In times like these, all systems need to be firing on all cylinders, so how can you tell if your system is beginning to show it’s in need of optimization or replacement? There are 5 telltale signs that suggest your tech is failing.
The digital age marches on and it’s rare to find an organization that has not automated some or all of their procurement operation. The business case for going digital in S2P is compelling, so it is critical that it works.
Yet many organizations have tech solutions in place that no longer fit their intended purposes. Worse still, many have just given up and are settling for an inferior system that is not meeting their needs.
The signs are there, but they are either going unnoticed or they are being ignored. Both situations are perilous and without swift action, the cost to an organization in time and resources – and the immediate need for a new solution or an optimization – can really mount up.
What are the key signs that your tech solution is failing?
And how do you recognize them before it’s too late?
Here are some of the most common.
1. User adoption is on the decline
Your tech may have been heralded as the solution to all your organization’s ills. And for a while it was exactly that. But now even the staunchest champions of the solution are withdrawing their support and end-users are finding ways to avoid using the system altogether.
End users are reverting back to picking up the phone to place orders or finding other ways to go around the system. This will result in more spend going through P-Cards without prior approval and/or more invoices showing up that are not tied to a PO.
Decreasing adoption is one of the key signs that your tech is failing, and that action needs to be taken. Once users are working around the system, any efficiencies the solution offered are being lost. And it’s probably costing you more to keep things running.
Close communication with end-users is a good way to track ongoing performance and opportunities for optimization.
2. High end-user support rate
Your end-users will also be able to tell you when the solution is failing when it comes to usability. A clear sign will be when the rate of users seeking system support begins to increase and where tasks become increasingly difficult to perform. Especially with your more infrequent users of the platform.
When this happens support tickets will increase and if they are not resolved quickly, end users will lose confidence. When that happens, tickets may decline, but not for reasons that are good. as end users will typically turn to work arounds.
The most common work around is sending requests via Free Form requests to the buyers to complete for them. If your buyers are spending more than half of their day chasing down requisitions, you have a problem that needs to be corrected.
The second most common work around is the use of a “Power User.” This is when departments or locations turn to one person to complete all of their requests on their behalf. This was common in the days of ERP requisitioning systems, but not today. Especially when P2P systems of today have user interfaces that resemble what they have at home.
If any of these work arounds are happening, your tech may have seen better days and has become dated and too cumbersome to work with.
Communication with end-users is key again here. You want to be able to have a continuous feedback cycle to raise issues before they start impacting operations. It will help to identify any bugs to be fixed and create a forum for new feature requests. What you learn may surprise you.
Which brings us to the next telltale sign.
3. Lack of New Innovation
You’d expect your tech solution provider to be leading the pack in new features and improving your overall user experience to create even more value for your organization.
If you’re not seeing these, it is time to start asking questions of both your system administrator and your software provider.
Being a system administrator can be hard work, especially when there are 3 new releases per year to keep up with. If you are not seeing new features/functionality it may be that your system administrator is overwhelmed. Since new features come to you in the off position, you may have new features that have never been turned on.
If that is not the case, and your solution is not keeping up with other S2P providers, then it’s a clear sign that your provider’s focus is elsewhere or they built their platform on a system architecture that is difficult to develop new functionality.
Both situations should be a red flag to your organization. You should set the wheels in motion to optimize what you have or determine if it is time to test the market for a new tech solution.
4. ROI less than expected
Before you started out on this journey with your chosen provider, you created a detailed business case of what you expected in terms of outcomes from your new tech solution. You probably broke out the soft costs from the hard costs and knew what processes the tech would help to improve and how it would increase efficiencies in your organization.
These expected benefits – hard dollar savings, employee time, resources and removal of unnecessary or duplicated processes – could be quantified with a monetary value. This, in turn, allowed you to calculate your ROI.
However, as time has gone on, it’s become clear that the level of expected benefits isn’t being delivered. The ROI for the solution isn’t being met and it’s time to understand why. There could be a number of factors (including the items on this list). But all of this is a further sign that your tech solution is no longer fit for purpose.
5. Wandering solution roadmap
Even The Beatles had a ‘long and winding road’, but they at least knew the destination that awaited at the end.
Your technology journey may not have an end point by its very nature, but it should at least have clear direction. This would have been identified at the outset of your selection process, complete with clear goals and initiatives, helping to determine which technology solution would be selected.
Years later you may find that what was once their focus is no longer. Maybe you selected your tech provider due to their commitment to your industry or their commitment to a certain product road map. It is not uncommon for plans to change and for tech companies to change their focus for a variety of reasons. Is this enough reason to leave and start looking elsewhere? If it were up to me, that would depend on how many other items are on this list that are currently plaguing your operation as these issues may be related. If they have changed direction and are focusing on industries and organizations that don’t resemble you, it may be time to start looking elsewhere before things start getting worse.
Now you’ve seen the list, do you have any signs of your own to add? Anything in your organization that might now seem like a warning sign? These signs may not be immediately obvious which is why it is so important to know your KPI’s and be measuring what matters. If you don’t have anything in place, your solutions provider should be helping with this with a strong roadmap and support.
So keep these signs of a failing tech system in mind. You should then be able to avoid being encumbered with an ailing solution and instead remain as close to the cutting edge as you can.