Digital transformation is not a destination it is a journey. Mature businesses are using digital transformation tools like accounts payable automation to fundamentally change how their businesses operate. They have grown to understand that digital transformation is a cultural change that thrives when organizations are not afraid to attempt new things and fail.
They actually embrace the failures and the learning that inevitably occurs from erring. Organizations just beginning the digital transformation journey focus on solving business issues with a particular technology, such as accounts payable automation.
Using a metaphor, one organization is trying to figure out how to build a better house while others want a better hammer. Add to that the fact that clients want to do business with innovators and employees seek to work for companies that are attempting new and exciting things. The breakdown across most industries fits the old 80-20 rule, where 20% are reaching early states of digital maturation and the other 80% are finalizing their plans.
So it is not about the hammer, it is what you plan to do with it…meaning it is not about social, mobile, cloud and analytics…it is about what you could possibly disrupt in sales, customer service, supply chain management, finance, operations and collaboration.
So where do you start?
- Create a clear, understandable strategy!
- Involve everyone in creating the strategy for accounts payable automation or other digital tools. Look at competitors and encourage new ideas from all stakeholders. Remember in our highly complex, competitive world the only bad ideas are when you have no new ideas.
- Make sure your team is up to the challenge!
- People drive transformation and need to possess the appropriate skills or your plan will not succeed. You will know if you have the right team because they hunger for transformation and believe it is possible. Be very concerned about the employees that are drawn to problems and therefore resist change. You need a team that can change. Think of it like your car: What happens when you put your foot on the brakes at the same time you put your foot on the gas? Nothing moves forward and you create a lot of smoke!
- Chose the right leader!
- Make sure you have a digital transformation leader that employees believe in, respect, and will follow. The job of communicating and leading a digital transformation like accounts payable automation requires continuous messaging, support, and encouragement.
- Eliminate distractions and competing projects!
- Too many priorities will hinder success and will dampen morale.
- Eliminate silo’s and implement enterprise wide!
- A good example of this is when one department is working on customer portals and self-service models while accounts payable is still “pushing paper”.
- Prepare to fund the investment!
- Although the return on investment is significant, do not be confused; it will be an investment in time and money.
Your digital transformation blueprint should start with the end in mind. We have seen many accounts payable automation efforts focused on cost savings per invoice and headcount reduction vs. truly transforming your AP process into a highly efficient digitally transformed process. The right focus is around how AP automation improves relationships with partners and employees and improves servicing one’s clients. Savings and improved cash flow are a given...but remember, they are the “hammer” not the “house”.
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