Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Shannon Lowe of Verian.
If not taken seriously, managing change can become a significant obstacle to successfully implementing purchase-to-pay (P2P) automation technology. Even though P2P automation promises to relieve the sizeable burdens caused by paper or other poorly performing systems, people can be stubborn and resistant to change. This resistance can hamper an automation project or even derail a system implementation entirely.
The three biggest change management challenges are adoption, alignment, and compliance. And here’s some valuable insight on how to deal with and overcome these challenges.
No matter how slick a new purchasing or accounts payable system seems to be, the success of the system hinges on getting people to use it. That’s why ease of use is so important as a selection criterion when evaluating a system.
For example, best in class purchase to pay systems feature hundreds of user permissions that create multiple, easy to use interfaces for different groups of users. A user’s login credentials provide all the information needed to code requests to the proper cost center and solicit necessary approvals. After approval, orders are automatically placed with preferred suppliers and invoices are reconciled and paid.
This caliber of technology makes it easy for employees to get the goods and services needed, while following all the proper procedures. People will embrace a system like this that makes it easier to get work done.
This is a perfect segue way into the next potential change management challenge, which is ensuring that a new system actually aligns with and streamlines unique business practices.
This might seem surprising, but rather than simplifying processes, there are actually some P2P systems out there that can complicate matters due to a lack of flexibility or product breadth.
In addition to ease of use, an ample P2P solution must feature numerous configuration options designed to streamline business processes, even when spending rules are unique by amount, commodity, user, business unit, supplier, or payment method. This type of robust functionality not only makes work easier, it makes it better by ensuring the most important tasks are completed more efficiently and effectively.
People can misuse even the easiest and most well-aligned systems, so effectively managing change also means that a P2P system must make it easy to identify and educate non-compliant users.
This can be accomplished by selecting a system that provides a consolidated view of all spending details for purchase order (PO), Non-PO, work order, and reimbursed spending by user, supplier, commodity, or business unit. This type of visibility and reporting makes it simple to spot non-compliance, educate errant users, and get spending back on track with compliance policies.
Developing an understanding of the potential change management challenges represented by adoption, alignment, and compliance provides the foresight needed to make better system choices, resulting in more successful implementation, as well as lasting results.