How Accenture Created An Intelligent Cash Treasury Solution
By Keith Greenberg, SAP Customer Marketing
Managing cash effectively and efficiently, including on average, over $1 billion in acquisitions annually over the past eight years and billions of dollars in transactions yearly, is a huge effort for any company – even global professional services powerhouse Accenture.
Accenture, a $44-billion multinational company with offices and operations in more than 200 cities in 50 countries and more than 500,000 employees, requires a significant amount of cash to operate.
Accenture’s corporate Treasury team needs to be continually laser-focused on the global liquidity needs and the strategic capital objectives of the company. To optimize liquidity for a fast-growing enterprise like Accenture, largely manual, spreadsheet-based cash reporting and forecasting tools were not agile enough for Treasury professionals to make informed decisions at speed.
Accenture’s Treasury team needed a new way of working to make its people and processes more efficient. The team seized the opportunity to boldly transform its processes, capabilities, technologies, and tools to be more digital, data driven, intelligent and automated. And so, it launched a program to develop an “Intelligent Cash” solution.
A journey of innovating
Developing this solution was a multi-stage journey for the Treasury team, Accenture’s global IT organization and its Applied Intelligence data scientists—at the same time capitalizing on the major investment Accenture continuously makes in its SAP systems and pushing the boundaries of what technology can do.
Over the past several years, Accenture has invested in a single global SAP system based on SAP S/4HANA, SAP Business Warehouse, and SAP HANA as a data mart. All this infrastructure created the foundation to gain business value beyond simply having a bigger, faster computer. And one of those value outcomes is Intelligent Cash.
Three main solution components
Intelligent Cash consists of a dashboard tool showing real-time cash positions globally; a predictive forecasting tool powered by sophisticated algorithms; and a cash inventory optimizer that treats cash as inventory.
The journey started with the development of the cash position dashboard tool. Accenture created some fit-for-purpose information models that are fed with its S/4 transactional data that it runs through its SAP HANA as a data mart. The team added a visualization front end to enable the Treasury team to easily use it.
The development of a forecast component was next. The team developed machine learning algorithms that projected cash out to the future but needed a way of capturing user adjustment to build more precise projections of cash. This is where SAP Analytics Cloud became part of the solution.
SAP Analytics Cloud allowed the team to bring all the components of Intelligent Cash together into one consumption portal for Treasury users. The product was new for Accenture, so they partnered with SAP to make the most of its capabilities.
In purchasing SAP Analytics Cloud, Accenture also purchased the SAP Analytics Cloud Planning module as it offers the ability to forecast at a granular level, a key component in Accenture’s ability to optimize decisions around cash. The technology simplifies the user experience while balancing the complex technology landscape that drives it.
Additionally, Accenture and SAP were able to integrate the artificial intelligence components with SAP Analytics Cloud, extending SAP Analytics Cloud beyond its basic reporting capabilities.
The third component of Intelligent Cash is a cash inventory optimization model, which treats cash as if it were physical inventory and optimizes it. The model recommends whether to inject or extract cash based on the cash flow forecast and company-specific economic factors. Treating cash in this way enables the Treasury team to reduce idle cash, hold cash in a more centralized fashion, adjust use of credit lines and reduce transaction costs.
Deployed in July 2020, the Intelligent Cash Solution has transformed the way Accenture’s Treasury team makes decisions around cash on a daily basis, as well as how it forecasts cash globally and manages liquidity. Today, Accenture Treasury is empowered with advanced tools to support daily cash decisions in near real-time and to help minimize financial risks and costs.
The solution has made real impact to the business in improving cash performance, including:
Freeing up an estimated 20% of cash previously required for operational liquidity, adding additional cash to Accenture’s centralized in-house bank structure.
Providing forecast and reports around one centralized system that connects various SAP solutions.
Significantly improving daily and monthly forecast accuracy and improving processing cycle time.
Providing an integrated automated treasury cash forecast system that reads and writes data from SAP directly and provides the latest forecast monitoring.
Uses artificial intelligence to provide 90+% accuracy in forecasting cash flow items with sensitivity to the market and one-time events.
Intelligent Cash is an innovative outcome of what is possible when an organization makes the sort of investment in SAP technologies as Accenture has done and pushes the boundaries of what technology can do.
This approach was among the reasons the “Transforming Accenture Treasury with Intelligent Cash Solution” was selected as a 2021 SAP Innovation Awards finalist.
To learn more, please see Accenture’s Innovation Awards 2021 pitch deck.