Compleat and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have been working together for many years,
but it has not always been this way, ZSL had been put off finding a finance and accounting automation solution for many years after having reviewed the market options and struggled to deal with the company politics in a P2P automation project.
ZSL are an international scientific, conservative, and educational charity, working in over 50 countries; their mission of ground-breaking science and active conservation projects is realized through their two zoos (ZSL London Zoo & ZSL Whipsnade Zoo).
Which means they were unable to find a finance and accounting automation solution that met their business requirements while also being financially justifiable.
Money was spread thin as there is significant competition within ZSL for many important causes and research.
Being a charity there is never enough money for everything and automation was put on a back burner for a future date.
Charities have the same financial burdens just like any business, which means they must make every penny count, after analyzing the strengths and weakness and getting a better understanding of procurement and invoicing processes within ZSL, company goals were then created to achieve a more efficient and cost-effective process.
ZSL had a set of main goals similar to most companies:
- Streamline the Procurement Process
- Save on invoicing costs
- Improve finance efficiency
- Win consensus across the board and pool users by providing the efficiency and effectiveness with ROI forecast analysis
Before any work could be done on improving the process, company politics in a p2p automation project must be worked through.
As anyone might know, working with senior management and budget holders can feel like pulling teeth with scorching hot pliers... The job will get done but it will not be what you planned; it looks worse than it was before and all innovative ideas you had are now all their innovative ideas.
Nick Napier, IT Director at ZSL is no stranger to this struggle:
“The challenges of starting a P2P automation project are both political and financial. By definition, the process will change the way that the budget holders (senior management) and a large number of their staff operate, whilst consuming funds that could be utilised elsewhere in the organisation. Unless we could address these challenges, it was unlikely the project would be sanctioned".
Most companies know of the benefits of automating procurement and invoicing processes, but if company culture, bias, and or sticks in the mud won’t budge then it’s going to be a very rough process. When dealing with company politics in a P2P automation project, the most important aspect is getting the stake holders on side. There will be some people you are going to impact with this project and the more people you disrupt the more than likely some of these people will have influence and power.
The first thing to do is identify these stakeholders, who will have an interest and who will be affected. Knowhow.ncvo.org.uk recommend writing up a list of stakeholders and how they may use said influence:
- How will they measure the success of this change? What is it that they want to see?
- How much influence do they have?
- Could they stop or seriously undermine the change if they wanted to?
- How important are they?
Another way, suggested by www.projectsmart.co.uk, is to create a power interest grid, this would allow you to find the people who may have a low interest but a lot of influence, meaning you may need to spend more time building a relationship with more nurturing. Alternatively, someone with high influence and high interest may need more attention to keep them up to date with reporting and the benefits of what they are trying to achieve.
Once you have identified your stakeholders, the next step should be to get a better understanding of key goals as well as to learn of any objections.
The most important aspect is communication as it is key to the understanding of each requirement from each stake holder.
Who you may need to communicate with may change over time as, they may shift depending on the phase of the project, waning interest, or something else that comes up unexpectedly.
You may need to think about how they like to be communicated with, what the most important part of the project is to them, what they need to know and more importantly what they don’t need to know, and even when the best time to contact them is.
With the right lines of communication open to the right people, the next step is to set and manage expectations; this will help create project timelines and find which stage each stakeholder will be part of.
Try to be as thorough as possible by letting people know what you will need from them and when, stakeholders are normally busy, so it’s best to be clear about what you need from them and more importantly how you will be able to help them.
A fantastic way to do this is to create a project management plan - head over to projectmanager.com to learn how to build a management plan, they already have a listed page to get you started.
Company Politics in a P2P Automation Project
Company politics, culture and opinion is hard to change but the effort is worth it.
In the end we are all human and we are all doing what we believe to be the best for ourselves and the company. We are all in the same car yet have different directions to the same destination.
Everyone wants the same thing, the company to succeed and a healthy Christmas bonus at the end of the year. Getting people on the main page should be a top priority for any project to succeed.
To find out more about ZSL's journey with Compleat,
download the case study here: