Interview – Cyril Schäfer and Sylvie Faure (Renault – TMS – 2022)

DataLog TMS Implementation in Renault Treasury Department in 2021

Picture of Sylvie Faure (Renault)

Sylvie Faure (Renault)

Sylvie Faure (Head of Cash Forecast) and Cyril Schäfer (Head of Euro Cash Management) share the process that led to the selection and successful implementation of DataLog Finance’s TMS in 2021. Testimonial and feedback.

Hello Sylvie, hello Cyril, before starting this interview, could you present your activities at Renault SAS?

Sylvie Faure: I have been in charge of cash flow forecasts at Renault for the past few years. I have a background in finance and information systems, was involved in the implementation of the previous cash flow platform and deployed SAP at Renault subsidiaries.

Cyril Schäfer: I am the head of the Euro Treasury department. The team’s activity is divided in two areas: on one hand, “operational” cash management, which consists in managing daily cash flows for the Euro European zone, spread over some fifteen banks, representing approximately 250 bank accounts, and validating the vast majority of payments for Renault SAS and the centralized subsidiaries. On the other hand,  our department, through Sylvie, produces cash flow forecasts for the automotive branch.

Maximizing cash centralization is the first goal of our daily cash management process, reinforced by the pandemic episode we all experienced. Thanks to cash pooling systems throughout Europe, our team is at the heart of Renault’s cash management in Europe. Collaborating with the European finance teams is at the heart of the process so that we can achieve our goals.

Before the implementation of our TMS, what tools were used by Renault to manage cash flow and what goals did your TMS tender in 2019 have to meet?

CS: A daily cash flow statement was produced in Excel. On the other hand, in-house tools were used since 2000 for the analysis of the actual cash flow and the production of long-term forecasts (12 months).

SF: Hard to maintain, not very user-friendly and limited to a small scope of subsidiaries, these tools only provided a partial and only temporary response to problems related to flow volumes and forecasts. This is what prompted us to survey the market, with 18-month forecasts as a priority goal

CS: As SaaS was maturing, we also wanted to migrate to a solution that would allow us to avoid having to invest in hardware, its installation, maintenance etc. This is why we quickly shortlisted Cloud cash management software publishers

What were the decisive factors resulting in the choice of DataLog Finance’s TMS?

SF: Our call for tenders aimed to meet 3 objectives:

  1. Daily cash management
  2. The analysis of the actual cash flow by analytical nature, our priority, for which most of the editors seemed to have a problem
  3. The production of a daily forecasted liquidity curve over a long term horizon

In addition, the tool had to be able to cover the entire functional and geographical scope of our subsidiaries (200 entities) and be implementable within a reasonable timeframe.

Only DataLog Finance’s cash management software covered all of these needs, without any IT development and could be implemented in a few months thanks to its ability to be 100% customizable through parameter settings. The choice was thus obvious after a very convincing demonstration and laudatory comments from treasurers who use this solution. And we were particularly impressed by its ability to allow us to perform a long-term analysis of the actual situation with a very high level of detail, which seems to be very original on the market.

Finally, the system also allowed us to change the paradigm by using bank statements instead of accounting data from the ERP.

CS: Out of all the editors we consulted, only DataLog offered a solution that was easy to implement, without any specific development, with this breakdown by analytical item and not only by means of payment, as we were able to find during a thorough benchmark and during the various presentations that were given to us

How did the project go?

SF: The specifications were very detailed and complex, especially regarding the need to analyze actual cash flow. The tool’s parameterization capacity allowed us to implement all the allocation rules we wanted, which resulted in a longer implementation time to obtain a customized solution.

CS The extra time did not have any negative consequences, since we achieved the objectives previously set. In addition, the expertise of our DataLog dedicated project manager enabled us to implement the centralized announcement function, which was not essential for us at first, but which turned out to be a real bonus. It consists in replacing information emails about cash flows from pooled subsidiaries in Europe with announcements entered directly into the software. This has led to less risk of errors and to saving time at the central treasury level.

The physical face-to-face training, it is a regret, was very short because of the health situation. However, the relationship during the whole project with the team of DataLog consultants was very good. Each one listened to the other, opening the way to a smooth project and to adapted solutions.

What benefits do you derive today from the implementation of the Treasury Management System?

CS: Among the main gains are the security, accuracy and reliability provided by the tool. It allows us to have a sharper eye on the accounts, to avoid leaving forecasts lying around for several days… And the fact that we don’t need an IT team to do the parameterization, to make the structure evolve, etc., is great.

SF: Compared to previous tools, the DataLog solution provides us with ease of use, versatility, and user-friendliness that was unknown to us (data entry, reporting, etc.) and the abandonment of thankless tasks. It is easy, for example, to add an additional rule, to adapt a reconciliation scenario without risking an error. To conclude, the great added value is the security brought to cash management.

What are your Treasury department’s next projects? With DataLog?

SF: The implementation of dynamic reporting is planned for 2022, with a migration to v5, and AI Forecasting in the longer term.

What advice would you give to a treasurer who wants to implement a new treasury IS?

CS and SF: Above all, the expression of needs must be determined very precisely, with a detailed design file. Within the Renault Group, we benefited from the support of the Digital Transformation Department in putting together the file, and from the essential assistance of the IT Department.

In our case, we also conducted a broad benchmark with a dozen other groups in order to learn about best practices, observe cash management and forecasts, and see how the products of the various publishers work.

Within the Treasury team, it is fundamental to be organized in order to be able to devote a maximum of time to the project.

An IS culture is a plus in order to better understand the parameterization choices or the tool’s operating logic.

To conclude, would you like to add a few words about this experience?

The project went as expected thanks to the investment of both parties. The knowledge of the tool and the treasury business of the DataLog consultants allowed them to meet our expectations and to adapt to our specificities.

 

NB: you can find another version of this case study in the April 2022 TMI issue (#285).