SUBMITTED BY DataServ

Last summer, VentureBeat ran an intriguing article penned by Robert Abbott on the increased prevalence of software as a service (SaaS) solutions for mid-market companies (defined as companies with 50 to 2,000 employees). Abbott’s prevailing view is one we are in lockstep with: cloud-based technology provides for small and mid-market companies access to technology services that were previously out of their price range. One example of this is in the area of business process or workflow automation. In the case of financial operations, such as accounts payable automation or accounts receivable automation, the ability to gain the advantage of paperless workflow and data capture and scanning is now affordable for many small and mid-market companies via SaaS.

While we agree SaaS has dramatically lowered the price point for financial automation, this opportunity brings with it fresh challenges, the biggest of which we believe is change management. Gaining the benefits of automated workflow requires helping your employees, vendors, channel partners and other stakeholders to both understand and embrace the changes being proposed to them. In some instances, management sees the opportunity and moves quickly to embrace it; other times they move too quickly and find that their team has not bought into the change and is not supporting it, thus presenting a real risk to a successful project. How can you avoid this pitfall?

  • Work within the organization to help develop a clear case for change, whether though comparing performance to industry benchmarks, solving significant client issues, or seeking to establish a more competitive offer in the market.

  • Identify "what's in it for them" as part of developing the new process —many companies undertake these initiatives to have their staff focus on higher value activities or to provide increased capacity for future expansion. If you do not articulate your goals, people will automatically assume the new process will eliminate their position, and that will harden their opposition to the project.

  • Engage the people who will be affected by the change in the design of the new solution—they understand the daily frustrations, wasted efforts, and areas which lead to customer dissatisfaction, so their insights will be very helpful in your process redesign. Additionally, you will be relying on them to implement and use the new system, so your odds of a successful transition are greatly increased if you include the people responsible for using the new system in its design.

  • Find the right vendor to support your efforts — your vendor should not only provide a functional solution, but it should also be invested with you in seeing that the system gets used by your people and works the way it is intended. Areas to look for include the vendor’s ability to:

    • Tailor their SaaS functionality to your organization’s specific needs. 

    • Offer more than standardized training—they should be willing to adapt training to your unique use of the software platform and the needs of your organization.

    • Provide ongoing support so that your team is not burdened with additional work after installation of the new solution. Things to look for include having the vendor handle first- and second-tier support, and the ability to update and maintain user security and other daily activities that might otherwise take away from your team’s usual responsibilities.

These are some of the tips we have implemented with our clients to help aid them in a successful transition from a paper-based process to a SaaS-based purchase to pay or quote to cash solution. We would love to hear your comments, so please email us at info@DataServ.com.

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