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Benefits and challenges of change management in accounts payable
Have you considered the importance of change management in accounts payable when drafting your AP transformation initiatives? In the first part of this blog, we introduced the subject addressing why this is an important matter to consider. In addition, we detailed the crucial elements of a change management plan in AP.
In the second part of this post, we want to address the benefits and challenges of change management that we can expect in the implementation journey.
Benefits of change management in accounts payable
When continuing to the next step in your AP transformation journey, make sure change management is involved to ensure resources are allocated. A change management plan will benefit the AP automation project in the following ways:
- Mitigate disruptions before and during the implementation to quell resistance towards automation and change. Opposing parties may impact the cost of the project and the time required to implement it.
- Better alignment between the AP automation project and what gets implemented. It is paramount to keep in mind that people play a key role in AP automation, they need to be on board with the plan to achieve the desired results, from management to user.
- Drive innovation and improve morale. Training AP agents and other team members on how the new tools work is not enough. Innovation requires a change in their mindset, the development of new skills and more ownership. Only when your AP team members completely understand the tool, will they be able to bring additional value and improvement.
Common change management challenges in payables departments:
Below we have recorded some of the main change management challenges we see currently happening in accounts payable departments.
- Resource Management: Change management resources and activities are sometimes not included in the overall project plan. We hope the information in this post helps you get the needed buy-in and support to make the change management plan and the AP automation implementation a success.
- Lack of support from leadership: making sure that the leadership team is supportive of the AP automation initiative will help the success of the process. When the project managers encounter resistance, they will be able to share the management’s view. Remember they will also need to approve the allocation of resources and time that the change management plan will require.
- Resistance: We have experienced how some people affected by the changes resist and do not adopt the new process. This is understandable. When studying AP teams, we encounter agents with years of experience who are accustomed to paper and have a certain way of working. They will be skeptical about the changes and worry about what the change might bring. Transparency, training, planning and patience can help quell resistance and improve adoption.
- Communication: The implementation of AP automation software could be a project that takes several months. From the moment the department detects the opportunity or risk, until the moment the solution is up and running, takes time. It could be a journey and some companies fail to consistently communicate change initiatives or include employees in the process. Change-related communications require an adequate number of messages (through different channels) and involvement during the time the project takes.
- Overlooked metrics: for example, in some cases, engagement is not monitored and you might fail to identify corrections that are necessary. Engagement is present in communication: How many people participated during the meeting? Are employees opening email communications? And later, verifying whether agents are using the new tool. Are they exploring the functionalities? What are their user experiences?
- Individual agendas are also overlooked: What is in for me? When working on the business case we will surely list the benefits for the company, but again, people play a key role, so make sure to enumerate the benefits for them. For example, an advanced AP automation solution will help AP agents to abandon repetitive and boring tasks. They will grow in their roles, which will become more strategic and people-oriented, as they work closely with other teams and enhance supplier relationships.
- Alignment with the project manager: active communication with the project lead will contribute to activating a consistent plan. You want to prevent misaligned timings, objectives and goals, among others.
A change management plan as part of your AP automation project will increase the chances of successful implementation. Consider how the adjustments will impact the current processes, systems, and employees within the organization.
When working on change management in accounts payable, it is important to look beyond the AP department and consider all the people outside this department that will be affected by the technology.
We hope this blog about the benefits and challenges of change management in AP has been helpful.
Are you looking for more than an AP automation software provider? At Cevinio, we can be a partner in your transformation journey. Contact our team and discover how we can help you boost agent productivity, increase cost savings and improve compliance.