BAT’s journey to automating the short-term cash flow forecasting process
Similar to other companies using an Excel spreadsheet for their daily cash position and short-term cash flow forecast, British American Tobacco (BAT) had a small team focusing on short term cash flow forecasting for over 200 business units. Since most of the processes (AP, AR, treasury deals, bank statements) were already in SAP ECC, cash management relevant data was underutilised. Therefore, the tobacco company decided to engage into a short-term cash flow forecasting automation process project. Cash Flow Analyser together with several standard and bespoke Fiori apps were selected as the preferred option for daily cash position and short-term forecast.
We started the automation of the cash management processes late 2019. Before the go live (August 2020), the relevant teams were using very complex Excel files. All the flows related to AP/AR, treasury deals as well as all the bank statements were already available in SAP ECC but all the data required to build the reports was manually populated into spreadsheets which was time consuming and prone to human errors.
For the new solution, we had a simple approach: all the flows available related to AP/AR, treasury deals and bank statements data from SAP ECC will become available in S/4 HANA side-car box via idocs. We created an interface and idocs (CMSEND and CMREQU) were triggered and populated the One Exposure table.
Figure 1: Side-car solution design
The retrieve planning data program was scheduled to run on an hourly basis. This program is picking up data from summary records for G/L accounts data and planning groups data tables in SAP ECC and is populating the One Exposure table in S/4 HANA. Once data is available in the One Exposure table, an enrichment program is allocating the transactions to the bank accounts.
Foreign Exchange rates were required in S4 HANA for a proper functionality of the Fiori apps. The rates were already available in SAP ECC (receive from the FX platform via an existing interface). An exchange rate synchronising program is running hourly and is pushing the rates from SAP ECC to S4 HANA via idocs, using an interface.
Since the go-live date, the teams started engaging with the system. Even though we are still far from an end-to-end cash management automated process, we made big steps towards automation.
At this point in time, even if we can happily say that we are live with a daily cash position and short-term cash forecasting solution, we also have to say that this is just the beginning of an interesting journey in fully automating the process.
Are you interested to learn more about this topic? Please watch our joined session with BAT “Short Term Cash Forecast Optimization Using Cash Flow Analyser in SAP S/4HANA (Side-Car Solution) hosted by Diana Macarascu (BAT) and Alina Tincu (Zanders) at the SAP Treasury and Working Capital event.
View the recording here »