Insight & Analysis

Putting the treasury team in good spirits

Published: Oct 2023

International beverage producer Beam Suntory has optimised its payments infrastructure to remove legacy inefficiencies and manual processes.

Team working together to put a puzzle together

In a recent Kyriba webinar, Petar Tomicic, Treasury Manager at Beam Suntory explored payment connectivity best practices.

With 6,000 employees across five continents, Beam Suntory needs to understand where products are being produced, where they are being sold, and the downstream impact. The company’s main corporate treasury team is based in Chicago with colleagues located in Madrid and Mexico and its shared service centre teams are based in Kentucky, Madrid and India.

“As it relates to payments, the local treasury teams have the primary relationship with the shared service centre so having a centralised, automated system assists with getting things done quicker and in the best way possible,” says Tomicic.

The company has gone through a number of organisational changes, which created legacy processes that have taken some time to flush out. “Given that we have been in the current structure for some time, it allowed the opportunity for more of a focus on standardisation and efficiency,” says Tomicic.

Key challenges included lack of standardisation, processing inefficiencies, and multiple bank accounts – not all of which were set up in the most efficient manner. Creating a secure FTP setup was important, as was eliminating manual processes and removing some of the coordination between teams where everyone had to get their hand in the process.

“One focus was to have our shared service centres and our AP teams operate solely on SAP,” explains Tomicic. “They did not want to have to go to the bank sites to log in – they wanted that end-to-end process from their side to stay within SAP.”

This has allowed the treasury teams to focus on funding, liquidity and other core treasury concepts, streamlining the payment process and allowing for improved collaboration and better processes to be put in place across the entire organisation.

“The technology and partners are there whether you take the work on internally or utilise their expertise to create an efficient process that works for you as an organisation,” says Tomicic. “That is something we were able to realise because we had implemented Kyriba from a treasury management system standpoint.”

Beam Suntory decided to start small in one region to see if it would be a successful outcome. From there the concept was rolled out to other regions, recognising it didn’t have to be implemented across all locations at the same time.

“We have been a little bit opportunistic in where we can continue to expand and create efficiencies globally,” says Tomicic. “The next point is that it is not a one size fits all. It is imperative that everyone really thinks through what are their priorities and resources, and what different groups find value in. With that, you can come to a conclusion on what works best for the organisation.”

“In terms of going through implementation and realising some of the pain points, there are obviously various groups involved, so setting the standards up front in terms of what the testing process looks like, what each group is responsible for, and the timelines in terms of submitting test payment scenarios is important,” he adds.

While the benefits of revamping its payments infrastructure have been clear to the treasury team, Beam Suntory has taken a cautious approach to real-time payments, acknowledging the motivation for such a move varies from organisation to organisation based on user expectations and cost.

“As a mature business with established shared service centres around the globe, we have a structure and organisation where the need or the use case for real-time payments hasn’t presented itself yet given the costs involved,” says Tomicic. “However, it is important to keep up to date on what changes are being made and it is something we continue to monitor.”

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