3 ways to build a working capital program that doesn’t have an endless integration process

Katy Sinclair

When adopting a working capital program, deciding to take the plunge is just the beginning. Next you need to choose the right approach for your business – and that means considering not only which solution best suits your needs, but also what the technical integration process will be.

 

The integration process can be simplified by choosing a provider that supplements your existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) infrastructure. But with so many providers to choose from, involving the technical team in this decision is key. Without technical buy-in, there’s a risk that the resulting program may be limited in scope, or that a higher-than-necessary workload will ultimately erode the program’s financial benefits.

The challenge is that while the treasury team may have a clear view of the program’s benefits, the highly-stretched technical team may not be in a position to accommodate any new projects when you’re ready to proceed. It’s therefore essential to talk proactively to the technical team at the earliest opportunity so you can ensure a smooth and seamless integration process.

  1. Minimize manual work

The goal of the technical integration process is to minimize manual activities – such as managing file transfers, data updates, and reconciliations – by harnessing existing data in the ERP system.

Integration via APIs, or by using a solution embedded in the ERP, can make data updates available to suppliers for fast consumption. Similarly, updates to data in the form of arranged expedited payments, or payments to alternative parties, can be done in the background with transparency for ERP users.

Effectively, this approach extends the ERP into a working capital solution which uses existing data without the need for additional processes.

  1. Find a provider with integration prowess

A technical integration process is only as strong as the way it is developed and implemented. It’s therefore essential to choose a provider with deep ERP knowledge, and a solution which includes in-application error handling, reporting and self-recovery.

This is where the technical team and treasury can align to find the best solution for the company. The conversation should include identifying any manual tasks and understanding the requirements for ongoing system maintenance and performance. Providers which have invested in these parts of the product will have the details readily available.

  1. Reality check your business

Everyone strives for a simplified business process within their ERP systems – but this is not always the reality. Many implementations include customization and manual business processes, which will add a whole load of complexity to any third-party usage. The treasury and technical teams therefore need to identify any customizations that will increase workload, and ensure that these can be accommodated by the chosen provider.

It may be tempting to implement a fast working capital program with light file transfers and simple manual steps – but you should also be cautious about how this type of program will scale. Either the program will be limited to a few suppliers in order to manage workload, or the company will need to invest more assets into the workflow to boost volume.

Last but certainly not least, it’s important to remember that you must select a provider whose technical integration process supports the most valuable asset in your supply chain – your suppliers. By doing this you will put to work the prior investments in your ERP system, without having to endure the headache of a long and complex technical integration process.