Spend Management

Webinar Notes: When Procurement Met Finance - How to Achieve the Hollywood Ending

Webinar Notes: When Procurement Met Finance - How to Achieve the Hollywood Ending

This week’s featured webinar was hosted by Hubwoo and featured Jason Busch of Spend Matters. ‘When Procurement Met Finance - How to Achieve the Hollywood Ending’ evoked the long bumpy road for Harry and Sally (played by Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) in the 1989 romantic comedy. The connections between the movie and the challenges of the procurement/finance relationship may not obvious, but Jason did a great job keeping the theme going.

If you’re not familiar with the movie, or if it’s been awhile, here is the basic idea: Harry and Sally met while they were in college. They continued to cross paths for the next ten years, but while there was always interest on both sides, the timing was never right. They finally spent some time as friends before getting into a relationship, getting married, and [spoiler alert] living happily ever after.

In a similar way, procurement and finance have been ‘crossing paths’ over performance metrics, results tracking and reporting structures. It wasn’t love at first sight to be sure, but the fates seem to have more in mind for us.

Jason translated the three main relationship issues addressed in the movie:

The numbers get in the way of our friendship

We know we need the right KPIs to measure the right things, ultimately bringing about agreed upon outcomes, In order to capture total costs, those KPIs need to extend beyond procurement into accounts payable’s process costs. In some organizations this may turn the love match into a love triangle, but direct collaboration with AP is critical. Addressing post contract realities like the cost of invoice processing or actual payout timing can protect the impact of savings.

Are you high or low maintenance?

The real issue is whether you accurately perceive how easy it is to work with your organization and the systems you implement. Putting effective systems in place allows you to maximize adoption by both internal users and suppliers. Both groups need to see the value add for them. This will generate much better results than an overly hopeful expectation that people will do ‘the right thing’. Suppliers should be able to get visibility as well as to provide it, such as into payment status. And stakeholders, they deserve our empathy in any way we can show it.

No ‘faking it’

For procurement and finance to really connect, our intentions need to be more than skin deep. Base procurement’s strategic plan and long term vision on a well-developed business case, and focus on the inclusion of tangible return metrics. Benchmarks have to be realistic and prove that the expected efficiencies are being realized along the way. Hope is not a strategy.

As we all know, any lasting relationship requires constant work. And while it won’t be easy we should consider ourselves lucky that ‘When Harry Met Sally’ was the movie adaptation of the procurement/finance relationship instead of ‘Roadhouse’ or ‘Under Siege’…

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