What’s your relationship with procurement technology? Does your organisation trial and error the full breadth of the market, or is any new software implementation a multi-year process?
As many can attest to, it takes time and commitment to find and implement the right procurement technology. It can be especially difficult to set the best path that converts key stakeholders into engaged users.
So far in our series we’ve acknowledged and diagnosed the problem, starting the Procurement Technology Adoption: Roadmap To The Summit blog series at Base Camp. The previous blog was all about acknowledging a business challenge or problem.
Circle back to the first camp, if you need to catch up on how to Future-proof your organisation with the right technology partnership.
This camp is about learning and evaluating your current relationship with technology. To rollout new technology, it’s important to look to the past and question the strategy behind it. Assess what your track record is in your organisation. What failed? Why? What worked well? What were the key learnings? Is it possible to review previous implementation plans and who was involved?
As the construction and infrastructure industries wake up to the potential of automated, digital processes, there’s a growing number of software providers to evaluate and choose from.
The technology you rolled out didn’t solve the problem it was meant to - it even potentially made the problem seem like something your organisation could live with. Teams became despondent, legacy data delayed results, and cracks began to form because of a poorly devised strategy. Months and years pass, and the system is hardly used. In essence, it dies a slow and painful death until finally taking its resting place in your technology graveyard.
If this is you, it's time to audit your legacy systems. Talk to your colleagues and get some answers about what went wrong. Address how you can ease your teams' apprehension from the members who have endured frequent adoption and abandonment. Build a strong foundation for leverage and support when proposing a new solution management as the saying goes, once bitten, twice shy. List the problems.
Was it a problem with the software, change management, or both? Was the demise of technology problem-specific among procurement teams or organisation-wide? Were you trying to fit a square-peg into a round hole, such as implementing a Procurement to Pay (P2P) solution when a Source to Contract (S2C) was what was really required? Was the software poorly designed or out-of-date? Were you purchasing systems you had already implemented and only uncovered this after going live?
Learn from these questions asked. The support of your procurement team(s) or business unit(s) are crucial, you'll need these stakeholders further down the line to achieve a successful implementation.
This might be the first time you’re looking at a software implementation within the procurement team that also impacts or involves other business units within your organisation. Your procurement team or business units may have been in the industry for years, so they are familiar and comfortable with the current manual practices. Your team might be slow to start, possibly due to a general lack of direction or simply not knowing where to begin.
If this sounds like you, it’s important to realise that cultural resistance to change is a common challenge. Maintain a strong focus on the business need that led you to consider new technology and get the support from as many stakeholders affected by the same issue as you can. Assess the digital adoption rate of all involved in the expected implementation, and consider what current systems do work.
Explore what other software platforms exist in the organisation, how successful have these platforms been? Will integration be required? Do you know what your competitors are using? What are the existing solutions in the market? Why have you been slow to adopt? What training will be required?
You might be an innovator or early adopter of different technology. You’ve got a few different programs and platforms on the go, but you don't understand the functionality of the software.
If this scenario is reflective in your organisation, senior management may be reluctant to spend money on another platform. It’s best practice to identify gaps in your ecosystem and why there is a need to partner with a new provider to deliver the digital solution.
An issue you might be experiencing with your existing ecosystems may be how efficiently everything is working together. Do you have too many platforms that are just creating more inefficiency? Has it been planned or just piecemealed together to make do over time?
Here is just a baseline of the platforms on the market that you may have implemented: P2P, S2C, Vendor Management System (VMS), Compliance/Pre-qualification platform, Contract Management System, Payments, Procurement scheduling and more.
Be wary of going to market for something you already have that is working well.
Start to audit the depth and span of your business needs in preparation of justifying the cost and change required to rollout new software.
Camp 1 is a helpful reminder to do your homework. Learn how technology has been received in the past so that you know what to do to make it successful in the future. This foundational stage is a crucial step to make sure you gain the key insights about your organisation that you’ll need to keep in mind at later stages of the tech adoption journey - things such as evaluating tech providers, setting a technical scope and so forth.
Subscribe to our blog today to keep following this series on Procurement Technology Adoption: Roadmap To The Summit. Keep an eye out for our next blog where we’ll be climbing up to Camp 2 - to uncover your organisation’s readiness for change.
We have seen many technological advances in the past few decades amid the “Industry 4.0” evolution, including the rise of digital transformation in many business areas, such as procurement and supply chain. However, there are still challenges in realising the full potential of procurement technology due to internal complexity, namely:
In part 1, my colleague has discussed two of the top barriers to technology adoption in procurement. Continuing the series, I want to explore other common challenges preventing organisations from getting the most value out of digital procurement tools.
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