In this blog, Paul van Rietschoten, managing director and founder of Spendlinq, explains why there is much more to digital transformation than using the latest cool gadgets and technology. And why the right deployment of people and processes are also indispensable factors for digital transformation to actually succeed and contribute to sustainable growth.
Automation, digitalisation, digitisation and digital transformation are terms often mentioned in the same sentence, but not always used in the right way. Paul regularly sees this in daily practice. As an advisor to organisations that only just have started their digital transformation or are already well on their way, he notices that there is a lot of ambiguity on the subject. "The terms automation, digitalisation, digitisation and digital transformation can cause confusion, especially when not used in the right context. Even more problematic, expectations upfront are often not in line with the results afterwards. For example, there is a substantial difference between what to expect from a digitisation project (converting analogue to digital formats) versus a project that is about digitisation (using digital technology in existing business processes)", Paul says.
"At Spendlinq, we deal with the digital transformation of Source to Pay processes, where our focus is on the entire procurement and invoice processing process. From initial supplier selection to payment of purchase invoices. In this context, digital transformation means redefining the Source to Pay strategy and an organisation's mindset to embrace change in this area, leveraging technology to create more value faster in line with the organisation's objectives."
Paul continues: "There is much more to digital transformation than using cool new gadgets and technology. Digital transformation is an all-encompassing integrated approach that is much more complex. Implementing it also requires much more effort. But in the end the final result is more sustainable! Of course, it contains elements of digitalisation and digitisation, but it is more than that. Whereas digitalisation and digitisation are in fact about technology, digital transformation is much more a continuous pursuit of innovative and flexible business processes, at both strategic and operational level. In our case, that means we specifically look at Source to Pay (and Purchase to Pay) processes."
Spendlinq operates at the crossroads of expertise in Source to Pay processes and technological knowledge. The full-service provider has a distinctive approach to digital transformation of Source to Pay processes that rests on 3 pillars: people, processes and technology.
Paul explains: "First of all, it's about people. And especially about leadership and vision. Management must have a clear vision about the reason, approach and goals of digital transformation and its communication to all stakeholders. But employees also deserve attention. After all, they need to master the necessary digital skills - with or without training - so that they understand and use the new processes and technology. And that in turn requires attention to corporate culture. It must be geared towards people stepping beyond their own borders and those of their department (procurement, finance, IT). Digital transformation requires common goals and knowledge sharing. Collaboration and communication are crucial."
"Besides people, processes are an important factor. This calls for a user-centric approach. And that includes a feedback system, so that something is actually done with experiences in the workplace. In addition, actual data and their analysis should form the basis for decision-making. Of course, without losing sight of the human dimension. Moreover, a more iterative and incremental approach to processes is necessary to be able to respond to changes faster and better."
"The third pillar, of course, is technology. Whether it is an existing or newly acquired system, regardless of whether it supports the complete process or specific process components, the Source to Pay software to which it relates must always be optimally integrated with other business systems and platforms. This requires attention to architecture and overall IT infrastructure, which must support the organisation's digital transformation needs. And of course, security deserves great attention. This mostly concerns policies and measures that focus on the security of data, systems and networks involved."
Paul concludes: "So digital transformation from Source to Pay is not only necessary for digitalisation and digitisation projects to succeed, but it is a crucial part of the business transformation strategy. The right technology, combined with the right focus on people and processes, gives any organisation the ability to respond faster to changes and opportunities in order to promote future, sustainable growth and innovation."
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