From involving your team to choosing the right technology, we sum up our Procurement Roundtable on making digital transformation a success
As we often mention here in our blogs, at Canopy, we're determined to make procurement better. That's why we've developed our supplier management platform to provide supplier data you can trust. But we also know that there's huge power in tapping into the experience of procurement professionals. Our Procurement Roundtable discussion forum brings together these people to discuss big topics in the field. While we invite an expert speaker to help set the scene, the forum is open to anyone, and we value all contributions. It's the next in our series of occasional blogs, where we capture some experience and learning from previous discussions. The topic this time: how to make digital transformation a success.
Is there a problem with your procurement for digital transformation?
We started by asking two important questions about digital transformation in procurement. What is the problem you are trying to solve? And why it is important? Technology will not solve problems by itself; after all, wearing a FitBit will not make you fit. Technology can define a set of standards, but those standards may not be relevant for you. Some organisations will have more than one Procurement Lead, such as Direct vs Indirect or IT vs. Non-IT, so both these decision-makers need to be aligned. You'll need to understand and manage this from the start.
A good start to a digital transformation project is to focus on three key areas: your people, processes, and data. Technology then maps across what you understand about the first three. Our discussion looked at all four of these pillars for a successful digital transformation.
People: Bring your team with you by involving them from the start
People will only use technology if they see value in it for themselves. As a leader, you may not know the intricacies of how the team works at the coalface, so it is important to listen to them and involve them in the design of the solution upfront. 'Proof Of Concepts' and trial offerings are a great way to test new tools with your teams before you commit to your chosen vendor. If your team sees value, they will be powerful advocates to promote the tool internally when it goes live.
Often it is the people who are most resistant to technology ('change defaulters') who have more impact than those driving the project forwards ('change enablers'). They need to be front and centre when building your business case for the project. Make sure there is a dedicated project lead whose full-time job is to be accountable for its success and manage stakeholders. Some scope creep is inevitable when trying to win hearts and minds, but it's important not to brush it under the carpet. Instead, define a set of 'phase 2' activities, so the requirement is acknowledged without disrupting your priorities for launch.
“If your people don't think the technology is going to help them, they'll never use it.” Karthik Rama, The Procurement Doctor
Processes and data: the flow and fuel of good procurement
Automation is a powerful opportunity for procurement teams, but it only works if your processes are sufficiently robust. For many organisations, your technology project will be the catalyst to think through your procurement processes for the first time. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and who your stakeholders are. What's more, it's important to remember that you may use different language from your stakeholders (“spend” vs “cost”), so communicate in a way that everyone will understand.
Data is the fuel that powers your digital engine, so the quality of your data will have a big influence on the success of any technology initiative. How are you going to clean your data, and what needs to change to prevent the data from eroding again? Good supplier data can make all the difference in effective procurement, at every stage from onboarding new suppliers to evaluating performance of existing ones.
Technology: from one-stop-shop to best-of-breed
There are many more technology options available today than there were five years ago, and most will not feature on a Gartner or Spend Matters matrix. Do your own research and formulate your own views on the right toolset for your business. All-in-one 'suites' offer a wide base of functionality across a number of operational areas and come with a lot of experience, but they are relatively inflexible when it comes to addressing very specific needs.
Best-of-breed solutions tend to be more flexible and offer more advanced capabilities when the problem you are solving is focused in a particular area, like apps on your phone, but you need to be prepared to administer and manage multiple systems.
“Technology only solves problems when it is an enabler for your people and processes.” Nick Verkroost, CEO, Canopy (OCG Software)
To find out more about Canopy and The Procurement Roundtable, our programme of discussions on the biggest topics in procurement, contact one of the team today.
Post by Nick Verkroost
Nick is an experienced business leader and the CEO for Canopy (OCG Software), the rules-based Supplier Management platform. Nick's focus is on commercial and operational excellence and ensuring our clients maximise the opportunities that Canopy offers.