Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Shannon Lowe of Verian.
When an organization is suffering from poor visibility and control of spending, it’s easy to see why rapid implementation of a purchase-to-pay system seems like paradise. However, before jumping at the promise of speed, it’s critical to understand that a rapid rollout alone does not guarantee quick time to value. It’s more important that a system rolls out right than fast. Best-in-class P2P providers balance rapid implementation with effective strategy and high quality execution to expedite quick gains in efficiency and compliance. Swift ROI from a P2P system requires an implementation process that’s better, not just faster, concentrated on unique customer requirements, expert project management, and widespread user adoption.
Listening to the Customer Comes First
It’s impossible to deliver quick time to value from a P2P system without first clearly understanding the desired goals from the customer’s perspective. Yet many prospective P2P providers start system conversations by pushing a fast, out-of-the-box rollout that completely ignores the customer’s unique business requirements. That’s exactly the wrong approach. Before doing anything else, the right P2P provider will stop to listen, emphasizing that while speed is important, getting it done right is an even higher priority. An experienced provider is a sounding board, not a steamroller. The first step is to discuss and grasp the customer’s most pressing business needs. Only then can an implementation team engineer solutions that streamline the customer’s most challenging P2P processes to deliver quick and lasting results.
Expert Project Management is a Necessity
Implementing a P2P system is not about turning a customer into a notch on a provider’s belt. It’s about truly understanding a customer’s specific objectives and expectations, and then putting effective solutions in place. That doesn’t just happen. It requires expert project management to keep a P2P system implementation moving along in light of project constraints and competing goals. The speed and quality of the implementation process are directly affected by how well teams work together to keep the project on track. Priorities can change, and that requires flexibility. Nothing good comes from forcing a round peg into a square hole. In the end, experience and expertise are the only ways to deliver a P2P project on time, on budget, and within the expected scope.
Wide Adoption is the Key to Real Value
No matter how fast a P2P system rolls out, real value only comes from delivering the anticipated solutions. This requires more than just automating the most obvious spend categories. The only way to achieve maximum visibility, control, and savings from P2P automation is to implement a system capable of capturing all spend categories, especially the unique or complex ones where a lot of maverick spending and non-compliance occurs. While this may or may not be the system that rolls out the fastest, it will be the system that produces the best results, and leads to widespread adoption and satisfaction across all user groups. This type of comprehensive adoption is the true indicator of success, not speed.
So the next time a P2P provider starts talking about how fast a system rolls out, pay close attention to what makes the implementation process better. Rapid rollout promises should always be balanced by understanding that high quality implementation requires customer focus, project management expertise, and an emphasis on adoption.