Adoption – driving procurement technology change (part 2)

We discussed in part 1 why organisations often have difficulty in mandating their own procurement staff to adopt new processes, technology or systems. The difficulty can come from a devolved or dispersed procurement function, with lack of direct control in the hands of the CPO. Even if there is a theoretical ‘mandate’, actually making it happen can be a challenge anyway, perhaps particularly where procurement has an entrenched, more experienced team in place.

Anyway, we had some good comments on our first post.  Mike Pringle said;

The reality is that most change programmes either under- invest in the human process of change or, indeed, even ignore it totally (e.g. mandating). For change to be embedded and sustainable in the long term, all programmes need to incorporate investment in the soft aspect of change.

John Shaw followed up on Mike’s comment with his list of key success criteria including

  • Does the program make them Aware of the drivers behind the change?
  • Does the program consider how to motivate them based upon personal desires?
  • Does the program give them the knowledge they need to succeed at the change?
  • Does the program give the right tools, ability and support they need to use the system?
  • Does the program measure progress and provide mechanisms for reinforcing positive behavior and removing barriers

Bitter and Twisted, to the point as ever, said,

If you can’t demonstrate that the new system is better…then perhaps it isn’t? In an ideal company, wouldn’t the procurement bosses’ job be to manage the clamour for change from below?

And Market Dojo;

Firstly – give them a system they want to use, rather than just have to use (enjoyable user experience). Secondly – make the easy way (or lazy way) for procurement also the best way (well thought out system processes).

I thought they were great comments and worth highlighting again here.

So if persuasion has to be the primary route to drive adoption, what approaches seem to have worked well for organisations? Based on those comments, and from recent conversations at Empower and since:

  • Leadership is key – if your senior procurement people aren’t behind it, you’ve got problems. Even if they can’t mandate, their example and influence is powerful across the function and beyond
  • Positive reinforcement – praise for those who adopt, highlighting their successes and the benefits that are generated. Think about designated ‘super users’, or  even awards or bonuses (and see the final point below).
  • Communication – following on from the last point, making sure everyone knows the strategy and the plan, and what is expected of them, and then communication of progress and success is key
  • Embarrassment – as adoption increases, there are opportunities for subtle (and non-threatening) embarrassment tactics.  “Do you really want to be the last category manager still using manual processes”?
  • Social media / gamification – we wrote a while ago about gamification, and there is definitely something to be learnt from that world. How do you make people want to use new technology or systems? How do you make it easy and even enjoyable, encourage them to develop expertise, maybe even reward them?

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First Voice

  1. Daniel Ball, Wax Digital:

    In procurement we forget that the users and buyers that we try to cajole, if not mandate, are consumers and shoppers too. In the case of adoption of procurement systems, why would these people want a system that did anything other than treat them as an individual and made life as easy as possible for them? The basic rules of marketing state that understanding the needs, desires and motivations of your potential customers is essential to building an effective product or brand. I disagree with the comment that if people don’t want the system it means the system isn’t an improvement, because many don’t know they need it until they have it. Much of the necessary persuasion comes at the ‘light bulb moment’ of first use of a system that is well designed for its users and purpose. ‘Intuitive’ is an overly- and mis-used word these days in relation to technology but experience has taught us that there is a lot to be said for a system that ‘knows’ who each user is, plays to their needs preferences, treats them as an individual and doesn’t consume too much of their precious time. Get this right and you are well on the way to an effective sell – the fundamentals of marketing.

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