Insight & Analysis

Moving away from manual

Published: Mar 2017

As a fast-growing company, Malaysia’s Tan Chong Group needed to move away from manual processes and drive more efficiency across its treasury operation.

In recent years, the need to utilise technology in order to drive efficiency and streamline processes has become a must for the treasury team at the Tan Chong Group.

“We have been running an in-house bank on spreadsheets for a few years and as the company was expanding this was becoming an incredibly time-consuming process,” says Wan Chun Shong, Group Treasurer at Tan Chong Group. “The biggest issues were that mistakes were so easy to make and occurred frequently, I was spending most of my time resolving these issues.”

Wan was also under increasing pressure to provide the board with a more accurate profile of the Group’s cash position, something that the legacy manual set-up just didn’t permit. “We therefore decided it was time to implement a treasury management system (TMS) to automate some of what we were doing and provide greater control and visibility over our cash,” he says.

Long-term project

Tan Chong had actually come close to implementing a TMS a few years ago, however for various reasons this didn’t go ahead. Although disappointing for the treasury at the time, it did provide some key learnings for Wan and his team when they began looking at the TMS market again, last year.

“After setting up the in-house bank, we went into the market looking for a highly sophisticated solution that could be hosted on premise,” he explains. “In hindsight, this really wasn’t what we needed. We were not a sophisticated treasury set-up and didn’t need a ‘Rolls Royce TMS’, so in some respects it was good that the project fell through, rather than being stuck with a solution that didn’t meet our needs.”

A more pragmatic approach was therefore taken last year when the Group submitted its RFP to the market. What is more, the senior management had also become more familiar with cloud technology and they were therefore happy for the treasury to adopt a cloud-based solution. “We knew that the best system for us was one that has robust functionality and isn’t overly complex to use and filled with a lot of features that we wouldn’t use. We wanted to plug in and play and enjoy the benefit right away,” says Wan.

Extra effort

After a diligent review process, Tan Chong selected Kyriba’s cloud-based solution to be its TMS. “Our RFP revealed that most TMS solutions could do what we required,” says Wan. “Our selection, therefore, came down to the solution we thought was the easiest to use and that could provide the return on investment.”

It was also important to Wan to select a vendor that the Group would stick with. Wan explains that Kyriba stood out in this respect because the company put extra effort into understanding its requirements and demonstrating the system.

“They spent a whole week with us in our offices demonstrating the solution,” he says. “I would recommend that any peers going through a similar process request such an in-depth demo process because it is vital you fully understand the system before implementing it.”

Next steps

With the deal signed two months ago and implementation commencing shortly, Wan states that the current focus for his team is to align their processes with the system. “We learnt the hard way in a previous project, that you must not adapt the technology to fit your old processes,” he says. “You need to ensure that you review your processes and optimise these to ensure maximum benefit is derived from the TMS.”

The next area that Wan will be focusing on is bank connectivity. This is especially important in ASEAN as not all banks have best-in-class technology infrastructures. “Ideally, we want the TMS to connect to all our banks and provide the straight through processing that we are looking to achieve,” concludes Wan.

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