We all have different criteria for what we think deserves our money. If your goal is to save any money at all, however, one rule can always help: if it’s going to end up in a junk drawer or cupboard, just don’t buy it. Most organisational change programmes fail to achieve all of their objectives. There’s no single reason for this – lack of leadership, poor planning and unreasonable timescales can all contribute. But often the failure comes down to taping into the inability to engage the workforce or senior team (or both) with the change. And this often boils down to poor communication.
For eSourcing devotees, the benefits of using eSourcing are well known. eSourcing has a long and proven history of providing improvements in savings, efficiency, cycle times, transparency and compliance. However, there are still parts of your business that haven’t “seen the light” such as exposure to the benefits of eSourcing tools and techniques. Resistance to e-Sourcing can be reduced by clearly communicating the shift to a collaborative sourcing technique with a focus on process transparency and quality, knowledge sharing, interaction with stakeholders and to ensure that they follow strict rules and stick to commitments.
Given the technological advances and results reported by the eSourcing pioneers, it is somewhat surprising that these tools are still not pervasive throughout Fortune 1000 companies. Research by A.T. Kearney shows that while more than 75% of companies report that their procurement organisations have used these tools at least once, only a small fraction report using them in any significant way (Defined as more than 200 RFXs or reverse auctions per year). Fewer than 5% of companies report having reengineered their sourcing process to fully embed and leverage these tools. The story is no brighter on the sales side where only a few companies may have introduced these tools with great fanfare; they neither changed their business nor trained their staff to use them effectively. Highlighted below are some of the best practises that can enable an organisation deploy and successfully integrate an efficient eSourcing system.
- Establish a centre of excellence:
Ensure to set up a centre of excellence from which you deploy eSourcing tools, starting small with highly visible pilots and very quickly training power users (rather than relying on external partners) to support other users. This helps you to invest significant time and funds towards training activities. Companies also need to design and implement a comprehensive change management strategy for how to deploy the tools more broadly while encouraging adoption.
- Build a Meaningful governance Model:
Governance is vital to supporting and guiding a new programme, engaging stakeholders and defining the “rules of engagement” can be used to change the conversation from one of “prove to me why we should use these tools” to “prove to me why we should not”
- Design and Deploy Metrics:
Measurement is very essential. Defining targets of the programme and tracking progress against those targets ensures that these targets are translated into individual annual performance for stakeholders and sourcing team members. These metrics should go beyond tracking savings to also include the number and types of events completed, the number of suppliers and stakeholders engaged , supplier compression achieved: among others.
- Adhere to Highest Ethical Standards:
Learn to focus on the design, deployment and maintenance of these programmes, never giving suppliers or stakeholders any reason to question the integrity of the process or how the tools are deployed. Although mistakes can happen, there should never be any appearance of unethical practises. One of the advantages of eSourcing tools is the audit trail they provide, take advantage of it!
As with all change efforts, one does not often achieve success without first encountering a few failures along the way. Understanding where the potential pitfalls are and how best to navigate them can help de-risk a new programme.
- Say No to pay-per-use:
Charging stakeholders for the cost of the technology or the sourcing staff’s time to support the technology is a bad idea. For the most part, stakeholders view these eSourcing tools as a risky proposition to start with, so charging them a hefty fee to use them can stop the programme before it gets off the ground.
- Don’t wait for people to opt in:
This is a recipe for disaster. Success depends on programme metrics tied to individual performance metrics that clearly communicate expectations.
- Forget the Flavour of the Day:
Merely rolling out the tools and some directives on how to use them will make the programme just the latest flavour of the day. Investments should be a long term, holistic change management programme in order to encourage use and adoption of eSourcing tools.
- Resist supplier Push backs:
Change is difficult for most people so do not be surprised if suppliers push back and try to circumvent, postpone or eliminate the process. Companies that stood Firm in their commitment to the process and tools and invested resources to communicate this stance to their suppliers were able to get past this hurdle. More suppliers have realized that access to these eSourcing tools provide them with access to critical information needed to compete for existing and new business.
The past 20 or so years have been an exciting time for procurement leaders. Companies that Invested in eSourcing tools to automate transactional activities and negotiations in order to reduce sourcing cycle times are well positioned to take their organisations to the next level. For those that have not, and are now in the catch up mode, consistency and perseverance seems to be a big problem as regards deployment and successful integration of these tools into business procurement operations. Procurement leaders have done a great job charting a roadmap to success, identifying best practises to emulate and pointing out the pitfalls to avoid, so you don’t have any excuse why not to take full advantage. Why not get on board and see how e-sourcing tools could change the outlook of how you do business, but remember; it’s not enough to deploy it, you must see it through till the end. Don’t just buy it, ensure you use it.