Finding Common Ground

Using the art of community building to drive e-procurement compliance


By John Mayes and Suzanne Miglucci

In the purchasing world, user adoption is essential to gaining the highest return on your investment. However, convincing users accustomed to decentralized buying to change their purchasing procedures can be a daunting task. When introducing new technology into a well-established organization, administrators often face an 80/20 split in new process adoption. Typically, new processes and procedures fit well into the workflow of 80 percent of users, allowing the solution to be easily adopted in a short timeframe. Influencing change and driving user adoption for the other 20 percent is more difficult, often requiring trust-building and much more time.

How can you find common ground in this classic 80/20 split when driving user adoption of new technology? How do you go about effectively bringing different people and processes onto a common platform that can drive e-procurement compliance? Many organizations are taking a consultative-type approach to meet the unique needs of users in the 20 percent space, driving a higher success rate of business process redesign, user adoption and user satisfaction.

John Mayes, associate vice president and chief procurement officer at Yale University, and Suzanne Miglucci, vice president of marketing and strategic alliances at SciQuest Inc., share best practices and lessons learned on how to find common ground across your organization to increase e-procurement user adoption.

Creating Alignment

Engaging organizational leadership early in your change management process creates alignment, sets expectations and helps top leaders understand their role in supporting the change exercise. To avoid surprises, it is critical to strike a conscious balance between speed and quality of deployment. Organizational leaders must establish clear objectives and understand the impact of those objectives from the onset. In the event of a leadership change, it is important to reset objectives to make sure the entire organization is still on the same page. Managing communications also becomes important to the success of your procurement program — centralized communication results in consistent messages in terms of tone, frequency and other important factors.

At Yale, the university's leadership took a proactive role supporting the deployment of their e-procurement initiative. University leadership recognized the need to implement the e-procurement solution as fast as possible without sacrificing quality by paying attention to the details and understanding the end users' needs and objectives before pushing ahead.

Enabling Change

The basis for change in the 80 percent split is easy: More efficient business processes, optimized support, improved service to end users and greater savings secures this group's buy-in. But what about the other 20 percent who are well-entrenched in the way they've been doing things for some time and are more reluctant to embrace change? You can't just write a memo and say, "Here's your new e-procurement solution, now start using it." How do you motivate them to support the change?

In the case of Yale, it was important to create connections and build trust with the affected groups and individuals, positioning the procurement team as a partner in change. In Yale's 20 percent are some of the best and brightest researchers in the world, and they have been courted heavily by the university to do what they do best for Yale. By understanding the unique requirements of these end users, Yale created solutions more closely aligned with established procedures, ensuring those users that the ultimate solution was an improvement and met their needs.

Implementing Dual Strategies

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