Australian organisations are slowly ramping up their commitment to procurement, which in the current climate is a smart move. Organisations are recruiting CPOs onto their boards and we are seeing the crucial CIPS qualified personnel in all areas of the procurement department. Government departments at Federal, State and Local levels are really driving the message of “delivering more for less” and this should be applauded.
We have also seen many systems fail and staff bypass the procurement process for one simple reason – they are too complicated for an everyday employee to use. All an employee wants to do is to order a component to keep his plant running or order some paper for the photocopying machine and the process should be simple and intuitive.
Often users are sent into an ERP maze, frequently with manual systems accompanying the process. No wonder people try to bypass preferred suppliers and pick up the phone to a supplier of their choice!
After being in the IT industry for 18 years and feeling like I have implemented more procurement solutions than most people have hot dinners, I am certain of one thing, if you don’t get user buy-in you won’t succeed. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s eProcurement solutions were released to ensure the use of preferred suppliers, visibility of the cost pipeline, visibility of the authorisation process, a full commitments picture down to any analysis level, reduction of coding errors, full compliance, etc. This was a brilliant concept, except that when these Web solutions were released they still overlooked one critical aspect – ease of use for the end user. That is why the initial uptake was not as successful as it could have been and criticism of these solutions followed.
However the good news is that “Best-in-Class” eProcurement solutions now offer interfaces that are a shopping experience just like Amazon or eBay.
Ask yourself how much training you need to use Amazon or eBay . . . most likely none! So if you make it simple for your employees, you will get user buy-in. The Aberdeen Group confirms this, showing that an efficient eProcurement initiative increased the amount of spend under management on average by 35 percent and reduced “maverick” spending by 41 percent.
So remember, if it’s simple to use, it is likely to work – and that means savings!