Support Paper: Getting Ready for a P2P Transformation

  • Matthew Hardaker
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This Support Paper “Getting Ready for a P2P Transformation” is free to download!

Transforming your P2P processes can feel like a daunting task, but it needn’t be. Preparation is key to ensure that the P2P solution you choose is the right option for your business.  

We cover the key steps you need to undertake to ensure that your organisation is ready for an efficient and effective P2P transformation. 

Setting the case for change 

The first important step is to undertake a period of self-reflection within the business. Understanding why and how you currently spend money within the organisation is crucial. At this point it’s vital that you engage with stakeholders involved at each stage of the P2P process. Without the specialist knowledge from users and stakeholders who are at the heart of your P2P function, the period of self-reflection is likely to be less effective.  

As an organisation, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do we have a full and transparent understanding of our supply chain?
    • Where do we spend money?
    • What categories?
    • With which suppliers?
    • What is the frequency of spend with each supplier?
    • What are the risks within the supply chain?
  • Are we in control of our spend?
    • Do we have an existing P2P cycle?
    • What processes and procedures are in place to approve contracts, invoices, purchase orders?
    • Are there defined roles for each stage in the process?
    • Are our processes manual or automated?
    • What are the timeframes for various stages of the process and can we identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies?
    • What control methods are in place and are they effective?
  • Do we face any current challenges when purchasing? 
    • Inaccuracies when making payments?
    • Budget holders spending without the autonomy to do so?
    • Invoices failing to match?
    • Delays in payments?
    • Supplier complaints?
  • Are we attractive for suppliers to work with?
  • Are our processes compliant?
  • What budget can we commit towards this P2P transformation project and is it ring-fenced?

All of these questions will help you shape a compelling case for change, and identify the opportunities that a P2P transformation will enable.

The Why 

Once you have a thorough understanding of all aspects of the existing P2P system, you are now in a position to develop problem statements.  

This will act as a starting point for the production of a meaningful set of business requirements.  

Ensuring your business requirements are prioritised in order of business criticality is key. However, softer and less ‘critical’ may be in fact no less important. Often overlooked, areas such as supplier adoption, user experience and easing the route to market are all factors which will help drive the success of the project.

Validate 

Once you’ve completed your scoping session and have identified your core P2P system requirements, it’s crucial that you seek external validation on the appropriate providers for your needs. 

Consider the use of third-party market insight organisations, such as Gartner. Gartner provides you with the confidence that the software suppliers you are considering have been externally validated by a market expert, enabling you to shortlist in a more effective way. They do this through the provision of a market assessment report which compares different software providers across a range of criteria. 

To support you in the validation process you might seek the guidance of specialist providers such as Barkers who can help shape your requirements and ensure you find the right vendor. Look for organisations who will help you to focus on long-term value and transformational change which will positively impact all areas of the business.

Engage 

You’re now ready to engage with the shortlisted vendors to find out more about the technology they offer and how it can best support your organisation. This is likely to occur through an official tender process. At this stage it’s appropriate to create a Request for Proposal by inviting the suppliers to take the time to understand your business and allow them to demonstrate that their software has the functional and technical capabilities to meet your requirements. This can be achieved through a dedicated scoping session.  

Scoping sessions should be attended by finance, accounts payable, procurement and IT as these functions are most likely to be directly impacted by the implementation of a new P2P system, but they could include stakeholders from other areas of the business too. Questions these departments are likely to seek answers for are: 

  • Does this vendor understand how my business works and what our current pain points are?
  • Can this vendor demonstrate that their software is an improvement on existing processes?
  • Is the technology user friendly and will it enable the accounts payable team to action core processes more effectively?
  • Does the software allow me to get to market more quickly and efficiently?
  • Does the software offer transaction efficiency?
  • Does this software represent good value for money?
  • Will the software talk to existing systems? 

During the scoping session, vendors will usually demonstrate the full functionality of their system. It’s important to be clear in your understanding of what elements of the software are included at the various different price points offered by the vendor.  

During the scoping session, as well as the technical and functional capability assessments, it’s important to consider the vendor’s approach to implementation, often a key indicator of added value and an area of differentiation between vendors. Consider: 

  • What support levels will be provided to ensure a successful transition to a new system? For example, does the vendor have an approved implementation partner dedicated to supporting new clients to embed the system successfully?  
  • How hands-on is the support? Does it include practical workshops or online support to upskill employees. 
  • Is the support collaborative and comprehensive? 
  • What is the frequency of support? Are regular touchpoints in place to address any issues or concerns. 
  • What does that support look like in the longer term once the system has been in place several months?
  • What are the timelines for implementation and does that meet our key milestones?
  • Is there a cultural fit between the two organisations and their approach to the partnership?

The level of implementation support required varies from organisation to organisation and is frequently determined by factors such as the size of the organisation, the skillsets of the people within it and whether budget extends to specialist support. Be clear on how much support you are likely to need from the outset. 

This Support Paper “Getting Ready for a P2P Transformation” is free to download!

Evaluation 

Evaluating the vendors will be a complex process. It is likely to include an evaluation of functional and technical capability against the ‘Essential’ and ‘Desirable’ criteria you drew up in the ‘Model’ stage. But it will also include an appraisal of more complex factors such as cultural fit, an assessment of whether the vendor will act in the organisation’s interests at all times etc.  

If your organisation doesn’t have a procurement function to lead this complex stage of the pre-implementation journey, it’s important to seek support from specialist procurement professionals who will manage the tender process through to selection, negotiation and contracting. Specialist support can also be helpful as a neutral voice, able to independently evaluate criteria and provide a holistic overview of the optimum solution for the business. This can be helpful if departments hold differing views on which P2P solution provider is best suited to address their needs.

Final Internal Commitment Test 

As an organisation you need to be ready to ‘fly out of the gates’ once the Statement of Work is signed with your new P2P provider. So before this occurs, take the time to do a final internal commitment test. This process ensures that all stakeholders are engaged, clear on timescales and provides clarity on pre-implementation actions required to secure a successful implementation from the outset.  

Your commitment test should involve:

  • A statement of agreed roles and responsibilities across all stages of the implementation process. 
  • Clarity on decision makers throughout the P2P implementation process and beyond. 
  • An agreed timeline produced in conjunction with your P2P provider with internal approval.
  • The production of a change management plan. Implementation partners offer crucial advice here as they understand where any pain points are likely to arise and can support with a change management process that will minimize any disruption. A robust communication plan is often the cornerstone of a strong change management plan.

Contract 

You’ve now undertaken the due process to prepare for a successful implementation and can complete contracts. Your implementation journey is only just beginning, but by following the process above, you’ll have put your organisation in the best possible position to ensure it is an effective one.

We are digital procurement specialists offering exceptional insight into P2P system solution providers.

Author: Matthew Hardaker
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