Procurement technology and user adoption – Padraic Phelan of Enrich tells us why it matters (Part 2)

In part 1 here, we started our interview concerning user adoption with Padraic Phelan from Enrich. Enrich focuses on helping businesses get the most out of their Oracle E-business suite and Fusion investments, whether that is in the implementation and integration phase, in making it easier for users once implemented, or even in providing outsourced services around the Oracle systems. Back to the interview anyway.

Padraic, picking up on the point about the role of procurement and ownership, you obviously feel that the user is key here?

Absolutely. Somebody – and that is probably going to be procurement, because no-one else cares enough - needs to represent the user in the development and implementation process. When we did major Oracle implementations across Europe in TUI, I saw the importance of governance – procurement needs to take ownership of the user interface and  become ‘the face of the system’ as I call it. But not many people in procurement are experienced in terms of what systems ownership means, so don’t know how to do that.

What do you do if you don't have that experience in house?

It can be a real issue. Allowing someone to learn on the job can be an expensive learning curve. Buying in resource either on a permanent staff basis, or consulting or interim support, may be a better option. But always have the goal of achieving knowledge transfer – that is key. The cost of those options is minuscule compared to the years of angst and difficulty we see where implementations don't work.

So what about the real practicalities of user adoption?

You need the necessary support structures in place – users, super users, help desk, functional help desk  and so on. A training programme obviously is key. But I also look to build a sense of community. For a major implementation, procurement should be going out to different offices – even in different countries – to hold drop in sessions for users, to actually talk to people . That can be hugely effective. Even if you only do it 2 or 3 times a year, it builds the connectivity, and helps to get direct feedback and identify the potential for process or system improvements.

Also bear in mind the passage of time. Induction and training in the initial launch is fine but new people join the organisation – I would always want to train them before they are given access to the system, get them on-board properly rather than expect them to just pick things up.

 Some firms are now promoting software that is so intuitive, the suggestion is that training and formal adoption processes are barely required. How do you see that?

There’s no doubt that point and click, Amazon type experiences are getting more common in the B2B world too. But we still see the need for many non-catalogue requests in a full P2P system. Not everything can be catalogued so we still need to get users trained and on-board if we want to systemize the whole procurement picture.

There are also other elements of the process to be considered, not just ordering – such as approvals, receipting, and so on. Again, these need to be included in the adoption programme. Everything is connected – for instance, you can ignore receipting, but then we get into more complex issues around the invoice authorisation process. Of course software is getting more user-friendly, which is good news, but don’t under-estimate the importance of the adoption process, whatever system you’re implementing!

 That sounds like a good note on which to finish – but just sum up with two or three of the  key messages to leave people with?

Remember the purpose of what you’re doing – getting meaningful data to make better decisions that drive value. Think about governance, ownership and who represents the user in the process. That will usually need to be procurement. And get out and about and talk to people using the system on the ground.

Thanks again to Padraic Phelan of Enrich for words of wisdom on user adoption. You can download an Enrich paper on the topic here, and he would be delighted to follow up and talk to anyone about these issues – he is contactable via the Enrich website here.

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