Robert Bosch is on the cutting edge of online cash management

The scheduled discontinuation of ETEBAC means companies need to update their banking communication systems, and some are viewing this enforced change as an opportunity to reorganise the entirety of their treasury management systems.

This applies to the French industrial automobile group Robert Bosch, which approached the software editor Exalog to provide it with cutting-edge treasury management and online banking connectivity services.

Serge Dethoor, Director of Cash Management at Robert Bosch, explains what this large-scale installation project entailed.

In a few words, could you please tell us about the Robert Bosch Group in France?

Automobile components and systems are the Bosch Group’s most important area of activity. The Bosch Group is also present in the sectors of portable electric and thermotechnical tools (with the ELM-Leblanc Group), as well as domestic appliances and security mechanisms. Furthermore, with the Drive and Control Technology Division, it offers integrated production automation systems. We have 8,000 employees in France.

Robert Bosch SAS is a benchmark firm, a flagship of sorts, and finances all of its group companies located in France. We are thus a hub for centralising the euro-denominated cash position of the 17 entities linked to us. We also support them in other fields with our central legal, tax and human resource services.

How was your treasury management organised before its operation was reviewed?

The Group companies had dissimilar programs, installed throughout their respective pasts and in need of development. Moreover, these entities are of different sizes in terms of staff numbers and turnover. The conditions for interchanging bank transactions could therefore be extremely varied. We had to take these differences into account when choosing our new cash management solution.

What did you want to improve?

Firstly, we wanted to install an internal financing system worthy of its name. We wanted to level off day-to-day excess positions of the companies in the scope and, conversely, finance them whenever necessary. It was important to us that the entire Group used the same application, with a large range of functions, and that we all had the same technology. We also had to consider the planned discontinuation of ETEBAC, as well as the emergence of new files in various formats (XML). Lastly, we had to find a product that satisfied the specifications we had drawn up together, which was also as comprehensive as possible regarding its banking services.

Did you have other requirements regarding your future solution?

The security aspect was very important, with our head office supporting us to roll out the double electronic signature method. In the smallest of the Group’s subsidiaries, no electronic validation system for banking orders had previously been used. We also wanted to have a tool that was flexible, allowing the companies to remain independent and manage their treasury locally, while centralising all data for the Group in France.

How did you go about finding a provider that would meet your expectations?

After listing the solutions used in our 17 subsidiaries, we sent our specifications to several providers. We wanted to choose a solution in SaaS (Software as a Service) mode, guaranteeing us enough flexibility, although it demonstrably had to comply with our security requirements.

The Allmybanks application offered by Exalog was well suited: an integrated solution for forecast treasury management that took into account our specific characteristics, such as the diversity of our different professional roles and the need for companies to work autonomously. The flexibility and cost criteria were also important. With Exalog, the cost is not linked to the number of users or banks connected to the software. We also very much liked the Allmybanks solution for its progressive features, and that Exalog could develop functionalities based on our requirements.

How did the Allmybanks implementation go?

The solution was installed gradually without any huge-scale roll-out. In February 2011, the plan for a new treasury management and banking communication solution was launched. The company Robert Bosch (France) SAS was the first to switch to Allmybanks. Afterwards, the subsidiaries followed suit. In the end, installation took place in six months instead of the nine initially planned, after a prior feasibility study.

Regarding banking communication, Exalog supported us in our choice of the EBICS TS protocol as a replacement for ETEBAC. In July 2011, we succeeded in our goal, which was the discontinuation of ETEBAC and the operational introduction of the new treasury management solution for all companies. At the time, ETEBAC’s discontinuation was still expected for September 2011.

Which stages of the project were particularly successful?

We very much valued Exalog’s support throughout the project. We were very happy with the training provided to our staff on the new solution, and the gradual integration of the subsidiaries also went well. Likewise, there were no problems regarding the interfacing with our companies’ existing computer programs. We were pleased the installation was completed ahead of schedule.

What lies ahead for Robert Bosch France?

During the last quarter of 2011, a central payment application introduced the new SCT (SEPA Credit Transfer) format for payments made to around 6,000 employees. We have a new challenge for 2012: to extend SEPA transfers to our other third-party payments. Another exciting project for the months ahead!

Exalog's perspective

Guillaume Lafarge, Chairman

We bring to our clients 28 years’ experience of financial transaction management. In the case of Robert Bosch, this was illustrated when choosing the replacement for the ETEBAC protocol. Taking into account the scope of the Group’s business in France and management’s intention to extend the double digital signature, (dual approval), the best-suited protocol was indeed EBICS TS with the 3SKey certificate. For our clients with international banking counterparties, we recommend our SWIFTNet Service Bureau (Fin and FileAct) platform, which has been operational for five years.
Our aim is to meet the requirements of our 5,000 customers worldwide with a Single Sign-On offer. We thus offer an integrated online treasury management and multiformat and multichannel banking connectivity application