Editor’s Note: This article is the final installment in this series based upon Ardent Partners’ recent report, The CPO and CIO’s New Approach to Evaluating Enterprise Technology (sponsored by Coupa). Click to download (registration required).
The age of innovation has arrived at the doorstep of enterprise software and the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) are well-poised to take a leadership role. Recent advances in enterprise technology have made the solutions generally more robust, usable, and accessible, and they have also changed the way that leading teams evaluate, deploy, and optimize them. They have also created opportunities for the CIO and the CPO to positively affect change in their organization and drive value across the enterprise. Here is a look at what supply management tech and innovation means for the CIO.
Innovation: The Mother of Opportunity
As was discussed in a previous article in this series, cloud technologies, solution suites, and self-service applications have created significant value and opportunity for CPOs. But they also have the potential to make the CIO’s job easier and enable them to reallocate precious resources elsewhere. Although many CIOs initially pushed back against these trends, in large part because these technologies put more power in the hands of the line-of-business, progressive CIOs embraced them. They saw these trends not as evidence of a shrinking fiefdom, but as an opportunity to extract more value out of enterprise IT investments. Cloud-based platforms, self-service applications, and solution suites have given them new opportunities to drive even more value across a newly-enabled enterprise.
New Opportunities for the CIO: Governance, Best Practices, Value
CIOs and IT departments can add value to the technology evaluation process by being good shepherds for not only other line-of-business leaders, but the end users, as well. They understand (perhaps as much as end users) what is going to drive adoption – accessibility, usability, and intuitiveness. CIOs and IT have seen enough failed technology implementations to understand what works for the end user and what does not. If a spend analysis application is clunky and does not integrate well with business processes, or it simply offers a poor user experience, then line-of-business users will shun their use and revert to manual methods or legacy systems. CIOs and IT departments know how to do better by their constituents.
Similarly, CIOs and IT departments can advise on best practices for scheduling technology implementations across the enterprise. They know how to “go live” with various solutions based on many past implementation projects. For example: for global deployments involving multiple locations and or solutions, IT might recommend a gradual implementation and integration, rather than a “big bang” approach where all of the solutions are rolled out to all locations at once. Solutions need to be gradually deployed in order to “shake out” any bugs in the system and fix them before they spread across the organization.
Solutions also need to be incrementally integrated in a controlled way to ensure that the initial user experience is positive and that it is not overwhelming for the staff. Based on early deployments, IT can then offer lessons learned and best practices to subsequent adopters. CIOs and IT departments are IT experts, and they are experienced in rolling out new automation solutions. Based upon the solution(s), the end users, and the organizational structure, they can advise on the best way to have a seamless transition to the new solution.
There are other ways for CIOs and IT to drive value within technology deployments. They can:
- Define service-level agreements (SLAs) within vendor contracts. CIOs and IT departments know what are acceptable up-times and response times for software solutions. Thus, they can assist in contract negotiations with vendors by helping the buyer set service expectations with vendors and codify them in the form of an SLA.
- Communicate best practices to line-of-business leaders and users. Although IT departments are not dedicated trainers, they can impart advice and lessons learned on how to take full advantage of a solution suite, how to fully leverage self-service features, where all the data resides inside of an organization, and how to maximize it.
- Drive internal compliance. Enterprises gain the most value from their technology investments when they see large-scale adoption. Thus, many enterprises mandate that their users leverage the solutions whenever possible. CIOs and IT departments can help line-of-business leaders drive internal compliance to these mandates by providing use metrics across the organization, which in turn can drive visibility into non-compliant users or departments so that leaders can take action.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive that new or emerging technologies can actually make the lives of CIOs and IT departments easier and not harder, that is precisely what business leaders need to consider. Technological innovations, particularly in the supply management space, are creating new opportunities for CIOs and IT staff to be true collaborators and change agents across the enterprise in ways that they previously had not considered. Agile, flexible, and user-friendly technologies are enabling IT to find their “softer” sides and work directly with line-of-business leaders and practitioners to ensure successful negotiation, integration, and adoption.