Start with low-risk indirect categories and move toward more complex categories.
Indirect categories, like office supplies and janitorial supplies, can be implemented more quickly as most suppliers in these categories already have electronic content available. As a company builds early successes and the system becomes more readily used, it can roll out strategically sourced categories online gradually, using the same strategy.
Leverage outside service providers to support the "dirty" work.
Content development, systems integration, category implementation and supplier training are time consuming tasks that procurement service providers are better equipped to handle. Third-party providers can execute these services repeatedly and in a scalable manner. By outsourcing these tasks to experts, a company can accelerate the enablement process, while preserving valuable time and resources for other core business objectives.
Utilize category experts that understand category-specific buying methods, best practices and buyer needs.
Experts in each relevant spending category should work closely with the customer and suppliers to manage the seamless execution of business process, technology and supplier relationship changes. Since having dedicated category experts for all purchasing categories is unrealistic, companies should tap service providers to own the implementation and management of non-strategic categories while the company focuses its internal resources on more direct categories.
Encourage and maintain an atmosphere of communication and feedback between suppliers and end users.
Enablement is an ongoing process that should be continuously monitored and reviewed. It is important to establish dialogue with the people who are actually using the system, and address performance issues and make process improvements on a regular basis.
For faster bottom-line impact and a greater return on investment on procurement investments, companies should not underestimate the importance of supplier and buyer enablement. Understanding the enablement process and implementing the right strategies can lead to early and lasting success with e-procurement and help to unlock its value in order to drive meaningful savings.
Keith Hausmann is vice president of sourcing and category management for ICG Commerce. He can be reached at email@example.com.