How To Encourage eSourcing Adoption – Tips from Scanmarket

We mentioned in our overview of Basware Connect last month that we would write a bit more about the presentation from Richard Brown of Scanmarket: Overcoming the Barriers to eSourcing Adoption. As eSourcing specialists, with customers and successful uptake in more than 85 countries, it was pretty clear they would be worth listening to on the subject – and they were.

With a background of looking after global eSourcing operations at Mars, Inc, Richard shared with us his experience of how low the number of people using eSourcing systems is. In fact, less than half of UK businesses have embraced eSourcing. So he gave us some practical steps from Scanmarket on how to tackle the hesitancy in your organisation.

Go Full Circle

Richard asked the room (of about 100 people) how many were anticipating implementing eSourcing – it proved his point – only 3 or 4 hands went up in my reckoning (of course all the others could have already implemented I suppose!). The main problem he says is that systems are often too complex for the end user – the buyer. The platform must be easy to use – at every stage of the process, and that includes simply logging in – otherwise it just falls out of usage.

And you need to involve everyone – buyers, clients, suppliers – the process has to work for all of them and they all have to be on board. That, according to Richard, is the single most important thing to encourage uptake.

It’s also really important to engage everyone – that leads to greater participation, and eventually savings. So how do you engage them?

Dispel the Myths

Getting rid of the myths – like “it doesn’t work for my area” and “it will replace buyers” is essential early on. He has heard many people say “I can’t do eAuctions” or “I can’t do logistics.” Actually, you can! he says.

One of the things he did was to try to get people more excited about sourcing generally. He tried to get people to see the exercise as ‘fun’ – ok, contradiction in terms we hear you say. But he likened it to sitting in an auction room and watching as £s or $s drop off the bottom of the price. He even held pizza/popcorn parties to entice buyers to join in and watch and eat pizza. It’s a good way to spread the message.

Equally important, he says, is to share your success stories once you’ve got them, whether via email, story boards, newsletters, social media or just in meetings.

Platform Selection

It’s good to remember that you don’t need all the bells and whistles to start with – you need to really think about what you want to achieve and separate the ‘want’ from the ‘need’. Start simple and graduate to RFQs and eAuctions once familiarity embeds itself.

A flexible, easy-to-use, and ‘progressive’ (by that we assume he means scalable and easy to expand) tool is key, and one that is equally capable of ‘going full circle.’ If you ensure it is flexible to the needs of all procurement processes (and doesn’t leave any gaps), then there will be no ‘get outs’ for non-adopters. And you need to make sure your provider understands exactly what you want to achieve.

eSourcing Network

In Richard’s experience, companies do often subscribe to these tools early on – they can see their value and they want to be early adopters. But usage is not always taken up.

So it’s really important to get the ‘super users’ or ‘champions’ – the early adopters - on your side, especially in multi-national companies. They are the regional or cross-category champions and they are vital to sustained adoption growth. They will help overcome language, time and cultural barriers, and can help spread the message of how eSourcing can directly enhance the day-to-day workload of teams. Creating a global network of knowledge share groups globally will help bring senior sponsors on board too.

Bring the Best In-house

Bring the outside in – attend roundtable events (available through procurement communities or your eSourcing provider), eSourcing workshops or leverage consultancy expertise from existing contracts – and bring learnings home. Ensure you continue to talk to people, especially those nervous about implementing auctions.

Learning from and including best practise in-house is critical when rolling out to new categories or regions.

The Need to Innovate

Innovation is a key success factor: users must be innovative enough to want to use it. Consolidating into business lots – or buckets – can encourage uptake. Get feedback from users and feed into IT to help improve the experience.

Internal training events, event creation, eSourcing process development and communication can all help win the change management challenge. Ensure everyone stays up to speed with provider developments and ongoing enhancements.

The one thing you cannot afford to have – he says – is a bad eSourcing story!

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