- Many corporations established service companies for the financial management of their global subsidiaries in the 1980s and 1990s. The purpose of these coordination centres is to handle the financial risks of subsidiary companies. However, the IT structures of coordination centres are often totally outdated. Instead of eliminating risks, they are creating new ones…
- fidis GmbH
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Every day enormous amounts of goods and commodities are traded in international production and marketing companies of multinational corporations. Huge cash flows pass through these subsidiaries without them having access to professional financial management themselves. Liquidity protection? Cost control? Debtor management? Local branches lack the structures required for these. This is why in the wake of globalization, automotive, electronics or retail groups, for example, have assigned these tasks to coordination centres.
IT in the early days
The coordination centres’ tasks include, for example, liquidity planning, financial accounting and risk management. But they also have to ensure no transactions are done that could be accused of money laundering or violate current embargoes, for example. “In global trading there are huge uncertainties”, stresses Otto Johannsen, finance expert and CEO of Fidis GmbH. “To complete their assignments effectively, coordination centres have to have the proper professional structures and procedures available. IT systems that have to fulfill these high standards play a decisive role here.”
But often the opposite is true. In many cases the IT dates back to the 1980s and 1990s, when most of the coordination centres were established. These often involve in-house developments. Data are often even entered manually, which is very time-consuming and often results in errors. The resulting risks for corporations are enormous.
Reminders with legal relevance
Take debtor management as an example. One of the most complex and at the same time most important tasks in corporate risk management is dealing with all debtors worldwide. Thousands of addresses have to be compiled and updated. Any mistake, no matter how small, may result in serious consequences. For example, the listed company names also have to be actually valid, i.e. complete and correct. Only then does a reminder have legal relevance. Any mistake may therefore cost money. Double entries must also be avoided in master data lists – otherwise risk management comes to the wrong conclusions. With individual developed IT systems the job can hardly be done properly.
Another example is that coordination centres also offer their subsidiaries financial services, such as factoring. This is how they can ensure their liquidity independently of banks. For a large number of subsidiaries with a corresponding number of debtors a huge number of records is generated day after day, which all have to be processed and managed. If this information is entered manually, it is very time-consuming – so payments are made slowly as a result.
Powerful software needed
“Especially with factoring it is important that payments are authorized quickly”, Johannsen emphasizes. “The company’s subsidiaries are ultimately waiting for their money to buy new supplies, for example. In the worst case, operations grind to a halt – with consequences for the whole company.” Only with an IT system that enables automation of procedures can invoices and payments be processed quickly and reliably. Johannsen says, “Banks and financial service providers have long since recognized that for factoring and other financial services you need powerful specialized software. The coordination centres now need to rethink too.”
These specialized software solutions such as FACT.pilot from Fidis are capable of compiling and retrieving all the relevant data at the push of a button. It also constantly checks whether important datasets such as addresses are correct and whether there are duplications. In addition, all the relevant data can be accessed worldwide through an Internet portal. For international corporations especially it is a major benefit when documents, reports and payment records do not have to be sent by regular mail or email. In a portal of this kind the subsidiaries can view all the information about their factoring operations directly. Blacklisting can also be arranged securely using this type of financial software. Using interfaces with specific service providers the coordination centre has the latest information available on what may be traded and where.
Security and flexibility with SAP
In the process these special solutions, as is the case with FACT.pilot, should always be developed based on SAP. The advantage is that ERP software such as SAP ensures uniformity and at the same time automates processes as far as possible. This results in higher quality and greater efficiency. At the same time a SAP environment provides enough flexibility to add new features and connect with other systems. In addition, “For a company’s financial management highly specialized software is required integrated into a financial accounting that is accepted by auditors,” Johannsen explains. “That’s the case when using SAP.”
The standard features of the SAP module can be extended with what are known as add-ons. Fidis has for years developed standard applications for factoring companies, coordination centres and for ABS transactions based on SAP R/3 and since 2011 based on the current SAP release ERP 6.0.
As Fidis GmbH only uses SAP financial accounting FI for its solutions, its products are especially lean and easy to implement. For the basic FACT.pilot solution Fidis has now developed various extensions such as LIMIT.pilot for automated monitoring and management of all the relevant limits in factoring. Furthermore a risk tool, which not only detects the risks in financial transactions but can also trigger and organize a rapid response.
fidis GmbH is internationally one of the leading service providers of standard software for factoring and ABS processes based on SAP. The use of “FACT.pilot®” and “ABS.pilot®” enhances the competitiveness of factoring companies as well as the banking houses and saving banks. At the same time, they also fulfil the statutory stipulations. The modular structure of the software ensures quick implementation on the required scale. Irrespective of its size, every business can take advantage of this solution. fidis was founded in 2000. Its customers include leading factoring companies, big banking businesses and savings banks.