Staff members are a wildcard.

When we talk about expanding electronic payments, things like technology and work flow often surface, but are we forgetting the people aspect? The employees who manage or support purchase-to-pay processes—namely, procurement and AP—often wield just as much power as senior management in the success or failure of a new payment strategy. Organization leaders who are ready to modernize payment operations need to address two aspects of the staff members responsible for executing their plan: attitude and skills.

In case you missed it... Staff members are not the only culprit in a laggard payments environment. The previous blog post shares an example highlighting how internal culture driven by management can plague B2B payments.


Attitude

People are unpredictable. Even employees who are generally flexible might resist a change in payment methods, processes, and/or technology. I have heard of organizations who avoid such conflict by holding off on implementing something new until “so-and-so” retires. It does not make business sense to sacrifice quantifiable benefits of a modern payments strategy to appease one or more employees. 

Resistance often stems from fear. Senior management should be planning appropriate communications to ease employees’ fears about the unknown. This includes explaining:

  • the reasons for making a change and
  • the anticipated impact on jobs

Some organizations go a step further by offering incentives if/when staff achieves certain goals related to adopting a new initiative. This could range from monetary rewards to something basic like a celebratory lunch. Those who do not display the right attitude could be subject to a change in job position or status.

The other dilemma management could encounter is employees who have the right attitude but lack the necessary skills to accommodate a change. 

Skills

Key questions for management to explore include:

  • What skills do employees need to help the organization succeed with the new plan? 
  • Are the right skills attainable? Conversely, are employees simply not suited for what lies ahead, regardless of possible training? 

An organization should decide how much it is willing to invest in employee development in order to fulfill a vision. 

Which employees are ready to support improvements to the organization’s payments plan? Ensure they possess the skills to meet new job demands.

Which employees are ready to support improvements to the organization’s payments plan? Ensure they possess the skills to meet new job demands.

Conclusion

If management is committed to payment improvements, they should do the following as early as possible in the process:

  1. Assess the impacted staff members to identify potential roadblocks related to attitude and/or a shortage of skills
  2. Determine how they will address the identified potential issues (e.g., training, employee restructuring, incentives, etc.)

Finally, once the dust settles, policies and procedures, as well as job descriptions for procurement and AP personnel, likely need to be refreshed to reflect the organization’s new path.

Related Resource

For more on the skills companies are seeking in finance and accounting employees, I recommend the October 29, 2015, Corcentric blog post Financial Job Market: Shortage of Jobs or Shortage of Job Skills? by Kate Freer.

See more on payment strategy from Recharged Education.


About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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