When implementing a major new system, the greatest benefits can only be achieved when you keep in mind that streamlining work processes and understanding the impact of the implementation on the overall end-to-end process is as important as getting the new system up and running. However, it isn’t only a matter of deciding whether or not the project includes both technology and process design changes; you also need to decide how broadly you should set the scope. For example, when making a major change to your T&E systems and processes, is that also the right time to change your travel card and card provider?
A recent PeercastTM on this topic featured a $20B global manufacturing company that replaced its T&E systems and redesigned its work processes as a project that was run in parallel with the selection of a new card product and a new card provider. While the need for a replacement system was the primary reason to implement, they took advantage of the opportunity to streamline work processes, with changes including raising the receipt requirement threshold and reducing the number of expense categories by 80%. Adding to the scope created more risk, with the benefit of providing greater opportunities to “get it right the first time”.
While it was difficult to coordinate resources for the large scope project, there were many benefits to having the change happen at one time, including the ability to design an integrated approach to communication and training. Multiple methods of communication were used, with training provided to travelers, approving managers, and administrative staff, using a combination of classroom training and online training tools.
Results from an iPoll on the topic show that for more than 50% of companies it has been four years or more since a major change to the T&E system, with only 15% implementing within the past year. While it may be comforting for many that the challenges of a major change in T&E are now a “distant memory”, with the speed that technology changes it is likely that for many there is a very short window before the next major change occurs.
The iPoll also included a question about which approach to communicating the change was most effective. For almost 50%, direct e-mail targeting travelers was considered the most effective, although a wide range of other options were often used, with 15% unable to pick a “most effective” because of strong opinion that more than one method needs to be used. Certainly, iPoll respondent’s comments suggest that “e-mail fatigue” is a concern, even when it involves important communications to travelers about a major change to T&E systems and processes.
The second most popular approach didn’t directly include the traveler at all, but rather was to work through key department contacts in the business to communicate the changes. For many, this approach likely included a combination of “informing managers who can instruct their staff” and “informing assistants who can instruct their managers”; both effective methods for helping traveling professionals properly filter the message and take appropriate action.
The PeercastTM and related iPoll generated a healthy discussion between participants regarding the merits of various approaches to communication. Here are some of the comments:
- We communicate major changes to the travelers via email, but it may not be the most effective method.
- Our major change during the past year was to implement the existing T&E system globally. In doing so, we use a combination of all communication methods listed. During the implementation process, we work with key contacts in the business and provide training to them and the support teams that will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the new system. We then rely on the local teams (since many speak foreign languages) to ensure that employees receive training as well. We also use presentations, banner notices and email communication, when applicable.
- Initially we did hold live training sessions and webinars. Recently, for any changes to our Global Travel Policy, we have sent out the e-mail communication globally and it seems to work pretty well.
- We used e-mail to provide frequent communications directly to travelers and the senior leadership team. We also did awareness roadshows across the company to alert travelers of the upcoming changes, and we provided online training.
- We moved our global system from a JAVA to an HTML platform 2 years ago and are currently performing a global upgrade of the T&E system for over 70 markets. We have found that mass e-mail communication gets ignored and instead use our T&E email reminders, T&E system broadcast messages, Yammer, text messages and local in-country news channels.
The PeercastTM and iPoll results highlight the benefits of including a focus on redesigning processes whenever you are making major systems changes, and also how important it is to be deliberate when setting the scope for the project. Too narrow and you miss out on opportunities for greater improvements, and too broad and you may jeopardize both the project’s timeline and overall success.
Perhaps the biggest lesson was the need to pay attention to change management issues by having a communication plan that used multiple channels and touch-points, as well as a robust approach to training travelers, managers, and administrative staff.
How does your company approach major changes to your T&E systems, and what role do Shared Services play?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
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