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.

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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Who is your backup on the job?

You are out of the office enjoying a vacation, recovering from surgery, attending a funeral, or other personal endeavor. Yet, someone needs to know how to run a report, resolve a declined transaction, or find an account number. Whatever the issue is, it likely is not an emergency, but no one is prepared to pinch hit in your absence. Then there is the issue of work piling up while you are out, putting you behind for days or even weeks. To avoid the hassles, some people choose to stay connected to work at all times, but is this really a good solution? Following are signs of trouble, questions to explore with your manager, and actions you can take to improve your out of office situation.

Signs of Trouble

  1. No designated backup for you
  2. No documented procedures for how to perform your job duties (or they are outdated) 
  3. Your backup has not received sufficient training
  4. Your backup seldom or never fulfills your role
  5. Wrong person is designated as your backup 

Any one of these can cause work disruptions and headaches. Organizations that are able to avoid such trouble commonly follow a continuous improvement methodology like Lean or similar. This typically results in more cross-training and job rotation, allowing someone to become proficient in a backup role. At a minimum, work with your manager to clearly identify what should happen in your absence.  

Questions to Explore with Your Manager

  1. What are their expectations for when you are out of the office?
  2. Who is the backup? Are they the right person (e.g., someone who can follow instructions as well as find answers when needed)?
  3. What are their expectations for the backup? What tasks will they do versus what will be left for your return?
  4. While someone serves as your backup, will this create issues in their own job? You do not want to trade one problem for another.
  5. How often should your backup receive training?
  6. For practice purposes, should your backup perform some duties while you are in the office? 
Having a satisfactory plan for addressing your job duties in your absence will make your time away easier and contribute to smoother office operations. 

Having a satisfactory plan for addressing your job duties in your absence will make your time away easier and contribute to smoother office operations. 

Actions You Can Take

You cannot force your management to adequately address the backup issue. However, the following steps are within your control:

  • Ensure procedures for doing your job are current, clear, and accessible. Focus on documenting what is most important first, such as tasks and situations likely to arise in your absence.
  • Establish appropriate system access for your backup.
  • Communicate who your backup is to cardholders, the card issuer, etc.

With some planning, you can hopefully breathe a little easier while out. 

See more content on program management...


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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