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I really enjoyed Dan Ariely’s book “Predictably Irrational.” In it, he explains how many decisions that we make are just not rational.

In some cases, he points out, a pricing scheme will influence buying behavior, something I’ve experienced myself at a local farmer’s market. There, a vendor makes donut holes from a small deep-fryer that are so good, you can’t eat just one. My preference would be to buy two or three, but there are only two purchase options: $2.50 for six or $3 a dozen. With those choices, how can you buy six?

Dan also publishes a regular Q&A column in the Wall Street Journal where, recently, a reader posed this question: How can we get management to recognize the value of our group? Dan’s response was interesting. “Few improvements have ever resulted from making people understand anything,” he wrote.” Try instead to make people feel.”

That could explain an obstacle that many of you face when trying to drive AP automation or e-invoice initiatives across your organization. To create impetus for a change management process that some may resist, you may want to follow Dan’s line of thinking. Developing an appeal that connects with stakeholder emotions can be as important as the logical reasons for making the change. That may involve something as simple as developing an acronym for a quick recall of benefits. There are online tools that can help with that.

Of course, you’ll need to back the emotional hook with information that supports the business case.  A recent example is an IDC research report, “Business Networks: The Next Wave of Innovation.” In this report, IDC analyst Michael Fauscette discusses how business networks and cloud computing are fast becoming “the way that businesses access automation for executing business processes.” It’s a trend that is turning the accounts payable function into a strategic asset that supports procurement efforts to improve control over spend, and helps treasury to manage cash better through dynamic discounting.

Following the advice in the IDC report can help you fill any holes in your AP automation plans, and position you for success in a networked economy.

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