In March 2013 Omnicom’s treasury set a key objective of having a single centralised solution for the migration of its 300 plus autonomous eurozone agencies to SEPA. An ambitious goal, given Omnicom’s decentralised operating environment, the multitude of accounting and payroll systems, the varying internal policies, practices and country legacy regulations and the number of banks involved.
As well as over 300 agencies, Omnicom had 16 banking partners in 13 different countries and more than 80 separate ERP/accounting and payroll systems.
“We put a dedicated project team together from treasury, IT and our financial institutions to design and manage the effort. The team’s first step was to draw up a detailed project plan,” explains Gerard McGinnity, Deputy Treasurer.
The plan encompassed:
Conducting a group-wide inventory of systems and outsourced services.
Securing strong senior executive buy-in to the project.
Achieving local responsibility through a network of ‘on the ground’ coordinators.
Creating a vibrant project community through the use of social technologies, primarily LinkedIn.
Creating a centre of excellence within Treasury and establishing a special purpose SEPA web portal as a resource, communications and control hub.
Rigorous project online reporting and tracking.
Multiple banks were involved in the design and rollout of the project. Among other benefits, this ensured the same consistent message was delivered to all its agencies.
Best practice and innovation
Not all groups are as decentralised and globally diverse as Omnicom. The company has demonstrated with this project that, despite these constraints, and with rigorous planning and execution, it is still possible to manage and direct multiple autonomous entities, to implement a centralised solution and avoid the wastage and non-standard solutions that can result when many entities separately tackle the same problem.
A unique feature of the solution was the company’s approach to fostering internal and external project communities. This created energy, engagement and a level of collaboration that contributed substantially to the ultimate success of the project.
In addition, by creating a centre of technical excellence, Omnicom’s treasury was able to provide significant support to its agencies. It was able to intervene on their behalf with system vendors and set up an internal file validation capability to perform payment file testing if bank file delivery channels were not ready.
“We also have the goodwill of our agencies thanks to the active support and assistance we gave them throughout the project,” concludes McGinnity.