Even if you do not play video games, chances are you’ve heard of Mario Kart. The goal of this game is to finish the race first, or in the least amount of time, while avoiding shells and banana peels, which make you lose control. A Source-to-Pay (S2P) deployment is very similar – the goal is to implement the right tool as quickly as possible while avoiding major pitfalls. So, before you jump into your S2P deployment “Kart,” here are some shells and banana peels to avoid.Stakeholder Allocation
As with many projects, it is common for organizations to underestimate the time and effort required to transform their procurement technology and processes. Too little emphasis is placed on allocating the right people for the project. This causes delays in making critical decisions and ultimately extends the project. Stakeholder allocation is where companies need to plan in advance and ensure that adequate and accurate resources are assigned to the project. On the flip side, they need to make sure there aren’t too many people involved, as oftentimes decisions are harder to make when there are too many competing opinions. If it is necessary to have many people involved, we recommend appointing a decision maker for each workstream. As companies identify their stakeholders, they should assign people from every procurement function/department and not forget the super users who work in the tool everyday as they will provide valuable input.
While planning your team resources and roles, watch out for “decision owner syndrome.” Many project take longer than planned simply because one or two individuals feel they need to be involved in every meeting, design session or decision. Well formed and mature teams have leaders that understand the value of delegation – they appoint workstream leads that are tasked with making decisions quickly and from their position of expertise.
It is also important for organizations to inform the stakeholders well in advance of the project start. This will help avoid pushback from employees saying, “I wish I had known earlier so I could plan my time better,” or “I don’t have time for this,” or “who will do my day job?” They should understand it is not just their attendance that is required but also their active participation to make the project a success. Leadership should prepare communications that explain the project initiative and share it during townhall meetings as well as send it out via email to stakeholders. At Nitor, we understand that everyone at the client site has a full-time day job, so we are always upfront about the time commitment required from each of the resources allocated to the project.
These days everyone is moving to cloud based S2P solutions. These solutions are quicker and less expensive to deploy than on-premise solutions. Organizations often forget there are limitations to the customization of these cloud solutions. Typically, the cloud based tools address 80-90% of use cases, but may not accommodate some of the non-standard requirements.
So, what can companies do when there is not a tool available to meet 100% of their requirements? First, it is important to be clear on what the tool can and cannot do during the purchasing cycle of the software. This may result in the need for companies to prioritize their requirements and acknowledge some compromises in their business process. For those requirements that are not fulfilled by the tool, the implementation partner may be able to find work arounds. Second, it is critical to objectively assess all the current state processes. Sometimes, companies try to take their inefficient business process and replicate it in the new tool instead of using the functionality of the tool to improve their process. Organizations may choose to seek out an implementation partner that can share best practices and help connect the dots on current state vs. future state. As a reminder though, companies should refrain from always saying “Just implement what is best practice” because best practice might not be best for every company. Business processes are more unique than companies think, and its advised to carefully evaluate pros and cons of these best practices in relation to their specific business.
Something else companies might want to consider is the role of their implementation partner. An effective implementation partner should guide an organization through designing the best possible solution and support them through “go-live” and beyond. However, chances are that the implementation partner will only enable a limited number of suppliers or migrate a limited number of contracts, PO’s and invoices etc. Therefore, companies should not wait until after “go-live” to think about who will enable the remaining suppliers or migrate the rest of their contracts. Before starting the project, internal resources should be assigned to these tasks or additional resources should be requested from the implementation partner. It’s also a good idea to have the internal resources shadow the implementation partner for training purposes so they can carry on the work after “go-live. “
Organizational Change Management
We have seen companies that do not sign up for Organizational Change Management (OCM) services because they want to cut project costs. In other cases, they simply underestimated the importance of OCM. These companies usually come back to us with a change order to add OCM halfway through the project. What changed their mind? The realization that the new tool is a big change for the organization and all that time and money invested in its implementation will go to waste if the tool is not adopted by the user base.
The last thing companies want to be worried about is whether their employees are fully and properly trained in using the new tool. In other words, are employees making full use of the investment. Let your implementation partner help ease these worries. A successful OCM program covers Stakeholder Engagement, Marketing & Communications Planning and Training. It starts with analyzing stakeholders and creating a targeted Communications Plan to introduce everyone to the change and the need for the big undertaking. Then, it moves on to creating a specialized Training Plan with content, and ultimately ends with training the users. This ensures that the technology will be understood, adopted and highly valued throughout your enterprise.
One of the biggest pitfalls to a successful S2P implementation is poor data quality. We’ve been part of fixing S2P implementations for companies where adoption has been low, only to find that the initial deployment failed to capture high quality master data. Whether it is contract metadata, catalogs or supplier information, they all need to be cleansed and compiled prior to being uploaded into the new tool. Your S2P solution is only as good as the data you feed into it. It is also important to identify which department owns the data, who will be responsible for maintaining the data and what data will be loaded into the system. When a company builds strong governance and processes around master data management prior to or early on in the S2P implementation, they reap the benefits for long after the tool goes live. That said, this is not an easy task and can take several weeks or months to accomplish. We recommend companies start this process early on in the project with dedicated resources.
“S2P Deployment Kart” might be a bumpy ride but hopefully this information has helped you map a better route – one that successfully avoids any shells or banana peels. To summarize, follow these 7 steps for a smoother ride:
- Assign adequate and accurate stakeholders
- Explain objectives of the initiative and importance of participation to stakeholders
- Be open to new business processes
- Be clear on the implementation partner’s role
- Invest in Organizational Change Management
- Dedicate resources to cleanse and compile data
- Build strong governance and processes around master data management