and deposit data from the TMS and checks that facility agreements are in place. Exceptions are flagged for follow up.
The solution has dramatically reduced average process lead times from 45 days to 14 days and the actual processing time from 105 minutes to 15 minutes. It reduces costs by ensuring that documentation is in place to support tax audits and makes sure no unauthorised transactions are made. Elsewhere, the solution enhances the company’s SOX compliance by ensuring that all loans and deposits are approved and are covered by facility agreements. “This was entirely an in-house driven initiative, utilising Six Sigma methodology and leveraging expertise and skills across multiple groups – including tax and legal. As a result, the project was low cost but high impact,” says Webb. The solution is also portable and could be applied elsewhere in Pfizer.
The project was led by Raj Ramapatna, IT Team Lead with the support of his manager, Fiona O’Leary, Head of IT and In-House Bank Processes, who conceived the initiative. Ramapatna developed the centralised web-based tool that is the core of the application using his own programming expertise and both O’Leary and Ramapatna leveraged other Pfizer contacts within corporate treasury and in the wider corporation to bring the project successfully from start to finish.