Source-to-Pay (S2P) deployment projects are a large undertaking for any organization. These initiatives require a large resource investment, so there are high expectations on value delivery. There can be pressure to complete the project quickly leading many organizations to dive right into the deployment, which can cause challenges and risks to project delivery.
To understand the importance of preparation, these organizations should look to championship winning basketball teams. A basketball team comes together months before their first game. The team is assembled based on their skills and past experience. The players spend the weeks leading up to the first game brushing up on fundamental skills, purchasing the right equipment, learning the plays, and discovering how they best work together as a team.
Without ensuring the right plays are in place and the players have the right skills, the team will not have a successful season. Like the basketball team, without proper preparation before the initial Project Kickoff meeting (which typically marks the beginning of the project timeline), the deployment project will not go smoothly.
Two key efforts a project team can make for their deployment are team and data preparation:
- The project team must be assembled and understand the value of the initiative.
- The fundamental data of the project must be identified and organized so that once the clock starts on the project timeline, no one has to go searching through internal systems.
What factors make up a good project team member? Here are some areas that you should consider when determining which associates will be covering different roles within the project:
- Am I selecting employees who are experts in the business process areas relevant throughout the implementation? Do they have an understanding of company policies and procedures?
- How much bandwidth do the associates have for the project in comparison to their current roles within the organization? Could some of their current responsibilities be shared with other employees within their department?
While it is important to understand the employees’ skills, expertise, and experience, it is as important to excite the team about their role in the project and what it means.
- ROI to the Organization – The team should understand the ROI that was proposed while pitching this project. What does this project mean for the organization as a whole?
- ROI to employees – What value is expected for individuals that will work with this S2P tool in the future? Will they gain efficiencies in their day-to-day work? Will they gain greater visibility into spend data to help them make more informed, strategic decisions?
- Developing new skills – Projects can also be a great opportunity for associates’ individual careers. They can learn how to operate within a fast-paced project environment and gain new skills.
Once the appropriate team is in place, it is time to prepare the organizational data for the project. When a team does not take the time to review the organization’s data in advance, there can often be wasted time during the project trying to find the data. Ideally, S2P data will be pulled and available for review by the project team on the day of Project Kickoff. There are four primary types of data utilized during a S2P implementation:
- Commodity Codes – Commodity Codes are the fundamental elements of a S2P implementation. Once a valuable set of commodity codes are implemented throughout the project, the organization can better understand their spend. Well-defined and detailed spend data provides deep visibility and understanding into what the organization spends. This data then drives analysis that feeds back into sourcing strategies.
- Supplier Records – Supplier data is used throughout all modules of an S2P tool. These records include a supplier’s location addresses, contact information, banking information, etc. It is also important to understand how supplier data is initially captured from the supplier when the relationship begins.
- User Records – Internal associates will need different levels of access to the S2P tool based on their role and function. Often times, the system’s current roles can be mapped to S2P roles. User records will also contain supervisor information and accounting details, which are utilized in the S2P tool.
- Accounting String Data – While all companies have accounting strings that determine where purchases and other expenses are accounted, the elements that make up the full string vary from organization to organization. S2P tools are configured to capture the accounting structure so invoices will be coded properly when they make their way to the payment systems.
When preparing for a S2P implementation project, the organization’s data will be analyzed and compared to the structure of the new tool. It is not uncommon for adjustments to be made if the tool cannot consume the data as it currently exists in the company’s systems. The earlier the data is made available for this analysis, the more time can be built into the project plan to make these adjustments. While preparing for the project, it would be ideal to consider where all of the main types of data live within the organization and which departments are responsible for managing it. An understanding of this will also assist in creating a governance model down the road.
The S2P implementation typically officially starts with a Project Kickoff meeting that brings the whole team together. Similar to a basketball season, this Kickoff should not be the first day the team works together on the project. In order to prepare for a truly successful project, the team should be assembled, prepped, and be informed of the value of this project long before the Project Kickoff. The team should also have spent time gathering primary S2P data so that they can walk into the Project Kickoff with this data in hand.
Nitor has experienced both projects that do not follow this approach and projects that have taken the time to prepare their team and data. When organizations do not properly prep, their teams are focused on other things when they walk into the Project Kickoff and sometimes, do not even understand why they are there. In addition, the project falls behind almost immediately as teams have to hunt down data, and often pull it multiple times.
When the organization has approached the pre-Kickoff time like practice sessions, the team is excited about how this project can bring value to their department’s initiatives and their careers.
If your organization is anticipating deploying a S2P tool, start with two small exercises:
- Take a look at your Procurement organization chart and consider which associates are most skilled for a project environment and knowledgeable of functional processes.
- Choose from one of the four primary S2P data elements listed above and identify which internal system it is stored and which department within the organization owns the data.
If you would like to learn more about preparing for Project Kickoff with a pre-season approach, learn more at nitorpartners.com.