Investing in the P2P User Experience
- Procure to Pay
Most procurement teams have rolled out enough technology solutions to know that handling implementations well is as important as selecting the right platform. Being aware of this dynamic is especially critical with Procure-to-Pay (P2P) because its value is rooted in the adoption of two different user groups: distributed buyers in the enterprise and suppliers out in the supply chain.
No matter how good P2P technology is, it does not represent a solution to business problems in and of itself. P2P solutions must offer a rich data and content ecosystem that enables procurement to successfully meet the expectations of distributed buyers and suppliers.
Both of these groups benefit from a deliberately crafted user experience – something that the JAGGAER team knows well. We have written a whitepaper in collaboration with Kelly Barner at Buyers Meeting Point that is full of our best advice for creating and maintaining a positive P2P user experience. This advice obviously includes selecting a best-fit platform, but it extends into the implementation process and focuses on the steps procurement can take to proactively demonstrate to users that they hold a prominent role at the center of the project.
Here are a few of the key areas that procurement cannot neglect if they want to ensure their next implementation delivers as good a user experience as it does a technology ROI.
Emphasize enterprise-wide communication
Nothing improves the user experience like communication, but the information must be allowed to flow in both directions. Procurement has an obligation to create and maintain full transparency, and they need to listen to – and act upon – any and all input they receive. Being open to feedback does not necessarily make an implementation easier, but it will help procurement remain centered on their customers and how the technology will affect them. The alternative risks procurement making process and setup decisions in a silo, only to find out later that they are a complete mismatch for users.
Proceed with caution and care
A significant percentage of implementation difficulties can be traced back to someone making a decision in a hurry. Each decision – especially ones that have downstream implications – should be made thoughtfully and with a broad perspective. This can be incredibly hard to act upon, especially given the business pressure to make swift progress. At least one person on the implementation team should be designated as the customer advocate, looking at all decisions from that perspective and seeing it as their responsibility to apply the brakes when they feel the implementation is veering off course.
Engage in pre-rollout scenario planning
Many of us have experienced process changes in our personal lives where we ask, “How did they think this was going to work?” That is usually a red flag indicating that no one considered how proposed changes were going to play out in reality. While it won’t be applicable until close to the end of the implementation process, it is critical and valuable to play out realistic scenarios from the perspective of the user to identify unexpected areas where stakeholders might be negatively affected by process changes, etc. Even if there are still adjustments that have to be worked out over time, procurement is likely to be able to avoid issues that suggest the user experience was not a priority in the project.
Win over suppler users, too
As procurement well knows, P2P systems are unique because they are used by internal and external user groups. It does no good to create a frictionless internal user experience if suppliers are frustrated and unhappy. In many cases, those suppliers will complain to their business points of contact instead of procurement, creating a cascading drag effect on the perceived internal user experience. All the advice we have provided for internal users, including two-way communication, deliberate forward progress, and playing out actual scenarios, should be applied to the supplier user experience as well.
A positive user experience involves so much more than ease of use and navigation. There are many intangible factors that contribute to a user’s perceived value of technology – and most of them have their roots in the implementation process. If stakeholders feel caught off guard by changes, they will always have a difficult time seeing the solution in a positive light. Worse yet, if procurement leaves them to face questions and complaints from suppliers, they may flat out refuse to embrace the solution, bringing a swift end to optimistic thoughts of adoption and enterprise-wide ROI.