The Insider’s Guide To Improving Payments And Cash Flow: Get Ready For Project Kickoff

Alan Cohen and Scott Pezza

Part 8 of the Payments and Cash Flow Series.

Just before your project officially kicks off, your focus should be on finalizing the details and getting the team ready. In the third post in this series, we looked at executive sponsorship and project resources. As part of that exercise, you secured an executive champion for the project and began identifying people within your organization who would own specific tasks during implementation. Now is the time to review those items, revise if necessary, and get ready.

At this point, you won’t be scheduling everything on the calendar, since specific meeting schedules will be worked out with your chosen provider. You will, however, begin the process of setting expectations across the organization, so those people who will be called upon to participate have appropriate coverage, and their managers understand that driving a successful project is a priority.

Call to action

  1. Confirm the team. Earlier, we discussed the need to identify your executive sponsor and program manager. If those details are still in flux, now is the time to finalize them. You also need to define your project leads for procurement, accounts payable (AP), treasury, and IT. They won’t all need constant participation, but they do need to be identified, informed, on board, and ready to engage once the program begins.
  1. Allocate the time. In the beginning, you should expect the team leads to meet internally at least once per week to review the status of their respective areas and delegate tasks. In the beginning, your AP or IT lead should budget time for data extraction, anticipating a request from your provider’s delivery team. After an initial review, the AP and procurement teams will be called on to review targeted suppliers and discuss recommended payment terms. Depending on the number of suppliers in scope and the working relationship between AP and procurement, this exercise could require multiple work days of effort.
  1. Finalize the goals. Before working with your provider to detail specific target metrics, take this opportunity to clearly articulate your program goals. If your focus is to improve the health of your supply chain, then your program may not be as aggressive in extending payment terms or pursuing maximum discounts. If your goal is to free up as much working capital as possible, then maximizing extensions while minimizing early payments will guide the strategy.

How we can help

To help you prepare for a project kick-off, we offer a sample project plan that can guide you on project execution and clearly identify who will be involved at different stages. You can request it by sending an email to

Complimentary e-book

You can also get our complimentary e-book, Insider’s Guide to Improving Payments and Cash Flow. You’ll learn how to build a business case for improving payment processing and cash flow management, and determine core requirements for a successful program that will deliver measurable value to your organization.

Learn how organizations are gaining instant financial insights and using them to make better decisions—both now and in the future. Register now for the 2017 Financial Excellence Forum, Oct. 10-11 in New York City.

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Alan Cohen

About Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen is VP Payments & Financing Strategy, SAP Ariba. Alan has over 20 years of payments and working capital experience as a practitioner, consultant, and banker. In his current role, he leads the payments and financing strategy for SAP Ariba to help clients achieve improved business outcomes. Previously, at Coca-Cola Enterprises, Alan led the procure-to-pay transformation that encompassed sourcing, procurement, and payables automation, and the company became one of the first to benefit from dynamic discounting. Alan holds a supply chain management degree from Arizona State University. In 2015, he was part of a team that won SAP’s Hasso Plattner Founders Award for an innovative approach to B2B payments. Alan lives in Atlanta with his wife and 2 daughters. He has served on the board of the Weinstein School since 2007 and actively participates in 2nd Helpings, a nonprofit to rescue and deliver surplus food.

Scott Pezza

About Scott Pezza

As part of SAP Ariba's Digital Transformation Organization's Center of Excellence, Scott researches, compiles, and shares best-practice information to help SAP Ariba's customers get the most out of their investments. He has a dual focus on the emerging technologies (AI/ML, IoT, Blockchain, etc.) across the source-to-settle cycle, as well as a specific interest in the financial supply chain (invoice management, payments, discounting, and supply chain finance). His research helps inform strategic planning, performance measurement, and program execution. He has spent the past 17 years in the B2B technology space, in roles ranging from software development and support to research and consulting. Scott earned his BA in English and Philosophy from Clark University, his MBA from Boston University Graduate School of Management, and his JD from Boston University School of Law, where he served on the Executive Board of the Annual Review of Banking and Financial Law.