I have been involved in many eprocurement tool implementation projects around the world in the last twenty years of my career. These have involved customers across many different industries of varying sizes. And while every one of these projects was unique in its own way, they all shared a common set of best practices that were key to the success of the global rollout and adoption of the tool.
Based on my experience, I recommend incorporating the following five essential success factors into your next global eprocurement initiative.
1. Stakeholder Management, Communication and Change Management
Stakeholder management should focus on more than just the purchasing function or IT. It is best to involve all relevant parties from the start, including your top management, your internal business partners, your finance and accounting department and, in some cases, special functions that may represent your highest spend like marketing, research and development, or similar areas.
You should also illustrate the benefits that better contract compliance will bring to your organization. Anchor your compliance strategy as a central element of the initiative; show the savings benefits that you can generate with this solution and convince your management and key stakeholders. Focus more on why you change things and less on what and how you change them.
2. Policies, Processes and Procedures
Use your top management access to establish clear policies to support your initiative. Such policies can be focusing on rules and guidelines, clarifying the processes, and tools to be used.
Take the opportunity to question and challenge current processes. If there is no good reason for a specific process step, consider discarding it.
As an example, in many companies the general ledger (GL) account assignment in a procurement system requires the end user to select a GL account when they are purchasing goods or services. But end users typically don´t know the right GL accounts so they often make the wrong selection.
The reason the example above is an unnecessary step is that it can be solved differently, either by automation in the tool or via back-end mappings.
3. Organization and Governance
I recommend carefully choosing the right personnel for your project: select visionaries for the beginning and practitioners for later stages. Here’s why: Way too often I have seen highly skilled, innovative team members get stuck in the nitty-gritty details. And conversely, operationally focused team members should not be forced into an uncomfortable role of new strategic planning, with which they will struggle.
It’s best to set up a cross-functional core project team that has full responsibly for implementing the project from the beginning, keeping in mind that it can change based on the skill sets needed at different stages of the project. And remember that there will be life after the rollout. Establish a qualified support team to take ownership of the solution after the go live date.
4. Reporting, KPIs and Measurement
I am still surprised how seldom companies take reporting, KPIs and measurement into consideration, despite agreeing that they are important processes. Establishing KPIs for spend compliance, process cycle times and end user satisfaction, to name a few examples, is vital to determining whether your organization is operating effectively and efficiently.
But it is not only about setting KPIs and measuring them. Very often I ask my customers: “Who receives the reports and figures? How are conclusions drawn from these? What action is taken?” And unfortunately, it seems that many companies ignore the reports or the figures in them.
I suggest applying a reporting process where exceeding KPIs is rewarded and missed goals leads to corrective actions and improvements.
5. Tools and Technology
It is crucial that your eprocurement initiative focuses on intuitiveness and ease-of-use rather than just functionality. Avoid creating a one-size-fits-all-solution, as this will only end in disappointment for your end users. Basic users will become overwhelmed by too many options and users who need access to special processes will be screaming for changes to meet their specific requirements.
To be able to control the complexity of your solution I strongly recommend enforcing a clearly defined global template with as many standardized processes as possible, allowing for local deviations only where necessary and controlled through a change request process. This will not make everyone happy in the short term, but you will gain stability and efficiency in the long run.
The bottom line is to carefully choose your eprocurement tool and supplier, but don’t overlook its implementation. I hope that by considering the five success factors described above, you will avoid some of the pitfalls often encountered in this process.
This article was written by Abduelkadir Tekin from CapGemini: BPO Thought Process and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.