What comes to mind when you hear that?
Maybe a particular gift you’ve received yourself, or one you chose carefully to give. Then again, these days you may be more likely to hear it as a droll comment about something that provides ongoing surprises and frustration (new ERP system anyone?). But the phrase intends to define a gift that is enjoyed continually over time.
Commercially, if you’re old enough, you might remember Kodak advertising its camera with that slogan. Your parents or grandparents might associate the phrase with RCA’s color televisions! But its first use in advertising was much earlier than even that. According to YourDictionary.com and other internet sources, the first commercial use was nearly a hundred years ago by the Victor Company advertising its radios.
Whoever first coined it was clever. Its application to electronics — radios and televisions — captured a key benefit of investing in those technological advances: the return would be ongoing. Such has been the promise of technology since, and in fact, it has and continues to deliver.
In the realm of computing, Moore’s Law has driven an exponential increase in computing capabilities as size and cost fall. Physicists tell us that Moore’s Law cannot continue forever, but it has already brought us a breath-taking distance, and some other technological advance is waiting in the wings (see molecular transistors).
What does this mean for business? Better, faster, cheaper. Of course, it applies (when you can get a piece of the budget) to the procure-to-pay process as to everything else.
None of this is to say there aren’t “fits and starts” in process automation. But the general movement is clearly forward, and there are leaders in P2P processing that have successfully automated. Result: Five now do what once took a staff of 100 or more people to do, and they do a lot more besides, bringing greater value to the company’s operations.
Successfully automating a process, then, is something that brings ongoing benefits. Though certainly some automation has sometimes meant two steps back before the anticipated steps forward, overall the direction and record is clear.
With regard to P2P, that has meant a variety of programs addressing the many facets of the process, from digitizing transaction information and then managing it electronically, generating reporting, and eventually concluding transactions with electronic settlement.
Many years ago, process experts observed that given the nature of the various P2P sub-processes, there would likely not be a “silver bullet” single software system that would address them all, but that successful companies would employ and combine multiple applications to meet the needs from requisition and PO creation, through electronic receiving, invoice receipt (and sometimes conversion), workflows, and payments.
Some of these steps were a higher priority initially. As they have been addressed successfully, attention turns to the next priority in the process.
Each successful implementation is a kind of gift that keeps on giving. Getting there involves the struggles of change and of working out “kinks,” but ultimately companies are enjoying success, as these “gifts” eventually become taken for granted, providing an ongoing return on the initial investment.
Are you ready for the next “gift that keeps on giving”? To see how Financial Operations Networks’ vendor inquiry, onboarding, and compliance self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company, click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.