As CPO Rising continues to advance and mature through the years, we will strive to introduce new ideas in new ways and formats. Today we start by introducing a new perspective from an industry expert in our first external contribution.
As part of our ongoing Technology Adoption series, we thought it would be helpful to capture and share the perspectives from a few industry leaders who face the challenge of technology adoption on a daily basis. Today we are pleased to share this contribution from Jesus Ramos, Puridiom’s CEO and resident expert.
First Steps of eProcurement Adoption
(Contributing Author: Jesus Ramos)
According to a recent study, the most critical factor for software success and greater return-on-investment is effective user adoption. Combine that fact with the dramatic savings impact that procurement automation and spend analysis technology have had on Best-in-Class organizations and the use of eProcurement seems like a no-brainer. Although we know it has proven to be an effective spend management tool, eProcurement is still a hard sell.
Taking a closer look at why this is, gives us insight and the ability to educate organizations that are considering making this acquisition. Organizations that bite the bullet and take on eProcurement provide us with real feedback that we feel must be passed on to the next newcomer to the arena. To adopt is to take over an idea as if it were one’s own, or to choose and follow a plan. These actions imply a willingness to proceed and that is what must be conveyed to everyone participating in the project in order for it to succeed. The following guidelines are based on our customers’ experiences with their eProcurement deployments:
Address the process and enable it with automation. There must be a process or plan in place before new technology can be addressed. Don’t make the plan fit the technology. Find out exactly what is required, and then find the software that meets those requirements. Along these lines, look for software that can grow with your organization and providers that are open to new ideas. The solution may fit your organization’s needs now, but will it be able to meet your needs in 10 years? At the very least, procurement technology should be readily available, intuitive, user-friendly, and offer self-service capabilities to enable users to do their job, not just input data. Additional recommended features should be clear-cut procurement guidelines, the ability to create blanket agreements for commodity-type materials and support of expediting services.
Involve ALL resources at the earliest stages. The development of an eProcurement automation process is not just a procurement exercise. It requires the involvement of purchasing, finance, IT, and operations. Any resource or group that has a part in the procurement process should be a part of the eProcurement deployment. Involving management and users in the requirements gathering, evaluation process, and implementation planning will help tremendously with the acceptance of the project.
Do not forget your users! Users must be involved, educated and incentivized throughout the entire process. They will be using the software, and are key to its success. Make sure they feel comfortable using the technology, can see the results, and feel as if this solution is where real work is getting done.
There is no “Silver Bullet” solution. Technology should enhance, expedite, simplify, quantify, and positively impact the procurement function. However, it does not replace the procurement function itself. Beware of solution providers that present technology as the answer to all of your problems. Solution providers should advocate policies and strategies along with the technology.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Have open lines of communication between all departments. Develop collaborative metrics to measure performance. Talk to everyone involved, “Is this solution really solving our problem?” There will be different levels of interest in procurement features. Make sure information gets to the right people.
Ongoing Training. Continuing training is imperative – for new users, updates, to further explore software features, and to get the most out of a solution. Webinars, train-the-trainer sessions, tutorials, help menus, and user guides must be easily accessed and understood.
In summary, an eProcurement solution is only as successful as its deployment, making the deployment extremely important to both client and vendor. Studies have proven eProcurement’s value, so the burden is on the organization and solution provider to improve user adoption through better communication and planning. By taking these first steps of an eProcurement user adoption plan, organizations can take off running and optimize the benefits from their eProcurement and Spend Management technologies.
Jesus Ramos is President and CEO of Puridiom, a leading Procure-to-Pay solution provider. Since 1983, Puridiom has helped clients streamline the purchasing process, providing visibility and management of procurement spend with easy-to-use software and best-in-class procurement strategies. www.puridiom.com