Embarking on an eProcurement implementation can result in more efficient government, improved compliance and increased transparency. So where do you start and what should you know before you start? There hasn’t been an implementation project that I have been a part of where the team walked away without lessons learned for future implementations, and public sector implementations are no exception. In fact, the unique complexities, and requirements of public sector procurement challenge even the best laid plans and implementation teams.
Whether you are moving from legacy paper-based processes to electronic ones, or from older to newer digital processes, the following lessons learned will help you achieve alignment between agency, state and federal processes, expectations and systems.
If there is one clear lesson that I’ve learned from successful and difficult implementations it is that you cannot have too much communication. Even if it increases the timeline of the project, effective communication is ultimately about getting buy in, and providing an influential voice for stakeholders.
Integration and migration plans should be communicated months ahead of time, and may need to be repeated to make sure the core messages get through to end users. Having more information earlier, and having it presented in a straightforward way at regular intervals, increases everyone’s confidence. This may include posters with project progress, presentations, and the mobilization of internal influencers.
Communication is the largest part of change management, but it deserves independent consideration as well. First and foremost, be very clear on what the implementation vision is. Ensuring that there is a dedicated change management workstream mitigates the risk level of the entire implementation. Each process or system that is transitioned needs to be managed independently to minimize the impact to suppliers and preserve the integrity of centralized data. It is also advisable to establish a change control board for managing post-implementation enhancement requests and evaluations.
Executive Level Project Sponsors
The implementation team must have the right representation across agencies. Executive level project sponsors need to know what will be required of them and what the planned timeline is. If they are squarely on board and willing to advocate, in my experience, they will have a positive influence on outcomes. Stability in the sponsor group is essential; if project sponsors switch frequently, continuity, alignment and influence may be lost.
Preserve Processes and Extract Data ASAP
What policies will change with the implementation of new technology? Where are the greatest changes taking place? I find that asking and answering questions such as these helps implementation leaders and partners with the change management effort. Process documentation and communication plans must go hand in hand and be kept up to date during the project. New formal processes will be needed, such as policies for how users should interact with the support team.
Data requires similar thought and preservation. As data requests come in, procurement’s ability to satisfy them is critical to user acceptance. Data need to be fully transitioned and integrated into the new system to have a successful go-live.
User Acceptance Testing
Users need to have a say in how the eProcurement system will meet the agency’s current needs and how it will evolve to stay effective in the future. Testers’ involvement should be broad and guided by clear go, no-go criteria. Users must actively participate in testing as needed and provide the requested feedback – it is in their own best interests to engage before the implementation begins. Testers will validate data migration/integration as well as process alignment and interface. In addition, each tester can be an outreach point during implementation and rollout.
Support Team Knowledge Transfer
Any team that will be involved in the implementation must be included from the outset of the project. This is especially true for requirements definition and pre-selection, and is a key success factor with compressed implementation timeframes. The support team may need multiple forms of training, and there should for a formal plan for keeping them up to date. Keep in mind that some users will have to learn how to use the system as well as how to administer the system.
Implementation Staffing Levels
Staffing for the core team members and project leadership must flex with the needs of the implementation effort. How will the project schedule and phases align with team members’ other work responsibilities? The same thought process should be extended to the larger procurement team. Will any sourcing projects be caught in the crossover time? Staffing is not just a matter of part time headcount for the project team. It is critical to think about how many full time people will be dedicated to each task. Ramp up resources (and extra resources) as soon as possible.
The transition from selection to implementation to ongoing support needs to be as smooth and as seamless as possible. Clear communication and active listening will have a significant positive impact on adoption, as will engaged executive sponsors and sufficient staffing. I strongly believe in having an experienced implementation lead, or taking the time to study and learn from other implementations, is critical to user satisfaction and system ROI.
To learn more listen to the webinar replay Risk Reduction in Public Sector eProcurement Implementations
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Ivalua for Public Sector was purpose-built for public sector organizations, enable more efficient government, reducing risk, increasing compliance and empowering public sector leaders to accelerate their digital procurement transformation.
Our proven platform provides the require scalability, security, and flexibility to allow your organization to meet the many unique and evolving requirements of public procurement. With Ivalua for Public Sector, organizations are able to be more responsive to legislative, regulatory and/or policy changes. We have optimized the end-to-end digital experience, by providing a collaboration network for citizens, buyer and suppliers resulting in full transparency throughout the procurement lifecycle.
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