This article was first published on Basware’s blog
Successfully executing procure-to-pay (P2P) implementations has become a growing challenge for organizations as they prioritize building a more end-to-end approach for their operations. Implementation can be tricky — as with any kind of large-scale deployment that takes place at this level. The benefits outweigh the cost so long as the implementation is approached with care.
1. Select the right system
While the power of choice allows organizations to build a system best-suited to their needs, it can be confusing to get started.
On the back end side, most procure-to-pay (P2P) providers have straightforward ERP integrations. If you are looking more at boutique integrations, you may have to pay closer attention to integration capabilities. The Gartner 2019 Magic Quadrant for Procure-to-Pay Suites report can assist you at this stage.
Most market leaders in this space have a strong offering. It would be better to focus and place higher priority on the providers that are well-armed to streamline the P2P process.
2. Choose the right partner
Selecting the best partner for your organization is a critical step.
Your partner must have a deep understanding of the requirements for your organization and the capabilities of the solution you’re considering. There are technical partners that work on things like configuration and interfaces, or there are more well-rounded partners that take care of the backend implementation needs and the business consulting side—to help guide you and your team through the integration and activation process for a new technology.
3. Begin with clear goals in mind
You must lay out the objectives and KPIs to measure the success of your project. This is critical when beginning a new technology implementation project! Even if you’re not yet clear on which solution you’re going to choose, defined goals will help you identify the systems and partners that will help you reach your objectives.
If necessary, you can tweak your goals to match the capabilities of the solution if it comes to that once the project gets moving.
4. Rally your team members
Select the team members that will work on this. What you need to avoid is creating a silo, where the solution is not properly rolled out globally. For example, if you implement a new system and your IT team or maintenance technician is unaware and starts using the system, you may face hurdles or confusion, which may lead to slower adoption.
This is not simply an IT project; it is a project for the business as a whole. The team you build internally needs to reflect that.
5. Make a deployment plan and follow it
The wrong time to discuss the deployment plan is during the implementation — it needs to happen before! In essence: you need to have a dedicated team during the design phase, the UAT, and the overall strategy surrounding the project. These are some critical steps that need to be executed before implementation. It will have a huge impact on how the deployment will go.
There are a few “popular” methods for implementation, but we recommend pilot implementation. It entails starting small and crawling towards quick wins, then growing from there. Regardless of the method you choose for roll out, identifying a team champion that will be an advocate for the project’s success.
In conversation with Joel Collin-Demers, he brings up a great analogy about starting the implementation process:
“ […] Snowball versus a boulder. With a snowball (small pilot) will gain weight as it gains steam, it’s going to get bigger and heavier. Whereas if I have a huge boulder to push, then we need a lot more effort up front.”
Joel Collin-Demers, Procurement Expert, Consulting Principal at Pure Procurement
6. Your approach to supplier enablement
The supplier side is rarely thought of during the planning phase. Remember that suppliers will actually be the largest group of people using the solution; it may change your perspective or your system preference (rightfully so).
Think about how you will communicate this solution and the benefits for the supplier implementation and adoption.
7. Cleanse the supplier data
Point blank: don’t start implementing a P2P solution without taking a closer look at supplier data. This can be a large undertaking depending on the history of the company/legacy classifications, but it’s worth it!
In essence, quality data into the system translates to quality data coming out of the system.
8. Don’t customize your system
In the context of P2P solutions, customization is not a best practice. Normally, we’ve found when clients want to customize something within the system, they’re doing it to compensate for shortcomings on the business administration side.
As mentioned above, cleaning out your data and assessing your processes will help you move forward more quickly.
9. Have a change management plan
Your solutions provider can guide change in processes, but change management must be spearheaded internally. It requires a strong knowledge of the company’s history, culture, and team, so it should be handled by the client accordingly. Your provider and implementation partner should have best practices available to assist you in developing a plan that will streamline with your team’s needs.
With the rise of technology, implementing new solutions is definitely getting easier! But still — approach with care.
10. Get governance & executive support
All organizations have one thing in common: executive buy-in is everything for a project.
Have a core team working on the project daily with a manager leading it, and then rely on executives and/or steering committee for milestone and big decisions.