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Avoiding procurement technology pitfalls

Organizations spend millions of dollars on technology implementations, with most projects failing within one year. That’s according to a recent whitepaper from spend management solutions provider Zycus Inc.


September 15, 2011
Sandy MacIsaac

Purchasingb2b: July/August 2011

Organizations spend millions of dollars on technology implementations, with most projects failing within one year. That’s according to a recent whitepaper from spend management solutions provider Zycus Inc.

According to the whitepaper, “Four Pillars of Procurement Technology Adoption”, employees who begin using a new software system must deal with steep learning curves and resistance to change. Usually, this results from lack of communication between the CPO or the vice-president of procurement and end users such as the buying manager or purchasing agent.

The whitepaper covers major challenges involved in adopting such technology, and cites four pillars organizations can use to overcome challenges and ensure acceptance of spend management solutions.

One main challenge organizations face is resistance to change, the paper says, even when employees recognize benefits. Another challenge is the complexity of new technology, with complex features sounding great but becoming onerous in practice.

How does an organization overcome these challenges? The whitepaper refers to four pillars of efficient user adoption, namely:
• Ease of use;
• User involvement during evaluation;
• Training and adoption; and
• Metrics and incentives.

Ease of use
The complexity of a technology is one of the major reasons for lack of adoption, the whitepaper says, and purchasing technology that’s easy to use goes far in fostering acceptance among end users.

Ease of use promotes quicker and higher adoption levels, the whitepaper notes. But such ease shouldn’t be at the cost of functionality. Organizations should strive for a balance between satisfying requirements and enhancing user experience.

User involvement
User involvement goes a long way towards overcoming adoption challenges, the whitepaper says. For example, by involving end users in the initial stages of software selection. Users can be involved in the product demonstration process, which helps convey the benefits of the product.

Training
Training should be arranged before and after implementation, the whitepaper says. For example, combine periodic on-site training with regular online training through user sessions such as webinars.

Adoption metrics and incentives
Management can meet with the end user to decide how to measure performance, the whitepaper suggests. Organizations must ensure setting fair, transparent, consistent and rigid goals.
For example, consider an organization that has just implemented an e-sourcing solution. The organization has 50 sourcing events scheduled to take place that year. One of the check points could be to see how many such events were channeled through the e-sourcing platform. An organization can then set a goal of 80 percent of the sourcing events to be done through the e-sourcing platform.

Managing change
A learning period is critical during implementation. To manage the change process, the whitepaper recommends four steps:
• Brief end users on the new technology and involve them in the evaluation stages;
• Educate them about the product;
• Devise metrics for measuring performance after implementation; and
• Reward end users for meeting objectives.