Purchase to Pay – getting the messaging right
The purchase to pay police aren’t naturally an attractive bunch of people. Like auditors, they only bring ugly messages about compliance and process. And they don’t make their lives easier by tarnishing further their image by moaning about their lot.
So how do you get the perfectly rational P2P messages across effectively? How do you prevent it from being perceived as a pointless dictat from an area of the business too remote to understand commercial realities?
“You give procurement a real headache when you don’t follow proper process”. “Don’t you understand the amount of work that finance have to do to tidy the mess you create by going off purchasing policy?” Typical of the cries from the P2P police.
But here’s the thing. People in the business don’t give a flying fig about someone else’s headache. They’re privately pleased (probably) because it’s payback time for the hassle the P2P police cause them.
Sorry, but it’s true.
P2P people have to develop better sales skills. People don’t do anything without getting something in return. They will either put themselves out to gain some benefit or put some effort in to avoid a penalty. They’ll do a favor because they can call it in and they’ll comply with a process to avoid being fired. The P2P message needs to sell the benefits to the business not explain the pain to the back office.
Instead of describing the hassle of new supplier set up, instead of winging about retrospective POs, instead of going on about the paper-chase from hell that an invoice without a PO creates – explain the benefits of a compliant purchasing process. The reduced cost to the business which lands directly on the bottom line. Explain the shared rewards between your business and your suppliers of a streamlined process and above all get people in the business to understand that proper P2P is not up for negotiation. If they want to compromise the P2P policy, they compromise their job.
Purchase to pay, implemented properly, provides spend analytics to support better buying, it helps to mitigate the risk of fraud and it reduces the cost of purchasing. It’s not exciting. It’s not glamorous but it’s important. But it can’t be put in place unless the messaging is right.
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin