How to avoid disappointment, failure and a waste of money when implementing Procurement and Contract software. 

Picture this - it's the day of the anticipated roll-out of the new procurement and contract software. A celebration after work is planned and there is much relief all round that it's finally good to go. All is well for a few weeks afterwards, but then the cracks begin to show, and disgruntled users start abandoning ship. Why? And how can you avoid this horrifying scenario?

 

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1. Get all stakeholders involved from the start

We need to harp on this point as it is so crucial. 

We all agree that Procurement and Contract Management software is needed but it should be a gain not a pain. How do you achieve this as your company evolves to using a full Procurement and Contract Management (PCMS) solution?

The first step is to include everyone who is involved in contract management and procurement in any way, company-wide. They are the users at the coal face who understand what is needed and they bring a wealth of hands-on information that will shape the final product. 

If you exclude them in the planning and information gathering phase, there will be user frustrations and performance gaps to come. If they feel imposed upon to use a system they had no say in, or might not meet their needs, they will be reluctant to embrace it. And if there is weak adoption of the new technology, it will be a waste of time and money. 

A good idea is to appoint champions and committees who will drive the process forward and foster ownership across the organisation. 

2. Everyone needs to understand benefits and the "why"

If everyone understands the "why", they will be willing to come on board with the process. If management can paint a picture of what successful procurement and contract software can do for the company, the users will be eager to pursue the benefits-such as speed, accuracy, transparency, better governance and much more. 

An organisation today can't afford to stick to legacy systems, disconnected manual spreadsheets and old databases, as the risks are potentially devastating - poor compliance, missed deadlines, shaky security, inefficiencies, loss of business, loss of trust, loss of reputation, etc. 

Besides which, old systems get stuck in the past, are not maintained, are not supported and are left to fizzle away and die. 

3. Reality vs the sales pitch

Furthermore, if employees have a clear idea of what they can expect from the procurement and contract software they will not be left disappointed and reluctant to take it up. Sometimes people abandon new software as they didn't get what they were expecting - what was promised - from the initial demo, that is reality didn't live up to the sales pitch. 

4. Planning - as the Scouts say, "Be prepared!"

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The initial information gathering must be thorough so that the procurement and contract software is designed to the needs of the company, and as mentioned earlier, you need to involve all stakeholders in order to understand the entire process flow. But make sure the scope is not more than you need by getting starry-eyed by all the many functions on offer. 

Also, ensure that you have a clear road-map of where you are going and how you are going to get there, beginning with an audit of your current situation, budget, costs and needs. 

Poor planning will result in a sub-par software solution which your users won't want to use. So, take the time needed for this stage as charging ahead to save costs ends up costing more in the long run and making your users antagonistic. 

Don't cut corners to save money but get the features that you need while watching the budget. You can't risk abandoning the project because of budget overruns from bad planning. 

5. Change the software or your processes?

Often, users are not keen to change the way they do things to fit in with the new system. An adaptable, flexible solution can be tailored around the way a company does things, but sometimes users need to see that new technology, can improve on their processes and they should be willing to try a better approach otherwise the tools available will go to waste. 

6. Choose the right Procurement and Contract Software to get user buy-in

As a software buyer, you need to fully understand the potential problems before choosing procurement and contract software. Look for a solution with your needs and your users in mind rather than going for the fashionable choice. 

Users are often not IT people, so the system has to be intuitive and easy to use as well as having the necessary powerful functions. If the toolsets are not working optimally, the users will give up on them. 

Choose a PCMS that can develop and grow with your company and keep up with new developments in the industry. It must be able to scale to the next generation. 

7. Integration issues

Being able to integrate with existing software used by the company is a key consideration, as well as being able to integrate with vendors' software. Also, it must be able to work on multiple devices, especially mobile ones. PCMS are seen as a bridge between front end tools (CRM's, pricing tools, etc.) and back end tools (ERPs. HR, financial, etc.) 

8. Change management and the implementation journey

How you implement your Procurement and Contract software could make or break the whole process. Management needs to clearly define who does what, when, how and what the expectations are. Top management needs to bask the solution in a good light and emphasise the benefits for people to get enthusiastic and willing to embrace the new technology. 

Poor change management from the top will mean poor adoption in the company from the people who most need to be on board. 

Another consideration is whether to implement all at once, or gradually?

9. Communication, feedback and monitoring

It is vital to let people talk and contribute to the process. Throughout the implementation, the champions need to track how well the uptake is and users need to know what is going on. 

Have feedback from those on the ground to see where there are gaps on understanding and software performance and to measure how the software is helping. 

10. Training

Pinpoint the right people to be trained and they can train others. Essentially, a well-trained user is more confident and more likely to embrace the system.

11. Proper technical support

Lacklustre technical support will result in frustrated users who might not want to use the product, especially if the issues are hampering performance. 

But you don't want to end up here...

In a recent IACCM webinar, they spoke about - Five Reasons Companies are Ditching Their Contract Management System - which are: 

  1. Initial requirement gathering was not aligned to business needs. 
  2. You've outgrown your current solution. 
  3. Solutions have evolved but yours is not "sunsetting". 
  4. Implementation didn't live up to the demo (unmet expectations). 
  5. Poor change management resulted in poor adoption of the software. 

By Jeannie De Vynck

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Since 2010, we've been making procurement and contract management software more efficient, cost-effective and less complex. Australian made and owned, our entire team is based in Australia, with offices in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

We configure software, without the need for writing code, long lead times and big budgets. Nimblex fits around you and your company's way of working, you don't have to fit around our software.

Find out why clients including Yarra Valley Water, Ambulance Victoria, Ballarat City Council, South Australia Department for Innovation and Skills, Western Australia Department of Transport trust Nimblex to create their Procurement and Contract Management Solution. 

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