Take Control Now

In a few years, e-procurement may have so permeated society that your office will be reverse-auctioning filters for the Mr. Coffee. But that doesn't mean every company will be an e-procurement winner


Employees should know that this new system holds not only changes for them, but also rewards. Telling someone that his job will get easier, if the inherent distrust of new developments can be overcome, is a great motivator. Regarding e-procurement, Chimienti says, It certainly is a culture change in the company to change processes and to change the way business is done. Internally, yes, it is a challenge. But it certainly has its rewards in terms of efficiency.

He goes on to say that this rise in efficiency can be seen rather quickly, once the employees get their hands on a system, especially if they have not had a sophisticated procurement system before, or if they've had a system but it's been cumbersome. I think some of the systems that I've seen in e-procurement are really elegant, and they work really well. Like the first five minutes of a date, if the initial nervousness is overcome, the result is a much better experience for everyone involved.

Axiom 9
Say noA triority is a collection of three things your boss would have you to do at the same time. Most of us have been saddled with a triority at one time or another. For some, it's a permanent condition, bending them down and leaving unsightly triority marks on their backs. But, expectations of superiors notwithstanding, no company, no matter how organized, committed, driven or manic they are, can be all things to all people. Neither can they do all things at all times. There are some tasks that simply cannot be handled, or handled to the degree that might be desired by some. And you must say no.

Most of us view telling higher-ups no as an instant careericide. Truthfully, for some, it might be just that. (Of course, if you're fired for simply saying no, how secure could you have been anyway?) But Aspuro maintains that saying no is a skill that should be developed. She has told people no and survived. Why? Because I went on and said, These are the reasons why, and these are the issues and these are the resources, and these are what I believe are the priorities and this is how I think we can accomplish it, but still the bottom line is no, we can't do this the way you think you want to do this, because we haven't the capacity.' Say no when necessary, but always offer alternatives and solutions.

She has seen the results of no one saying no. I think organizations flounder and some terribly fail, because they're not willing to draw those limits about what they can accomplish, and then they do everything bad instead of a few things well. So say no. But have your resumé polished up just in case.

Axiom 10
It's the service, stupidIn two years, what will be the hallmarks of an e-procurement monster, one that dominates and succeeds like there's no tomorrow? What will the overpriced business textbooks of the future bulletpoint as key for e-procurement? Service. There might be a short grace period in which people are wowed by your technology, but when the honeymoon ends, you'd better provide serious service. Remember the first time you got a voice-mail system, and how positively slick and Jetsons it seemed? Now think how irritated you get when you have to wade through a menu of choices. What if a user is faced with a screen that states, To trace your bifurcated widgets that were accidentally shipped to Bolivian Basalt Company, click here, and then finds out here is a dead link? Starting to get the picture? No amount of techno-glitz will keep that user happy.

Chimienti puts it this way, I think some of the complaints that I hear now on the purchasing side from people who are using e-procurement are that order entry is easy, but follow-up and certainly problem resolution can be difficult. I think if that aspect of it is resolved, that would be a major coup. According to him, it's vital to maintain that level of customer service that existed before the Internet came in. For the supply side, O'Malley says, You really need to supply what your buyers want, and a lot of times it's not a catalog commodity. It could be a service, it could be access to a vertical market. It could be the ability to use dynamic pricing and auctions and RFQs.

The bottom line is that regardless of how well you implement commitment, thievery, integration and all the other factors, if people don't get better service than they're getting now, you've failed. And that will hurt your career far more than saying no.

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