Gallup estimates that U.S. companies lose $50 - $150 billion annually due to failed IT projects. When it comes to procurement, 80% of enterprises “lack the capability to successfully deliver on their postmodern ERP strategy,” according to Gartner.
After years of implementing eProcurement solutions, it’s clear that a leading cause of Procure-to-Pay (P2P) project failure is haphazard change management. Identifying and agreeing on new procurement technology is just the first step. From there, it must actually be implemented in your functioning business environment. Without a strategic approach to implementation, your investment could burn through time, money, and talent. While there are plenty of technical challenges to conquer, far more formidable are the adoption challenges.
Change is difficult and often times organizations default to the status quo, even if a particular change is good for business. Entrenched attitudes and habits can destroy IT projects such as a procurement technology.
To make sure you get the most out of your IT investment, you’ll want to have a detailed action plan around change management.
Dos & Don’ts: People, Process and Technology
McKinsey is right: “In most organizations, change is regarded as an episodic interruption of the status quo, something initiated and managed from the top.”
With the right approach, change can also be empowering. From my experience, strategic change management begins and ends with the alignment of people, process, and technology. The three must align in one cohesive unit for a successful change management program to work.
Developing a change management program pushes leadership to take a strategic, holistic approach to transformation. People may be resistant to change at first, but if presented with obvious benefits and tools to assist in the transition, people become motivated to adapt.
Below are key dos and don’ts to build into your own custom change management plan.
- Do: Always drive change from the top down. In the words of Forbes, leadership “must have absolute clarity in purpose and focus.” If all leaders organization-wide agree on goals and vision, it will result in higher morale, adoption, and improved effectiveness.
- Don’t: Never commit to new technology before all key leaders are ready and bought-in. A successful technology implementation must be supported wholeheartedly to see results.
- Do: Anticipate resistance, even if the new platform requires zero training. Structure cross-functional groups to develop process improvement opportunities and establish mandatory requirements for deployment. McKinsey & Co. suggests appointing a change agent to champion new technology and showcase its benefits.
- Don’t: Avoid assumptions. Don’t assume that organizational adoption of new goals, direction, or activities will be simple. While target metrics and budget are crucial, focus on creating new processes and actionable tactics that help you gain buy-in and drive adoption.
- Do: The right platform won’t be a distraction; it will be an enabler. By partnering with the right technology partner, it can a change an arduous change journey into a swift one. For example, a Fortune 500 company deployed BuyerQuest’s P2P solution in one weekend, across thousands of North America franchises—without having to implement a multi-year long training and deployment program. Do your due diligence before committing to a new vendor. Follow thought leaders, consult peer organizations, and go to industry conferences to hear what technologies competitors and peers are deploying. Ensure your technology aligns with bottom-line goals and company culture.
- Don’t: There is no one-size-fits-all procurement solution, so don’t get overwhelmed by the number of options available. Create a must-have feature list (like behavioral intelligence and mobile-first mentality) and start a shortlist of best-in-class P2P solutions.
How to Kickstart Your Own Change Management Program
At BuyerQuest, we use three pillars to guide effective change: communication, development, and alignment.
The first, and maybe the most significant pilar is communication. Don’t wait to communicate change to employees—the sooner the better. Your team will feel more engaged and willing to adjust if they feel like they are part of the decision-making process. Beyond the decision, ensure all users have access to change agents or an executive sponsor to provide feedback or new ideas.
Second, build a strategic approach to development. Offer a structured training program personalized to specialized teams while clearly communicating the benefits. Develop a resource center with easy-to-follow guides, product white papers, and FAQs. Finally, appoint a coach or change agent who can handle any issues or questions.
Third, ensure alignment across talent, technology, and process throughout the implementation. New technology might cause ripples across your organization that cannot be ignored. Roles may be need to be redefined, or new positions might open up. Be prepared to grow your team to keep pace with positive momentum.
Overall, change management is about positively changing behaviors and processes that drive better business results. Do you have any change management tips or approaches to share with our readers?
We’d love to hear from you—comment below to share your story.