At it’s core a system is a collection of rules and parameters that constrain operations, a robust framework that seeks to ensure acceptable results from a selection of potential inputs. A good example might be a roundabout, drivers are aware of the rules of operation, select the correct lane on approach, give way to traffic coming from the right, circulate clockwise, indicate to exit…I may have missed some elements, but it’s been a while since I passed my test! The important thing about a system is that it reduces risks and increases the likelihood of repeatable results and positive outcomes, in the case of the roundabout less accidents and efficient traffic flow. Systems work because they are tried, tested and have been refined by experience.
I imagine that almost every local authority in the UK has a junction that employs the Roundabout system to manage its traffic, so we were surprised when our research indicated that only around half of UK local authorities use a Treasury Management System (TM System). The most dominant being Logotech, a long established, successful market leader, alongside Latimer, PS Live and more excitingly the recent birth of our own Arlingclose system. The remainder, half of all authorities, are primarily using their own constructions of interlinked Excel spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets are great, they’re flexible and powerful tools, with almost limitless potential functions and inputs…and therein lies their strength, but also their weakness. The flexibility they afford and the lack of control of inputs and operations mean that they are not as robust as systems, where inputs are strictly defined and operations logically limited, these operations having been considered, tried and tested, and refined through the experience of many users in many organisations. Long established systems, with multiple users are likely to have encountered more unintended outcomes, errors, over time and these will have been eradicated by changes to the system. An error, a typo, an omission from a spreadsheet…even one that has worked well historically, may not be spotted for a long time where a single user or small group maintain that tool for their own use.
The benefits of a system, beyond its robustness and the process of peer review that has contributed to its development should be, Financial – you should end up with a lower net cost of treasury, Time – you should save time through the use of an efficient process with an inherent faith in observed outcomes, Flexibility – produce a range of flexible reports and outcomes from the defined inputs of the system, Market Integration – access to market data without the effort of self input, Confidence – assurance that the system has produced the right outputs from the given data.
When time is precious, and human and financial resources are scarce, we believe that a treasury management system can give you an edge, just like the edge you have by following the system at a roundabout rather than “trying your own thing”! If you want to chat about treasury management systems then please do contact one of the Arlingclose team.