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Best AP Solution Winner: Shell Treasury

Published: Aug 2020

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Photo of Stuart Madell, Cash Manager.

Stuart Madell

Cash Manager, Shell

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects. For further information, visit www.shell.com.

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Propelling payments queries into the digital age

The challenge

Shell generates thousands of queries a year associated with cross-border payroll, pensions, tax, supplier, and other payments made from its hundreds of bank accounts held with Citi. Users phoned in or emailed to register their query, taking time to investigate, with documenting and tracking queries, adding an administrative burden.

Shell’s goal was to provide users with self-help services that would allow them to query payments immediately, launch and follow-up investigations, and provide an audit of history and evidence that can prove payment, and facilitate updates on existing investigations.

The solution had to be comprehensive and seamless, offering a simple user interface, complete tracking of payments status for global market coverage, and the ability to take actions on payments and provide two-way communication with Citi Service.

The solution

Shell and Citi combined a number of tools to achieve Shell’s goals. These included SWIFT’s gpi track and trace payment solution, and Citi Payment Insights (CPI) which integrates gpi functionality. CPI is the portal for all payment status enquiries. It has self-service capabilities to launch investigations or requests, offering real-time visibility of the payment lifecycle, including payment status, correspondent banking fees and rejections. Along with Citi’s Service Insights (SI) tool, CPI covers most of Shell’s payments footprint.

Shell needed to rationalise some 920 existing access profiles for users. Analysis and mapping of the essential functionalities reduced these to 20, simplifying new AP user access to CitiDirect BE®. Mobile access to CitiDirect BE® enabled set-up in a couple of hours, compared to the two to three weeks required to set up a user with a physical token.

Best practice and innovation

Shell now has a portal in CitiDirect BE®, enabling users to raise queries on every aspect of payments, simplifying payment management and improving accountability. Those that cannot self-help may raise queries directly with the Citi Service team via the portal, their status being automatically updated within the system.

Shell was directly involved in the development of many of these capabilities. Its requirements – such as the ability to see information across different instances of its online banking access (treasury, AP, AR, credit, cash management) – will benefit future users of CPI and SI.

Shell used weekly project calls with Citi to detect and solve potential tech roadblocks, and ‘agile’ working was adopted, enabling different regions and functionalities to develop and test iteratively. Shell tested with 45 pilot users across different areas of the company, including AP, credit, cash management services and bank reconciliation teams in the shared service centres and treasury back office. More than 250 test cases were designed, ensuring solution flexibility before roll-out began in 2019 for pilot users and March 2020 for the full launch.

Training sessions were conducted globally including in the UK, Poland, India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. These also included a workshop in Krakow, Poland at Shell’s shared service centre to train users and raise awareness of the functionality. This session involved Shell’s teams in India and the Philippines via Skype, ensuring all three global centres were aligned. Additional training guides were also developed and shared with Shell (taking into account the lessons learnt from the pilot projects) for the more than 900 Shell users of CitiDirect BE®.

Key benefits

  • Easy on-boarding empowering users to solve their own queries, cutting turnaround times and saving resources.

  • Real-time payment transparency for transaction progress and charges.

  • Up to 50% of enquiries a year now resolved via self-service with a 56% decrease in call-numbers on payments status, tracking and proof.

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Portrait of Nasser Karimi

Nasser Karimi

Global Account Manager, Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citi, London

Our partnership with Shell is one of collaboration where we always look to innovate together. On this particular project, we aligned on our collective goals around automation and digitalisation and involved our product development and technology teams to develop this scalable solution. We focused on the top dozen most common payment enquiry types to ensure a meaningful impact. Our solution enables faster enquiry turnaround times and gives Shell Treasury the ability to track and monitor its payment activity in real-time in the global banking eco-system.

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