The Insider’s Guide To Improving Payments And Cash Flow: Success Measurement And Post-Implementation

Alan Cohen and Scott Pezza

Part 11 of the Payments and Cash Flow Series.

Once the systems are connected and the outreach is underway, your success will be dictated by your ability to:

  1. Master the day-to-day. As suppliers come on board, acknowledging changes to payment methods/terms or agreeing to new discount terms, the changes need to be reflected in your system. Behind the scenes, efficiently processing invoices from receipt through approval will enable you to optimize payment timing and maximize this portion of your business case.
  1. Escalate and execute. When suppliers have questions, you need to escalate them to the right person quickly and resolve those questions in a timely manner. Every day a supplier is in limbo is a day that you’re not enjoying the benefits of improved cash flow, discounts, and/or electronic payment.

Measuring success

Earlier, you defined your project goals. During your kickoff, you saw how your current state compared with your competitors. At this point, you want to have quantified targets to track against. To excel here, you’ll want to:

  1. Track what matters. There is a near-infinite number of metrics and sub-metrics that you can track – but that doesn’t mean that you should. Focus on a small number of core metrics (such as number of suppliers onboarded, dollar value of cash flow, amount of discounts captured, etc.) and track them continuously. These should be part of every call with your provider and every status update with your sponsor.
  1. Keep engaged with your support team. While the breakdown of roles and responsibilities can differ from project to project, know that you’re not alone in this effort. If your provider has information that might make your life easier, ask for it. If priorities or preferences change, keep them in the loop so that they can update the strategy. Your provider succeeds when you succeed, so keep them engaged and don’t hesitate to reach out.

Call to action

  1. Keep your executive sponsor informed. Through good times and bad, your executive sponsor must be kept up-to-date on project status. When things are going well, you build confidence in the project. When there are struggles, the executive sponsor can help connect different teams or even secure additional resources.
  1. Make status calls a priority. Your provider will likely set up a regular standing meeting to review progress and introduce escalations. Poor attendance on these calls is an easy way to delay onboarding and stall efforts to move forward.

How we can help

To help you keep your executive sponsor informed, check out our sample reporting spreadsheet, which illustrates an organized and easily-shared project summary for a working capital improvement project. You can request it by sending an email to SAP_improve-cashflow@sap.com.

You can also get our complimentary Insider’s Guide to Improving Payments and Cash Flow ebook. 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.

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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.