• Business Finance
    • Managing cash flow

HSBC’s integrated Cash Flow Forecasting tool helps Harvey Nash increase accuracy and efficiency

  • Article

A ‘manual’ approach to cash flow forecasting at a business based across multiple countries was hampering Harvey Nash’s ability to generate fast and accurate reports. Implementation of HSBC’s Cash Flow Forecasting Tool, hosted within HSBCnet, proved just the solution to deliver on those requirements – as well as providing multiple other benefits.

Background

Established in 1988, Harvey Nash works with large and small organisations, providing a portfolio of services that includes technology recruitment, IT outsourcing and leadership services.

The business now employs 2,500 staff across its recruitment solutions, executive search, and outsourcing divisions, based in 36 locations across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. It has offices in Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, UK, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and the US.

The challenge

With Harvey Nash operating across multiple jurisdictions and time zones, gaining a fast and accurate picture of cash flow forecasting has become increasingly important.

As Prince Marwaha, Group Treasurer at Harvey Nash, explains, cash flow forecasting had traditionally been carried out manually across the company’s various operations, with the different finance teams around the world sending completed excel documents to Prince to consolidate and analyse. A process which the organisation had outgrown.

“It was with this in mind that we started looking to invest in a system or tool that could help automate the cash flow forecasting process – which led us to embark on a pilot of the new HSBC Cash Flow Forecasting (CFF) tool within HSBCnet,” he says.

The core objectives for Harvey Nash were to automate a robust and reliable 13 week cash flow forecasting process and bank account visibility across the group. Other objectives were to support day to day cash and liquidity management, provide high quality reports for the Board, streamline systems; ensure greater consistency of reporting and forecasting globally; to generate more accurate CFF; to save time and resource; to manage intercompany positions; and to consolidate cash flow forecasts – which were often received in different formats and not consolidated automatically. Furthermore, as Harvey Nash has a small head office treasury and finance team in a large global company, it was important that the CFF could be rolled out with minimal impact on day to day activities.

In addition, the business wanted to overcome the lack of an audit trail provided by the existing excel format, remove the risk of manual errors and reduce the ample time spent gathering the forecasts.

The tool is robust, reliable, very easy to use, intuitive and user-friendly… its impact has been immense.

Prince Marwaha | Group Treasurer, Harvey Nash

The solutions

HSBC’s cash management team, led by Senior Cash Management Consultant, Courtney Schofield, worked closely with Prince and his colleagues to implement HSBC’s Cash Flow Forecasting (CFF) tool.

The CFF platform helps customers operationally streamline forecasting complexities and increase transparency of future cash positions, ultimately simplifying the deployment of cash – and helping treasurers to achieve their strategic mid-term to long-term goals. A focus on user experience makes the system as easy to use as opening a spreadsheet. Furthermore, as the platform is fully integrated with HSBCnet, users from all around the globe can access the tool easily, and simple file upload and transfer functionality has allowed for complete integration with Harvey Nash’s own Enterprise Resources Platform (ERP) and other data sources required to build the forecast.

As a result as of the implementation, the entire cash flow forecasting process within Harvey Nash has been reduced from five days to half a day, which includes analysing the findings – creating a saving for the group of four days in resources, time-saving described by Prince as immense. “The tool is robust, reliable, very easy to use, intuitive and user-friendly,” he adds.

The process

To ensure buy-in from all stakeholders, a clear and concise plan was put in place by Implementation Manager Adrian Dray, and Product Manager, Junaid Imtiaz, to give all stakeholders full understanding of the process and the benefits. Regular weekly calls were also put in place to give updates on progress, which included representatives from Harvey Nash and HSBC.

Adrian acted as the central point of contact for the HSBC Client Implementation team and as a liaison between the client Project Lead and the other HSBC account holding countries included in the scope, co-ordinating organisation of the accounts in HSBCnet globally.

Prince says the implementation process ran smoothly and with “minimal disruption”.

“There were no delays, no issues caused elsewhere [in the business] and the HSBC team clearly had a fantastic knowledge of the tool and its functionalities,” he says. “All of our questions were answered as a top priority, with quick responses, and the weekly implementation calls were very helpful.”

Prince says the stand-out highlight resulting from implementation of the tool is how easy it has made it for him and his colleagues to log in daily and obtain reports and analysis.

“The teams love the portal,” he says. “They can run their own reports and find it easy to include their commentary on the forecasts. Significantly improved actual versus forecast/forecast versus forecast variance analysis and a range of data visualisation tools to help with analysis.”

This, he says, is delivering massive savings across the group, greater transparency on future cash positions and group-wide bank account visibility, all in one place. “In fact,” says Prince, “it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to call it life-changing.”