Extreme configuration capability requires smart planning

A map of relationships between data objects.

“Do not rebuild what you have today.”

These words echoed through the room as Corey Roberts, P2P Project Director at CACI spoke about the hard lessons learned when implementing a Procure-to-Pay system. He was speaking to a group of senior procurement executives at an Ivalua-sponsored dinner last September in Washington, D.C.

Many prospects and customers could use Corey’s advice as they try to use new technology to replicate a system or a process that they already have. Sylvie Noel, CPO at Covea, a leading insurance group based in France, recommends taking a full year to plan a future organization. Her view is that the change management team needs to consider talents, organizational structure and processes as a whole.

“Procurement needs to learn from other industries,” Noel says, explaining why she often looks outside the insurance industry to learn from others and find best practices in many different places.

Aurelien Didier, software engineer at Ivalua, offers this advice:

Think long term

A highly flexible Spend Management system is a critical tool to meet today’s specific business or industry needs. However, there is a difference between configuration and customization, and when taking advantage of a flexible system procurement leaders shouldn’t ignore some long term implications. Here are a few points Aurelien suggests to keep in mind:

  • Updates: Over the next 10 years your system is likely to receive updates every few months in order to stay current with the latest features and technologies.
  • Enhancements: It can be tempting to add enhancements for any conceivable need, but over-enhancing your environment means more complexity and less resiliency across the system.
  • Integrations: Today’s business environment consists of many interconnected systems and data sources, many of which are far more rigid than your Spend Management system.

Updates, enhancements and integrations are all part of today’s enterprise application technology landscape. Systems like Ivalua bring new levels of flexibility to what had previously been a very rigid deployment model. But just because you can easily and extensively customize a system, Aurelien suggests taking a step back and thinking about your actual business processes.

Don’t go crazy just because you have the ability to do so, and as Corey suggested at that dinner last year, don’t simply customize a system to match what you do today. Instead, configure your system correctly based on well thought-out processes and a vision toward the long-term goals of your company.

Don’t hesitate to share tips or comments on what to keep in mind before implementing a new Spend Management system.

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