Procurement Technology Fear Tactics – Solving the Adoption Challenge

Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by John Ryan Shaw, senior director of adoption services at BravoSolution. 

Do people really fear new procurement technology? I don’t think so, certainly not in a literal sense. It is hard to picture a sourcing professional sitting upright in the middle of the night, sweat beading down their forehead, trying to shake images of giant procurement technology monsters emerging from the surf.

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No, it is much more likely that technology fear is rooted in the known or unknown implications of a technology change. When you are responsible for achieving business results with a new technology, this is an important mental shift to make. By making the shift, we move away from a nebulous battle against fear and accept that a technology adoption problem can be broken down and solved like any other set of professional challenges.

What are some of the tactics that we can we can use to accomplish this?

  • Think individual change: It is a bit cliché, but organizations do not change, people do. Start off with a simple stakeholder analysis. Identify your key players. Dig deeper into the individual change needs of your most interested and influential stakeholders. Understanding their change concerns will lead you toward addressing the known and unknown implications that cause their fear. It will also help you gain their trust so you can conquer any issues together.
    Individual change is a topic that has been researched extensively. Pierre Mitchell has a PRO article on ADKAR. It is my favorite change model because it is practical, easy to use and it works. At the risk of shameless ADKAR promotion here is a video I created that will teach you more.
  • Align on the definition of adoption: If you ask 6 people in your organization to define adoption, you will probably get 6 answers. I’ll go on to predict that at least one smart aleck will discuss the noble act of adopting children. I propose that for any technology implementation there is only one correct definition of adoption: “The right people utilizing the technology to drive the desired business results.”
  • Plan beyond go-live: For most technology implementations, go-live is not the finish line, it is the starting line. Set your sites beyond the go-live to achieving the desired business results at a future date. Build your budget, plan toward achieving that Place business language up front, measure, reward and execute corrective action plans until you’ve met your goal (and get a new one so you continue to bring even greater value).
  • Maintain accountability: I’m certain the readership has heard of many implementation teams rolling out software through their career. Have you ever heard of the adoption team? Who owns adoption? If your technology solution has cross-functional impact but your sponsorship network and project owner do not have an overlapping scope of cross-functional influence, you may have trouble findings those post go-live benefits.

If you are struggling with how to approach a technology change, or you aren’t getting the results you were expecting, reflect on how well your project is utilizing these 4 tactics. They won’t solve every adoption problem but they will help enough to make Pareto proud.

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