Mobile features and functionalities may seem like a given – there’s an app for everything. But it’s no longer just a trend. Virtual collaboration platforms are the way business is conducted now – think Asana, Slack, Microsoft Teams – and often from mobile devices. So, why should procure to pay be any different?
Go with the flow
Many organizations have discovered the best way to get talent in their company is to hire employees who are geographically dispersed. Distributed, virtual teams and remote employees are the norm, and so the rise of digital platforms have become critical to collaboration, project management and idea sharing. And with flexible schedules, more business travel and working across various time zones, people are collaborating on-the-go from mobile devices at an ever-increasing rate.
In a 2016 survey conducted by Samsung and Frost & Sullivan in the U.S., 58 percent of respondents said they always or usually use smartphones for business and productivity applications. Respondents also said they saw an estimated productivity increase of a whopping 34 percent.1
Don’t forget about the back office
An increase in productivity translates to a faster pace of business and improved performance. Departments like marketing, sales, customer service and others have already seen tangible benefits from this increased speed for some time, but now organizations are realizing the benefits of increasing the speed of operations for back office functions as well.
Quick and timely processing of procure-to-pay documents can lead to several benefits for the company, such as securing the best price, ensuring on-time delivery of goods, capturing early payment discounts, achieving higher process automation rates, etc. So, it’s essential that people involved in the process are equipped with tools that enable them to collaboratively achieve the best possible process efficiency – regardless of time and place.
Design it for how people work
Part of ensuring that people have the right tools is designing a solution for how people work. Our philosophy on user adoption of procure-to-pay solutions is that you can’t force people into compliance – using the solution must be the easiest, most convenient way of getting things done quickly. Solutions must take into consideration nuances in users’ roles and departments, your industry, compliance requirements, etc. Take for example an employee who works on an oil rig. This person needs to be able to quickly order the goods and supplies that keep production going without having to navigate a complex system or find a computer to place the order. This person needs ordering and approval capabilities in their pocket. Mobility is a big part of how people work today.
Keep workflows simple on-the-go
In creating a solution for how people work, one thing that must be considered is the complexity of workflows. Best practices are to re-engineer and streamline processes when adding automation, removing unnecessary steps and complexity to keep workflows as simples as possible while still meeting requirements. The beauty of mobile collaboration from a complex workflow perspective is that it is enables users to get what they need without adding complexity to the process. Workflows can be kept simple, while difficult needs are addressed by chatting in-app.
If you have mobile procure-to-pay collaboration, in-app messaging provides the information and the right level of urgency alongside the messages so that users can act right away within the tool to accomplish tasks like:
Ask assistance for manual coding from AP
Request help from buyer to find the right item to purchase
Agree with cost center owners on how to split the costs
Require additional reviews of orders and invoices
Broadcast messages to personnel (e.g. remind everyone to handle documents before books are closed or ask people to set vacation back-ups).
All discussions are stored to the audit trail and can be easily accessed if needed. And, permissions can be set so users only see the documents that pertain to them, eliminating unnecessary digital clutter.
Make mobile collaboration part of the future
The biggest thing to consider when evaluating or expanding a procure-to-pay solution is the flexibility the system has for the future. Are you selecting products and tools that can grow and evolve with your organization as well as accommodate emerging technology? Are you empowering users across the enterprise to do their jobs better – in the office and on-the-go? Are enabling the back-office with the efficiency they need to meet the needs of the business? Consider these questions and benefits of mobile collaboration, because it’s not about jumping on a bandwagon and rolling out mobile capabilities for its own sake – it’s about transforming your business.
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