A roadmap to becoming a data-driven organization

March 2022
3 min read

Everyone understands the importance of data in an organization. After all, data is the new oil in terms of its value to a corporate treasury and indeed the wider organization. However, not everyone is aware of how best to utilize data. This article will tell you.

Developing a data strategy depends on using the various types of payment, market, cashflow, bank and risk data available to a treasury, and then considering the time implications of past historical data, present and future models, to better inform decision-making. We provide a roadmap and ‘how to’ guide to becoming a data-driven organization.

Why does this aim matter? Well, in this age of digitization, almost every aspect of the business has a digital footprint. Some significantly more than the others. This presents a unique opportunity where potentially all information can be reliably processed to take tactical and strategic decisions from a position of knowledge. Good data can facilitate hedging, forecasting and other key corporate activities. Having said all that, care must also be taken to not drown in the data lake1 and become over-burdened with useless information. Take the example of Amazon in 2006 when it reported that cross-selling attributed for 35% of their revenue2. This strategy looked at data from shopping carts and recommended other items that may be of interest to the consumer. The uplift in sales was achieved only because Amazon made the best use of their data.

Treasury is no exception. It too can become data-driven thanks to its access to multiple functions and information flows. There are numerous ways to access and assess multiple sets of data (see Figure 1), thereby finding solutions to some of the perennial problems facing any organization that wants to mitigate or harness risk, study behavior, or optimize its finances and cashflow to better shape its future.

Time is money

The practical business use cases that can be realized by harnessing data in the Treasury often revolve around mastering the time function. Cash optimization, pooling for interest and so on often depend on a good understanding of time – even risk hedging strategies can depend on the seasons, for instance, if we’re talking about energy usage.

When we look at the same set of data from a time perspective, it can be used for three different purposes:
I.       Understand the ‘The Past’ – to determine what transpired,
II.     Ascertain ‘The Present’ situation,
III.   Predict ‘The Future’ based on probable scenarios and business projections.

I – The Past

“Study the past if you would define the future”



The data in an organization is the undeniable proof of what transpired in the past. This fact makes it ideal to perform analysis through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), perform statistical analysis on bank wallet distribution & fee costs, and it can also help to find the root cause of any irregularities in the payments arena. Harnessing historical data can also positively impact hedging strategies.

II – The Present

“The future depends on what we do in the present”

M Gandhi


Data when analyzed in real-time can keep stakeholders updated and more importantly provide a substantial basis for taking better informed tactical decisions. Things like exposure, limits & exceptions management, intra-day cash visibility or near real-time insight/access to global cash positions all benefit, as does payment statuses which are particularly important for day-to-day treasury operations.

III – The Future

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Abraham Lincoln


There are various areas where an organization would like to know how it would perform under changing conditions. Simulating outcomes and running future probable scenarios can help firms prepare better for the near and long-term future.

These forecast analyses broadly fall under two categories:

Historical data: assumes that history repeats itself. Predictive analytics on forecast models therefore deliver results.

Probabilistic modelling: this creates scenarios for the future based on the best available knowledge in the present.

Some of the more standard uses of forecasting capabilities include:

  • risk scenarios analysis,
  • sensitivity analysis,
  • stress testing,
  • analysis of tax implications on cash management structures across countries,
  • & collateral management based on predictive cash forecasting, adjusted for different currencies.

Working capital forecasting is also relevant, but has typically been a complex process. The predication accuracy can be improved by analyzing historical trends and business projections of variables like receivables, liabilities, payments, collections, sales, and so on. These can feed the forecasting algorithms. In conjunction with analysis of cash requirements in each business through studying the trends in key variables like balances, intercompany payments and receipts, variance between forecasts and actuals, this approach can lead to more accurate working capital management.

How to become a data-driven organization

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.”

Tim Berners-Lee


There can be many uses of data. Some may not be linked directly to the workings of the treasury or may not even have immediate tangible benefits, although they might in the future for comparative purposes. That is why data is like a gold mine that is waiting to be explored. However, accessing it and making it usable is a challenging proposition. It needs a roadmap.

The most important thing that can be done in the beginning is to perform a gap analysis of the data ecosystem in an organization and to develop a data strategy, which would embed importance of data into the organization’s culture. This would then act as a catalyst for treasury and organizational transformation to reach the target state of being data-driven.

The below roadmap offers a path to corporates that want to consistently make the best use of one of their most critical and under-appreciated resources – namely, data.

We have seen examples like Amazon and countless others where organizations have become data- driven and are reaping the benefits. The same can be said about some of the best treasury departments we at Zanders have interacted with. They are already creating substantial value by analyzing and making the optimum use of their digital footprint. The best part is that they are still on their journey to find better uses of data and have never stopped innovating.

The only thing that one should be asking now is: “Do we have opportunities to look at our digital footprint and create value (like Amazon did), and how soon can we act on it?”


  1. https://zandersgroup.com/en/latest-insights/data-analytics-for-treasury-dont-drown-in-the-data-lake/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckcohn/2015/05/15/a-beginners-guide-to-upselling-and-cross-selling/?sh=395a58042912

A new way to manage your house bank G/L accounts in SAP S/4HANA release 2009

March 2021
3 min read

Everyone understands the importance of data in an organization. After all, data is the new oil in terms of its value to a corporate treasury and indeed the wider organization. However, not everyone is aware of how best to utilize data. This article will tell you.

With the introduction of the new cash management in S/4HANA in 2016, SAP has announced the bank account management functionality, which treats house bank accounts as master data. With this change of design, SAP has aligned the approach with other treasury management systems on the market moving the bank account data ownership from IT to Treasury team.

But one stumbling block was left in the design: each bank account master requires a dedicated set of general ledger (G/L) accounts, on which the balances are reflected (the master account) and through which transactions are posted (clearing accounts). Very often organizations define unique GL account for each house bank account (alternatively, generic G/L accounts are sometimes used, like “USD bank account 1”), so creation of a new bank account in the system involves coordination with two other teams:

  1. Financial master data team – managing the chart of accounts centrally, to create the new G/L accounts
  2. IT support – updating the usage of the new accounts in the system settings (clearing accounts)

Due to this maintenance process dependency, even with the new BAM, the creation of a new house bank account remained a tedious and lengthy process. Therefore, many organizations still keep the house bank account management within their IT support process also on S/4HANA releases, negating the very idea of BAM as master data.

To overcome this limitation and to put all steps in the bank account management life cycle in the ownership of the treasury team completely, in the most recent S/4HANA release (2009) SAP has introduced a new G/L account type: “Cash account”. G/L accounts of this new bank reconciliation account type are used in the bank account master data in a similar way as the already established reconciliation G/L accounts are used in customer and vendor master data. However, two new specific features had to be introduced to support the new approach:

  • Distinction between the Bank sub account (the master account) and the Bank reconciliation account (clearing account): this is reflected in the G/L account definition in the chart of accounts via a new attribute “G/L Account Subtype”.
  • In the bank determination (transaction FBZP), the reconciliation account is not directly assigned per house bank and payment method anymore. Instead, Account symbols (automatic bank statement posting settings) can be defined as SIP (self-initiated payment) relevant and these account symbols are available for assignment to payment methods in the bank country in a new customizing activity. This design finally harmonizes the account determination between the area of automatic payments and the area of automatic bank statement processing.
New G/L Account type in the G/L Account master data

In the same release, there are two other features introduced in the bank account management:

  • Individual bank account can be opened or blocked for posting.
  • New authorization object F_BKPF_BEB is introduced, enabling to assign bank account authorization group on the level of individual bank accounts in BAM. The user posting to the bank account has to be authorized for the respective authorisation group.

The impact of this new design on treasury process efficiency probably makes you already excited. So, what does it take to switch from the old to the new setup?

Luckily, the new approach can be activated on the level of every single bank account in the Bank account management master data, or even not used at all. Related functionalities can follow both old and new approaches side-by-side and you have time to switch the bank accounts to the new setup gradually. The G/L account type cannot be changed on a used account, therefore new G/L accounts have to be created and the balances moved in accounting on the cut-over date. However, this is necessary only for the G/L account masters. Outstanding payments do not prevent the switch, as the payment would follow the new reconciliation account logic upon activation. Specific challenges exist in the cheque payment scenario, but here SAP offers a fallback clearing scenario feature, to make sure the switch to the new design is smooth.

How to set cash pool and in-house bank interest rates

October 2020
3 min read

Everyone understands the importance of data in an organization. After all, data is the new oil in terms of its value to a corporate treasury and indeed the wider organization. However, not everyone is aware of how best to utilize data. This article will tell you.

The pricing of intercompany treasury transactions is subject to transfer pricing regulation. In essence, treasury and tax professionals need to ensure that the pricing of these transactions is in line with market conditions, also known as the arm’s length principle, thereby avoiding unwarranted profit shifting.

We have has been assisting dozens of multinationals on this topic through our Transfer Pricing Solution (TPS). The TPS enables them to set interest rates on intercompany transactions in a compliant and automated way. Since its go-live, clients have priced over 1000 intercompany loans with a total notional of over EUR 60 billion using this self-service solution.

Cash Pooling Solution

In February 2020, the OECD published the first-ever international consensus on financial transactions transfer pricing. One of the key topics of the document relates to the determination of internal pooling interest rates. As a reaction, Zanders has launched a co-development initiative with key clients to design a Cash Pooling Solution that determines the arm’s length interest rates for physical cash pools, notional cash pools and in-house banks.

The goal of this new solution is to present treasury and tax professionals with a user-friendly workflow that incorporates all compliance areas as well as treasury insights into the pooling structure. The three main compliance areas for treasury professionals are:

  1. Ensuring that participants have a financial incentive to participate in the pooling structure. Entities participating in the pool should be ‘better off’ than they would be if they went directly to a third-party bank. In other words, participants’ pooled rates should be more favorable than their stand-alone rates. The OECD sets out a step-by-step approach to improve interest conditions for participating entities to distribute the synergies towards the participants.First, the total pooling benefit should be calculated. This total pooling benefit is the financial advantage for a group compared to a non-pooled cash management set-up. The total pooling benefit can be broken down into a netting benefit and an interest rate benefit. The netting benefit arises from offsetting debit and credit balances. The interest rate benefit arises from more beneficial interest rate conditions on the cash pool or in-house bank position, compared to stand-alone current accounts.
    Once the total pooling benefit has been calculated, it should be allocated over the leader entity and the participating entities. Therefore, a functional analysis of the pooling structure should be made to identify which entities contribute most in terms of their balances, creditworthiness and the administration of the pool. The allocated amount should be priced into the interest rates. A deposit rate will thus receive a pooling premium. A withdrawal rate will incorporate pooling discount.
  2. Ensuring a correct tax treatment of the cash pool transactions. Pooling structures are primarily in place to optimize cash and liquidity management. Therefore, tax authorities will expect to see the balances of cash pool participants fluctuate around zero. Treasury professionals should monitor positions to prevent participants from having a structural balance in the pool. If the balance has a longer-term character, tax authorities can classify such pooling position as a longer-term intercompany loan. Consequently, monitoring structural balances can lower tax risk significantly.
  3. Appropriate documentation should be in place for each time treasury determines the pooling interest rates. The documentation should include the methodology as well as all specifics of the transfer pricing analysis. Proper documentation will enable the multinational to substantiate the interest rates during tax audits.

Multinationals are confronted with a significant compliance burden to comply with these new guidelines. Different hurdles can be identified, ranging from access to the appropriate market data to a considerable and recurring time investment in determining and documenting the internal deposit and withdrawal rates for each pooling structure.

It remains to be seen how auditors treat these new guidelines, but the recent increased focus on transfer pricing seems to indicate that this will be a topic that may need additional attention in the coming years.

Zanders Inside solutions

In order to support treasury and tax professionals in this area, Zanders Inside launched its cloud-based Cash Pooling Solution. This solution will focus on each of the three compliance areas as described above. In addition, the solution leverages a high degree of automation to support the entire end-to-end process. It offers a cost-effective alternative for the manual process that multinationals go through. Please watch our video showing how the Cash Pooling Solution tackles the challenge of OECD compliancy.

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