Transformational Change (Pt1) – How can YOU make it happen?

Charlotte Sutton
Charlotte Sutton,
Leading organisations are moving fast, and recognising the need to move even faster as market trends dramatically shift. In this 2-part article, we share the priorities and actions of organisations successfully utilising technology to keep up with the pace of change.
At PROACTIS, our passion is helping organisations to revolutionise their Spend Control processes by exploiting the very latest technologies. And as we all know, there is no silver-bullet technology solution out there.

Here we are – it’s 2016 – and the basic pressures on Finance and Procurement are really the same as they always have been – How do we find more costs to cut? How do we further improve efficiency? How do we ensure transparency? What innovative approaches can we find to drive more value creation? 

The reality is, whilst the basic pressures are the same and the details continue to evolve… for most organisations there is some way to go in terms of the level of technology automation. 

So let’s explore why that is, and how we can connect the dots – make the linkage between business strategies and ensuring our Spend Control initiatives deliver bottom-line results.

Linking Spend Control Actions to Strategic Enterprise Initiatives


What’s keeping your c-level team awake at night?

C-level execs have learned to deal with those pressures in general – but what’s keeping them up at night right now - in 2016?

If you are in Retail, your CEO might be looking to shore up margins. Suppliers are forcing up input costs. Consumer sentiment is pushing down retail prices. It’s a tough time being a retailer.

If you are in Public Sector, your CFO will be focused on deficit reduction and commissioning. To go beyond policy-led cost savings. To embrace partnering. And to improve risk and management information across a large proportion of your discretionary spend.

If you are in the Transport and Logistics sector, then your CPO may be facing a hard road ahead. A large proportion of the organisation’s direct spend is managed by the maintenance and operations functions. So the challenge may be for Procurement to elevate its game – and take a holistic view of the difference between CapEx and OpEx spends.

If you’re in Financial Services, your CIO might be looking at how to handle the impact of regulatory changes – to date this has included; the separation of investment and retail operations, and increased regulation related to disaster recovery, information security, money laundering, and the like.

And so on.

These are big issues and we are not going to wrestle them all to the ground in a day – many of them are going to require transformational change within your organisation.

The question for TODAY is…

Transformational Change – how can YOU make it happen?

What can YOU do to help make the right changes happen? Regardless of whether you are, in fact, a C-level executive or wherever you are in your organisation. 

Important and valuable change does NOT always happen in a purely top-down manner as the academics would have us think. Many times it emanates from the middle of the organisation. But when that happens, it’s because someone has understood what’s driving those at the top and has made the linkage between actions THEY can take at THEIR level and the pressures the organisation is feeling at the top.

Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum

Meaningful change rarely happens in a vacuum – nor by accident. It happens because:
  • a) There are forces demanding change of some kind
  • b) Analysis may be done – by consulting partners like Steria and PA Consulting; and strategic initiatives may be generated by executives – but those are almost always general directions in nature
  • c) Then SOMEONE recognises how they can do something specific and practical that contributes to the real goal
Our experience is executives really don’t like being pounced on with ‘great ideas’ out of the blue. BUT they absolutely LOVE practical, do-able ideas that clearly align with what they are currently trying to achieve. 

Aligning Spend Control to strategic initiatives (1)

Now all of us here spend our days working on what we call ‘Spend Control’ as a short-hand term. The trick for US is to do our best:
  • To look at the world through the eyes of our senior executives
  • To participate in the analysis when asked,
  • To think about why the initiatives are what they are
  • And to RECOGNISE that our executives are LOOKING for help with the details of how to achieve their goals…
Aligning Spend Control to strategic initiatives (2)

So be ready. Be ready to suggest the specific Spend Control moves that will contribute. Be the person who makes a difference by suggesting the right action at the right time. 

And for those you who are already doing this today, it is ALSO important to keep focused and maintain the level of energy in your project.

Remember when you were at the point of your new Spend Control idea? When the energy and excitement was extremely high. It was at this moment when you were prepared to stay up all night drafting a business plan to the early hours.

Then as the days and weeks pass, and you tackle the quick wins one-by-one, the gravitational force of operations sets in and tries to pull you away. So what do we do with the wisdom and gift of Spend Control we have? We want to return to the energy and excitement of a high that associates itself with a new idea. And set off with yet another great idea! Even though there are still savings opportunities left on the table to be had.

But it is at this stage that the top performers shine. They RE-ENERGISE. They maintain their eye on the ball and focus on: Trading electronically with MORE suppliers. Processing MORE invoices electronically. IMPROVING compliance. Tackling MORE of the tail-end of spend. Achieving GREATER levels of spend under management.

It’s more than a project! They bounce between: being the “dreamer of new ideas”; “connecting the dots” between business strategy and their initiatives; and ensure the “doing” gets done!

They surround themselves with the right people. They share ideas and best practice. They learn from other people’s successes.

And this is what you can do.

Check out Part 2 of this blog to find out how PROACTIS clients ARE taking action.
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