CloudX Blog

Driving Accounts Payable Software Adoption In Your Business

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

May 20, 2013 9:36:00 AM

 

 Don't let Accounts Payable Software adoption become a tugging contest!

In Hugh Lofting’s beloved children’s tales about the adventurous Doctor Dolittle, there’s a creature that is unique to his imagination that has made an indelible impression upon me…the Pushmi-pullyu.   What is a Pushmi-pullyu you ask?  Turning to Wikipedia we see that “The pushmi-pullyu (pronounced "push-me—pull-you") is a "gazelle-unicorn cross" which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. When it tries to move, both heads try to go in opposite directions.”  Now that’s fantastic, an opposite ended, two headed animal…what does that have to do with AP software adoption in the enterprise…?


Only everything…  

 

We’ve already discussed that change for any party can be difficult.  If you don’t think so, I suggest that you fire up some instant popcorn tonight, grab your beverage of choice, and call up some old Kitchen Nightmares shows on Netflix.  Clearly, even when faced with dire circumstances and the threat of restaurant extinction, many business owners are reluctant to embrace change.  With so much riding on the line, and many mired in heaps of debt, why would stakeholders in a process that is not their baby be any more favorable towards the change you’re trying to be the catalyst for?  So with that said, it’s important from time to time to refresh the best approaches to getting your team in sync and marching onward to victory.  

 

3 Tips to Getting Successful Adoption of Accounts Payable Software  

 

1.  Ease of use  – If they don’t understand the direct and immediate benefits to the business in terms of invoice processing, you definitely want to apprise them of what it means not only to you but to the health of the organization.  If they have even a shred of moral decency there will be a reckoning of the fact that it’s all for one and one for all, a la 3 Musketeers.  If not, I suggest you revamp your Christmas card list this year.  Sidenote – When you’re selecting your software solution of choice that they’re going to be working with, make sure it’s easy to use.  If they get into it and it looks like you need a certification from NASA to make it work, chances are you’re going to upset folks and undermine your launch.  I saw a Fortune 1000 company do just this when they navigated away from MS Outlook in favor of Lotus Notes with over 30,000 users, and three years later, the night terrors are still occurring.

2.  Broadcast wins  – A recent client of ours was able to increase their Early Payment Discount capture by improving their visibility to their Accounts Payable process.  Additionally, they were able to free up their AP staff time upwards of 30% by getting out of the data entry business and transitioning their folks to a more strategic business outcome optimizing role.  With that said, you’ve got to, like a good PR strategist, broadcast those wins beyond the scope of your own department.  When others in the organization know what it means to elevate the performance of the company and what the ramifications are, chances are they’ll at least be more open to getting behind it and more closed to bashing the changes.

3. Get Sponsorship – Individual behavior is an interesting phenomenon.  People are prone to acting one way in the midst of a set of peers, and another way set among superiors.  So, if all else fails, grease the wheels of those who can make your adoption easier.  If that means making a visual, emotional, logical, or meta-physical (magic and illusion are powerful influencers…remember the Jedi mind tricks from Star Wars….come on!) effort, then do so…within reason.  With the right folks on your side, getting others to embrace AP process enhancements will be easier than going it alone.  Not to mention that going-it alone isn’t really a way that will get anything of value done when it comes to getting the masses to follow you.

Don't let your Accounts Payable Automation initiative get mired down by factions, politics, and change resistance.  Do everything in your power to help others embrace change, fight the good fight, and see the benefits of sticking to your guns and making your organization healthier and more productive.

To learn more about  AP Automation or E-Invoicing is right for you, check out our eBook below!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Invoice Processing, ap system, accounts payable software, accounts payable best practices, accounts payable improvement, ap automation

Managing Problem Vendors Through AP Automation Changes

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Apr 29, 2013 9:50:00 AM

 AP Automation is as cool as Jesse Pinkman yo!

Yoooooo...Mr. White!

 

As we’ve discussed in this earlier post, change is difficult albeit necessary to improve.  No one likes going through a few hundred crunches, just go the gym around January 2nd every year, and you’ll see plenty of subject matter experts on this…we guarantee.  So how do you go about getting your vendors to embrace the changes that you create for them when you embrace a wholesale Accounts Payable automation initiative, especially one that integrates a vendor portal approach.  


We’ve repeatedly seen that certain vendors, and typically smaller organizations, can tend to be a bit more zealous to their approach to checking on transaction details and getting paid fat stacks (for all you Breaking Bad fans yoooooooo!).  But seriously, how do you help the problem children get over the hump of new technology adoption.  
Here’s a few of our thoughts:  

  1. Make your system easy to use.  This should be a pre-requisite for anyone attempting any level of software development or systems implementation.  However, it’s amazing that many software organizations do a fantastic job of making a simple process overly complex through confusing UI (user interface) and by doing so, blow their UX (user experience).  If you blow that….good luck getting them back on the bandwagon to use it again.  People have a short shelf life for being receptive to trying new technologies, so make sure however you present the system to them, that it doesn’t look like the  cockpit of an F-16.  From our perspective, by the way, the point of a vendor portal is to facilitate faster invoice processing through instantaneous invoice upload, as well as providing a search and retrieval component that is inclusive of the supplier so they can participate in the chain of custody of their invoice and unlike Mick Jagger get some satisfaction!
  2. Give your vendors options. Nobody likes being backed in between a rock and a hard place.  In sales that is typically called a hard-angle close, and it’s typically a tactic that is deployed to elicit an immediate action or decision by pitting two competing options against each other typically associated with some kind of time pressure.  Have you ever gone to buy a car and wondered how the mysterious promos that were being dangled in front of your face would all of a sudden vaporize from one day to the next…I mean c’mon they’re selling you a bucket of bolts for upwards of $20,000…you think they don’t want to make a deal…?  By the way…how did that approach to closing you make you feel? Pressured? Anxious? Frustrated? Perhaps…so don’t pay it forward to your suppliers when you introduce Accounts Payable software for automation that will help them.  Instead, create a welcoming, inclusive, message that lets them know that they can continue how they’re submitting you invoices (paper/email/EDI whatever) and if they want to upload through the portal  here are the bennies…capiche?
  3. Show them the way.   One step that is often overlooked is going beyond a clean UI.  In today’s hectic world, make it easier for your vendors to adopt the new way of doing business with you by providing training materials to get the adoption you’re looking for.  I can hardly think of anything that I purchase at this point in time that doesn’t get some serious investigation through blogs or optimally through YouTube.   This is really going beyond the status quo to delight your supplier base and make them raving fans of your new fangled approach, but ultimately it’s a win for both parties.  They can self-serve, and you can get them up off your back if they’re hounding your AP staff.
  4. Identify those willing to accept discounts.  This has been huge for many of our customers who are actively implementing or trying to increase their adoption of early payment discounts across their supplier base.  As a baseline, you can at least identify those who are willing to provide some favorable terms in exchange for faster payment, and certainly one of the tenets of AP software is that it expedites the end to end AP process.   Do this by offering up an opt-in option during their registration process and you’re good to go!  This can then auto trigger either your AP or Procurement staff to follow up on it with the supplier and then lock it down in terms of details.

In reality, you’ll never please everyone 100% of the time, but you certainly can provide a framework that is favorable to many and appeal to the masses.  The other item to consider is to be open minded to your vendors feedback.  They may provide some valuable ideas to making the entire experience better for everyone, and by being open-minded to it, you can find yourself enriching the relationship and improving your overall customer experience.  This is just another way you can appeal to a tough cookie and sell them on the advantages  to a new and different approach.  If at that point they don’t get it…keep calm and carry on!  The majority will and ultimately people will adopt as you get more and more traction…it’s that whole S curve thing we learned in Macroeconomics back in the day!

  
Til then, cut your teeth on other ways to cut your processing costs in our eBook Uncovering the 7 Costs to Process an Invoice and learn how to trim the fat out of your Accounts Payable process!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Process, Accounts Payable Automation, Invoice Processing, ap system, accounts payable software, vendor portal

Bridging AP Automation Communication Barriers Between Finance & IT

Posted by Chris Cosgrove

Apr 16, 2013 4:40:00 PM

 Getting rid of AP Automation communication issues between departments is clutch!

That Dog Ain't Gonna Hunt!

One of the most critically acclaimed World War II film productions has got to be Band of Brothers, produced by HBO in 2001 and based upon the same-titled best selling book by fabled historian Steven Ambrose.  In the initial episode, a classic prank is pulled by an entire platoon of soldiers upon their over-bearing and heartless company Captain as a means to show their disapproval of his leadership and decision making process.  One of the soldiers, Sargent Donald Malarkey, tricks Captain Sobel into thinking that Malarkey, who is unseen to Sobel in the woods, is actually his commanding officer.  Malarkey, using master impersonation skills directs Sobel to cut cow fences in order to advance the progress of his platoon much to the delight of his comrades.  In it he uses a fantastic expression to convey the fruitlessness of Sobel’s command decisions stating that “that dog just ain’t gonna hunt!”, and in so-doing compels him to take an action that ultimately mortifies him in the sight of his peers.  Now with that said, you really need to see it to enjoy it, but it serves a purpose for our conversation today.

 

Sometimes it’s evident as we approach systems implementations and vendor selection processes that certain dogs ain’t gonna hunt.   A perfect example of this just happened in the course of our conversations this week with a potential customer.  Now up to this point we’ve discoursed extensively with their Finance leaders and Accounts Payable staff, though when the subject Accounts Payable automation project was broached with their IT leaders, all of a sudden alarm bells start going off, which is interesting but hardly surprising. 

 

Some of the common concerns tend to lie in a few repetitious areas:

 
  1. We’ve already invested in systems (let’s say document imaging to continue with the exact scenario).  To be sure, extending systems that are functional and provide business advantage is highly to be desired.  No CIO in their right mind is going to want to bring in a redundant system.  But to quote Shakespeare…there’s the rub!  In the situation that unfolded today, it became very evident that when one department is speaking apples, another department is hearing oranges.
  2. We’re overburdened with other projects.  Not to say that this one came up today, but it is to say that it underscores the need to stack rank and score projects based upon fiscal impacts, investment requirements, achievability, timelines, and resource constraints.  More on evaluating projects here!
  3. This has to integrate to our core systems.  This really shouldn’t come as a revelation, but it’s a requisite for any sound-minded corporate leader.  Of course new systems have to work together and that is precisely why integration shops that tie core systems together do so well. Just look at all the development activity around platforms like Salesforce, SAP, & Oracle.

 

The question is why is IT often viewed as the buzz-killer of project deployments, when they are the very linchpin in many cases for managing projects and making systems work.  

 

To be sure proposing  Accounts  Payable software deployment is a heady subject and one that requires extensive planning and expertise to execute upon.  That being said to point #1 above, and the whole apples vs. oranges issue, in the case of our the client discussion today, it became evident that IT really had no working understanding of the intricacies of the Accounts Payable process.  Now, it’s understandable in their particular context, being a large hospital and as we’ve covered in our Healthcare eBook here, that IT spend and attention typically gets diverted to clinical systems (EHR, digital radiology, etc.) as opposed to back office.  But more to the point, there was a complete lack of awareness of invoice processing and the requisite data entry, validation, routing, and exception handling components.  Invoices are, as you well know, transactional documents that require interaction, not just some static data carrier that can just get plunked away for safe keeping.  Ironically, this type of an approach (archival) without addressing the processing issues, really doesn’t improve the AP process, and actually ends up adding costs to the process.

 

So, as a response to this our recommendation is to always clearly define and articulate the scope of new projects along with providing compelling business cases and benchmarking studies to determine where you are prior to an initiative and thereby create a vision for the improved state.  Typically this, along with an educational component, or should we say interpretation process, can help make sure that the items in discussion are meaningful to all parties, especially those who may not have subject matter or process expertise.

 

 

To learn more about Accounts Payable best practices and whether cloud based AP software is right for you, check out the eBook below!

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Topics: Accounts Payable Automation, Improve Accounts Payable, Invoice Processing, Accounts Payable Solutions, ap system, AP Process, Accounts Payable Process, accounts payable software, accounts payable best practices, ap software, accounts payable outsourcing

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