In Parts One and Two of this series, much of what we look at is about making it easier for users through process automation and integration — making the experience almost seamless behind the scenes. In this final chapter, while we address process automation and integration, we identify how the brokering of process from one step to the next is essential, especially when stakeholders are expecting to see the transition as part of the process.
This past weekend I was at the state track competition for my daughter who is in middle school. While there were many events happening at the same time, one that my daughter was involved in was the 4 x 400 meter relay.
Probably one of the oldest forms of track and field, the relay requires not only that each individual performs to her best level, but that there is also a smooth transition between the runners from one lap to the next. The lack of a smooth hand-off can make or break the team’s performance and ruin their chances of winning the relay.
In a similar vein, the smooth transition of processes from one state to the next is an element that is essential in any enterprise business application. Demonstrating how comprehensible these transition states are is something that developers must be aware of to enhance the user experience.
As organizations look to embody the usage of solutions that are linked or integrated, the power of a platform concept fulfills this effort by making transitions part of a common user interface. One example of this is at the point of creating a contract, and then transitioning to the tracking of the contract as a purchasing agreement.
Contract Authoring to Contract Purchase Tracking: UI/UX working in unison.
For organizations that have not gone through the digitization of contract management, tracking spend against a contract once the contract has been approved is a very manual process. Attempting to track spend against an active contract that may be tucked away in a drawer is nearly impossible unless it’s being managed on a spreadsheet. But even this can quickly break down based on the complexity and number of users managing the contract, and those buying products or services against the contract.
In other cases, organizations may have taken the step to digitize contract management and procure to pay. But, without the proper linkage between the two, it’s difficult to know when spend is placed against that contract. In many cases, even if the contract data can be imported from the CLM system into the P2P, the data is only header level information. That means the relationship between the authored document and the transactional aspect of the contract (i.e., amount of spend distribution, list of purchased items, list of invoices, list of payments) is difficult if not impossible to track.
Many organizations often look at the process of transition as the end game for purchasing contracts. In reality, the ability to easily handoff a contract and keep tracking it through its lifecycle in the form of amendments and renewals only demonstrates the complexity that can arise when this information is being held in disparate systems.
As part of the UI/UX experience, Determine helps organizations tie these elements together and look at the dynamics of purchasing contracts through the linkage we provide on the Determine Cloud Platform. This is by way of the master data, metadata and business process elements that our platform manages. Some examples of how that looks within the platform follow:
Contract “Project Management Technology 2017”
Purchasing Contract linked to the contract “Project Management Technology 2017”
Manage spend by having your Process Under Management.
Linking, integrating, tying it all together. Whatever you call it, the easiest way to see how much impact the hand-off process can have is by following the money. Let’s use the example of a purchaser who needs to buy a few laptops for the company. If that company is one of those that does not have digitized contracts and procurement, or is using disparate point solutions that aren’t linked, you end up with the situations described above. Very difficult to match spend to the approved contract and terms, no easy way to ensure compliance, nearly impossible to track budgets. Instead of spend management, you end up with risk creation.
The Determine Cloud Platform powered by the Determine Core provides a single source of data truth (master data, metadata, document management) that’s shared across solutions. In addition, Business Process Management creates seamless linkage across workflows and approval paths. This cross-solution visibility helps eliminate the data blind spots where bad things (or nothing) happens.
In this case, the laptop purchaser simply adds items to the cart. Because the processes are linked, those items automatically are matched against the approved purchase contract, and the associated budget(s) – including any applicable CapEx and/or OpEx budgets. The approver can see immediately which contract the purchase is applied against, the remaining budget amounts available in the category, and whether any special terms, discounts or other conditions apply. They have full visibility into POs awaiting invoicing, invoicing awaiting payment and requests not yet translated into POs. In this way, by having the linkage between procurement and contracts, the purchase contract becomes an effective compliance and budget enforcement tracking tool.
To back up a bit, our supplier onboarding and contract management processes are collaborative, not linear. That linkage means you can begin the onboarding / certification / validation process in parallel with contract creation or work with the new vendor to populate a catalog of goods/services – the data feeds all streams. This vastly speeds up the cycles because a contract will already be in place and ready to execute as soon as a supplier is fully onboarded. They can be building and populating catalogs well ahead of time, and purchasers will be familiar by the time of approval. A hand-off transition can’t get any more seamless than that.
To experience all the advantages of seamless transitions for yourself, schedule a demonstration of the Determine Cloud Platform. You’ll also find a host of research and webinars on our Resources page.