“I have never experienced 100 percent plug and play”

INTERVIEW | In a 12-billion-NOK global corporation, pooling the cash can free a lot of it. Yet, at each subsidiary, interacting with the pooling bank beside the local banking partners can add workload and complexity. Elisabeth Elsom, VP and Head of Group Treasury at TOMRA Systems, shares her story about implementing new cash pooling banks, a “payment factory” and an in-house bank to consolidate the process. Meet her in Malmö on 20 April.

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When a new system is the right way to go, it doesn’t automatically mean it is an easy ride to put it in place. Elisabeth Elsom knows. Her treasury is in the process of globally rolling out its new setup for cash pooling, with centrally contracted banking partners for different currencies, and a third-party connectivity tool to allow for various data formats across the many subsidiaries around the world.

At the Treasury 360° Nordic 2023 conference, on 20 April, she will present the project in a mid-day session named “Putting up a payment factory at TOMRA”, within the track called “Boost the process”. Referring to itself as a technology-led solutions expert that enables the circular economy, TOMRA Systems produces consumer-facing recycling stations for bottles and cans, as well as sorting technology for recycled materials and food products in industry-scale facilities.

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Several banks – but shouldn’t feel like it

“We wanted cash pool banks that could operate as both local banks and as a group bank, so that each subsidiary wouldn’t have to think about having several banks and move funds between them. We started the journey with the America region,” says Elisabeth Elsom.

Starting from a request for proposals, TOMRA came to pick one banking partner to hold the US and Canadian dollars for all TOMRA subsidiaries. Since then, the implementation for the Asia-Pacific region has also come well underway. The third-party tool supports the setup with capabilities such as “in-house bank” and “payment-factory” functionality, forecasting, and bank connectivity.

“In the future, I think we need to pay much more attention to aspects like the testing environment.”

“This lets the TOMRA entities continue to send the files they send today. The tool converts and enriches the files, and the banks can receive them in the format they need. We have achieved to cash pool more funds, increase security around payments handling and automate payments processes.”

A demanding real world

In the session she will describe the solution as such. But even as its benefits are kicking in, she wants to shine the light not only on the new capabilities, but also on the tough job it takes to set them up in reality – as would be the case with pretty much any important treasury solution.

“When you request proposals from banks or system providers, there are usually many questions about the functionality and prices. In the future, I think we need to pay much more attention to aspects like the testing environment, the testing process, and the implementation,” she says.

In the conference, Elisabeth Elsom will enter the stage together with her TOMRA colleague Cristina de la Torriente, who is Solution Specialist. Together, they will be able to cover all aspects from the business purpose to the technical detail – including the challenge around the testing.

“They will often say ‘plug and play’ but I have never experienced 100 percent plug and play yet in my career.”

The high level of complexity that a global corporation works under can be hard for the providers to take in, Elisabeth Elsom believes. Scheduling local stakeholders, to play their parts in the different phases of the project, is one of those real-life complications.

“They will tell you that an implementation can be done within a certain time frame, but it often takes much more time,” she says. “They will often say ‘plug and play’ but I have never experienced 100 percent plug and play yet in my career. There are always challenges.”

 


Elisabeth Elsom’s and Cristina de la Torriente’s session in the Treasury 360° Nordic program, in Malmö on 20 April 2023, is scheduled for 11:55 (as of this article’s publication – find the current agenda on the event website here). Titled “Putting up a payment factory at TOMRA”, it is part of conference track C, “Boost the process”.

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