It’s More Than Technology: You Need People and Processes, Too

Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Mark Schaffner, Vice President of Marketing at Verian.

"Technology alone is not enough," said Steve Jobs, regarding the pursuit of optimal business performance. "Getting results that make our heart sing," according to Mr. Jobs, happens only when we join industry-leading technology and committed people. At the time, Jobs was referring to the much-anticipated introduction of the Apple iPad 2.

Steve Jobs' philosophy rings true for achieving best-in-class cost containment as well. Attaining the highest levels of spend visibility requires more than just technology that automates purchasing and accounts payable.

The Hackett Group predicts that "the coming year will test the mettle of every procurement organization." In their recent article, The Many Hats the Procurement Professional Has to Wear, they say, "procurement professionals will be looked at to standardize and systematize processes amidst volatile operating conditions, drive more value from existing talent and technology, and continue finding ways to further reduce costs."

If your sights are set on rising to this challenge, combining your technology platform with people and processes in a new way is the only way to drive more value for your company. The case for adopting a strategy that encompasses people, processes and technology is stronger now than ever before.

Achieving objectives like those suggested by The Hackett Group and thriving in the new globally volatile economy requires much more than deploying a cloud-based purchasing system with a pretty UI. It requires organizations to change in meaningful ways. Further reducing cost will come from an ongoing commitment to improvement, not just a one-time adoption of new technology. And often the evolution requires bringing the traditionally separate roles of purchasing and invoice processing together.

Technology that is flexible enough to progress with this evolution is critical, but what is more important are the skills, knowledge and desire of committed individuals who transition purchasing from "buying" to "spend category management" and accounts payable from "payment processors" to "key players" in working capital and supplier management.

It is the process of combining old things in new ways that creates synergy. And a plan to unlock the synergy between your purchasing and accounts payable departments can be a key to bringing more of your corporate spend successfully under management.

Can such a plan "make your heart sing?" Stranger things have happened. Just ask Siri.

- Mark Schaffner, Vice President of Marketing, Verian

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