Treasury management systems explained: How to choose the right TMS software

Payments
Payments

Accept payments online, in person, and around the world with a payments solution built for any business – from scaling startups to global enterprises.

Learn more 
  1. Introduction
  2. What are treasury management systems?
  3. What do treasury management systems do?
  4. Treasury management vs cash management
    1. Scope
    2. Complexity
    3. Strategic focus
    4. Technology
    5. Risk management
    6. Integration
    7. Responsibility
  5. Challenges of treasury management systems
  6. Advantages of using treasury management software
  7. How to choose the right treasury management software for your business

The increasing complexity of financial markets and regulations means that treasury management systems have evolved into sophisticated platforms that manage a range of activities, from risk assessment to asset management. Businesses devote considerable resources to using these systems, as the decisions made here can reverberate throughout an organisation, affecting everything from financial stability to growth prospects.

There's a lot at stake in the choice and deployment of treasury management software, particularly for businesses with complex portfolios or international operations. Below, we'll take a closer look at what you need to know about treasury management software – from key features to integration capabilities and adaptability to provider qualifications – and how choosing the right software solution can benefit your business.

What's in this article?

  • What are treasury management systems?
  • What do treasury management systems do?
  • Treasury management vs cash management
  • Challenges of treasury management systems
  • Advantages of using treasury management software
  • How to choose the right treasury management software for your business

What are treasury management systems?

Treasury management systems (TMS) are specialised software solutions that oversee and manage an organisation's financial operations. These systems centralise information and processes related to liquidity, funding and risk management. A well-designed TMS automates complex tasks such as forecasting, data collection and reporting – and is an important asset for organisations that want to optimise their financial decisions. The growing demand for this type of software is projected to push the value of the global treasury management system market to over US$16 billion by 2032, according to a study by Polaris Market Research.

What do treasury management systems do?

TMS serve multiple functions with regard to optimising an organisation's financial operations. Below are some of the primary functions that these systems perform:

  • Automate financial tasks: one of the most direct benefits of a TMS is its ability to automate repetitive and time-consuming financial tasks, such as processing transactions, tracking interest rates, maturity dates and payments relating to loans and investments, and reconciling bank statements with ledger entries. This allows staff to focus their time and energy on more strategic activities instead.

  • Centralise financial data: a TMS aggregates financial data from various sources into a single platform. This makes it easier to retrieve and analyse information, which helps with prompt decision-making.

  • Risk management: these systems help to identify and analyse financial risks, such as fluctuations in interest rates and currency volatility. With this data, businesses can formulate and execute risk-mitigation strategies more efficiently.

  • Liquidity management: knowing how much cash is available and where it is located is important for any business. A TMS can provide a complete picture of an organisation's liquidity.

  • Compliance tracking: remaining compliant with ever-changing regulations is an ongoing challenge for businesses. A TMS can track changes in regulations and update the system automatically, reducing the risk of non-compliance.

  • Multi-currency support: businesses that operate in multiple countries benefit from a TMS's ability to handle different currencies, making it easier to manage conversion rates and currency risk effectively.

  • Reporting: customised reporting capabilities allow companies to extract the exact data they need, in a format that facilitates a quick and accurate analysis.

  • Data security: generally, a TMS includes strong security features to protect sensitive financial data. Role-based access control and encryption are often part of these features.

  • Vendor and bank connectivity: the system can connect to banks or other financial institutions directly, which simplifies transactions and makes it easier to consolidate financial data.

  • Scalability: as a business grows, its financial operations become more complex. A TMS can adapt to these changing needs, adding new features or integrations as required.

  • Budgeting and forecasting: with centralised data and strong analytics, a TMS can help businesses to plan budgets and forecast future financial scenarios more accurately.

These functions work together to make a business's financial operations more organised and effective.

Treasury management vs cash management

The terms "treasury management" and "cash management" are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have distinct scopes and functions within an organisation. Here's how they differ:

Scope

  • Treasury management is broader in scope and encompasses a variety of functions related to an organisation's finances. This not only includes managing cash, but also other financial assets, liabilities and risks.
  • Cash management is a subset of treasury management and focuses specifically on maintaining optimal levels of cash, making payments and collecting receivables.

Complexity

  • Treasury management involves more complex activities, such as risk assessment, financial planning and strategy formulation. It addresses various, such as including foreign exchange exposure, interest rate risk and investment strategies.
  • Cash management is concerned with more operational matters, such as ensuring that there is enough cash to cover day-to-day expenses. Its functions are generally less complex but are still important for daily operations.

Strategic focus

  • Treasury management has a strong strategic focus and aims to optimise the organisation's financial health and sustainability. It often involves making long-term investment decisions and planning for different types of financial risks.
  • Cash management is more tactical, concentrating on immediate needs, such as bill payments, payroll and vendor payments. Its focus is to keep the organisation running smoothly on a daily basis.

Technology

  • TMS are often more comprehensive and include multiple modules to handle an array of financial functions. They are designed to support complex analytics and financial modelling.
  • Cash-management tools can be simpler and are sometimes part of a larger TMS or an enterprise software suite. Their goals are operational efficiency and speed.

Risk management

  • Treasury management identifies, analyses and mitigates different types of financial risks, such as market risks, credit risks and operational risks.
  • Cash management addresses operational risks related to liquidity, but usually doesn't delve into other types of financial risks.

Integration

  • Treasury management is a cross-functional discipline and usually involves a high level of integration with other business functions and strategies.
  • Cash management is generally more isolated. It focuses on the operational aspects of finance but is not involved in aligning with broader business strategies.

Responsibility

  • Treasury management is usually the responsibility of the chief financial officer (CFO) or a specialised treasury department.
  • Cash management might fall under the purview of a finance manager or even an office manager, depending on the size and nature of the organisation.

While both treasury and cash management are essential for the financial well-being of an organisation, their roles, complexity and scope are very different.

Challenges of treasury management systems

While a TMS can benefit businesses in many important ways, it comes with its own set of challenges. Overcoming these issues requires careful planning, ongoing attention and a willingness to adapt procedures as needed. Here are some of the challenges that come with a TMS:

  • Cost of implementation and maintenance
    A TMS system will often come with a high price tag, which not only includes the initial purchase, but also ongoing maintenance and updates. For some companies, the cost is prohibitive, which makes it difficult to realise the system's full potential for optimising financial management.

  • Complexity and user adoption
    These systems can be intricate and sometimes unintuitive, leading to slower adoption rates among staff. The more complex a system, the more time and resources you'll need to devote to training. This can disrupt workflows and delay the benefits of implementing the system.

  • Data accuracy and integrity
    Although a TMS can centralise data, the system is only as good as the information it receives. Any errors or inconsistencies in data input can lead to faulty analysis and decision-making. Rigorous validation processes can mitigate this issue.

  • Integration challenges
    Even the most comprehensive TMS may not offer complete compatibility with other systems that an organisation already uses, such as ERP or HRM software. This can create bottlenecks in data flow and require additional resources for customised integration.

  • Limited scalability
    While some systems are built to adapt to growing organisational needs, others may have limitations in scalability. This could mean additional investments in system upgrades or needing to switch to a more capable system down the line, incurring further costs and resource allocation.

  • Security concerns
    Because a TMS handles sensitive financial data, security is a major concern. Unauthorised access or data breaches can have severe consequences for a business's finances and reputation. While many systems offer robust security features, no system is impervious to risk.

  • Regulatory compliance
    Financial regulations vary from country to country and often change over time. Keeping the TMS updated to comply with these changes is both time-consuming and costly. And failure to comply can result in severe penalties and reputational damage.

  • Over-reliance on automation
    Automation is a double-edged sword. While it frees up staff to focus on more important tasks, an over-reliance on automation can mean too little human oversight, which could result in errors or in issues going unnoticed until they become bigger, more serious problems.

  • Vendor lock-in
    Once you've invested in a TMS, switching to another system involves considerable cost and effort. This creates a dependency on the vendor for updates, support and pricing, which could lead to less favourable terms for the organisation over time.

  • Decision-making paralysis
    A TMS can provide an overload of data and analytics, making it challenging for executives to sift through the information and make timely decisions.

Advantages of using treasury management software

Adopting a software solution to power your treasury management requires careful planning and investment, but the potential returns – in efficiency, insight and risk mitigation – can be substantial. Here are some of the important benefits that treasury management software can provide:

  • Improved financial visibility
    Treasury management software consolidates financial data into a centralised location, which gives decision-makers a complete, real-time view of important financial metrics. This perspective prevents the lapses that may occur when data is scattered across multiple platforms or departments.

  • Time-saving automation
    Automating routine processes, such as data collection and reporting, frees up valuable time for staff, who can then focus on more strategic tasks, including analysis and decision-making. Automation reduces the possibility of human error and can boost overall productivity.

  • Stronger risk management
    A good treasury management software incorporates features that help to monitor and mitigate different types of financial risks, such as currency fluctuation and changes in interest rates. By alerting you to potential risks, the software contributes to proactive measures rather than reactive fixes.

  • Data security and control
    Keeping all of a business's financial data within a single system allows for tighter security measures for sensitive data, including advanced encryption methods and role-based access controls. This not only protects against external threats, but also helps to control who within the organisation can access specific types of information.

  • Scalability and flexibility
    Certain types of treasury management software are designed to adapt as your organisation grows. This can be an important advantage for organisations that are expanding or expect shifts in their financial-management needs. It helps businesses to avoid the disruption and expense that comes with switching systems or implementing add-ons at a later stage.

  • Simplified regulatory compliance
    These systems often include compliance tracking and reporting features that help you remain aligned with applicable financial regulations. These features also help to minimise the risk of legal complications that could arise from non-compliance.

  • Enhanced decision-making capabilities
    Some advanced features of treasury management software, such as analytics and forecasting, use historical data and up-to-date market trends to create predictive models. Decision-makers can use these insights for long-term planning and strategy.

  • Cost reduction
    While implementing treasury management software does require an initial cost up front, the operational efficiencies that come from it often result in a reduction of expenses over time. Benefits that contribute to a healthier bottom line include fewer manual errors, less time spent on routine tasks and more informed decision-making.

  • Improved stakeholder communication
    Real-time reports and dashboards make it easier to communicate the organisation's financial status to stakeholders. Whether the audience is an internal team or external investors, providing updated, accurate financial data can improve trust and lead to more informed discussions and decisions.

  • Data integrity and validation
    Because all financial data flows into one centralised system, the software often includes validation checks to ensure data accuracy. This means less time auditing and more confidence in the numbers that you're using for planning and strategy.

How to choose the right treasury management software for your business

Choosing the right treasury management software is an important decision which has long-term implications. The right choice will provide your business with better operational efficiency, deeper financial insights and a more secure financial-management framework. Here's how to approach the selection process:

  • Assess present needs and future goals
    Before diving into the selection process, take stock of your financial management practices at present. Consider both immediate issues that need your attention, as well as your long-term business strategy. This dual focus will guide you in choosing a system that not only solves valid problems, but also scales with your operations.

  • Examine features and functionality
    Once you've clarified your needs and goals, start evaluating what features each software solution offers. You'll want a product that automates routine tasks while providing sophisticated analytics for data-driven decision-making. Identify must-have features versus nice-to-have elements.

  • Evaluate ease of use
    No matter how powerful a piece of software is, it will become a liability if your team finds it difficult to use. Look for a system with a user-friendly interface and simple workflows. Ease of use can affect adoption rates dramatically and decrease the time it takes your team to reach full operational capacity.

  • Conduct financial analysis
    Work through the financial implications of this new system. This involves not only the up-front cost, but also ongoing maintenance and training costs, as well as potential data migration costs. Weigh these costs against the expected benefits such as time saved, process improvements and risk mitigation.

  • Review vendor reputation
    A vendor's reputation matters. Seek out customer testimonials, case studies and third-party reviews. Usually, established vendors have more experience with implementing the system across various industries and can offer better support.

  • Test with real data
    Most vendors offer a trial or demo period, during which you can test the software using your own data. This allows you to gauge the system's performance under real-world conditions and can be instrumental in identifying any gaps or issues that might not have appeared during a standard demo.

  • Consider integration capabilities
    Ideally, your new system should integrate with your existing software – such as accounting systems or enterprise resource planning platforms – to create a cohesive workflow. Look for software solutions with APIs or built-in integration options, which can simplify data movement and reduce the risk of errors.

  • Weigh up security measures
    As you'll be entrusting the system with sensitive financial data, make sure that you scrutinise its security features. Look for multi-factor authentication, advanced encryption and robust access controls as baseline requirements for a secure solution.

  • Scrutinise contract terms
    Once you've chosen a provider, comb through the contract terms. Focus on service-level agreements, support and any additional costs that may arise from add-ons or overages. An initial low price may conceal additional costs that only become apparent in the fine print.

  • Plan the implementation
    Finally, develop an implementation roadmap. This should detail the steps for data migration, training and the timeline for rollout. A well-defined plan facilitates a smoother transition to the new system while minimising disruptions.

The content in this article is for general information and education purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Stripe does not warrant or guarantee the accurateness, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information in the article. You should seek the advice of a competent attorney or accountant licensed to practice in your jurisdiction for advice on your particular situation.

Ready to get started?

Create an account and start accepting payments – no contracts or banking details required. Or, contact us to design a custom package for your business.