Steps toward success
There are a number of proactive steps a purchaser can take to make the implementation of an interactive BPM software system a success—or to improve the efficiency of an existing system.
- Begin with a plan. As mentioned earlier, it is essential to realize that online interactivity with suppliers is not an end in itself, but a tool for improving efficiency and customer service. Planning with this fact in mind can help a purchaser set reasonable expectations for the system and its benefits. Similarly, the justification and design of the system must include budgeting for the long-term costs of operation, including ongoing investment in technology and staffing.
- Be positive in presenting the system to suppliers. The advantages of an interactive BPM software system for the supplier may not be apparent at first. It is up to the purchaser to demonstrate how the supplier can benefit from the efficiencies, transparency and reporting capabilities the system offers.
- Provide thorough, ongoing supplier training. This training must be considered an essential element in the startup and ongoing system investment. For suppliers to use the system effectively, their personnel must be comfortable and confident in it. This requires thorough initial training for current suppliers and new ones brought on board. It also calls for a commitment to ongoing training for suppliers’ new hires and for all users as the system is updated over time.
- Provide timely, supplier-oriented IT support. As with training, ongoing support is essential to system success. Be sure the right people are in place to respond to supplier questions or problems, and that they are equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to assist suppliers with individual needs.
- Maintain a balance of technology and people. Remember that technology is a tool for improving service, not an end in itself. Knowledgeable purchasing professionals are still required to maintain valuable personal relationships with suppliers and to step in immediately whenever the situation requires it.
- Invite ongoing supplier feedback. A proactive approach to feedback is an excellent tool for maintaining supplier relationships, and an important way of ensuring the ongoing success and improvement of the system. Invite suppliers, individually or through supplier forums, to share their experiences with other purchasers. This shared experience can contribute immeasurably toward keeping a system up to date with best practices in the purchasing field.
Direct purchaser/supplier interaction through a BPM software system offers efficiencies and cost savings to both parties. Thorough planning, ongoing supplier support and continuing attention to the value of supplier relationships can bring those benefits to life—and ultimately save time and money for the end customer.