How to make stakeholders hate you: Number 1 – Drive them mad with technology

We’re pleased to bring you a short series on that perennial topic – managing stakeholders, users, budget holders, colleagues – whatever we want to call them. But we thought we’d approach it from a slightly different angle. So let’s look at how to make sure we can instil real hatred of the procurement function and the people within it amongst that population!

1. Drive them mad with technology

So, our colleagues who hold budgets, place requisitions and orders, use the goods and services our organisations buy, or perhaps approve expenditure, just love it when procurement make their lives challenging and difficult. Nothing better than a screen with 38 fields to complete to order the simplest thing. Make sure those fields don’t give any clue as to the format required so if they enter “£5000” it gets rejected because no £ sign is needed. Make sure they have to start from scratch every time, and don’t use anything helpful like drop down menus, ‘frequently ordered’ lists or automatically completed templates.

Insist on lots of obscure codes that they have to look up (preferably in a totally different system) before they can order anything. Then you can make the whole authorisation route as complex as possible. And when we get to receipt and payment – oh, the fun you can have with budget codes, part orders and deliveries, returns... !

Any of us over the age of about 30 probably remember the days of truly unfriendly systems, often ERP. but these days, there is much less excuse for the procurement (or finance) function that is creating this sort of frustration, inefficiency and friction in the internal user population. Usability is high on the agenda of pretty much any software firm in our space, with evangelists like Coupa driving even the legacy ERP providers into a stronger focus on this topic.

We’ve said it before but let’s repeat – it is very difficult for a procurement function to be taken seriously as a strategically credible business partner if the stakeholders’ day to day experience of simply “buying stuff” is horrible. And as a younger generation come into the workforce, a generation that have grown up with technology that didn’t need a user manual, let alone formal training, the tolerance for lousy systems will only get less and less.

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Voices (2)

  1. Dan:

    Use descriptions that are completely different to the accepted standard wording – for example instead of ‘tablet computers’, call them ‘slate computers’ instead.

  2. Sam Unkim:

    Re Drive them mad with technology

    Loved this & few more tips from the NHS

    Make sure that all consumer facing online purchasing tools that staff encounter ( Amazon, Ebay etc.) are far easier, more intuitive & faster to use. This way other staff constantly have a comparison to beat you over the head with.

    Scatter important fields all over the page, rather than grouping top left

    Never include any keyboard short cuts, which would reduce the time spent on the system and let users get back to their actual jobs.

    Never use predictive text to allow fast re-keying of the item ordered 10 x in the last month.

    Pictures of an item. Perish the thought . But if you must, make it of the outer carton, which hopefully has never been seen by the requestor

    Scatter the process over as many separate pages as possible, then involve your Trusts Local I.T. team in making the internet as slow as possible. Remember a page isn’t worth viewing unless it takes three minutes to load.

    Never make the size of a field relate to the actual data it will contain. Unit_of_Issue should always be a minimum 30cm wide and Item_Description 22mm at most.

    An Actual field devoted to the Manufacture’s Part No. (or any type of reportable data). Good Lord No, far better to bury the key info inside the narrative fields.

    Advanced Search options: Trousers,(Female, Ladies, Maternity) . Why bother, the NHS, would never understand such things.

    Wildcards, % is always the obvious choice * is so last year.

    And finally and most importantly
    Pack the System Supplier’s User Group with finance staff (after all its their ERP system isn’t it ) and make sure all change requests relating to easing this “horrible buying experience” are constantly voted down in favour of tiny improvements to benefit their own finance office staff.
    and their strange and unique practices

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