A recent article by McKinsey gave a brief timeline of examples showing episodes of “punctuated equilibrium” — events that cause major disruption and upheaval before settling into a new period of stasis. Along with the discovery of fire, domestication of dogs, the printing press, internal combustion and the iPhone, we can include the emergence of the source-to-pay cloud platform.
As McKinsey states, digital transformation is what’s behind the current disruption in the way that business is getting done, and even in the way businesses are being structured and run. For procurement, sourcing, supplier management and other source-to-pay disciplines within companies, this means embracing change in order to benefit from cloud platform advantages. But how and where to start?
Compare and contrast cloud platform features.
According to CPO Rising 2017: Tools of the Trade, 44% of CPOs list the drive to “improve the use of technology” by investing in new systems and/or improving current ones as their major goal and strategy currently — a 20% increase over the previous year. That is significant, and it means that a lot of S2P professionals are shopping around for SaaS solutions that can get their Processes Under Management.
The following is a guide to some of the more important criteria you should consider when moving to a Cloud Platform – either from point solutions, homegrown tools or something more analog. We encourage you to think of it as a shopping list in order to compare features that will help your organization reach ROI faster, with a lower TCO. And the flexibility and agility that will accelerate your growth and business results.
1. Best-of-breed solutions on a single cloud platform
Gartner research shows that 50% of solution suite implementations fail. That’s because trying to implement multiple solutions across an enterprise with many departments and users is a recipe for disappointment. Avoid getting pitched an entire suite when you don’t need it all, even if it means a phased progression, and don’t get locked into a multi-year contract. Look for a modular approach that lets you start with one or two solutions that are already on a platform, and add on as needed. Along with simpler change management, it allows you to show proof of value to stakeholders (and make users more comfortable) so you can expand your capabilities at a sustainable pace – knowing that adoption will not be an issue. You want to be sure that bringing additional solutions onboard doesn’t require a major reimplementation – all solutions should be easily integratable to create a multiplier effect. Ideally, there will be a powerful business process management capability linking all solutions, data and workflow.
2. Implementation that gets you up and running fast
A lot of solutions on the market have a lot of bells and whistles (most of which you’ll never use). Look past the shiny objects and check under the hood to see just how quickly and painlessly any platform implementation will be. It’s not glamorous, but cutting the time from kick-off to go-live (and knowing how long it will be) is critical to ensuring your solutions are available to users and on the way to ROI. Along with affordability, you want solutions that are simple to maintain, easily scalable and adaptable across geographies. Without having to budget for an on-call army of consultants.
3. Ease of use that speeds user buy-in
Even the best solutions are useless if nobody uses them. So make sure the SaaS platform you choose features a user experience that’s intuitive enough to be used by everyone across business units and devices with minimal or no training. Dashboards should be easily configured so users can set up short cuts and at-a-glance screens for what they use everyday to minimize clicking. That means going in and out of apps and modules without having multiple log-ins.
4. You’re only as good as your data
This should almost be at the top of the Must-Have List: A single source of data truth that’s visible, accessible and spans all solutions on the platform across your enterprise. Master Data, metadata and document management should form a solid matrix, a seamless powerbase with common administration, security and rules; a flexible workflow infrastructure for all business applications; A business process engine that connects all data, people, systems, units in a shared ecosystem; and easily configurable data for KPIs and reporting.
5. Seamless, frictionless, effortless business processes
Business process management links solutions and departmental workflows together. Call it collaboration enhancement. If you have a diverse and growing organization – or plan to – it needs to be part of your platform. As business becomes more complex, simplifying that complexity means linking and integrating all dynamic workflows and solutions in an organization together – data, documents and other components – across the source-to-pay continuum to empower collaboration, expedite approvals and achieve business success.
6. Empowerment to the people
You don’t want to call IT or create a support ticket every time you’d want to configure your solution or change an approval flow. You don’t have time or budget for that. So your cloud platform needs to have built-in self-service tools that enable users across the organization to simply and quickly adapt solutions to the way they work. This creates the visibility, access, efficiency and collaboration that aligns people with company goals and replaces viscosity with productivity. Look for a cloud platform provider who understands what your business needs ultimately are, and has solution technology that solves for them. If you have to adapt the way you work to the solution instead of vice versa, then it’s time to keep looking.
S2P learning tools.
Talk to analysts, peers at other companies, visit tradeshows and industry events to learn as much as you can about the choices of technology (and clarify the terminology – don’t get clouded by tech talk) out there. When you’re not sure exactly which cloud platform solution or combination will achieve your goals fastest and most efficiently, let our Diagnose Needs tool provide some guidance. If you want to make the business case to your stakeholders and senior executive teams, run the numbers in our ROI Calculator and see how much more savings, spend control and realized revenue you can add to your bottom line.
Or, you can just make your life simpler and schedule a personalized demonstration of the Determine Cloud Platform and see how easy it is to achieve digital transformation.