Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

Many experts agree that it takes up to 21 days to form a good habit. Some even say that it takes up to 66 days. No matter what the real number is, the core message remains the same: Consistency is the key to real change.

When it comes to creating and maintaining clean Vendor Master Files, this rule holds true. The most important component is consistency. In order to develop that consistency, the process for Vendor Master Files should be first broken down into granular detail. Dissecting each component and variable that goes into any new Vendor Master file is the only way to implement a useable process that will serve the long-term goal of maintaining a clean database.

The granular detail is where most folks get hung up. When taking the time to really consider all of the things that can and will go wrong when creating a new Vendor Master File, many A/P managers are quickly overwhelmed and abandon the idea altogether.

As an exercise, take one vendor and break down all the ways that the name, contact information and TIN for just that one vendor could be entered. Does the name have any symbols in it (ampersand, dash, comma, etc.)? Is the name an acronym? Is it an LLC, dba or corporation? Is it a sole proprietor with a professional designation or title (Dr., CPA, and Esq.)? Now move on to the address, run through the same scenario. Is it Street or St.? Is it PO Box or P.O. Box? Is the zip a five digits or nine-digits?

Now, is it clear why so many people avoid the myriad of things required to develop a consistent system? Despite how overwhelming it can be, the dividends from taking the time to work on a defined process are innumerable. This is definitely an area where the work put in up front can really pay off in the end.

So, knowing how highly I value the concept of consistency, many clients are surprised to find how important I also believe exceptions to be. In truth, the idea of a real “no-exceptions” policy is highly unlikely. The key then becomes understanding how to manage exceptions. As organizations work through the tedium of developing a deployable New Vendor Creation procedure, it may feel like everything is an exception. This is also where many have an epiphany and come to understand that a detailed procedure is the only way to avoid all of those “exceptions” in the first place. Soon, it becomes clear what the real exceptions are or could be. Most of these areas are related to ERP system limitations, yet, as those issues are identified by software companies, oftentimes they develop a patch or update which fix the problem.

The key to true consistency lies in understanding the perceived exceptions and creating a coherent process which make the exceptions, the rule.

To know more, join Karl Andersson, CEO of Technology Insight in a series of webinars dedicated to Best Practices in Accounts Payable. Click here to view the list of upcoming webinars.

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