Photo of Ritesh Jain, Citi, Alise Long and Alexander van den Heuvel, Royal DSM.
Royal DSM uses meetings and events to help its growth plans. With traditional card payments to suppliers unable to satisfy its needs, it turned to two quite different suppliers to help create a unique platform covering all bases.
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Alexander van den Heuvel
Group Cash Manager
Heerlen, The Netherlands
Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. By connecting its unique competences in life sciences and materials sciences DSM is driving economic prosperity, environmental progress and social advances to create sustainable value for all stakeholders simultaneously. DSM and its associated companies deliver annual net sales of about €10bn with approximately 25,000 employees. The company is listed on Euronext Amsterdam.
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How integrating two disparate systems created value beyond the sum of the parts
Meetings and events are important tools to enable DSM to grow its business, develop strategy, further R&D and promote stakeholder engagement. It was facing increasing demand from business teams to organise more meetings with bespoke requirements, often to tight timelines.
DSM had rolled out a meetings management platform (Cvent) to manage most aspects of meeting and events organisation. Simultaneously, it rolled out purchasing cards (PCards) for last minute meeting/event expenses.
Despite these initiatives, DSM still faced challenges such as on-boarding suppliers, which are often one-time use only, that need immediate payment. Most venues, for example, will only secure the booking once payment has been received. The process of adding a vendor and raising a PO often took several days or more with multiple resources across various departments involved, even when expedited as a priority. Factor in cross-border wire set-up times and DSM, on occasion, lost a venue to the competition.
Cvent was used to allocate budgets for meetings/conferences but it remained a challenge to track actual usage. Payments were made through the ERP payment run and someone had to manually key-in the payments released into the platform to make sure event-specific budgets were properly tracked.
Citi and Cvent worked together to understand their client’s objectives. Credit cards were seen as ideally suited as a payment method for DSM. However, traditional PCards (physical plastic) were impractical. Instead, a solution was created that integrates Cvent’s meetings management platform with the real-time payment capability of Citi’s Virtual Card Account platform, bringing the entire meetings management lifecycle onto a single platform, improving visibility and control.
The solution bypasses the need to originate individual supplier payments from DSM’s ERP systems. There is no longer a requirement to maintain individual suppliers on the vendor master, with the associated complexity and time delays inherent in that process. Further, DSM no longer has to add one-time only suppliers to its vendor database. Additionally, this solution automatically reflects card payments within the user interface and dynamically adjusts available budgets for any meeting/conference. This provides direct and real-time insight for respective meeting key users and alleviates the dependence on other departments and their system insights.
The design process required out-of-the-box thinking that challenged convention and delivered a solution that is truly innovative, reflecting best practice. It lowers costs, improves efficiency, enhances visibility and control and delivers greater value to the business. It brings together two different platforms operating in two different industries – but is replicable as an integrated platform approach.
At its core, the solution challenges the notion that payments must be initiated from an ERP. It breaks that convention by plugging the payment platform into a meetings management platform. Fundamentally, this could have a profound impact for many industries, as companies begin to recognise the benefit of initiating payments where they create best value, rather than always initiating them through their ERP systems.