Working With Your Vendor For Successful Automation: Tips and Strategies From a Consultant

Speakers

Roger Anderson

Principal Consultant,
Optimize Consulting

Transcript

[0:00]Roger Anderson:

Good morning, everybody. Alright.

[0:04]Roger Anderson:

So how’s everybody liking the conference so far? Good. When I started with these conferences over the 21st in the first couple of years, this is the whole conference right here, this room. And this was a, there was nothing to this big stadium wherever you want to hundreds of people. So this is unique again for them. So it’s nice. So yeah, we’re going to try to give you some of you some tidbits, from my viewpoint anyway, of what my experiences are with HighRadius and vendor management and implementing the project. So this is all based on my prior experience, you could get a lot of different information from other consultants here. People have already used a product so you’ll get a different viewpoint. So this is my personal opinion from what I’ve learned over the years.

[0:51]Roger Anderson:

So today, we’re going to try to talk about project ownership, get aligned with your internal teams and resolve your issues with your vendor as much as possible. The last two bullet points, especially the last part about the vendor, I want to spend a little time on that, because that’s pretty key from some experiences over the last couple years with two different perspectives of a couple of different ways people handle it. So some of your stakeholders in the implementation project, how your internal team, which could be it everybody is going to be involved in it, anybody’s going to touch a system, anybody’s going to be using a system and it’s going to be consuming the data. So it’s going to click your IT team, your deductions team or cash app team, whatever product your module you’re going to be using, and make sure you involve everybody as much as possible. Your vendor, of course, that’s the key to the whole thing you need to find your solution and what solution are you going to go with and then the third part is some of my position as a consultant. That could be somebody they call the consultants here at HighRadius, which is also our design team. There are people that come on-site and help to get your product built. Whereas as a consultant, we help other clients integrate or help work with them as much as possible, so that’s where we kind of fall into the game.

[2:04]Roger Anderson:

Somehow, with the consultants or sometimes they may be out of your scope or out of your budget. So some new consultants like us, we could tailor to what your needs may be, you may just need somebody to help. Okay, I have some questions or concerns. Or you may, we may be there for the full project. Some prior experience here has been we’ve been part of projects where we were there from the discussion, the decision to select this provider all the way through the testing and implementation phase when they go live after. So we’ve been through all phases of it.

[2:35]Roger Anderson:

Make sure you delegate project ownership, which you’re not going to think of this whole presentation. You’re going to be kind of surprised with who I’m going to talk about more specifically. But this part of it delegates project ownership, makes sure if it’s a new product or a new project or an existing project, make sure it’s somebody that’s willing to step up to the plate and take on the vendor, whoever is going to be part of that project. We’ve been involved in projects where Project Lead was strong enough where when there’s something didn’t go right with the vendor or with us or with their internal people, they were willing to step up and push, challenge people.

[3:10]Roger Anderson:

Without that challenge, we’ve seen it the other way where there’s a project lead, but there may be one is forceful with vendor solution or with their internal team. So the project maybe got delayed longer and got more challenging as time went on. Like I said before, align your internal teams, make sure you get everybody involved, that’s going to be part of it. And don’t forget about the people that are just peripheral people also that could that also would be your CFO, your CEOs, your upper management, sometimes without their buy-in, your project would be dead in the water. We’ve been involved in the projects eight years ago with HighRadius. Yeah, eight years ago now, where we are part of a different culture that if we were part of this and if we weren’t part of this sales culture, we may not have presented got HighRadius onboard. So be conscious of your own internal culture so that could be a big driver in this process.

[4:01]Roger Anderson:

And of course, partner with your vendor, if you don’t partner with your vendor, you’re probably going to be probably in a world of hurt. What I mean by that is, make sure they understand what you’re looking for. Make sure you know what you’re asking for, and make sure they can kind of help get you to where you want to be, at the end of the day. A company like HighRadius, they’re going to listen to what you want. But keep in mind, not everybody, not everything you can get may be available right out of the gate. Sometimes you may have to wait but then you have to think about what can I live with now and we’re living with six months down the road a year down the road.

[4:37]Roger Anderson:

That’s where the practice presentation goes a little fun. The delegate project ownership. One unique person in this whole project ownership I’m going to talk about is the administrator, which is probably one of the last forgotten pieces of the whole project who’s going to manage this product after you’ve gone live. Also, the administrator could be who’s going to probably take over your project ownership to go live and manage any future implementations. So this project manager traitor is what I came up with as a description. It’s an individual serving as a primary person responsible for the overall management of the production system with the organization including being the primary contact for the user, IT management sales in the vendor. I served in this role for six years. It was a fun little time, it gives you a little bit more power. I liked it because you actually have control of what can happen in that product.

[5:38]Roger Anderson:

And so what should you look for in the background? Should be somebody that’s been involved in project management, hopefully, it’s somebody internal or somebody’s been part of the project. We worked with a client, a couple of clients now where they were part of the testing and design team and eventually moved into the administration role. So you’re already familiar with the product was going to do for him? One should have a little bit of basic IT knowledge. You don’t have to have all of it. I didn’t have it when I was working on it. I just kind of learned as I went. So you don’t know they don’t even know coding don’t really know all that fun subjects. How does the system all work? That’s probably the biggest thing is what knowledge can you get out of that?

[6:18]Roger Anderson:

Of course, you should know your own internal processes and policies. That’s the big thing.

[6:24]Roger Anderson:

And keep in mind, I may not be your anybody from your IT team or A/R team. So far, the clients I’ve worked with are not been anywhere from the IT team. It’s usually been from the A/R team and when it’s come to the production space or the CashApp space. Also, you may have multiple administrators. You can have one for your cash app. If you’re starting out with HighRadius of the cash app, and he could have one for your deductions space. Hopefully, you narrow down to one so yeah, we’re not trying to manage multiple different administrators and one step in or the other because you’re going to have access to the same parts of the system ultimately. Some of the roles responsibility administrator that I came up with you being able to manage a product, then it goes updating the portal credentials, ensuring the claims are being created. And onboarding new agents as much as possible. Doing health checks, this is probably one key part of the whole administrator is making sure the system is operating the way you expected. From my prior experience, if you don’t watch it, and somebody doesn’t tell you that it is broken, you could go on for days and then some finally someone gets frustrated and comes up to you and says, This just isn’t working. He can kind of find out five days later. Yeah, the second five days ago, but you go well, “Okay, great for Tommy now, we could have fixed this five days ago.” We should do this periodically, especially from the first goal. I’ve tried to do it. Within the first couple of months. Just make sure everything’s going the way it’s supposed to. User vendor collaboration, this is probably key in this whole administration role. You’re going to be interacting with your vendor and your users. So you should be able to communicate with them to be able to work with them and maintain relations with the vendor. And of course, maintain users and security in the product. This will conclude for the HighRadius for the Deductions. p.s, you’re gonna hear me talk a lot more about deductions. That’s where my background is, mostly in deductions. But this is this way you can control who has access to the system, what approval structure you might have. And then what kind of security roles and who’s active, inactive just make sure you keep up with that HighRadius has a built-in rule that if after 90 days if you’re an activist should go inactive, but periodically check anyway cause sometimes it doesn’t always work. You could have active users and NGO wise is still active and they haven’t access for eight months. That’s the time you say shut them off and that they need it, they can come back and ask for it later.

[8:42]Roger Anderson:

If you want more details on this on these roles, responsibilities, I do have a sign-up sheet here. If you’re interested in getting more details, I do have a couple of page documents that I can email to you over the next couple of weeks. And it goes into more detail about these responsibilities. The next thing it talks about here is should you recruit or hire. Ultimately, you should get something from the internal team as much as possible because they’re going to be more familiar with what your offers are, your policies, what the system does what your internal systems do. But sometimes you may not be able to get that I know a lot of companies. Depending on where this falls into your career structure, this may be a position that couldn’t have a lot of overturning or turnover over time. The next person that steps up may not be your internal prospect, you may have to be somebody from outside your department. Or you may have to go totally outside the company and look for this person.

[9:29]Roger Anderson:

Your third option, which may not be far fetched anymore, especially with a lot of outsourcing is hiring a consultant firm to help with the administration. That way you don’t have to dedicate time on your own or have somebody dedicated your team to manage the product for you.

[9:46]Roger Anderson:

If everything goes smoothly in the product, the administrative product is not that hard to do, as long as everything’s operating functionally. So some firms do this but nowadays, this may not be so far fetched anymore to do this problem just to outsource it. Not have somebody dedicated to it. If you did do that consultant thing, you’d have to make sure they have access to the right systems. All that means your next challenge is making sure you get the buy-in from people that have access to certain key systems.

Some of the skill sets that you should ask from your administer. The big one is communication. For this one, you have to have somebody that’s willing to do what I’m doing now. Maybe not a big group, but smaller groups to kind of help communicate what’s coming or what’s going on. How do they communicate? How do they communicate? We don’t want somebody there. That’s just going to yeah, manage a product for you but not tell anybody what’s going on. Analytical skills, this is the part I like to do the most with areas is when I had time, I would take the time to figure out what’s going on with the system and that’s where I learned my basics at the fair. Okay, what is the system doing now? Or what can I do differently and that’s going to help determine, okay, it’s not working away like now what can we do differently with HighRadius or any or solution providers? Again, collaboration skills, however, interact with others. If you get somebody there and just kind of, I guess you could say, not very friendly, you can have a very bad experience with your users. From my experience, this is my biggest probably strong point was my group was the collaboration skills. I had a group of 40 plus people plus sales that I had to manage through the ministration and also manage small teams with this, I would reach out to them as what’s going on or they were willing to come up and tell me what’s going on what’s wrong. So I had an open door where they didn’t feel like they didn’t want them to come to me and complain about something going on or come up with ideas that didn’t feel like our standoff-ish.

[11:39]Roger Anderson:

Another thing is creative thinking. How when we talk about analytical key analyze the system, okay now, but what could be the solution? One thing that differs from the HighRadius team here is back when we first started with HighRadius, we’re on the early adopters’ reduction module at the company I work for. So we kind of laid the foundations. For the foundation we kept throwing ideas, can we do this? Can we do that?

[12:05]Roger Anderson:

What do you think or do on this, we just kept throwing ideas to them over the years and which kind of see the date could be a benefit of what that is. So part of this whole administration, and if you’re already a client of HighRadius, is make sure you share any new ideas or thoughts you might have or what you like to see in HighRadius, you may not get it that day, or you may not get it for months or years. But if enough people ask for it, more than likely, you’ll get onto the wish list and get put on to the product team. And actually add it to the system at some point, like this weekend will be the next product releases over the Saturday. So the announcement of that should be probably tomorrow afternoon. And of course the technology and background or adaptability. Like I said before, it doesn’t have to be somebody with an IT degree that doesn’t have to necessarily hold nor know the whole IT structure. But it’s somebody I shouldn’t be afraid of. What I mean by that is you’re going to have HighRadius with a lot of files coming and going in another system. So you may not understand, okay, where are these files? What are they doing? Where are they going? What are we using for the transfer, the transfer system was being used an FTP site or secure server? So basically understanding that piece of it, “okay, what’s, where’s this all happening there?”

[13:24]Roger Anderson:

Some of the smaller points for the project if your administrator, especially with the after you’re gone live is being able to resolve the problems, deal with the software implementation as much as possible. Support helping your teamwork with the system. And if there are any issues going on making sure you’re tracking where the progress is, there’s been any fixes. What are the problems just making sure everything stays up to date as much as possible. So like I said, I had over six years of experience working as an administrator as part of that was doing private design. So one of the last projects I did before, I left as we were implementing a new trade system. As part of that, we were decided, Okay, let’s do our trade resolution at HighRadius. So part of that was working with the trade management team and IT team to determine what was needed from our perspective in a deduction team. And what do they need on this trade team for this whole process to work? So part of that we have worked with the design on both sides. With this piece, keep in mind with any project, if you’re going to be the last user of it, try to get sure you’re part of the project earlier in the game prior, the one feeling of this is that we weren’t involved with it until almost hard-to-go like. So we had a few weeks to get this ready to go. So we had a very short window. It has been a change of pace there as we had to determine what fields were going to be around, what fields do we need to go back and forth? What data needs to be in the file? How was that file going to be consumed? How were the deductions going to be closed? What system are they going to be closed in, where are they going to be fed to and what next was going to take place?

[15:03]Roger Anderson:

And of course, after we implemented this project it was getting everybody up to speed on where we are going to our resolutions now compared to the old system. Probably the biggest piece with this whole project is getting your team to understand what you’re going to do. You should explain the project. How many phases are we going to be selected for HighRadius? You can have a system validation, for sure. And testing and implementation. We should have a lot of three or four phases going to your project. Make sure your team knows what those phases are going to be. Make sure you think of every possible scenario, you can think of every scenario you’re going to have one it’s going to fall out, which was always an experience. Hopefully, it’s just one of those that’s kind of doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. Try to come over in the end-to-end automation planning, what more can we do, how much is to ask much more, and ultimately, what’s your short term goal in the project and what’s your ultimate goal?

[16:04]Roger Anderson:

Make sure to tell them about the capabilities because from my experience everybody’s gonna use a certain process. You’ve been doing it for years. So but now you’re going to move into a whole different product, a whole different way of doing things. So you have to help explain to them okay, what’s this new product going to do? What’s going to be different compared to the old product?

[16:25]Roger Anderson:

One that I can help there is once you do go live when you’re right up to go live is either have your vendor like HighRadius, which now offers, I believe some training opportunities or you can have a consultant come in and help us and train opportunities. This helps your team understand what the products are going to do for them, what expectations are going to be and how to use it and tracking bias, run to apprehend about the scheme. Like I said earlier, some people retire because when they have seen this coming, they didn’t want to learn this whole new process. They said I’m done.

[17:01]Roger Anderson:

Now you have gone live. So now what?

[17:05]Roger Anderson:

Make sure as you continue working, don’t forget about the team that’s working with it. Make sure to ask him up after you go live, “Is there anything going on? Is there something wrong?” Make sure you have good two-way communication with everybody. Don’t want to come into it two weeks into and come to find out, something’s not working. But nobody said something because somebody thought somebody else may have mentioned it, make sure you’re that good communication going on.

[17:34]Roger Anderson:

Make sure your team understands the challenges of working with the new system. Like with some of our clients, they move from a whole different system where they manage the deductions into this new product. So, of course, the whole process can be different. How do I make a resolution? Where do I make the resolution? What are we going to do differently compared to what we did before? Is there gonna be a new policy there’s going to be new procedures? Make sure to get their feedback also on what they would like to see. As your subject matter experts are going to be the core they’re going to be your primary but sometimes this one person might have a special process that nobody else knew they did, but maybe they could be incorporating this new product or maybe it could be used by other people. Or maybe it’s an idea that maybe present HighRadius and go “Hey, we can we do this or have you done this or could we do this?”

And don’t forget to do the health check: Make sure the system is working the way you expected. That could include looking at the worklist making sure. Making sure there’s a balance of everything’s in balance are deductions closing or stuff opening like it’s supposed to? Is it the right customer? Is everybody following the right process or procedures, so forth? So somewhere prior experience working with clients is migrating from a homeless system. We work with clients that have migrated their process or deduction process from SAP, Oracle or Siebel into HighRadius. The biggest change for them was being able to manage it all in one spot, especially if you’re using the claims and POD aggregation. Now you have the opportunity to work pre-deduction allowance deductions in your credits. So you can all just stay in one system. We had to know the old processes and systems and okay, what were people doing prior to determining, can they do it now in HighRadius or current solutions that you’re going to use?

[19:36]Roger Anderson:

Make sure we understand what the customer needs.

[19:41]Roger Anderson:

Even for a company like HighRadius had to understand what the customer needed, where we kind of fell into the process as the consultant was one of the projects we worked on, the client was saying one thing, we understood what you’re saying HighRadius was here and a whole different thing. And we could kind of see that when we got to some of the signs that she’s going to clients, saying this is HighRadius and tripping and says we had to kind of bridge that gap of telling them no, this is what they were actually saying. Otherwise, we almost went to go live we would have had, there was a whole the whole testing that’s one of them came up and go no this is talking about back in design blueprints. Make sure to keep everybody involved that’s in its make sure you have that open line of communication. This includes your vendor, your project leads, your management, make sure they’re aware of where you’re at with the project. We’ve worked with clients where the project got a little out of control.

[20:44]Roger Anderson:

And they had to bring in the executive into the whole discussion to work with HighRadius a little bit. So it’s actually gone that far up in the pipeline that it had to escalate our way to the executive level. This was a one-time thing. This is just more of a unique situation. And probably the final key is working with your vendor like somebody like HighRadius. So before automation, make sure you ask about their future capabilities, and abilities of change. One thing we liked about HighRadius when we first brought them on board, back in 2012, was their willingness to take what we gave them for feedback and their willingness to take it and run with it and try it out and see what stuck. That was back when they had a smaller client base. So they’re a little bit more flexible. Now they’re still willing to take that feedback, but they may not be able to bring it out to the table as quickly because now they have to deal with probably 400 different clients that may have different ideas of how this should work. So another challenge is getting all this feedback from somebody that doesn’t use a system like okay, what’s the common consensus across the board? What do people really want? What are people asking for to kind of help drive what’s going to be the next thing in a product map?

[21:53]Roger Anderson:

One thing to consider is vendor support.

[21:56]Roger Anderson:

Don’t forget to ask that question, or ask a question if even your current client may not be willing to say that they work with HighRadius, some, I’m sure have got a big list of clients that are willing to say, the feedback to future clients of theirs when you’re talking to them as a reference, so don’t forget to ask the hard questions. So now, what did you like but what didn’t you like? What would you like to have done differently in the project? What would you like to see differently? And of course, you’ll see this in all threes. The next slides is to document what you talked about if you don’t document what you talked about, and you get further into the pipeline, the discussion we had on blueprint with one client if we didn’t document what the client was saying, where they got all the way through the project to come to find out that no, we talked about here but nobody had record of it. So you’re fighting that battle with everybody. “Now. We talked about it.”, you kind of go “No, that wasn’t part of that discussion.” During automation, make sure you stay in touch with the different people on the vendor side, especially where you could fall in the trouble here is if you’re working with the design team or some team and HighRadius in something I want to what you expect to your expectations or maybe something is not documented or something just not going right. Don’t be afraid to challenge the vendor on this. Sounds like it doesn’t feel like it’s gone right with your consultant. Don’t be afraid to take it to their boss or escalate up to the chain and make sure everybody’s on the same page. Otherwise, you could run into challenges with down the roads where you’re proud of that should only be six months is now turning to nine months or 12 months or 14 months and you’re kind of trying to fill in the gaps. And then again, this is where the challenge if you don’t document you may not be able to go back and file what was what we talked about back in May. What was the ultimate goal?

[23:48]Roger Anderson:

And actually to go live nothing stops.

[23:54]Roger Anderson:

Make sure you understand their process. How do you estimate a ticket? What do you do if you have to ask her about an issue? In the HighRadius customer value team, I was talking to somebody yesterday about their new processes they’ll set up quarterly or monthly meetings and talk about their overall performance. That’s also your opportunity to bring up certain situations that you may run into that maybe you’re not getting what you, the results you wanted. That’s your primary contact outside your sales rep.

[24:25]Roger Anderson:

Also, if you want to make an enhancement request, you also use the same ticketing system so how do you submit those kinds of ideas.

[24:32]Roger Anderson:

One thing I liked doing was I built a good relationship with original customary contact, Ellie that works here. We kind of developed a good relationship where you are able to communicate, send emails making sure she kept me in front of what’s going on and fed any challenge I could reach out to her and say okay, this is what’s going on or I saw this new release can we can add more details on it. So that way she can coordinate with the sales team, So okay, these clients are looking for option A, can you help them decide what they should do with it? There’s going to be a charge for it. How soon can I get it? What more do they want to know about it? Make sure your expectations are documented. Also, if you go out into the projects that you want to work this way, make sure you have that document somewhere. So that way when you get to that point, you can actually see, did you meet that expectation? Or why or what did we fall short for? And what if we fell short? Was it still viable enough that we can live with this for a while until we get to the next phase? Stay on top of the quarterly updates from HighRadius on any updates. Every month HighRadius has release notes to make sure you keep up to date on the nose to see what’s new or what’s new and different coming from HighRadius.

[25:40]Roger Anderson:

One thing I do now with my current clients is when those releases come out, I’ll look at them and review them and kind of get some feedback on what new features I like. I liked what she saw, like the latest one launching. The last couple of months has been emailing inbox feature and correspondence, for now, you can when you send your correspondence order and deduction. He sends that email now that people respond back to the email, you’ll actually add it to that system so you can see the paper trail and stuff had to manage your email box and when I send it when doing they respond so you can see it all in one spot now. And make sure when you finally get the go live, make sure all the final documents are up to date and you have on file. This will be beneficial for your administrator and for all future people, used as a reference source of what here’s, what happened that day to see okay, make any changes, what more can we do or what should we make a change off of?

[26:37]Roger Anderson:

Finally, that’s it.

[0:00]Roger Anderson: Good morning, everybody. Alright. [0:04]Roger Anderson: So how’s everybody liking the conference so far? Good. When I started with these conferences over the 21st in the first couple of years, this is the whole conference right here, this room. And this was a, there was nothing to this big stadium wherever you want to hundreds of people. So this is unique again for them. So it’s nice. So yeah, we’re going to try to give you some of you some tidbits, from my viewpoint anyway, of what my experiences are with HighRadius and vendor management and implementing the project. So this is all based on my prior experience, you could get a lot of different information from other consultants here. People have already used a product so you’ll get a different viewpoint. So this is my personal opinion from what I’ve learned over the years. [0:51]Roger Anderson: So today, we’re going to try to talk about project ownership, get aligned with your internal teams and resolve your issues with your vendor as much as possible. The last two bullet points, especially the last part about the vendor, I want to spend a little time on that, because that’s…

What you'll learn

  • Engaging internal subject matter experts in your project plan: Why, When and How?
  • Tips on maintaining long term relationship with your vendor

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