Nationwide implements Hubwoo – useful learning points based on their experience

As we've said before, you learn more from conference presentations when people are honest about failures. Lessons learnt and things they might do differently next time! That's what raised the presentation from financial services organisation Nationwide from "OK" to "very useful" at the recent eWorld event.

18 months ago, Nationwide were still sending Purchase Orders by post to suppliers. So the decision to implement the Hubwoo eProcurement platform for ordering and transactional management was driven by some pretty clear objectives - to improve MI, get control over spend, and drive automation. They also made the brave decision to change the process to match the Hubwoo platform as far as possible - with a view to maximising their investment in the solution.

The team placed a lot of focus on e-learning to reach the wide user base across the organisation, as financial services firms tend to have many requisitioners and order placers. They implemented a range of catalogues to cover user requirements - impressively, from day one, 50% of spend was captured via catalogues. So was it all a great success?

Well, not immediately - early feedback showed 26% of users weren't too happy, which wasn’t a disastrous figure but somewhat disappointing. That led to some soul searching, and to a number of conclusions drawn by the Nationwide team, which are well worth noting for any other organisation looking to implement new transformative systems.

  • Be careful in choosing your user champions- don't just accept those who want to help, look at who can best help you (in terms of driving acceptance and usage).
  • e-learning is fine in theory but if it isn't part of the culture, face to face "hand holding" and “train the trainer” approaches may still be necessary at early stages.
  • Nationwide went "big bang" rather than a departmental roll-out - there are benefits with both, but big bang is inherently higher risk.
  • Make sure you really understand who the heavy system users will be and focus training and attention on them.
  • Systemising can expose inefficiencies in the manual process - in this case, the authorisation process (which previously had low compliance) was exposed as unwieldy and inappropriate once people had to really follow it!

Having identified and worked to resolve these issues, Nationwide now have 90% of spend on PO, and 52% of spend going through catalogues. Spend visibility is orders of magnitude better than pre-Hubwoo. The next steps will see Nationwide moving to a "no Purchase Order, no Pay" policy, to dive compliance towards the 1005 mark. They have set themselves a target of 65% of spend being via  catalogues and e-invoicing is also part of the development programme, allied with bringing together the procurement operations and accounts payable teams.

So, get the right champions, think hard about the most appropriate forms of training, put sufficient resource into the programme, and if possible provide a "sand pit" pre go live for "people to play with". Good advice there from Nationwide - and thanks to them for an honest and interesting session.

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