There is a formula for success — it is an equation that is made up of gathering data, creating a plan, having an advocate and pouring in a little practical advice.
The first phase of the formula is to gather the data you need in order to “know your number”. If you are not clear on how to calculate “your number”, or cost per process (cost of processing a payment from invoice receipt through vendor payment, then there are 5 steps that you can follow to determine your number. The 5 steps are:
(1) Create a process map (2) Find the number of people in each step (3) Notate the amount of time that is spent on each step (4) Apply a cost to the time and steps (5) Do some math: Total Cost ÷ Number of Invoices or Payments.
Once you have your number, then it is time to plan. It is important to create a plan for the people who will have new time that is available as a result of automation, and the more detailed the plan is the bigger the impact automation software will have on your organization.
If you look at the formula for success in sequential order, then it would look like this: have your numbers, know your plan, and next would be to identify an advocate. The advocate can be a person or a group, but there has to be a driving force for automation to be successful. The advocate is a real wild card in the formula, because it is difficult to locate the right advocate and they are a very critical component of success. I have thought a lot about this, and the best comparison I can make to the role of the advocate is to a medical doctor. Have you ever noticed that the thing that seems to separate a good doctor from a great doctor is bedside manner? Bedside manner can be described as the soft skills that enables a doctor to be empathetic with their patient, and make the patient feel as though they are there to take care of their specific need. It is very hard to teach bedside manner, and even more difficult to fake. The same is true when it comes to the difference between a good advocate and a great advocate for your automation project. The advocate has to have soft skills that have effortlessly earned them the trust and respect of the people within your organization, and lead to them almost innately being viewed as a thought leader.
A Little Advice
I had a mentor give me some good advice about advice when I was younger. He said, “You never take advice from anyone more messed up than you.” That’s good advice on advice. (More advice) I had a coach help me write The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation. His name is Bill Whitley. Bill told me that when you write a book you should write it from the perspective of giving your best friend, or a close neighbor, the advice you wish that someone would have given you when you were embarking on something for the first time. With that tiny bit of coaching, Bill sent me off on a journey that ended with the publishing of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation. The entire book was created to give people practical, real world advice so that they would not commit the same blunders as so many others have when transitioning from a paper-based to an automated process.
People in finance (myself included) are constantly looking for ways to reduce risk. When I was doing day-to-day project management I always told the people that I worked with that our jobs were to be as organized and prepared as possible, so that we would have plenty of time to deal with the things that came up unexpectedly and could not be planned for. Being prepared for the change of not having paper invoices or checks is important in order to have a successful transition. Following the formula for success will help you to eliminate the risk.
Data + Plan + Advocate + Advice = Great Success!
To give more context to this information with real world examples, please join me for my webinar on April 10 at 2:00 PM EDT. click here to register
Buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy
(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy
For more information go to www.costperinvoice.com