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Companies looking to enact a digital transformation of their procurement-to-pay systems have many options when it comes to how to approach a large-scale deployment involving change management. A recent client took a bold and focused approach when they decided to develop and launch a digital purchasing system for their indirect P2P where none had before existed.
Kathy Thrasher, senior procurement manager with our Client was tasked with leading the effort, which launched January 2021. WNS Denali partnered with her team on aspects of the program, and I was fortunate to be involved along the way. A key to the initiative’s success was Kathy’s ability to focus almost solely on conception, development, and execution as she stepped away from her traditional day-to-day role.
Not every procurement professional is able to do that, of course, but the approach that Kathy and her team took on their way to implementation offers strong guidance for others wanting to do the same. I recently joined Kathy and the folks at Art of Procurement for a webinar where we delved into some of the details of the project and shared the following tips.
Tip #1: Align with Your Company Culture. When deciding what digital enablement tools to use, keep your company culture in mind. This was something that the team did well. They were not distracted by bleeding-edge offerings, but instead were focused on selecting a system that was user friendly, simple to engage with, and that answered their needs. They also recognized that their culture was highly collaborative and “high-touch,” so they built in a help desk function that allowed them to offer a white-glove service with phone calls, a dedicated email for queries, and screen shares for their end users to encourage trial, feedback and adoption.
Tip #2: Involve Your Stakeholders Early and Often. Any change is going to be met with resistance. The best way to minimize the grumbling is to get ahead of it through effective change management strategies. At the onset of the project, the team interviewed end users to determine what challenges they were facing and brainstormed potential solutions. Regular updates followed with opportunities for a continuous feedback loop, which continued through and post-implementation.
Tip #3: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. When introducing a new process – one that will impact the way people across your company will purchase products and services – communication is essential. The team took this to heart. First, they branded the new P2P tool and started teasing its benefits on their internal intranet and via email newsletters that went out every six weeks or so. As the launch timeframe coincided with Covid-pandemic lockdowns, the in-person lunch-and-learns they might have traditionally employed weren’t possible. Instead, they met with functional leaders and requested invitations to virtual team meetings to share information.
Tip #4: Involve and Educate Suppliers. For a company that had never required purchase orders for indirect spend to suddenly make a shift could be jarring and confusing for suppliers. This client has a mature supplier base with strong stakeholder relationships, so Kathy’s team leaned on those relationships to gain supplier buy-in for the new way of doing things. It was fairly easy to do once internal stakeholders saw how simple it was to match invoices to POs and realized the tremendous time savings it brought.
Tip #5. Avoid Immediate Mandates. Hoping to achieve maximum adoption with a minimum of strong-arming, Kathy decided to try a phased approach at launch. At first, they were seeing a lot of non-PO invoices, so they scheduled office hours when end users could ask questions and receive specific training on the new process. After giving people time to get familiar with the new system, they decided to mandate POs by May 1. They worked to identify people throughout the company that were not complying and required them to participate in trainings. They have not yet instituted a “no-PO, no-pay” policy, although that may be coming as more internal and external stakeholders get used to the system.
If you are interested in learning more about how one company tackled the challenge of transforming their indirect P2P process, I invite you to watch the AOP webinar “Taking a BOLD and Focused Approach to Transforming Indirect P2P”
Senior Group Manager
Mike Caldron is a Senior Group Manager at WNS Denali, leading a team of 16 people who provide a managed indirect procurement program of Source to Contract and Procurement Operations services to The Clorox Company. Mike has been with WNS Denali for 4 years, serving on the Clorox account during that time. Prior to WNS Denali, Mike held procurement roles in several different companies ranging in size and industry, including Microsoft, Savers and the international non-profit organization World Vision. Mike is a huge soccer* fan and can be found in his home outside Seattle, WA cheering for Aston Villa (of the EPL) and the Seattle Sounders on the weekends.