While previous stages are about defining the envisaged end state, the planning stage focuses on the implementation project structure along with key milestones and responsibilities.
To achieve the desired end state, the treasury team would need to have the support and involvement of various internal and external partners. In many cases, objectives and timelines may clash with internal stakeholders given varied priorities. Understanding and navigating through these is a key requirement to arrive at a clear go-forward plan for integration of best sustainability process into legacy practices, as this is rarely a journey that treasury can make alone.
For example, if the treasury team is aiming to go paperless, it needs to ensure that all impacted groups, both internal and external, are ready and supportive. This would require an understanding of the current stage of business and preparedness of the relevant groups. Technology partners need to be roped in to help conceptualise and implement the required technology change for a successful transformation to a paperless treasury. Key customers and suppliers may not have suitable systems in place to go paperless or there may be unwillingness on the part of procurement, manufacturing or sales teams.
Similarly, if the objective is to be a catalyst to drive best social and environmental practices among suppliers, in addition to the procurement team needing to be equal partners, if not leaders of the project, there are supplier dynamics that would need to be evaluated. On the investment side, broader organisational policy may need to be considered and navigated through. Alignment with broader organisational thinking and direction on sustainability is key.
External partners also bring valuable insight into the planning phase on potential pitfalls and workarounds towards achieving the end goal. Best practices around sustainability and implementation insights can be gained from external partners. Banking partners may help define best practices for moving to a paperless treasury or towards implementation of a sustainable supply chain finance programme. Some may also have divisions that help advice on the best ESG-related investment options. External agencies may be able to define measurement matrices, and help assess vendor performance towards such goals around a sustainable supply chain.
Once challenges are understood and inputs received, the next stage would be to define a time and milestone based implementation plan that considers these dynamics. This must be tailored to not only overcome potential road-blocks but also leverage areas of strength and support. For example, the roll-out of a sustainable supply chain financing plan may begin with a highly supportive subsection of the wider procurement team or a particular supplier set to showcase success and ensure wider support.
Detailed action steps for each milestone would need to be defined along with measures of progress and success. This stage requires flexibility and plans may need to change multiple times based on discussions and feedback of partners, both internal and external, to ensure there is broad buy-in.
Lastly the project lead, core project group and governance structure would need to be identified and defined. Required resources need to be allocated to this group and the lead, as well as the core group should have the seniority, standing and access in the organisation to affect such a project. It may very well be that the lead is actually from a group outside treasury – for example, would a senior procurement manager leading a sustainable supply chain project with the treasury team members as a part of the key working group, improve the chances of success?
In this stage of the journey, the ability to engage, navigate and get buy-in from stakeholders while drafting a detailed, milestone-driven implementation plan is critical to overall success. Equally important is to have the right people, access and resources available for the implementation and governance of the project.
Plans will encounter unforeseen challenges but dialogue and inputs from partners, both internal and external, will make it more robust. Strong support and buy-in will lead to a smoother implementation and provide the ability to make quick course corrections as needed.