Anyone who has been through a Procurement process overhaul or a software implementation will know, it’s not always simple. Having been at Ivalua for many years I thought I’d share my perspective.
Here are a few points which I hope demonstrate my knowledge of how Procurement software works and show my understanding of how the Procurement teams needs to operate to be successful.
Step 1: Ensure stakeholder alignment and progress in a project
There are many procurement solutions on the market which have been developed to meet the needs of different types of organizations. I would say the first most important step is to make sure that the procurement provider you choose is the one that can deliver the value that your stakeholders need.
The procurement software provider must be able to demonstrate the value to stakeholders throughout the project delivery. Whether you are implementing e-procurement software, a procure-to-pay solution or a complete source-to-pay solution, you need to be able to show the value clearly and have processes in place. Each stakeholder must see the value at each stage of the project.
Step 2: Make sure everyone is on the same page (to avoid pain later down the line)
Take people off their day-to-day tasks and ensure there are enough people to answer the business and technical questions necessary to ensure the value is clear. This is especially important during the early stages of the project, but no less important throughout the entire process.
Whatever the procurement software you choose, everyone needs to see all your procurement processes documented and both sides need to understand if these processes are effective or need to be rethought. You will need to understand in depth the Procurement services you wish to offer, what Procurement analytics stakeholders are expecting to see. Consider what you have today versus what you want at the end of the procurement implementation and what steps are required to get there.
Ask yourself what are your obvious objectives, but also what are the hidden ones. What are the goals that you have in mind – reduce costs or improve visibility on new product introductions. Make sure it is clear to everyone because this is not a moving target. Is it clear and realistic?
Step 3: Overcoming challenges when Procurement colleagues won’t accept change
This is your chance to simplify and adopt best practice, not replicate super complex processes that are from the past. Think about what is possible now with current Procurement technology. Be challenged on why you do certain things in a certain way.
Only you can remove complexity in favor of a new process that makes the most of the new procurement software you are investing in. You may encounter resistance to change as your stakeholders and users may just prefer the old way, so you need to have them in the “room” when discussions and decisions are being made.
Step 4: Keep everyone on the same page
Communication constantly. When we start the project at the kickoff we set up monthly steering meetings at the Executive level. There are weekly project status meetings with project leaders, Ivalua, partners and clients to share what has been done, the challenges and what’s planned for the next week. We put any roadblocks or risks on the table and take a realistic health check on the overall project status.
Daily communication between the teams is vital. For this, we use email and phone of course, but at Ivalua our preferred way of communicating is via our proprietary tool where we can track every single decision and new requirement the client has and how we are planning to address those. Everything is recorded, tracked and can be reported against for all communications. It is searchable and also used by clients to interact with Ivalua teams.
Step 5: Be ready for and manage the ups and downs
In our vast experience, crises can usually be solved in a really simple way. The client may say “your team says it’s not possible”, at this point our DNA is to be patient and listen to what the customer wants and needs. We try to keep things calm and go back to the facts. Often when people are honest and transparent we can solve difficult issues with minimum effort and in a very simple way, especially when we take the emotion out of the situation.
What is specific or different about the Ivalua methodology?
Our difference is really in the combination of our Procurement software platform, our culture of customer success first and in our collaborative approach. Our experience ranges from simple, fast deployments to large scale, complex global rollouts and we have the Procurement software as well as internal and partner experience/expertise to make our customers successful. We also have the customer success team who can step back and take the 30,000-foot view of the situation.
To summarize, when you are embarking on a digital transformation of any size, ensure that you know what your goals are, and make sure these are communicated to your internal teams and to the companies you are working with. Have the right people in the room. Complete a robust, open and transparent design phase that will not only mean that you get what you want but it will also guarantee that your organisation gets what it needs, and maximizes the investment it is making in this new Procurement software.
This is not a time for reinventing the old, but for having an open mind and creating the future you want.
Christophe Cherubini is the Ivalua Global Head of Services Advisory, with eighteen years of experience working in the Procurement Software field. Christophe’s organization serves as a trusted advisory to prospective customers, conveys the value proposition of implementation, and helps define the implementation strategy and post-implementation service offerings. Prior to his current role, Christophe managed the implementation of several projects, and led different delivery teams.