Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Shannon Lowe of Verian.
Ask any sponsoring executive to name the leading criteria for selecting a purchase-to-pay software solution, and ease of use will be at the top of the list. However, very few decision makers have a firm grasp on what ease of use really means. Many organizations get distracted by solutions that have attractive user interfaces but do not drill down deep enough to ensure that there’s rich functionality to deliver true long-term value.
A true P2P solution must be more than just a pretty face. Even the most stunning UI is absolutely useless if it doesn’t convey users through a well-designed platform filled with perceptive features. This intuitive depth of functionality is the only way to garner the widespread user adoption that’s critical to achieving maximum savings and ROI. Regardless of how nice the UI looks, here’s what to look for to ensure that a P2P system is really easy to use:
1. Greater Compliance = More Savings
An easy-to-use system improves compliance, making it simple and fast for employees to get the goods and services they need, while following all the appropriate procedures. This includes things like automatically coding requests to the proper cost centers, soliciting needed approvals, placing orders with preferred suppliers, and reconciling and paying invoices on time.
2. Short Learning Curve = Faster Adoption
A system is not easy to use if it’s not easy to learn. How quickly employees pick up the system is vital to achieving long term user adoption, let alone overcoming employee turnover. If learning a system is frustrating, dysfunctional, or takes too long, game over. Employees are just going to go around it to get what they need. Power users should warm up to a new system fast, breezing through the UI, monitoring key metrics, and achieving their goals. Infrequent users should require little or no training to process simple tasks like routine requisitioning.
3. Accelerated Workflows = Less Human Resource Requirements
An easy-to-use system makes P2P headaches like paper forms, approval bottlenecks, and manual reporting processes go away, freeing up employees to focus on much higher value tasks. This requires leading edge functionality and a concrete understanding of an organization’s unique workflow and business rules, leading to greatly streamlined processes and improved productivity.
4. Engaging Interface = Broader and Deeper Adoption
A nice UI is easy on the eyes, but more important is whether the system has the latest innovations in cloud, mobile, and tablet technology to deliver reliable, effortless P2P solutions that capture the hearts and minds of users.
5. Prevention of Errors = Lower Costs
An easy-to-use system also eliminates the expensive and time-consuming stumbles caused by human error. This requires the functionality to map every step of the P2P process to ensure that occurrences of pesky things like maverick purchases, missing data, improper coding, or invoice exceptions are greatly reduced or just don’t happen at all.
In conclusion, consider it a warning sign if most of the P2P software conversation is centered on the “wow factor” of the UI. That wow factor doesn’t mean the system is easy to use. So run the solution through the above criteria to help truly determine ease of use.