At Zycus Horizon last month, my friend and colleague Duncan Jones of Forrester Research presented after Pierre Mitchell and me on the topic of driving broader and deeper adoption of what he termed “ePurchasing” technology.
Semantics aside, some of the lessons he shared are applicable beyond just eProcurement solutions. Duncan is a great storyteller, and the way he framed his argument is as important as the actual lessons themselves (as they can help procurement organization logically argue for the right set of capabilities from the ground up).
Duncan kicked things off by pictorially showing the challenge of working with asses – mules to be exact. They’re stubborn and won’t move when you want them to. In Duncan’s words, we can learn what it means to get a mule to move, as “brute force alone” won’t overcome resistance to ePurchasing program challenges. Trying to persuade a stubborn animal personality, loaded down with rider and supplies, to cross a river when it does not want to do it on its own volition—doesn’t work.
To extend the metaphor, users don’t necessarily know the path in front of them and resistance can “stand in the way of achieving P2P goals.” The challenges are many – and they add up. Frontline members of companies putting forth requisitions “lack time” and “demand usability.” Buyers (within procurement) “fear technology” and desire “control” at all costs – a classic “purchasing” mindset. And suppliers, of course simply “distrust” procurement in general. The sum of these concerns is a central piece of the adoption challenge.
One of the ways of making adoption easy, Duncan argues, is to give users what they want. He posed the rhetorical question of which option people are likely to choose from below:
- “I can pick which supplier I want”
- “I get what I need, when I need it”
- “Signing off on the invoice is easier than raising a PO”
- “I have to use a supplier I don’t know”
- “I can’t find the widget I need in the catalogue”
- “I have to wait days for my PO to be approved”
- “I don’t know if the supplier has received [my request] or whether it can deliver it immediately”
Take a guess at which scenario will lead to broader adoption of eProcurement and P2P initiatives, and you’ve got the next element of his argument – which I’ll explore in a later post.