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Change Management in Accounts Payable
How important is change management in accounts payable? Are you disregarding this essential part of your transformation journey?
Every day, finance departments must adapt faster to the changing market, technologies, and processes. When these changes occur, employees need to learn new ways to work effectively; and this is not always an easy task. It is the company’s mission to help employees become accustomed to the change, and help them navigate dynamic times.
Did you know that according to a study by Harvard Business Review, more than 70% of business transformation efforts fail? Targeted change management techniques can help businesses give themselves a better chance to succeed during transitions.
Introduction to change management in accounts payable
Change management should be present when an organization decides to transition to new goals, processes, and technology. A good plan for managing change will assist employees and teams in preparing for three main goals. These goals include successful change, improved control, and supporting people.
Change management in Accounts Payable is critical when companies decide to implement accounts payable automation software. The need to be competitive and agile affects AP teams. This means they have to cut costs, boost productivity, improve efficiency, and accomplish more.
To make the change possible, companies need to implement advanced technologies. Remember, not every implementation is successful. Managing change is crucial to avoid negative results and wasted resources.
Effective change management increases the project’s success, and improves the company’s ability to adapt quickly.
Crucial elements of an AP change management plan
In the past, people thought that Accounts Payable departments were only about transactions and couldn’t contribute to the business. To rectify this, leading AP departments are veering in a different direction by becoming more strategic. We aim to ensure that we give the deserved importance to the transition process (from the beginning).
Below we have listed some critical components of a change management plan:
- A business case where you answer the question “Why are we implementing AP automation technologies?”
To get people on board, you should explain the problems that require solving. These problems include ensuring timely payments, shorter invoice cycles, better control, and increased productivity.
Teams need to comprehend the repercussions of inaction. They should also be aware of the company’s goals, desired outcomes, potential problems, and the company’s plan to address them. Here you could mention the ap automation software and other solutions you assess and the benefits. During a project update, you can share the selected partner and communicate what is expected from them.
- Provide a change impact analysis.
Consider how implementing a new AP software solution might affect all the departments beyond AP. Some of these other departments are finance, accounting, operations, IT, or digital transformation. By studying how the selected AP automation solution will impact the AP process and other procedures, you will get a more detailed list of actions to take.
We recommend foreseeing changes in the roles, skills, and tasks and informing the team so they can prepare. For example, focusing on the AP department; team leaders and AP agents might want to know about the new process and how it will change their current tasks.
- A communication plan that starts early, measures effectiveness and considers all the stakeholders.
An effective communication plan must consider the needs of the different stakeholders, and which messages are relevant to them. It also covers which channels are the most effective. Some of the possible channels are emails, internal group chats, group meetings, internal websites, or one-on-one sessions.
Lastly, we recommend you ensure your list includes internal and external stakeholders (management board members, managers, employees, vendors, etc.).
- Leverage early adopters. Know the talents available among the team.
Look for team members who are eager to use the new software and follow new processes. Some of your AP agents or team leaders may be more digitally skilled than others. They can inspire and educate others, becoming agents of change.
- Process (in alignment) with the project manager so the change management strategy is devised in complete alignment.
There are two elements we would like to highlight in this section: Pilots and metrics. Running a pilot within a selected office or group will help you collect valuable information, correct certain aspects, and improve the plan. Performing an evaluation should be continuous in the process to ensure the project goes as intended.
Collecting documentation is not fun, but it’s important. It helps you learn, make conclusions, find ways to improve, and share knowledge with others.
When managing change in accounts payable, you must consider the impact of the technology on everyone inside and outside the department.
At Cevinio, we accompany our clients in their accounts payable transformation. A journey where we bring more than an advanced invoice processing software solution but the experience of our team. Contact us and discover how we can help your AP processes, turning your challenges into opportunities.