How can NGOs drive changes to treasury and payment processes? Experts from Coupa Pay and Treasury, the International Organization for Migration and Save the Children International shared their views in a recent webinar.
Making payments can be challenging at the best of times. But when you need to pay at short notice – and possibly in a place where you don’t maintain a bank account – the challenges are compounded. A recent webinar by Treasury Today and Coupa Pay and Treasury looked at the challenges faced by NGOs and the changes they have introduced to their treasury and payment processes.
Caroline Lacocque, Regional Sales Director EMEA, Coupa Pay and Treasury, explained that current challenges include the need for a more streamlined workflow and greater visibility, security and control, as well as the disruption and challenges brought by the current economic environment. “With expected fluctuations in the economy, and with supply chain disruptions, having a very good pulse on working capital and visibility over liquidity is very important for resiliency,” she noted.
In order to drive improvements in treasury and payments, she advised companies should think about their digitalisation strategy and technology landscape. By working with a strong platform partner that provides synergy across their integrated systems, companies can not only achieve more visibility, but also better control and a more efficient processes.
Malcolm Grant, Chief of Treasury at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), explained that the organisation previously used over 100 payment process systems across 170 countries, with virtually no visibility over where money was located. Since adopting Coupa’s treasury management system, IOM has been able to drive straight through processing connected to the organisation’s ERP system for the chief bank accounts in Europe and North America, as well as rolling this out to some of IOM’s larger field offices.
Save the Children International shares similar challenges, explained Joanna Fanthorpe, Senior Treasury Manager. “With growing political and economic uncertainty, we face many operational and funding challenges,” she said, adding that these range from the risk of banking system failures and regulatory barriers to economic sanctions and de-risking by banks. The organisation uses the Coupa treasury system, integrated with FX platform 360T – “and without that we wouldn’t be able to operate.”
Lacocque noted that there is a lot of hidden yield for treasurers and accounts payable functions that is often missed, not least because of internal silos. Technology can help to bridge this by driving more collaboration and visibility between different groups. Another valuable approach is to use an in-house bank structure to improve cash flow processes and reduce bank fees, while improving the company’s liquidity structure. Lacocque also highlighted the importance of reporting capabilities that can leverage data to drive insights and intelligence, citing Coupa’s machine learning capability.
Fanthorpe explained that Save the Children International has around 600 bank accounts worldwide, with visibility over almost 90% of those. The organisation is using SWIFT gpi to gain visibility over the status of payments, although not all banks are gpi-ready to transmit tracking messages over SWIFT XML back to Coupa Treasury. “We’re working with our two main cash management banks to make it possible, because this is crucial for our operations,” she said.
Grant described a robotic process automation (RPA) carried out by the IOM, which won the 2022 Adam Smith Award for Best Digitisation Solution. The initiative has seen IOM harness RPA for three processes, including reading bank statement data, replenishing local bank accounts, and making payments on behalf of missions using Coupa and 360T.
On another note, Lacocque discussed how treasury teams can incorporate ESG considerations. While green financing is often cited as a key way of achieving this, she noted that treasury can contribute to ESG in many other ways, including by reducing the need for paper by adopting digital workflows.
In closing, Grant noted the importance of working with colleagues in accounting and procurement to ensure the accuracy of data. Fanthorpe, meanwhile, emphasised the value of a good treasury management system, as well as the need for transparency with banking partners and focusing on wellbeing for the treasury team as a whole.
Listen to the webinar to hear more from the experts.