Basware Event – Racing Cars and Getting the Green Light For P2P

I presented at an event years ago (the Bordeaux Business School Procurement Conference) at the Palais des Congrès in Arcachon on the west coast of France.  It was about 5 metres from the sand, (look here if you don’t believe me), and the audience in the first floor meeting hall, with panoramic windows, was somewhat distracted by the beautiful people on the (topless) beach.  During my session on “Marketing the Procurement Function”, the open-air beach shower facility was activated and that was the final straw really.

But talking about the finer points of purchase to pay at the Basware "Getting The Green Light Fr Purchase-to-Pay" event last Friday to a background of racing cars hurtling around Silverstone racing circuit (only practicing) was another new presenting experience for me. Good grief, they’re loud! At least the audience was facing the presenters, rather than the circuit, or the showers, so we seemed to have a reasonable degree of attentiveness. Better than Arcachon anyway.

Paul taylor BaswareThe day was designed to help Procurement, IT and Finance managers who are somewhere on the road to automating purchase to pay - or improving current P2P systems. My session was all about how you can build a credible business case for P2P without resorting to daft and wild "savings estimates", like the one I inherited and refused to sign as CPO of NatWest some years ago. Ironically, scrapping the SAP implementation was one of the first things RBS did on acquiring NatWest, after the bank had spent millions already.

Anyway, I thought it was a good event, with a genuinely thoughtful mix of speakers designed to give the delegates a good overview, and a reasonable amount of detail about the issues connected with P2P projects. We had a bit of techie content from Basware guys – but pretty non-salesy, I should say.  Then we had an impressive client view from Anne Wheeler, who managed a major project at Tyco International, and was clearly on top of the necessary detail around making this work.

Nic Walden from Hackett talked about the different procurement related technologies, and where each sits on the maturity and benefits matrix. He told us that “50% of large organisations haven’t got a payments strategy” which is pretty shocking, and highlighted some differentiators for decision making (in terms of selecting software), which drew some good questions from the audience.

I spoke about the business case, and we’ll come back to that at a future date in more detail. There’s a decent business case now without having to resort to the “save 5% on all third party spend” which was the NatWest level of maturity in 1998, and aspects such as supply chain finance can boost that business case quite genuinely and significantly.

Chirs Barratt baswareThe excellent Christopher Barratt finished off the morning with his session, looking at how to get stakeholders on board and influence the key people you need to work with to get a P2P programme implemented successfully. He talked about the “change curve” - you can't avoid resistance, denial and the various steps, so your job is to manage through them as quickly as possible. We've moved from a hierarchical system to a networked one, he said, which means influencing as opposed to “telling” is more important than ever.

Focus on what you can control, and don’t waste energy worrying about what you can’t, was another excellent piece of advice. And “challenge up, support down” was another tip - fight for what you believe in but once the decision is made, support it in front of your staff and don't whinge!

He then took us into an exercise around the “transactional analysis” theories concerning “parent, adult, child” behaviours. I tend to be deeply cynical about easy and popular “psychological” theories, but there is a core of truth in this one, I feel, and it gave Chris the chance to get people up and moving around the room too. A perfect close before the very good lunch. No booze though, as some of those present were to spend the afternoon driving around the circuit. But that’s another story.

As we say, more on my session to come and we’ll let you know if and when the slides from the presentations are available in case P2P development is on your current agenda too.


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