Technology has supported procurement teams for the past twenty years, yet most organisations still struggle to get a comprehensive view of their spend. With more and more vendors joining the scene, how can businesses decide which technologies are going to make an impact, and which will just add to the pile of systems that don’t quite fit together? We discussed this and more in our latest Procurement Leaders’ Virtual Roundtable, a teleconference chaired by PL and open to all Procurement Leaders’ members to join in and participate.
One participant held the view that the stakeholders will know best what the pain points are. By listening to them, collecting all the information before beginning your external search, you’ll have the most success. Breaking down the siloes between teams is essential here – your stakeholders need to trust you, and be happy to come to you when they have ideas or concerns.
Another participant brought up the idea that stakeholders sometimes don’t know what the possibilities are. If they haven’t gone into the market themselves and assessed the options, how can they know exactly what is going to make their jobs more efficient? Asking stakeholders what their challenges are can help bring incremental changes and improvements, but if you’re looking to make a larger impact, you’ll need to be the one bringing ideas to your stakeholders. Working this way round can be trickier – it means you need to clearly explain the value and prove to them that your idea will help.
Whatever technology you choose to implement, it needs to make your stakeholders’ lives easier and simpler. If you choose a piece of technology or software that takes six months to learn how to use, the uptake isn’t going to happen and staff will be revert to their manual way of doing things. Finding a provider that supports onboarding your internal teams is a great move as the internal rollout is a crucial phase.
Regardless of how you go about it, you’re going to need executive sponsorship. Although hard to get, it is critical to getting sign off to purchase new technologies, and also to have support in the implementation phase. When connecting with a new potential vendor, getting a demo booked in immediately is the best thing you can do. If you can, get as many of the relevant stakeholders to join the demo as possible (especially your architects). Even better if you can get a trial ‘sandbox’ version of the tool to share internally before purchasing. If this isn’t possible, depending on the scenario, it may be possible to run a trial on one smaller project. If this is works well, a wider rollout will be much easier to sign off. Having a real-life, successful example is a strong addition to any business case.
There’s an abundance of different technology providers out there, which has made things more challenging. Trying to sift through countless vendors looking for the one with the right solution for you can be tedious and difficult. One participant iterated that the effort of searching in depth does pay off. Trying out new markets and finding smaller, more bespoke vendors on sites such as LinkedIn were just some examples of ways to move outside your comfort zone. Also asking other procurement professionals what they use is key – going to trade fairs, speaking to internal peers and connecting to external peers will give you valuable information to support your business case.
This article is a piece of independent writing by a member of Procurement Leaders’ content team.