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How to Manage the Hardest Part of a New Tech Project – The People

Published June 10, 2020

Written by: Tania Seary
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Tania Seary

Tania Seary is one of the most global, influential members of the procurement and supply chain profession. She is the founder and chairman of Procurious, the world’s first online social network designed specifically for procurement and supply chain professions. Procurious is a culmination of Seary’s long-held belief that improved resources are critical to the progression of the procurement profession globally. Tania has been named “Influencer of the Year” by Supply Chain Dive and recognized by IBM as a “New Way to Engage Futurist.”

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The business case is signed off and the technical back-end work is complete. Now all that’s left is to implement your shiny new procurement system.

How hard could it be? Quite hard, actually. In fact, if the take-up of your new system doesn’t go well, the whole project could fail.

But don’t worry. That won’t happen to you with these top tips to guide you through the change management process.

How to Manage Change

Procurement professionals are great at many things. But historically, we don’t focus enough on getting the implementation right for new technologies. It’s easy to put so much work into the vendor selection and c-suite approval, we forget that the hard part is actually engaging the business to use the system.

That’s because tech projects are cleverly disguised. It’s not actually about the technology; it’s about capturing the hearts and minds of the people who use them.

Hopefully, you requested a significant budget in your business case for change management, training and user implementation. And hopefully, you guarded that budget fiercely when the CFO tried to cut it back.

Here are some basics for using that budget well, and making the implementation process go smoothly:

Establish a Great Team

An excellent technology implementation lead team is vital. You need a group of cross-functional leaders with excellent connectivity into the business. These are people who take accountability and get things done.

Your team should include a change management expert. You need a real communications specialist who can keep the many stakeholders (including suppliers) happy and informed throughout the process.

Decide How to Make Decisions

You need a very  clear decision-making process. How are decisions to be made and who has the final say? You also need to decide in advance what kind of project management methodology your team will use. A trendy choice for moving quickly is the agile method. But whatever you choose, make sure everyone understands your choice and how that affects the way the team operates.

Form Contingency Plans

There will be delays; it’s an inevitable part of project management. All the careful planning in the world can’t stop a global crisis, as we all experienced these last few months. Do you have firm contingency plans in place in case the worst should happen?

Keep the C-level Engaged

You must keep your senior leaders informed and on your side. Even if they were all on board at the start, it doesn’t mean they will stay that way. You need to keep them involved in the project and keep your technology project top of mind. Help them remember the ‘why’ of this project, and what it will mean for the business (especially in the aftermath of the pandemic). Their support will spell the difference between a triumph and a tragic flop.

Hold Your Technology Supplier Accountable

Your chosen tech provider has a responsibility to help your company realize the full ROI of the new system. Speak to them early on, and throughout the process, to make sure you can deliver what you promised the C-suite.

Step Up and Shine

After all the pandemic disruption, businesses are scrambling to improve business processes and increase profitability. As procurement pros, we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to put systems in place to prevent future disruption.

There are so many reasons why we need great systems now more than ever. The spotlight is on procurement, so take advantage. Make sure employees and suppliers are part of the journey, and your project has a much better chance of success.

This blog is an excerpt from a talk given by Procurious founder Tania Seary, as part of the SIG Procurement Technology Summit.

Want even more expert advice on choosing and implementing a new procurement technology system?  Register for Major Tech Fails

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