Scope management in finance: Giving your new tool a head start

Finding the right treasury management system for your company can feel both daunting and time-consuming. All the more reason to leave nothing to chance. Make sure the system you do select is worth your while: with a scoping session. By Michael Bach, head of consulting & implementation, and Katja Franz, consulting director, BELLIN

By Michael Bach | 27 January 2020

When companies make the decision to turn to technology to optimise their financial setup, they tend to come with a long catalog of questions. But while RfP-style requirement lists do have their merit, there are other, more targeted ways to ensure you get exactly what you need and when you need it. One of the most effective ones is a scoping session.

What is a scoping session?

A scoping session is a workshop to determine the full scope of your chosen or to-be-chosen finance solution. It is a sort of project management kick-off and helps shape, structure and prepare the implementation and rollout project. A scoping workshop aims to match your company’s requirements, processes and resources with the functionality of the system. This way, you ensure that technology and framework are aligned, and you can use the tool to maximum effect.

Ideally, such a scoping session is conducted directly by the technology provider, either during the selection process or following it, prior to the implementation of the system. The workshop brings together all relevant stakeholders in the company, across departments. Both system functionality and the existing framework conditions are discussed and analysed in detail.

While every scoping session is unique to the specific company, it is possible to identify some typical discussion points:

- What specific functionality will address my challenges?

- Which processes do I have in place?

- Which processes should be kept and which should be replaced to align with the tool?

- What should my project plan look like?

- Do I need different project phases?

- Who should have permission to perform which responsibilities in my end setup?

- How can functionality and processes complement each other best to prevent fraud or other security issues?

Why do I need a scoping session?

The exact questions depend on the company, and so does the motivation behind a scoping session. The reasons why companies choose to book a workshop are manifold and also depend on the stage of the selection process. They range from “Do I even need technology?” to “Which specific banking setup is best suited to my company?”.

Especially for companies with relatively complex structures and processes, it may be worth asking the critical question up front: will a technological tool really solve my challenges or am I better off turning to some other solution? Other companies are in the middle of their selection process, wondering which system is the right one for them. Others again are asking themselves if their processes are aligned with the functionality they’re about to introduce – and if not, how these processes could be adapted.

In some cases, it is actually the system vendor who recommends a scoping session, having witnessed the company’s setup, resources and processes first hand and having identified challenges that would prevent the company from using the system to maximum benefit.

How do I benefit from a scoping session?

Ultimately, it is this desire to maximise benefits associated with the introduction of a technological tool that represents the common denominator of all scoping workshops. Ideally, companies want to know the scope and direction of their project from the outset. One major benefit of a scoping session is therefore a more reliable planning framework.

While a company might have decided on a system, they are often unsure about the specifics of the project: how many resources will be needed and when? Do I have all stakeholders on board and are they actually available when I need them? How long is this going to take? A scoping session enables a thorough stakeholder analysis, reliable budget planning and predictable timelines. It provides a clear structure and minimises inefficiencies. Companies do not lose any time throughout the project, and the time they invest up front will lay the groundwork for everything that is to come.

In addition to such very pragmatic considerations, companies benefit from a scoping session by determining the perfect alignment of technological scope and process framework before they go live with the system – or at least parallel to the implementation. It gives them the option to critically analyse their existing resources, workflows and processes for pretty much any requirement: from an efficient and secure banking setup, to transparent and reliable cash management, optimised intercompany trade or digital trade finance.

What do I need to contribute?

So how is this any different from a product demo? It is important to note that while a scoping session is a service provided by the vendor, it can only succeed if the customer contributes their share. This is a workshop after all, not a presentation. Both sides need to put in effort. BELLIN for example always deploys at least two consultants for a minimum workshop time of two days. Customers are given clear guidelines and a template of what information they need to provide up front. This ranges from the number of potential users to the number of bank accounts.

It should go without saying: the more accurate the data provided, the more useful the conclusions that can be drawn from it. A scoping session is not without effort – but effort that is well worth it and will perfectly position your company for decades to come.

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