Change management in procurement requires a robust plan

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Implementing new procurement tools and solutions can be costly. Leveraging robust change management processes and the right infrastructure to enforce change can help you optimize your digital investment to drive frictionless procurement across your employee and supplier ecosystem.

When was the last time you tried your hand at some complex DIY task? My money is on it being some time last year – and good on you for giving it a go.

But let me ask you this – did you base your DIY odyssey on a plan, or did you just wing it? Again, it’s probably a safe bet to say you had a plan in your head before you started anything. After all, few people start whacking holes in their walls without knowing what they’re doing – I hope.

Like any DIY effort, a successful change management program in procurement needs a solid plan to get it safely over the finishing line. These programs implement new ways of working and leverage new technologies and processes to establish more effective operations.

But how do you ensure change continues once the program ends? One thing often overlooked is the impact role changes and onboarding have on change management programs – from both the client and the supplier perspective.

Real change management at-a-glance

Take the example of an Ariba implementation carried out by a financial services organization. While the initial change management effort focused on onboarding, the implementation didn’t address ongoing user change requirements the client needed. Much of the day-to-day work was still being performed manually using tools such as Outlook. All of this combined to create a disjointed experience that increased cost, effort, and cycle times, while reducing employee satisfaction.

To address this, Capgemini was brought in to support users who encountered issues while using Ariba’s new platform. We knew that if we isolated ourselves from these implementation efforts, it would be difficult to drive the required compliance and value from the implementation, which would ultimately impact the client’s business case.

To solve these challenges, we worked closely with the client’s implementation team to develop a support function and processes that:

  • Provided support for end-users using the Ariba platform
  • Pushed back on non-catalogue requests to drive compliance
  • Identified user training needs and notified the client about them.

The journey to frictionless procurement

This approach led to the delivery of an end-to-end tool that handles all the client’s needs while keeping its suppliers in the loop. Ariba’s “Facebook-like” account network enables suppliers to control exactly when invoices appear in the client’s account, delivering complete process transparency and ensuring the client is not charged additional fees through lost invoices due to human error.

In turn, this led to a 90% improvement in purchase order (PO) compliance, a significant reduction in the client’s cost and effort, while increasing employee experience across its entire supply chain.

Furthermore, suppliers are now more familiar with the process, their responsibilities, and the system’s capabilities, which has created a more frictionless procurement process – delivering increased visibility, improved data retrieval, and enhanced reporting.

Change management success factors

At this point, you might be asking yourself – “if this financial services organization’s change management process worked for them, why it hasn’t worked for me?”

What follows is my advice for implementing a successful change management plan:

  • Design exceptional processes – plan your processes to meet your objectives. Consider your system implementation and how the end-user will adopt processes side by side – not in isolation. Processes that are poorly designed or don’t meet end-user requirements make adoption difficult. For example, if your transformation effort includes modules that interact with multiple stakeholders and suppliers, you need to understand how these modules look and feel before the transformation in order to optimize the benefits
  • Identify suitable communication channels – ongoing cooperation with your communications teams highlights the best ways of reaching the target group. While interactive content is still effective at gaining end-user attention, success depends entirely on your communication managers and their teams working together transparently to choose the right communication channels for the job
  • Drive adoption through process standardization – leverage your existing standardization rules to new technologies to prevent old habits that hinder positive outcomes being transferred into the workflow of the new tool
  • Showcase the benefits to your stakeholders – a properly implemented tool can reduce invoicing costs and increase process transparency. Such benefits encourage suppliers to tell their clients to use similar systems, which leads to lower costs, a decrease in human-error, and enhanced confidence and transparency across the board.

Change shouldn’t stop at the end of the project – it needs to be continually reinforced by end-user support functions, which should provide the proper training and reinforcement needed to maintain the change while driving process compliance.

Above all, change is an evolution not a revolution. It takes time, patience, and hard work to build something truly durable you can be proud of in years to come. Something that has a good finish to it and can adapt to whatever environment it finds itself in.

Going beyond initial implementation

Digitalization and investing in the latest technology can offer lots of opportunities, but you shouldn’t overlook the people that will interact with your new ways of working on a daily basis. A well-planned tool implementation is only the first step in getting the maximum value from a digital transformation. A robust support function and compliance management process are equally important. This means ensuring your employees and suppliers are well trained in all new technologies and making sure they understand the benefits this can bring to their teams and daily work environment.

Change management goes well beyond the initial implementation – with additional value to be had well after the program itself concludes. And in DIY terms? It’s like a well-constructed patio deck built to survive even the harshest of winters, as opposed to a flimsy wooden structure that even your kids know isn’t safe.

To learn how Capgemini’s Digital Procurement Services offer maximizes your digital investment to drive compliance and control across your procurement function, contact: renata.rybak-pazdur@capgemini.com

Read Capgemini Invent’s Digital Procurement Research 2020–2021, which contains some of the best practice learning’s from numerous projects and a comprehensive market overview of more than 30 procurement solution providers around the world.

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Renata Rybak-Pazdur cooperates with global companies in the procure-to-pay area with a focus on procurement operations. Currently, she is responsible for procurement service delivery for one of Capgemini clients in the EMEA and US regions, where she focuses on transforming and standardizing processes.

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