How to Introduce Disruptive Technology in Procurement

By Hugo Britt | November 23, 2021

The procurement SaaS market is booming. Step into the exhibitor hall at any procurement conference and you will be overwhelmed with proposals from big tech players and small start-ups alike. Options include end-to-end P2P systems, task automation, cognitive procurement, AI-assisted purchasing, smart contracting, sophisticated vendor management systems, AI-powered spend analytics, blockchain-based payments, and much, much more.

But selecting and purchasing a procurement software solution is only the start of the journey. How are you going to introduce it into your organization? How will the people using the system – the procurement team, internal stakeholders, and suppliers – adjust to the change? What about implementation and training?

Disruptive technology in procurment

Research confirms that there’s a significant risk of failure to achieve ROI when implementing any new IT project. Gartner reports that 75% of ERP projects fail, while Clayton Christensen found that 95% of product innovation projects fail.

McKinsey famously reported that only 30% of digital transformation projects achieve their goals.

It’s clear that simply introducing the team to new procurement technology and hoping for the best is too risky. Here are some tips for getting it right.

1. Hire a change management expert

Writing for Forbes, enterprise tech expert Steve Andriole identified the number one reason for technology project failure was a lack of talent.

Sure, you could try to drive a change management project yourself. You could also try to cut your own hair.

Seriously though, change management experts are worth every dollar. They do this for a living, they know what hurdles to expect, how to overcome them, and will often come prepared with a customizable change management program that can be used to introduce your disruptive procurement technology.

If you belong to a large organization, it’s very possible that the company already has a change management guru on the payroll. Get in touch, explain your goals in introducing the new tech, and let them guide you from there.

2. Get executive support

Andriole’s second reason why projects aimed at introducing disruptive technology in procurement fail? A lack of executive support.

People are naturally resistant to change, which is why it can be very difficult to engage and convince employees without the authority provided by executive support for your project. 

Win executive support by building a business case that shows how your new project will help the organization reach its enterprise-level goals, whether they are cutting costs, risk reduction, or brand management. 

3. Start a conversation with the people affected by the change

Make sure no one is taken by surprise by the tech introduction. Start a conversation with users in the procurement team, in the wider business, and suppliers (if relevant) and show them the why behind the change. 

Dispel fears about job losses by showing them how the automation of day-to-day tasks will help free up time for more meaningful activities.

Listen to feedback – the people who will be using the tech will be best-positioned to provide advice about their needs.

Most of all, show stakeholders the benefits. What’s in it for them? Will it save time? Help them do their jobs better? How will it integrate with existing systems?

4. Start small

Consider starting with a small pilot scheme involving a few supportive users. Build your business case by celebrating small wins and showing the benefits, then expand the scheme incrementally.

5. Get training right

Provide training using a rich content mix such as in-person training, on-the-job coaching, online training, text-based information, video-based training, and more. Consider whether the technology will only require one training session or ongoing “booster” training. Make sure you incorporate this training into the onboarding program for new employees.

When selecting a technology vendor, be sure to consider their training and support programs before making a decision.

6. Be supportive and encouraging

Be patient, supportive, and encouraging. There are bound to be teething problems when introducing any new technology, and people are naturally resistant to change. Build a coalition of supporters for your project and work with, not against, people who are against the introduction. Celebrate small wins and milestones along the way.

Need assistance deciding which technology option to implement or need other ways to bring your procurement function up to speed? Una can help. Reach out to our team of Sourcing Advisors to learn more.


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