From a purely rational perspective, change toward automation should be easy. Benefits such as a reduced workload and increased ROI tracking should make sense to any manager striving toward success.
But reality often looks different. In fact, many managers are resistant to a change that would see manual Procure to Pay processes become automated. Dig into the reasons for this resistance, and it actually becomes understandable. Nonetheless, the benefits of an automated process should ultimately outweigh these 5 natural reasons for manager concerns about a move to P2P process automation.
Reasons Procurement Directors Resist P2P Process Automation
1) Natural Change Resistance
That ‘change management’ is a common business process can easily be explained by the fact that, as human beings, we have a natural resistance to change. Put simply, we like our routines and do not appreciate disruptions that require us to update or discard them.
Studies repeatedly verify this general trend. Resistance to change is among the top causes for any project failure. Existing habits, and our natural inclination to cling to them, lead to a fear of the unknown that prevents managers from embracing new processes.
2) Job Volume Concerns
In addition to this natural resistance to change, procurement managers also tend to look for more rational reasons for potentially opposing an automated solution. As procurement expert Dr. Soheila R. Lunney points out, when confronted with new software or a process update managers tend to ask a simple question: What’s in it for me?
Break down that question into its actual meaning, and the cause for hesitation becomes more clear. Procurement managers will be at the front line of implementing an automated procure-to-pay process. Does that mean their workload will increase? How will their management process change? If they don’t get answers to these questions, resistance to change becomes more pronounced.
3) Lack of Team Involvement
Importantly, procurement managers don’t simply consider a change in software or process from only their own perspective. If they manage or are part of a larger team, that dynamic also plays into their consideration.
Any experienced manager knows that the resistance to change highlighted above doesn’t only apply to them. They begin to voice their concerns if they feel that their team would not embrace the new solution. In changing processes and software platforms, they will advocate for their team to be involved in the decision-making process. But given a reliance on existing habits, would that actually be effective?
4) Failure to Deliver on Expectations
What if we implement this new process, and the old way of doing things was actually better? It’s a natural question to ask for managers who will probably be held responsible for the long-term success and failure of the procurement process. If an automated alternative fails to deliver on the expectations set at the executive level, who will be blamed?
Often, this reason for resistance can be solved by shared accountability. But even then, a fear of failure (closely related to the fear of the unknown mentioned above) can be a major driver of concern toward a solution that disrupts the status quo.
5) Lack of Training
Finally, managers who are closely involved with the procurement team will voice concerns around the level of training required to switch to a new system. How will the procurement department be prepared for the new system? Will formalized training sessions take place, or will everyone be left to their own devices? What about ongoing support after the initial implementation?
A team that’s largely left on its own will voice their concern, and might even rebel. Communicating the need and priority of training is vital in making sure that procurement managers are on board with the change. If even the perception of lacking support exists, the implementation of an automated P2P system will encounter significant resistance.
Building Consensus: The Benefits of P2P Automation
Overcoming the above concerns voiced by procurement managers can be difficult. However, businesses looking to automate their procurement process can take a number of steps in helping to ensure a successful implementation:
1) Highlight Organizational Benefits
Increased cost savings and time-to-contract are just some of the many benefits that a P2P process automation solution can provide. Before beginning implementation, make sure everyone involved in the process understands these benefits and their organizational significance.
2) Emphasize Personal Benefits
Organizational benefits matter little if you cannot communicate how an automated system will improve your procurement team’s work. Here, highlight time savings throughout the process, as well as increased security, more automated processes, and less risk of human error resulting in fewer procurement agent mistakes.
3) Embrace Participatory Decision Making
Research repeatedly shows that involved employees are more likely to accept change. Embrace that fact by engaging your procurement directors in the implementation. You might have made the change to move to automation at the top level, but that does not mean they cannot be involved in selecting the right solution or establishing a timeline for implementation.
4) Acknowledge Top-Level Accountability
Finally, it makes sense to make sure your procurement team knows that the implementation of P2P automation does not fall solely on them. Establish a team of executive sponsors who will be involved in the process, and share decision making power. The more closely your executive team is involved, the less likely your procurement directors will feel isolated in their accountability.
Take these steps, and resistance toward P2P process automation will diminish. Now, you’re free to implement a new system, realizing the significant time and money savings this type of process can accomplish for your business.
At ProcurePort, we are committed to helping organizations realize the significant cost and time savings that an automated P2P process offers. Our Spend Management Software (SMS) integrates the entire buying process across your company, fully automating your Procure-to-Pay Process. We assist in implementation, training, and support for your new P2P solution so you and your team have a smooth transition process during and after implementation.
Related Article: Hidden Cost Savings in Your Procure to Pay Cycle
Contact us today for a demonstration to see how automation of your Procure-to-Pay process can identify cost-savings opportunities and have a deep impact on your organization’s success.