Friday, 8 August 2014

A Chicken & Egg Question (Spend Control Demystified – Part 7)

When it comes to a Spend Control project, how do you decide exactly what you want to do, when you don’t yet know what is possible? Especially when EVERYTHING is possible?

Ah-ha! Revert to the ‘Best Practice’ routine, and the problem sort of goes away. “The consultants will help you make the decisions!”

But, if you are going to get the total buy-in from your staff, someone coming in from outside telling them how to do their jobs better is not really the best place to start.

This process usually produces three results:

  1. In order to get buy-in and deliver change, a compromise is required from both the consultant offering advice and your staff
  2. Invariably the compromises made in this process lead to the automation and integration of the current systems, without adding the real benefits that are possible
  3. As soon as the system goes live, everyone realises that it could have been done far more efficiently and effectively.  Now they understand what really is possible

Too late! You’ve spent your budget, so everyone had better just get on and do the best they can.

The result is usually a continuing decline in the use of the system by your staff – the single most common reason why a Spend Control system fails.

From a contractual point of view, the system does exactly what you asked the supplier to deliver, possibly close to the expected timescale and possibly close to the budget.

This certainly looks good in the customer satisfaction statistics on delivering the solution, but probably isn’t what you would define as being ‘satisfied’.

But the declining use of a Spend Control system has more than one cause, so what are some others?

Committing all of your investment funds to a complete Spend Control solution, before you have real practical experience of what is possible. Why not try a pilot?

Tip: Flexibility is Required

Find a solution that will let you operate without it being too prescriptive or imposing constraints on the way that you work. It is worth remembering that your current systems are running your operation at present. It would not be a complete disaster if they were replicated using the ‘new technology’ as phase 1, and to then be used as the basis by which a controlled program of continuous improvement is instigated. Staff find this approach less intimidating and are usually more cooperative when change is eventually introduced.
More in this Blog series to come

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