Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Shannon Lowe of Verian.
What keeps most organizations from implementing automated purchase-to-pay systems? Fear of change. What specifically is the greatest fear about changing? User acceptance. It’s the single most important criterion for determining the success of a system deployment.
That being said, here are five ways to drive user acceptance of a P2P system:
1. Plan the work, and work the plan.
Before committing to a purchase-to-pay system, it’s wisest to do some strategic planning. Key questions should be answered up front, such as:
- What are the desired benefits for the organization?
- How will the new solution impact the purchasing and AP workforce?
- What are the costs and risks associated with rolling out a new system?
A concrete understanding of how a P2P system will make the organization a better place facilitates more effective communication with P2P vendors, and ultimately, end users. In fact, best practice suggests that the most frequent users should be involved in this planning phase. An educated user is an accepting user. World-class P2P solution providers understand that user acceptance hinges on a solid strategic plan, and will work closely with the organization to understand and implement that plan.
2. Ensure buy-in from the top down.
This seems obvious, but it’s surprising how cloudy it gets sometimes at the executive level.
For managers and end users to accept a new P2P system, the C-suite must be visibly bought in. If there’s only half-hearted sponsorship, or even worse, executives don’t endorse or use the system, the entire plan will start to crumble. The most successful deployments are reinforced by executives who support the system and participate in the culture shift alongside employee users.
3. Recruit power users as lobbyists.
What’s the best way to get end users on board early? Try recruiting champions that are enthusiastic about the process changes and are willing to use that enthusiasm to help drive the benefits home to other users. Power users who are included from the beginning assume an important role in the outcome of the project by helping other users overcome frustrations, eventually accepting and adopting the system.
4. Provide training and testing that is second to none.
There is no substitute for hands-on training and testing. These are two of the most critical elements for ultimate user acceptance. Best-in-class training programs include not only power users, but as many other users as possible. If this is not feasible, there should be a plan and a schedule for how power users will train other users.
User acceptance testing (UAT) normally follows hands-on training. It should involve putting power users through real world business scenarios that help build excitement about using the new system.
5. Measure adoption of the system.
It’s shocking how few organizations actually measure user adoption, as tracking is imperative for determining true progress and accurate return on investment. Lack of measurement may be due in part to the perceived complexity of developing pertinent KPIs, but the system itself should be able to help simplify measurement. The most capable systems house all spending data in a single database, making it much easier to use standard or ad-hoc reports to measure spending patterns by user, commodity, supplier, or profit center.