3 Steps to build your business case for treasury automation

Think big, start small, and learn fast to garner support for your project

Wedded to spreadsheets and manual data entry? Enjoying the grind of month-end close on day seven? Thrilled at the latest forecast that’s outdated by the time it’s built? 

Few treasury professionals would say “yes” to these scenarios. It’s why automation projects are proliferating across finance. There are faster, better ways to work.

However, getting corporate stakeholders to invest in treasury projects can be a tough sell. After all, the traditional view holds that accounts payable and receivable are cost centers, not profit-makers. 

APIs are game-changers for treasury automation

That perception is changing, especially as more businesses realize the competitive advantages that speed, accuracy, and automation can bring. It makes getting your treasury automation project on the corporate To Do list feasible—particularly when you advocate for new solutions that make it faster, easier, and less expensive to update systems, compared to lengthy custom development cycles. 

APIs are one of these game-changers. 

APIs are prebuilt connections that link company systems (such as an ERP, treasury workstation, mobile app, or payment website) directly to bank products and services, for “always on” exchange of information. Unlike batch processing that happens at set timeframes, or portals and file transfers that require user intervention, APIs move information automatically. The result is instant access to banking information, payments, and other services—without downloading files, waiting for reports, or re-entering data between systems. 

How to get traction for your API project

To get your API initiative on the radar, along with appropriate funding and IT resources,  build your business case with these three steps. 

1. Think big

First, start by envisioning what success looks like. Document your current systems and processes, then identify the friction points that impede efficiency, accuracy, or customer service. 

Look for opportunities such as:

  • When do you re-enter data?
  • Where do you use multiple systems to complete an activity?
  • How is the current process impacting staff productivity, corporate decision-making, or customer experience?

This is the time to dream big. Ask for input from a variety of roles, from those who “do” the day-to-day work (such as treasury analysts and frontline accounts payable and receivable clerks) to those who make strategic decisions (such as the head of finance). Involve your bank for perspectives from similar organizations and those outside your industry. 

2. Start small

Next, prioritize your efforts. Take the big picture opportunities from step one and find small yet high value projects that you can complete quickly and easily, with measurable results. The goal is to show stakeholders the value of automation within a few weeks or months, so you can gain credibility, build traction, and continue funding across multiple budget cycles. 

Consider the feasibility of API projects like these:

  • Automating reconciliation with real-time access to balances and transaction details
  • Streamlining vendor payments with instant confirmation that bank accounts are open and valid
  • Implementing a faster payment method for immediate payment needs, such as contractor reimbursements

Once you’ve narrowed your options, invite your bank and your IT team to the table. Review available APIs and develop requirements specific to your use cases and internal systems. 

Most importantly, quantify your projected efficiency gains from automating your treasury processes. Depending on the maturity of your company and your business model, this could include supporting rapid growth without needing to hire new staff, or improving productivity to reallocate existing team members to higher value activities. 

3. Learn fast

To close your business case, focus on timing. APIs are significantly faster to deploy—and easier to learn and use—compared to buying and training users on new systems, or investing in file transfer capabilities. Work with your project team, IT department, and your bank to find a first project that gets you up-and-running quickly.

Demonstrate in your business case how you’ll track improvements, measure ROI, and document future opportunities. Stakeholders will appreciate knowing how you’ll apply your learnings to future endeavors and use their corporate support wisely. 

Create momentum beyond a single API project

Whether you’re looking to expedite payments, receivables, or reconciliation, or simply to mitigate risk by avoiding manual data entry, the benefits of APIs will be immediate and quantifiable. Using a “think big, start small, learn fast” approach will ensure your automation journey starts strong and maintains momentum for years to come.