Taking a simplistic approach to P2P

Posted by Pete Loughlin in Purchase to Pay 01 Dec 2015

It’s a feature of youth and inexperience that we think we know everything. Perhaps not absolutely everything but until we understand how much there is yet to learn we can be inappropriately confident about what we think we know.

I was reminded of this recently when I heard a P2P implementation person talking about change management and how to persuade a bunch of sceptical old world buyers and requisitioners the merits of e-procurement. She described the “easiest way to buy something”. Which is of course via e-procurement. And as the easiest way to buy – why wouldn’t everyone buy into it.

“If I want some pens or paper I can order them on line in seconds. I don’t need to phone anyone. I don’t need to go anywhere. A few clicks and I’m done”

Site LogoShe was right – in one sense at least. Ordering pens and paper from an e-procurement catalogue is very easy. But that doesn’t make e-procurement the easiest way to buy things. All it illustrates is that stationery is the simplest category. Try persuading a civil engineer to to buy concrete from a procurement or finance built concrete catalogue or try to apply office consumable thinking to the replenishment of components on an automotive production line.

It is very dangerous to start with a simplistic approach assuming that because you understand how to buy stationery then you understand practically everything else. You run the risk of demonstrating that you don’t understand categories – the difference between indirect and direct or the subtle difference in the receipting process between goods and services. Take this approach and you will not be able to hold your stakeholders’ attention never mind manage a change in their ways of working.

Stakeholder management starts with listening. Listening because your stakeholders know everything and you know nothing. Listening because you want to understand their business requirements, their concerns and their fears. Listening because until you know all of these things you can’t build a P2P process that will be fit for purpose.

Using the simplest category to build your process maps and extrapolating them doesn’t work. Other categories require different approaches and stakeholders simply won’t take you seriously if you don’t demonstrate that you understand their unique requirements.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

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