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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Source to Pay: Habit One

“Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.”
                - Stephen Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Never was a truer word spoken when it comes to the implementation and eventual deployment of large, complex and, frankly, expensive software systems such as source-to-pay (S2P).

Source-to-pay systems are intended primarily, if not solely, to deliver substantial ROI and savings. 

Commitment by the business to the use of these systems is critical to delivery of results and, if Covey is right, then that commitment, and therefore the success, is entirely contingent on involvement.

Involvement of whom, exactly?

Stakeholders, obviously. But who are these stakeholders?  Business leaders, certainly. Category managers, of course. End-user buyers? Finance and admin?  IT?  How about suppliers?

Does the success of S2P rely on the involvement of…simply…everyone?

It might seem facile to say so, but it really does. Engagement, buy-in, cooperation, support – whichever way you want to phrase it – the success of your S2P project will hinge on the involvement of a complete cross-section of your business.

Understanding that from the get-go is vital to achieving a successful implementation of a new S2P solution.

In this post, we will look at seven key steps in the implementation process and focus on getting the right level of involvement.   Adopting the habits of appropriate involvement and engagement will make your entire project highly effective.

Habit One - Get Started

One might say this is obvious and hardly a habit. But many enterprises fail to get past even this stage, for various reasons, and hence, it’s important to take the get the first step right.

Put off procrastinating until a later date…

In the procurement technology industry, it is not uncommon for suppliers to be invited to join a multi-round sourcing exercise. Request for information can lead to request for proposal and even to a final round of best-price offers.

This is all quite normal. However, when a company sends out an RFP to the global supplier community on an annual basis, asking the same questions and apparently looking for the same solution each time – then it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the company that is struggling to get started.

Perhaps the business case just isn’t robust enough. Perhaps there are political challenges or changes in management.  Whatever the case, before even getting to the RFP stage, it is always better to have a clear plan of what to do next.

It might seem purely evident from an objective standpoint, but knowing what you are going to do with the results of your sourcing exercise is the secret to gaining momentum.

The cost of getting locked into “serial sourcing syndrome” isn’t just that you’ll just spin the drive wheels, waste incalculable resources and end up exactly where you started. The real cost is the loss of saving potential — perhaps a couple of million dollars of overspend each quarter — that you will never get back.

Find a supplier you can work with…

“Before you select an implementation partner, your risk is only in selecting the right one. It is only after you make a selection that other risks begin.”
    – Dr. Kenneth Sullivan, ASU at SIG Jacksonville, March 2015

In that statement, Dr. Sullivan has identified one of the root causes of the “serial sourcing syndrome” that traps companies in a loop of going to market and then failing to implement. 

Making a choice risks making the wrong choice. Of course it does. Not making a choice does limit the risk that your choice would be a poor, or wrong one. And yet that ignores the risks and costs associated with delay.

Sooner or later, a selection will be made, and knowing — before you even go to the market — that you will need your vendor to adopt the same success-generating habits that you intend to employ must be part of your selection criteria.

No choice of supplier will solve all your other involvement issues for you. That much is certain. But your engagement with the best candidates, to understand how they can help you deliver success and not just software is an important first step.

With a partner and choice of S2P solution in place, you now need to build momentum internally and prepare for the kick-off.

When the whistle blows, kick-off

Creating a positive charge at the start of a game is a surefire way to put the opposition on the back foot. Before we get too deep into sporting analogies though, we should make sure we’re not just thinking about opposition to an S2P project in terms of people – although that may be true. Better to think about the opposition in terms of inertia, complexity, and good old-fashioned time constraints.

A well-argued business case may be able to convince people, but when it comes to delivery, adoption and usage, your project will have to compete with all the demands put on your stakeholders by everything else that goes on day after day. This is a recurring theme that you’ll find throughout the implementation. For everyone whose involvement is crucial for your project’s success, this new S2P solution is an additional draw on their time and resources, so you should plan your kick-off event keeping that in mind.

Understandably, you need the support, engagement and resources of the business, but it won’t be automatically, freely and enthusiastically given without careful management, by you.

To maximize the effectiveness of the project kick-off, and consequently the project’s initial momentum, there are some dos and don’ts.

DO: Showcase and set out a platform for what the project will achieve and how. Be clear, accurate and positive even (and especially) when detailing risks and dependencies

DON’T: Assume your stakeholders will automatically see the benefits or your chosen solution without careful guidance

DO: Invite the right cross-section of departments, stakeholders and beneficiaries of the projects

DON’T: Limit the audience to the project team, procurement or just those immediately associated with the roll-out

DO: Invite ALL the key-influencers, especially the naysayers. Combined with the other Dos, this will help you bring them into the fold

DON’T: Ignore the naysayers. Deal with them from the start

DO: Have a clear agenda, anticipate objections and plan for them, and present a coherent plan

DON’T: Assume that everyone agrees with your perspective and will not attempt to derail the project

DO: Use the kick-off to catalyze group-wide enthusiasm

DON’T: Let the kick off become a justification exercise

DO: Have a clear plan of follow-up actions and communications

DON’T: Keep your audience in the dark until go-live

All technology implementations present a business with the opportunity to change and evolve.

Change is guaranteed. What is less certain is whether there is the evolution. For the change to be positive, it must first be perceived as such, and adopting this first habit of getting a good start is the best way to set the course for highly successful source-to-pay implementations. And talking about getting to a good start, check out the SMART by GEP a cloud-based, source-to-pay procurement software.

Source to Pay

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