The best practice in process improvements is thinking in end-to-end processes. And rightly so. It prevents us from starting improvement initiatives on a small scale, limited to the silo of a function or department. Instead, you would like to improve processes across departments and systems. If possible even across the borders of the own organization, to integrate processes with those of suppliers or customers.
An end-to-end process approach helps in optimizing processes, designing the supporting ICT infrastructure and defining the organization (roles and responsibilities). It is not necessarily the best framework for implementing process improvements. P2P serves as a fine example to illustrate this.
A main characteristic of the ordering process is the great number of stakeholders (requesters, approvers, buyers, AP employees). Most of them do spend only a small amount of their time on this process. This explains why they are often not overly interested in this process. For them it is a sideshow. Anyway, time and time again it turns out that the biggest challenge in P2P transformation projects is in embedding the new way of working and increasing the process and contract compliance.
From end-to-end to persona-based
P2P is a perfect designation for the end-to-end process, but there is hardly a stakeholder that recognizes himself in it: the requester does not have the feeling that he purchases something. He needs “something” and would like to get it as soon as possible. The “Pay” is not all a concern to him. You can say similar things about the other roles in the process.
If we really want to appeal people, then we must relate better to their perceptions. We can do this by putting the person at the center, rather than the process. We know the steps in the process and the roles that should execute these steps. These roles represent real people: personas. A persona is an archetype of a user, a characterization of a certain role. To make this tangible, we ought to work out these personas into great detail: don’t talk any longer about ‘the requester’, but for example, about Maggie from ‘Marketing & Communication’ who is doing the MarCom ordering. This helps to imagine yourself in the situation of the different stakeholder groups.
From P2P to D2D or…
If we know that people don’t identify themselves with the process denotation ‘P2P’ and that we, in order to appeal to people, must think in personas, then there is no other option than to change this denotation. Keep it closer to their perceptions. End-to-end thinking is perfectly suitable for process and system design. For a change approach we need a different framework. For requesters this could be Demand to Delivery (D2D). For them the process starts with the demand and ends with the actual fulfilment of that demand by the delivery of the ordered product or service.
From Procurement/ Finance push to business pull
Procurement and/ or Finance are usually the departments that initiate and steer P2P transformation projects. More often than not the perception exists that these departments want something and that the rest of the organization has to come along. That’s not completely untrue: the aim is improvement in efficiency and control. That cannot be achieved with too much permissiveness. But this approach fails to do justice to other stakeholder groups that also want ‘something’. Let’s take again the requester as an example: he wants that his need is met quickly and easily. Or take the budget holder: he wants to have insight in the current status of his budget and the things that are ordered at the expense of his budget. Currently we justify P2P transformation projects with the arguments ‘efficiency’ and ‘control’. Typically, a top-down reasoning. Subsequently we go to lengths to explain how it also benefits requesters, budget holders, etc. Why not trying it the other way around: “Hey business, you want a swift process for ordering and approving. How are we going to do that?“ Instead of imposing things on the business (push) it might work better if we give them the feeling that they are the demanding party (pull). Obviously, this requires a change of approach: this is not about just giving them the feeling that they are the demanding party, but that this is really the case.