12 Sep 2016 Implementing P2P in a fast moving environment
It can be a challenge getting buy in for P2P. If you think about it, who cares about boring back office processes? To secure a P2P budget you’re competing with much sexier projects: marketing projects that will propel your business into the limelight – everyone can get excited about that; newer, nicer office accommodation; product development – not mention other calls on the company coffers like exec bonuses! What chance has P2P got – especially in a fast growing business where top line beats bottom line every time?
All of this was true 15-20 years ago. I once was helping the procurement director of a very large and rapidly growing tech business right at the peak of the dot com boom. He had an impossible job trying to persuade the business to implement purchasing systems that would deliver controls. The business was haemorrhaging money because there were no purchasing and payment processes in place but they were so focused on growth, they literally didn’t care. They were in a competitive industry and a moment focused away from growing and expanding could lose them their lead. P2P was too low a priority and until they really had to implement controls they would remain absent from the business.
And in those days, that was probably the right decision. The business case was much less compelling then. A global business might need to justify an investment of several $million to fully implement a good e-procurement system – and that’s just the licence costs. Justifying that in terms of savings when in practice most suppliers couldn’t deliver a decent catalogue was pretty difficult. And even if the business case could be built, it had to be more attractive than the other business cases on the CEO’s desk.
But is that still true today? P2P is still boring for sure – but is has become more compelling. So compelling that the business case stacks up even in a very fast moving environment like a rapidly growing business. There are better P2P solutions available at lower cost and the cloud model makes them easier and quicker to deploy. Unlike 20 years ago, you’re not looking at a 6 or even 12 month implementation timescale, you’re talking weeks. And suppliers are better connected.
20 years ago, persuading a CEO to buy into fully fledged P2P was like trying to persuade your boss to put telephones in the office when the only person you could speak to on the phone was Alexander Graham Bell. We’re no longer pioneering – in fact, who needs a business case? The case has already been made many, many time in other organisations. Eliminating maverick behaviour, removing the risk of fraud and making it easier for staff to buy the right things from the right suppliers is a no brainer and because it easier, quicker cheaper and better than 20 years ago, even the fastest moving business can buy into it.
Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin