Procurement has a digital problem. We know we need to transform - we even have an idea of how we should do it, but something is still missing. The problems start at the top. In many organizations, the digital decision makers don't engage with Procurement effectively. This results in what Deloitte calls a "digital disconnect" between the function and its peers within the business. According to their latest CPO Survey, just 31% of Procurement teams are "usually involved" in digital decision making.

This disconnect is especially dangerous when Procurement rushes to optimize and automate. Are you in the middle of a P2P implementation? You'll probably join the heaps of unlucky teams who've come up short. Here's why. 

1. You Don't Know Your Requirements

Procurement technology can't read minds. If you don't know what problems your solution should address, it won't do you any good. You might think you know what your problem is: mounds of paper, maverick spending, process inefficiency, the list goes on. Even at their worst, however, these issues are just symptoms. Identifying their underlying cause is much more difficult. In certain instances, Procurement's issues are simply the result of lacking a specific tool to optimize processes and drive down costs. Other times, It's not nearly so simple to get things on track. The diagnostic process can prove time consuming, but it's absolutely necessary to identify Procurement's sickness before you can begin to devise or administer a treatment. 

2. You're Looking at the Wrong Tools 

Without clearly defined requirements, Procurement cannot confidently survey the market for Procure-to-Pay solutions. Organizations that haven't prepared themselves are stuck designing their solutions during the buying cycle (AKA the sales cycle for software providers). This means trying to separate facts from spin at the same time you're trying to build a team and draw up plans for implementation. Before you even consider consulting providers, it's vital to track, stack, and prioritize your objectives to start putting together a phased technology roadmap. 

3. Your Team Isn't Up to Speed 

Have you considered how many different people your new P2P platform will affect? Do they know what they're in for? Successful implementations depend on two qualities: readiness and strategic impetus. Nurturing both takes hard work. If your executive team doesn't recognize the potential benefits of making an investment - if they don't see it as an imperative -  you'll never secure the buy-in necessary to carry out an implementation. That organizational readiness requires an effective training program, clear communication, and a strategic on-boarding and adoption process. Procurement can't afford to forget about any stakeholders - even those in other business units.

4. You Haven't Included All Your Stakeholders 

Critical stakeholders need visibility into every step of the P2P selection, adoption, and implementation processes. This includes everything from your initial requirements gathering to the ongoing change management efforts that will ensure long-term ROI. Never forget that you don't everything about the ins and outs of your business. Engaging stakeholders early and often goes a long way toward filling in knowledge gaps while simultaneously driving buy-in and encouraging adoption. 

If you do it correctly, the P2P implementation process can be a once-in-a-career effort. That's why it's so important to take a deliberate approach and resist the urge to make any decisions lightly. Slow down, ask questions, and never let hype convince you to get hasty. 
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