But First, Internal Buy-in
When implementing virtual payments, not only do you need to gain the buy-in of suppliers, but also of the employees within your organization who will be changing their established processes and supporting vendors during the transformation. While the end results of improved transparency, increased security and control, and more efficient operations will certainly be well-received by your internal stakeholders, it’s natural for there to be some friction as they’re asked to adopt and adapt to a new way of working. Employing certain strategies can help the process proceed more smoothly.
- Choose a dedicated project manager. Select an employee who will be accountable for driving the success of the project, and who may be relied upon when questions or unforeseen obstacles arise. They’ll also be responsible for promoting the project internally and rallying employees at critical junctures. This person should ideally be a subject matter expert. While they may not be the one who ultimately solves every single issue that arises, they can be called upon for guidance and serve as the visionary champion who embraces the end goal and can lead others confidently towards that result.
- Align all corners of the business around the goal to implement electronic payments. It’s necessary to ensure that all impacted departments - Accounts Payable, Accounting, Treasury, Procurement, and IT - learn the ‘why’ behind making this particular change. Reinforcement at the C-level is needed as well. Share the reasons why switching to electronic payments must occur and what’s in it for them. Present a roadmap that outlines all planned actions, timelines, and other elements to get everyone on the same page. Each of these stakeholders must be able to articulate the benefits of virtual payments so they can turn around and educate colleagues and suppliers alike. Furthermore, they must recognize the overall benefit to the organization. E-payments don't just reduce friction, increase efficiency, and improve supplier relationships for the AP Team. Instead, they can lead to enterprise-wide transparency, agility, and growth. If there are employees who express resistance to the change, identifying them early on will allow you to formulate a plan to work with them more closely to get them on board.
- Set yourself up for success with the right communications, education, and measurement tools. Transitioning to a new e-payments ecosystem will require more than an introductory kick-off meeting and some training sessions for front-line employees. You’ll need to perform ongoing education and reinforcement, provide written process and FAQ documentation, monitor how users are handling the technology, and document any common errors you're running into. Once you’ve established your usage policies and workflows, you’ll need to assess adherence and track KPIs. The more engaging you can make your employee content (think: videos and online tutorials), the better. Ongoing communication and acceptance of feedback at all times can make teams feel included and invested in the process.
Preparing your people, processes, and knowledge base before flipping the switch from paper checks to virtual payments can make for a less tumultuous transition. While it’s unrealistic to expect the shift will come without hiccups or hurdles, establishing these strong supports will allow you to address them more readily.