All posts by Matt Stewart

5 Telltale Signs Your Tech Is Failing

In times like these, all systems need to be firing on all cylinders, so how can you tell if your system is beginning to show it’s in need of optimization or replacement?  There are 5 telltale signs that suggest your tech is failing. 


The digital age marches on and it’s rare to find an organization that has not automated some or all of their procurement operation.  The business case for going digital in S2P is compelling, so it is critical that it works. 

Yet many organizations have tech solutions in place that no longer fit their intended purposes. Worse still, many have just given up and are settling for an inferior system that is not meeting their needs.

The signs are there, but they are either going unnoticed or they are being ignored. Both situations are perilous and without swift action, the cost to an organization in time and resources – and the immediate need for a new solution or an optimization – can really mount up.

What are the key signs that your tech solution is failing?

And how do you recognize them before it’s too late?

Here are some of the most common.

1.     User adoption is on the decline

Your tech may have been heralded as the solution to all your organization’s ills. And for a while it was exactly that. But now even the staunchest champions of the solution are withdrawing their support and end-users are finding ways to avoid using the system altogether.

End users are reverting back to picking up the phone to place orders or finding other ways to go around the system.  This will result in more spend going through P-Cards without prior approval and/or more invoices showing up that are not tied to a PO. 

Decreasing adoption is one of the key signs that your tech is failing, and that action needs to be taken. Once users are working around the system, any efficiencies the solution offered are being lost. And it’s probably costing you more to keep things running.

Close communication with end-users is a good way to track ongoing performance and opportunities for optimization. 

2.     High end-user support rate

Your end-users will also be able to tell you when the solution is failing when it comes to usability. A clear sign will be when the rate of users seeking system support begins to increase and where tasks become increasingly difficult to perform.  Especially with your more infrequent users of the platform. 

When this happens support tickets will increase and if they are not resolved quickly, end users will lose confidence.  When that happens, tickets may decline, but not for reasons that are good.  as end users will typically turn to work arounds. 

The most common work around is sending requests via Free Form requests to the buyers to complete for them.  If your buyers are spending more than half of their day chasing down requisitions, you have a problem that needs to be corrected. 

The second most common work around is the use of a “Power User.”  This is when departments or locations turn to one person to complete all of their requests on their behalf.  This was common in the days of ERP requisitioning systems, but not today.  Especially when P2P systems of today have user interfaces that resemble what they have at home. 

If any of these work arounds are happening, your tech may have seen better days and has become dated and too cumbersome to work with.

Communication with end-users is key again here. You want to be able to have a continuous feedback cycle to raise issues before they start impacting operations. It will help to identify any bugs to be fixed and create a forum for new feature requests.  What you learn may surprise you. 

Which brings us to the next telltale sign.

3.     Lack of New Innovation

You’d expect your tech solution provider to be leading the pack in new features and improving your overall user experience to create even more value for your organization. 

If you’re not seeing these, it is time to start asking questions of both your system administrator and your software provider.

Being a system administrator can be hard work, especially when there are 3 new releases per year to keep up with.  If you are not seeing new features/functionality it may be that your system administrator is overwhelmed. Since new features come to you in the off position, you may have new features that have never been turned on. 

If that is not the case, and your solution is not keeping up with other S2P providers, then it’s a clear sign that your provider’s focus is elsewhere or they built their platform on a system architecture that is difficult to develop new functionality.

Both situations should be a red flag to your organization. You should set the wheels in motion to optimize what you have or determine if it is time to test the market for a new tech solution.

4.     ROI less than expected

Before you started out on this journey with your chosen provider, you created a detailed business case of what you expected in terms of outcomes from your new tech solution. You probably broke out the soft costs from the hard costs and knew what processes the tech would help to improve and how it would increase efficiencies in your organization.

These expected benefits – hard dollar savings, employee time, resources and removal of unnecessary or duplicated processes – could be quantified with a monetary value. This, in turn, allowed you to calculate your ROI. 

However, as time has gone on, it’s become clear that the level of expected benefits isn’t being delivered. The ROI for the solution isn’t being met and it’s time to understand why. There could be a number of factors (including the items on this list). But all of this is a further sign that your tech solution is no longer fit for purpose.

5.     Wandering solution roadmap

Even The Beatles had a ‘long and winding road’, but they at least knew the destination that awaited at the end.

Your technology journey may not have an end point by its very nature, but it should at least have clear direction. This would have been identified at the outset of your selection process, complete with clear goals and initiatives, helping to determine which technology solution would be selected.

Years later you may find that what was once their focus is no longer.  Maybe you selected your tech provider due to their commitment to your industry or their commitment to a certain product road map.  It is not uncommon for plans to change and for tech companies to change their focus for a variety of reasons.  Is this enough reason to leave and start looking elsewhere?  If it were up to me, that would depend on how many other items are on this list that are currently plaguing your operation as these issues may be related.  If they have changed direction and are focusing on industries and organizations that don’t resemble you, it may be time to start looking elsewhere before things start getting worse. 

Now you’ve seen the list, do you have any signs of your own to add? Anything in your organization that might now seem like a warning sign? These signs may not be immediately obvious which is why it is so important to know your KPI’s and be measuring what matters. If you don’t have anything in place, your solutions provider should be helping with this with a strong roadmap and support.

So keep these signs of a failing tech system in mind. You should then be able to avoid being encumbered with an ailing solution and instead remain as close to the cutting edge as you can.

How To Get Your Suppliers On Board With Your New Tech

Careful planning and a willingness to adapt help ensure that your key suppliers stay with you when you’re implementing a new tech system


Implementing a new tech solution can be like a voyage into a new world. There is the promise of efficiency, the draw of increased margin, and the assurance of better working relationships.  But much like a voyage, reaping the benefits of process automation in procurement means that all parties must be fully on board – including suppliers.

Implementation is a complex process in itself, with many important steps to take before the new system is in place.  Even if companies implement the best available solutions for their processes, their biggest obstacle is often the resistance of their suppliers to implement the new cloud system. 

Visibility is important to any journey.  When it comes to supply-chain collaboration, companies don’t just need a supplier or vendor, they need a trusted partner to accompany them.  But how? Here are three steps to help you make sure your suppliers are on board with you on your voyage to new tech.

1. Get organised and build a strong message

You know your destination, but does your entire crew?  The success of your implementation will depend on how well you communicate the changes – and proper expectations – to your suppliers.

When building your case, you’ll need to consider which suppliers you want to get on board.  Don’t overwhelm your resources, have a manageable list of targeted suppliers and ensure that all of your supplier contact information is up to date.  While this process can be time-consuming, it’s crucial that you begin with an updated supplier database to ensure efficient and effective communication.

Once you have your crew accounted for, create a detailed communications plan that includes messaging before, during and after the implementation of your new cloud system. Your messages should build a sense of urgency and excitement about the implementation, as you’ll want suppliers to get on board in a timely fashion to not cause any delays.

Sharing the value proposition will help encourage suppliers to actively participate in the onboarding process.  Catering your communication to each specific population, you should focus on answering a few key questions:

  • What’s in it for them?
  • Which option is right for their organisation?
  • What steps do they need to take right now?

Build a supplier-facing portal where suppliers can get their questions answered quickly.  Realize that no matter the incentive to your suppliers, building a united front may mean burning some bridges  – you can’t start your campaign with offering a contingency plan for those that don’t adopt.  Enforce the mandate and don’t look back.

2. Take the helm…but first, delegate

One of the most common pitfalls in supplier onboarding is when a client takes on too much or do not properly define roles and responsibilities.  Not only is this bad optics for your project, but it discourages suppliers, making it more difficult to achieve your enablement goals.

Once you have a clear communications plan in place, it’s necessary that you determine who is responsible for what during your voyage.  Have a defined escalation process with clear roles and responsibilities.  Make sure buyers and category managers are on board with your plan and create a step-by-step process defining who will do what when a supplier declines to enroll.

This will hold all parties accountable, including your suppliers, and avoid unwelcome surprises or project launch delays.

3. Remain consistent, realistic, and optimistic

Once the voyage to the tech new world has started and implementation is underway, make sure you monitor progress. 

Stay consistent in your message but be open to the fact that some supplier populations may need more time and support than others – or may not reach your destination at all.  Offer incentives along the way to increase the perceived value of your system and encourage higher rates of adoption.

Keep in mind that when implementation ends, the process is not necessarily over.  To continue to ensure that suppliers are being added to the platform, you’ll need to develop a long-term plan and dedicate resources to manage the solution after it’s implemented.  Perhaps consider making the roles you have defined or the standard procedures you have created permanent.  Individuals that are responsible for enablement will be able to look at data regularly to identify changes in volume, follow-up with suppliers, and make adjustments as needed.

With these strategies in place, you can embark on your procurement tech voyage ensuring that you and your crew stay the course to success – and can reap the benefits promised at your destination.

Did you know that Matt has teamed up with Procurious to launch ‘Major Tech Fails’ – a series looking at everything from implementations to getting buy-in. Register here

Five Steps To Become A Procurement Tech Champion

Upgrading your team’s procurement processes is daunting. This guide will help you choose the right tech solution and make your project a raving success


So you’ve had the same procurement system for years. Or Covid-19 may have exposed just how unsustainable paper and manual processes can be?  Is the status-quo no longer enough?

Maybe you’re thinking this is your chance.  Supply Chain is now front-page news and the talk of your C-Suite. Within this new climate, leaders are questioning whether they have the right people, the right tools, the right processes and the right model for success.   How many of the shortcomings of your group would have been mitigated or eliminated if you had the right tools? 

Is it time for a small refresh, like a new Source-to-Contract platform?  Or maybe you’re after something bigger – like a complete Source-to-Pay system.

No matter the scale of change, more organisations are choosing to mitigate their risk and ensure success with completing a Success Blueprint prior to going to contract with their new tech.

After all, you don’t want to be part of the 33% of IT software projects that overrun on time, or the 66% that overrun on budget.

Luckily, we’ve got advice from expert Matt Stewart, Founder of RiseNow. He’s helped over 200 companies implement procurement systems, so he knows exactly how to make your change a success.

Here are your five steps to conquering an upgrade in your procurement tech.

1. Decide if it’s time to replace your existing system

If your users and suppliers have turned against your platform and are refusing to adopt due to usability and/or its inability to address their most important use cases, it may be time to move on.  For other organisations it may not be as bad as it appears.  If that is the case, don’t get caught into thinking the grass may be greener if it is possible to make some tweaks to configuration, redesign some processes, and reinvigorate your end-users with some proper training and change management. 

Be careful who you listen to as you seek advice and counsel on what you should do.  Make sure you align with a true advocate that isn’t trying to just sell you more software that you don’t need.  Also make sure they know your industry, use cases,  and are experts in the S2P/P2P space.  

We will be going into much more detail later in our Major Tech Fails series on how you to know when it is time to replace vs. Optimize what you have in “How To Know When It Is Time To Replace Your Tech.” 

2. Build a blueprint

You’ve compiled a list of absolute requirements, extensively searched the market and gathered feedback from key staff and stakeholders.  You feel confident that you’ve landed on the best solution for your business… right?  Maybe not.

Success stories start early on, well before contracts are signed and implementation begins.  Too often, organisations are lured in by the solution that provided the best demo, had the most eye-catching features, or offered the lowest price-tag, as we talked about during “How To Avoid the 5 Most Common Tech Mistakes”.  The trick to avoiding these obstacles?  Knowing about them in the first place. 

A RiseNow Success Blueprint accomplishes just that.  A success blueprint, or what others called a Pre-Engineering Study or Phase 0, is our proven process that brings alignment between all parties before you hit the ground running  It gives you the ability to anticipate issues that are likely to occur in the implementation and allows you to plan in advance to prevent delays and cost over-run situations.

By actively managing risk, you can set your project up for success.

3. Justify your case for change

Investment in a new tech solution is not something an organisation takes lightly.  To make your tech solution attractive to your CEO you’ll need a compelling business case.  But if you’re relying on the post-implementation phase to demonstrate that efficiency is actually being achieved, it’s probably too late.

You need to be clear from the start about what your organisation needs in terms of return on investment and decide exactly how you will report on the measurements that will demonstrate positive ROI.  Measure what matters.

Begin with knowing and owning every number in your business case.  Take time upfront to fully identify realistic savings opportunities by critical area and to quantify costs, both during the implementation and post go-live operating costs that may require more research to confirm. 

Follow these steps, plan to measure what matters, and when the time comes to defend your case for investment you can more easily defend it.  Your executive team will have the detail behind the numbers to fully buy-in, and you’ll have built an implementation plan that is realistic, predictable and achievable. 

4. Put it to work

You’ve secured the resources you need, built your blueprint, selected your perfect tech and proven your business case.  Ready to put your new solution to the test? 

Remember that implementations are ongoing projects, not just business as usual.  Implementations are all about people, decisions, and level of commitment.  Whether it’s end-users, suppliers or partners in the business, new tech has an impact on their everyday functions.  You want stakeholders engaged, informed and excited.  Make sure to weave your “why” into every stage of implementation.

Don’t underestimate an investment in change management.  A tailored communication strategy, understanding of stakeholder impacts, and a solid training approach can drive effective adoption.  Getting in front of detractors and people with concerns is one of the most effective ways to reduce resistance and concerns.  Focus on continuous improvement and keep in mind that no tech solution will be 100% perfect. 

Change happens because of people – not despite them.

5. Prove it

It’s finally time to prove the value of your new procurement tech and report back on your ROI.  Refer back to your criteria for success.  Through these previously identified KPIs and value targets, create dashboards and reports that are easy to visualize.  Note how your organisation has clearly benefitted, archive deliverables and adjust.

Retaining buy-in is critical to the ongoing success of your implementation.  Bear in mind that some pain points and aspects of your business process will always remain, no matter your tech.  Having a realistic approach to what and when you’ll deliver will put you on the path to success.

We cannot ignore the current climate; Covid-19 has forced risk avoidance to the forefront of KPI tracking.  The agility of your supply-chain will become an increasingly important measurement.

Times of crisis create opportunities for growth.  Organisations that capitalise on these opportunities, using them to invest in their people, processes and technology, will stand out. 

So once more, maybe this is your chance.  What kind of leader will you be?

Join us for our upcoming webinar – Major Tech Wins – where we joining forces with RiseNow’s Matt Stewart to chat with CEO of Supply Chain Sherpas, Joe Walsh, Director of Digital Procurement at PPG Industries, Michelle Welch, and Procurious’ Helen Mackenzie. Register here for your free digital ticket.

People Aren’t Adopting Your Tech: Now What?

How can you get your tech launch back on track if adoption is less than desired?


You’ve done your research, selected a new tech solution, secured buy-in from your C-Suite, and spent time setting it all up and testing that it works.  You have a detailed plan in place to measure success and everyone has attended training.  So, you press the button and ‘go live’, then sit back and watch the fruits of your labor grow.

Or maybe not.

After months of planning and integrating, user adoption is… underwhelming. In fact, the conversation at the water cooler is about how the new tech is a management fad and a waste of resources – and why the old ways are the best. And suppliers know they don’t have to make a change because they’re still getting paid in the old way.  All parties are still left wondering “What’s in it for me?” 

It looks like your implementation is reaching a state of emergency – so how do you convince people to take the new tech plunge?

1. Make Adopting Appealing and Achievable

Managing any big change is all about people and a tech adoption is no different.  It doesn’t matter how good the technology is if your end-users don’t embrace it.  Before you start out on your plan to get adoption underway, consider how well you know each user population and what could be their barriers to adopting?   

  • Have you been clear with users what the objective of the tech change is?

Take the time to ensure your end users clearly understand the case for change and why it’s necessary to implement the system.

  • Have you connected to their “why”?  What’s in it for them and their suppliers?

Making a connection with the emotional side of the brain is often critical in a period of change.

  • How well do you know their concerns/frustrations/fears for the impending change? 

Take the time to understand what may be your users greatest barriers to adopting.  Work together on finding solutions and let them ‘own’ the solutions you find. 

  • Are the steps toward adoption clear?  Do they understand the timeline?

Comprehensive plans, training and support are vital to keep things on track.

2. Keep It Simple

Don’t get trapped into the belief that just because this is the way it has always been done, that your process can’t be changed.  Too many organizations take cumbersome, complex processes and try to automate them.  They spent all this time shopping for an intuitive user experience for their employees and then they design/configure a solution that their users resist. 

Take a tip from the old US Navy design principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) – to stop your potential state of emergency reaching a code red.

Configure your tech to first support most of your users and use cases. Don’t fixate on the complex or outliers. Based on our experience, when you adopt a critical mass of users the momentum will be restored, and your potential state of emergency will then pass.

Finally, as the Harvard Business Review advises, highlight anything that won’t be changing. Are there policies that will still be in place – for example, ‘no PO, no Pay’?  Reassure your users that it’s the ‘how’ not the ‘what’ that is changing. It helps to simplify people’s perception of the impending change.

3. Communicate and Make it Fun!

Don’t underestimate the need for a robust communication strategy from your executive leadership.  The higher in your organization the better. As Carol Kinsey Gorman stresses, talk about ‘what people want to hear and what they need to see’.  Think about how you want to present your message to drive adoption and then use all your powers of persuasion to generate excitement and buy in…so much so that they’ll want to start using it.

Remember, avoiding an impending state of emergency requires high-impact tactics to eliminate potential and real threats. When we communicate inside the business it is often boring and lacks appeal. We think that functional language and formats will suffice. Use change management and training teams to help craft fun and engaging messaging that will get your adoption points across.

All people are different and learn in different ways. Build training resources that use a range of different forms of media. Try video and audio alongside the written word. Onboard key people within teams to provide that personal connection and testimonial. They’ll become great champions to speed adoption throughout your organisation And if suppliers are part of your tech adoption process, communicate early and often with what is expected.   Then make sure you keep your message consistent no matter who is delivering it from your organisation. 

4. Plot a Clear Path to Code Green

Once your people know what’s expected of them and can buy into the change, the right support and a road map is all they need. Make sure you’re measuring the things you need to monitor progress with adoption, and that any risk can be mitigated.

Create metrics that identify individual progress on the adoption path, whether by users or suppliers, so you know exactly where they are. Be sure to monitor key influencers in the team, highlight quick wins and celebrate victories.  Target reluctant adopters for training or support. Using a continuous improvement approach, ensure users know that feedback is addressed.  Keep in mind that metrics can serve to reward as well as a means to course correct.

So, if your tech adoption process is starting to feel like a state of emergency there is plenty you can do to avoid reaching a code red. Focus on effective communication that engages your users where they are to take action, stay focused on meeting the needs of the masses, identify and address challenges early, and your new solution will become the talk of the company. 

To go deeper on the perfect tech implementation, tune in to our series ‘Major Tech Fails.’

How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Tech Selection Mistakes

How do you avoid making a potentially costly mistake when choosing a tech solution?


The selection of a tech solution is one of the most contentious exercises procurement organisations can go through. There are few other things that so many people in the organisation will come into contact with on a daily basis.

Get it right and you’ve probably only met people’s expectations. Get it wrong and, not only will those people make it known that the solution isn’t performing, but your organisation will also face living with a (costly) mistake for a long time.

There are countless factors that can complicate the process, from a seemingly never-ending list of requirements from across the organisation, to sorting out ‘needs’ from ‘wants’ when it comes to the requirements. And that’s not to mention that procurement teams tend to struggle when buying software for their own department, each member brings their own baggage from working with previous providers, and each individual brings their own personal preferences into this selection. 

Even if you think you are going to do things differently, you may end up inadvertently making a mistake somewhere along the line. To help you out on your next tech selection, we’ve compiled a list of the “5 Most Common Mistakes Made When Selecting a New Tech Solution.”

1.     Choosing ‘What’ Over ‘How’

Most software selections follow a similar pattern.  The selection team meets with key stakeholders and compiles a list of requirements. The requirements are then categorized into groups denoting what is a ‘must have’ versus a ‘nice to have’ and anything in between.  This then creates a scoring system that helps score the RFP responses.     

That is all good, but what I see many times being missed is there is way too much focus on ‘what’ a solution does vs. ‘how’ that feature/function is being delivered to address your most complex use cases.  Even if the feature is something your organisation needs, there’s no guarantee that how it works will suit your organisation and be widely adopted. 

2.     Picking looks over performance

It’s a new, all-singing, all-dancing system that looks the part. It’s got a sleek, visually impressive and stimulating User Interface. Buttons are in intuitive positions and there’s a color scheme designed to make the user feel more relaxed.

But the look of the solution belies the issues that users will experience due to a poor underlying system architecture.  On the surface, any provider can make the simple look intuitive and easy, but what about the more complex use cases and scenarios?  The best solutions have the ability to make even the most complex use cases appear easy and intuitive. 

And don’t be fooled, sometimes systems that focus only on a few use cases but excel at making them look easy, may lack the depth and breadth to address other key areas your users need.   

We have also found that some systems focused so much on making their new tech shiny and appealing to the eye, that they missed building it on a strong foundation.  Organizations that have complexity and high volumes may see their systems performance degrade which negatively  affects user adoption.  No matter how easy the system is to use, if it is not up and ready when you need it, end users will push back. 

So don’t be drawn in by the appealing look of a new system. Instead, really get to understand how the system was architected and if it is able to keep the complex simple for your end users.   

3.     Opting for low cost over ROI

Another thing to avoid when selecting a tech partner is a race to the bottom on price. The cheapest solution is not always the best solution. It may well end up costing you more when it comes to lost opportunity throughout the life of the agreement, cost overruns on implementation, integration, lost productivity and, in the worst cases, terminating an agreement early and going back out to the market.

Procurement, and the wider business, need to understand the true Total Cost of Ownership of all the solutions, which will in turn allow for a more true calculation on the Return on Investment (ROI). In order to calculate this effectively, it is a must to include the difference in savings one platform will achieve vs. the other.  Including those lost savings(if there are any) into your Total Cost of Ownership comparison may show that while the cost of the software is lower per year, the true cost is much higher. 

So, before you settle for the low-cost option, understand what value the solution is giving back to the business and factor that into your decision-making process.

4.     Boardroom decisions without end-user input

We’ve all worked in businesses where a new tech solution is implemented, only for it to fail to deal with any of the key issues it was meant to address. Many organisations do not engage end-users at all or speak to them after the selection has already been made.  Only then to find out that the solution that was selected in the boardroom, misses on many of the key use cases.

Not only does this make your employees feel undervalued but it also breeds resentment every time they must use the solution that hasn’t solved any of their problems.

Take time to include your end-users in the decision-making. They are the ones who will use the solution most, so their input could be the difference between success and failure.

5.      Failing to Complete a Success Blueprint Prior to Software Selection

You’ve fully detailed your requirements, gathered information and feedback, and conducted an extensive search of the market. You feel like you know which solution is best for your business, because the customer is always right, correct? Maybe not when it comes to tech solutions.

Organizations will frequently select the shiny new object or the solution that costs less.  Other times they will go with the software that conduct the best demo or has the best sales team.  Those are typically not the best indicators of future success. 

Trusting a demo or a great sales presentation is very risky.  Planning for success and putting the spotlight on what really matters is key to mitigating your risk and creating a predictable outcome. 

The RiseNow Success Blueprint that we talked about during the “How To Make Your CEO Fall In Love With Your Tech” does just that.  It also helps organizations navigate the software selection process to make sure success is achieved with the best platform for your organization. 

The trick to not making these mistakes is knowing about them in the first place and putting a proven plan in place to mitigate them. Yet even then, there’s no guarantee you won’t make a mistake, but the odds will definitely be in your favor. And keeping these 5 essential tips in mind the next time you go out to market may help you avoid making the same mistakes again.

To go deeper on the perfect tech implementation, tune in to our series ‘Major Tech Fails.’

Forget The Pretty Face, It’s The Content That Matters

Don’t be seduced by a sleek user interface or fancy bells and whistles – it’s the solutions ability to address your most critical spend categories, use cases and suppliers that really matter in the long term.


It’s easy to be taken in by the shiny exterior of a product, it’s pretty packaging, isn’t it? As we all know, companies use clever product branding and marketing to draw us in and boost their sales. And the pretty-packaging strategy is no different when it comes to tech solutions. 

Think about the last tech solution you or your organisation purchased. More than likely it had an appealing design, intuitive user interface, and web 2.0 look and feel.  Or maybe you were drawn in by the way the system looks in mobile or app form? These are all design features intended to lure in a tech buyer.

But is design really what matters most when it comes to making a success of your tech implementation?

Success Requires More Than Just a Pretty Face

Once you’ve decided to purchase a new tech solution, you pull together your shopping list of requirements. Key stakeholders add to your list of requirements and then each requirement is stack ranked based on need.  “Must-haves” vs. “nice to haves” are thrown together into an RFP.  Tech vendors check all the boxes and impress you with their demos.  By the time you see the third or fourth vendor, you start to believe, any one of these vendors can meet our requirements and help us achieve the success we desire.    

Then the system demos take place and that pretty packaging comes into play. There’s a risk that all the focus on the shiny new objects distracts from what really matters. So how do you stay focused and stick to your requirements and select a tech solution that’s right for you? 

Here are my three tips to keep your mind focused and ensure your head isn’t turned by the razzle-dazzle of a great sales presentation.

1. Keep suppliers top of  mind 

One of procurement’s key relationships is with the suppliers that we use. Choosing a solution that puts the suppliers’ user experience at the top of your priority list is pivotal to making your tech implementation a success.

Your business case probably includes reducing supplier-related work. As far back as 2015, Hackett Group research estimated that e-invoicing could cut costs by 31 percent and supplier enquiries by 24 percent – big wins for you and the team if you get the implementation right.

But this goes beyond making it easy for suppliers to transact efficiently, it includes making it easy for suppliers to keep their content up to date.  Supplier data, certifications, qualifications, financial info, and catalog info are just a few things that suppliers can keep up to date to make it easier on you and your team.   

During your selection process, don’t forget that suppliers are no different to any other user of new tech. They expect it to be free and easy to use or they, like your end users, will do all they can to go around the system.

Successful supplier adoption of new tech can be critical to making your implementation work. If buyers ensure that regularly used suppliers are onboarded correctly and ready to go at go live, then adoption will be a whole lot easier for your end users.  Why?  Because the suppliers they are used to transacting with, will be easily found in your new tech.   Resist the pretty packaging and keep your supplier experience top of mind.

2. Ensure your new tech effectively addresses the categories that matter most

Imagine you have just installed your new tech and your end users engage the platform only to find that their spend categories are not enabled.  It doesn’t really matter how intuitive the user interface is or how much it looks like Amazon.com.  If they can’t engage with their suppliers and buy from the categories they typically buy, they will not adopt your new tech.  

Buyers of tech can easily be persuaded to focus on the shiny new object.  Don’t be distracted, stay focused on what really matters for your end users.  What spend categories must your new tech address to deliver the value your business case promised?  

Make sure your new tech supports the categories and departments that are large spend areas, but are not effectively managed today.  If your new tech can match the spend coverage you have today, while also positively affecting categories and departments that you have typically struggled to manage, you will see wider spread adoption and a significant increase in spend under management.  Your end users will feel as though they have been heard and will appreciate that you are implementing a solution that appears as though it was built for them.

3. ‘Keep the main thing the main thing’

In the razzle-dazzle of the tech demo, it’s easy to lose track of the critical use cases that separate success from failure. Tech companies will want to show off their most fancy stuff, but that is not typically where success is found.  In fact, many that focus on the shiny objects don’t focus enough attention on the use cases that matter most.  

For example, what’s the real use of an Amazon-like procurement system when a very small percentage of your spend is actually “shopping” for items?  It is also a very low bar for any system to shop for a laptop, put it into a shopping cart and route it for approvals.  That changes though if your end users are shopping for MRO and/or research items where shopping is the norm.  

We are also seeing a trend for organizations moving toward systems that are able to effectively address use cases for both direct and indirect.  This is certainly an area that you don’t want to assume your new tech can effectively address.  Take the time to engage the right stakeholders and let their voice be heard.  Bringing them in after contracts are signed is way too late. 

Ask yourself – does the tech solution give me what I need? Are core functions as they should be? Is the user experience for suppliers and end users acceptable for your standards? Does the solution cater to your key categories and departments? You will find there is a big difference between updating your processes to fit best practices to minimize customization and feature requests with your new tech and trying to fit a square peg in a round hole on the other. Make sure you’re clear on what your critical use cases are and the features that you will need to support them. Consider how much you are prepared to change processes to fit within your new tech and document everything so all parties are on the same page on what needs to be done.  This will help clarify which tech is a better fit and which solution is better aligned to support your industry and organizational uniqueness. 

It’s great to have a tech solution that has a pretty face. But the lure of pretty packaging may lead you down a path that’s just not right for you, your team or your business. Use my 3 tips during your selection process to ensure you get a solution that will deliver the outcomes you are expecting. 

To go deeper on how to find your perfect tech match, download our e-book ‘How To Select Source-To-Pay & Procure-To-Pay Systems That Deliver Results‘ and tune in to our series ‘Major Tech Fails.’

How To Prove The ROI On Your Tech Solution

Your tech solution should be delivering the benefits and ROI set out at the start of the agreement – but how do you prove this to your CFO?


Making a substantial investment in a technology solution is not something that any organisation takes lightly.  Getting the green light to go ahead often involves significant stakeholder engagement, a comprehensive sourcing and supplier selection process and, of course, making the business case for the investment required.

Once you’ve gone live with your new tech, your C-suite will want you to report back and validate if the money they invested was well spent?  Are you on track to achieve your projected return on investment – that essential ROI?

So, how do you prove your technology is providing the benefits outlined in the business case? How can you demonstrate that savings are actually being achieved?  Ideally, you can go to a single savings tracker that contains all of your key metrics and ROI outputs.

But if you’re leaving things to the post-implementation phase to capture and easily report on that information, then you’ve probably left it too late.  I’ve seen the inability to demonstrate and prove ROI being one of the key factors leading to a major tech fail. 

1. Know What Your Organisation Requires in Terms of ROI

Your process of identifying and delivering on ROI needs to start at the inception of your tech implementation project.  You need to be clear on what your organisation needs in terms of ROI.

Before preparing your presentation for project approval, make sure you know the answers to these key questions:

  1. What is your cost of capital?
  2. What does your organisation require in terms of payback?
  3. Over what period does your organisation measure Net Present Value(NPV)?
  4. What kind of return on capital expenditures does your organisation require?
  5. What projects were recently approved and what projects were recently rejected?  Talk to those that were involved and see what lessons you can learn so you don’t make the same mistakes.
  6. What other projects are you competing with?  How can you position your project as a bigger priority than the rest?
  7. Based on your project size, what is the process for obtaining approval?
  8. Who are the key players?  Once you know the process, identify the key players who will be determining your project’s fate.  What are their priorities and how can your project align?  If possible, get introduced to them and start building a relationship.

This will help you eliminate any potential surprises you may encounter as you seek for approval of your business case.Key here is to not make assumptions on what goes into your business case and what will, or will not, be approved. 

2. Know Your Numbers

Begin with knowing and owning every number in your business case.  In order to deliver, you first need to have sufficient detail of your targets.  If not, how will you ever know what you are aiming for and if you achieved them?  I mention that because I find many business cases are template-driven and lack the defendable detail when it goes under the spotlight.

For example, many times I will see a blanket percentage applied to all spend.  Or an efficiency savings applied across all POs and invoices.  Basically, I see many organisations adopt a one size fits all approach to many of these business cases.  That may work for some organisations, but it doesn’t for many of the CFOs we work with. They want to know specifics. 

They also understand that each category of spend is different and should be treated as such.  What is realistic to be achieved in one category, may not be realistic for another.  What was achieved by one organisation does not inherently mean that you can experience the same result in your organisation. 

There are a lot of factors and assumptions that must be considered in the process of creating the business case.  .  This includes being able to know how each category of savings was calculated, so when the time comes to present the business case for approval it is easily defended

We coach our clients to never go into a meeting with their CFO to get their project approved if they are not 100% clear on how each number in their business case was calculated.  If they don’t know their numbers at the start of the project, they will have a really difficult time knowing how to realize those savings after go live. 

You have to know and own your numbers better than anyone. Those that don’t, rarely succeed.  If you don’t know how those savings will be realized and what the critical path and key performance indicators are to realize those savings, it will be very easy to get distracted during implementation and lose sight of what is most important.

If you want to be able to go into your CFO’s office and show off how you have over-delivered on your promise of savings and efficiency, then it would be wise to take the time to know and own your numbers before you kick off your next project. 

 3. Measure What Matters

Part of our success blueprint process is making sure we’re clear how to capture and report on the measurements that are going to demonstrate positive ROI. Being clear about cost baselines is an essential starting point.  Making sure you are clear as to how you’re going to capture the following financial metrics can help ensure your ROI can be tracked throughout the life of the project:

Make sure to capture any REVENUE impacts:

  • Are there back end supplier rebates that the project is improving?  
  • Are you enabling product innovation that can be tracked? 

How will the project contribute to less spending:

  • Operational Spend reductions, your plan to track future spend and compare your historical spend 
  • Where your project creates the opportunity to avoid historical spend altogether.  Is that historical spend in an existing budget or is it leakage that needs to be tracked?
  • And where are there reductions in capital expenditure or overall lower Total Cost of Ownership?  As an example, are there license and hardware costs from retired systems that are removed from the budget? 
  • And lastly, resource utilization and efficiency: Are you doing things faster and better and thus requiring less resources?

The Right KPIs are going to drive the project ROI.  They need to be presented and agreed upon during business case approval.  From there, the path to monitoring the financial benefits are easier:

  • Building Dashboards that can handle the data and calculations for your metrics.  
  • Capture the current state as well as your goals over time, and then track the advances throughout the implementation and rollout.  

This will translate to easier benefit analysis.

In the absence of the right dashboards and savings tracking process, resistances within the organisation have stronger voices during any project setbacks.  This ultimately can erode the confidence inside and outside the project team.

Soft benefits go alongside your financial benefits, though they are usually much harder to quantify accurately. They can be factors such as your employees having improved utility, skill, and even joy with their activities.  That investment in your people should be measured and recognized continuously.  It should be captured through periodic feedback surveys as well as activity audits. 

Engaging with end-users and suppliers both at the outset and on an on-going basis will give up-to-date information and allow for changes to be tracked.  Ensuring cross-function coordination is also necessary, as the tech solution will touch all areas of the business.

There is no single solution to providing a fully accurate ROI calculation.  Take the time upfront to fully quantify costs, including those that may require more research to identify.  Capture processes and work patterns so that efficiencies can be identified.  And secure key stakeholder sign-off, so you’ll have consensus on what returns you expect and how it will be measured.

How Covid 19 Affects What Gets Measured

We cannot ignore the times we are in. CEOs and CFOs will be adjusting key KPI’s.  Whether you are driving change or reacting to their changes, as Procurement and Supply Chain leaders, it is imperative that you are in synch with leadership. 

In recent times, more and more companies are measuring their performance towards diverse, green and ethically compliant spend goals.

And now Covid-19 has forced risk avoidance into the front lines of KPI tracking.  

The agility of your supply chain will become an essential measurement.  For instance the percentage of your business that can be fulfilled through alternative distribution channels, modes and suppliers will be key to measure.

And all these primary and alternative options will come under more stringent risk criteria.  Risks will be evaluated by geography, ethics, politics, as well as financial stability.

In Closing

It’s a cliché, but what gets measured gets managed and what gets managed gets measured.  

Whether you choose to implement a savings tracking module within Source to Pay or not, I feel that it is very important to create a standardized intake and validation process for each KPI.  Pair that with a robust and flexible analytics solution to best monitor those KPIs that roll up to the overall project ROI.

Those that have followed these footsteps, are confident when they get the request to meet their CFO in a few hours to review how their project is tracking towards the business case.  They are actually excited because this is what they have been waiting for – a great opportunity to not only prove the ROI, but to also advance their career. 

To go deeper on how to find your perfect tech match, download our e-book ‘How To Select Source-To-Pay & Procure-To-Pay Systems That Deliver Results‘ and tune in to our series ‘Major Tech Fails.’

How To Find Your Perfect Tech Match

Being swept off your feet by a new partner is something most of us have experienced – but how do you know that you’ve found the perfect match when it comes to your tech solution?


Choosing a new tech solution isn’t a task you do every day.  It’s no doubt something that you’ve considered for a while.  You’ve attended all the conferences, read all of the analyst’s reviews, talked to your peers, and dreamed about what life would be like with your new tech.  You’re keen to modernise; to give your organisation the functionality that it needs.  And with so many solutions out there, surely it won’t be hard to find the one that’s right for you.

But finding that perfect match is not as easy as it seems.  All the solutions can start to look the same after a while and you are looking for more than just a pretty face.  You are looking for a long-term relationship that could last for half a decade or more.  Get it right and it’s a match made in heaven; get it wrong and you could have a major tech fail on your hands.

So how can you navigate that selection process and find yourself a tech solution that’s a perfect match?

1. Don’t Settle

Finding your right partner should be based on thinking about what’s right for you.  Be careful of jumping in too fast just because you heard your preferred solution worked for someone else.  Go deeper and look for solutions that address your industry’s biggest challenges.  Also identify what makes your organisation unique and make sure your new tech addresses your organisation’s uniqueness. 

This is even more important today due to the cloud.  You see, in the past, on-premises software could be customised to do almost anything you needed it to, as long as you had the time, money, and resources to get it done.  When you find gaps in cloud-based solutions, you have to apply for a feature request and hope they prioritise your request or end up having to settle for an inferior solution. 

This is why identifying those gaps up front before you finalise your selection is so important.  This is a primary reason on why we are such big proponents of our clients completing a Phase 0 (or a Success Blueprint as we call it) prior to making their final selection if they consider their environment complex.

You can also start to narrow down your list by looking at solutions that are going deep and specialising in your industry.  You may also start by using tools like the Gartner magic quadrant to focus your search to the “Leaders.”  Then go beyond that initial approach to refine your search.

Think about what the new world’s going to be like with your perfect match tech provider, but don’t settle until you find the solution that is right for you.

2. Questions are your ally

If you’ve ever been approached by a tech solution provider, or engaged them as part of a software selection, you’re sure to have experienced the full ‘sales pitch’ approach:  tales of brand-new, cutting-edge software that is designed to solve any and every problem; presentations filled with all that  sales speak.

Make sure you don’t fall prey to traditional “sales speak” and you seek the underlying truth.  The only way you will find what that truth is, is by asking the right questions.  We go in greater detail on the top 5 most common and what questions you can ask to find the truth in our Major Tech Fails, sales speak blog and podcast.

When looking at new tech solutions, there’s no such thing as a silly question. When you start, go in armed with a list of questions with a score card that you can use for each vendor.  It is important to follow a proven process to evaluate each vendor so they are treated fairly and asked the same questions.  You will know you have the right questions if key points of differentiation between vendors are identified and called out.

3. Are you compatible?

Unless you are starting a business from scratch or taking a scorched-earth approach to tech solutions, you are going to have legacy systems that will need to be integrated with the new one.  Don’t think that starting a new life with your perfect match tech solution is going to be easy.  Compatibility will be something you need to work on.

At RiseNow we take a systematic approach to identifying compatibility risks so that the challenges, use cases, resources, level of effort, timelines, etc. are known up front before the implementation project starts to eliminate any potential surprises.  As we see, these surprises are what typically cause projects to go over budget, not finish on time and miss expected results.

But these surprises can be avoided.  For example, we had a client a couple years ago that was in search of a new S2P system.  They were in talks with all the typical S2P system providers, but they knew their issues were bigger than what technology alone could solve.  They were not sure how best to address these, but were willing to engage us prior to the implementation kick-off to resolve those issues so they didn’t become problems during the project.  We did just that which allowed us to finish the implementation in 7 months and deliver on the key success criteria that got the project approved.  Had we skipped their engagement before the project, I am certain the project would have gone over budget, not finished on time and would have missed the objectives. 

Are you seeing a pattern now?

4. Beware of the people pleasers

If something looks and sounds too good to be true, it usually is. When a tech solution provider tells you that their system does everything you want and more, it should give you pause. The people pleasers are after your business and some will say almost anything they think will work to convince you.

No tech solution will be 100% perfect. Perfect would be someone willing to say no to you, but also willing to work with you to minimise the no’s, identify viable alternatives or solutions that work for you, and focus on ways to maximise your value, especially in this economic climate.  You see, there is no magic bullet when it comes to tech solutions, so if someone comes offering one, you are probably better off looking elsewhere.

If not, we have seen organisations forced to settle and then trade off functionality and adoption of suppliers/end users because it is now too late to reconsider. No one has an unlimited budget for tech and, like all relationships, there’s going to need to be some give and take.

5. In for the long haul?

Finally, the key part to finding a perfect partner is knowing they are willing to go the distance with you and they’re in it for the long haul. For procurement tech, a partnership could be anywhere from 2 years to 10, so it’s critical that the tech partner also sees the relationship in the same way as you do.  We call this “organisational alignment.”  Do their values align with yours?  Are they looking for a sale, or do they truly want to partner with you?  How committed are they to your industry?  Do you have access to their executive team in case you run into problems? 

Are they willing to put in the work to make the partnership a success? Will they be open to questions, discussions and problem-solving to build to success? If you and your team feel aligned, then your perfect partner may be closer than you think.

If you’re looking for the perfect partner in tech, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid. Not every supplier is going to be right for you and it might take some time to find the perfect match for your business.

The good news is that there are tech suppliers who want the same thing: a successful tech implementation set up to succeed and not to fail, by being clear what you want from the outset, asking the right questions and being open minded to improving your processes when required to better fit your perfect tech match.

To go deeper on how to find your perfect tech match, download our e-book ‘How To Select Source-To-Pay & Procure-To-Pay Systems That Deliver Results‘ and tune in to our series ‘Major Tech Fails.’

How To Make Your CEO Fall In Love With Your Tech

What are the best ways to ensure you have your CEO’s backing for a tech implementation project?


You’ve come up with your specification and your supplier selection is complete. Your chosen tech solution has beautiful features and the potential to fulfil your wildest efficiency dreams. But you’re worried that the attraction won’t spread through your organisation starting at the very top.

How can you make your new tech solution an irresistible proposition for your CEO? Here are my tips for making sure it is impossible to resist.

1. Reduce the risk

I’ve met many CEOs in my career. I am sure that yours is no different from the rest. Their priority is to deliver strategic business goals and improve the bottom line. So it’s highly unlikely that a tech implementation over in procurement is front of mind.

Your CEO reads the news and see stories about IT project cost and time overruns. And their brief is to protect company reputation at all cost. While procurement may not always be top of their agenda, it’s important that your tech is a success story rather than something that keeps your CEO up at night.

And what I’ve found in all the tech implementations that I’ve been involved in is that managing risk should always be prioritised.

Set deadlines and milestones at the outset that you know your team can achieve to reduce the risk of project time overruns. Work with your provider and implementation partner at the start of the project to identify financial resources that will be required and any contingency funding that you need to put in place. You could even carry out a full dry run process (that we call blueprints) where we work to anticipate and eliminate risks and surprises.

These blueprints also bring alignment between your solution provider and implementation partner at the start of the project. This means all parties agree on:

  • resourcing
  • timeline
  • costs

Incorporate a contingency into your implementation plan. This means you won’t have to go back to your CEO and ask for more money if, for some reason, your blueprint changes or something doesn’t go as planned.

By actively managing risk you can set your project up for success and secure its position in your CEO’s heart.

2. Keep your promises

Your CEO wants any project that is approved to be delivered without deviation from the agreed scope. And the good news for you is that the evidence shows tech implementation projects now regularly achieve the objectives that they’ve been set.

One of our Fortune 200 clients’ CEO recently challenged our project team with an ambitious project objective: “I want you to implement a solution that everyone uses and everyone loves.”

We managed expectations by making sure that the blueprint was focused on the objectives of the project. This provided the guard rails to keep the team focused and not let them veer off the agreed project course.It’s important to remember: if the most perfect workflow or tech solution design does not meet the objective you set out to achieve, then you’ve broken any promises that you’ve made.

You can stay in scope by choosing an experienced implementation partner, who can help to keep things on track. Make sure their values align with yours and they have experience helping others move to where you want to go. Don’t forget your implementation partner becomes an extension of your team, and if their values are not aligned with yours, it will directly impact success.

When selecting an implementation partner think about their staffing approach:

  • how do they compensate their people
  • what’s their company culture and morale
  • will you have access to executives if you need to escalate

Doing the thinking upfront with your project team about scope, implementation partners and key deliverables can help ensure your project objectives are achieved.

3. Make it an attractive proposition – and deliver

To make your tech solution attractive to your CEO you’ll need a compelling business case. And what an attraction the promise of savings and efficiencies is – particularly when this justifies the investment involved. However, as with promises made in any relationship, you need to do what you say you’ll do.

You need to carry out robust work upfront to fully quantify what can be achieved.  Involve Finance in the process and get them to sign off on savings you’ve identified: getting their buy-in will help when the time comes to demonstrate these benefits are realised.

Once implementation starts, make sure you’ve got robust monitoring processes in place. You might also want to track benefits delivered on the way. There’s no better way to retain the CEO’s backing than being able to produce evidence that your promises aren’t being broken.

4. Focus on good times, not bad

As with any tech implementation, there are likely to be challenges along the way. And you don’t want talk of bad times to reach the ears of your CEO.

Perhaps one of your teams needs to work in a new way. Maybe the functionality isn’t quite what you recalled from the demo. It’s important that you actively manage these opportunities for improvement and change rather than leaving them as opportunities for negative comment and discontent.

On a global implementation for a US-based Fortune 500 client, we ran into some very heavy resistance from the Project Champion and his direct reports. Every idea, potential solution and decision was met with a litany of questions and the suggestion that our solution just couldn’t be rolled out.

Not only was the timeline in jeopardy but the team was dysfunctional and riddled with a lack of trust and response. Fortunately for the team, that negativity didn’t filter up to the CEO, or the project would have been doomed to failure right from the start.

By focusing on local solutions, we managed to change the direction of that project. We focused on meetings and briefings that were face-to-face. Getting in front of detractors and people with concerns was one of the most effective ways to reduce resistance and concerns. Within a couple of months, a positive attitude towards the project was achieved and progress was back on track.

And as making any implementation is all about people, how about adding a bit of pizazz to your implementation by using a collaboration app? It maps and tracks where your stakeholders are at. With graphs and charts at your fingertips, there’s no better way to bring the project to life and demonstrate the buy-in from your people when you present it to the CEO and the Board.

Using a continuous improvement approach, you can make sure that any challenges are addressed. This way, the only noise your CEO hears is the sweet sound of success.

If your tech implementation is effectively delivered, it won’t be difficult for your CEO to fall in love. Great timing, promises kept, an attractive business case and a focus on good times – not bad – will make your tech solution just impossible to resist.

Did you know that Matt has just teamed up with Procurious to launch ‘Major Tech Fails’ – a series looking at everything from implementations to getting buy-in. Register here

Deciphering The Sales Speak – 5 Common Phrases Used In The Sales Process… And What They Really Mean

The top 5 software sales claims may seem familiar – but what do they really mean, and what questions should you fire back?


As procurement pros, we like to think of ourselves as experts who can cut through the fluff of the sales pitch and get down to what we think really matters.  

But let’s face it . . . some salespeople are so darn good that even the sharpest of us can’t quite sort the wheat from the chaff. And with procurement software sales teams often being some of the best in the business, well, we have our work cut out to decipher their code for ourselves.

I have had more than a few years of experience trying to work through this myself and though practice may not always make perfect it definitely gets us closer to where we need to be.  So, from my years of experience in being involved in more than 500 software evaluations, and being the one who has to make it all come together as the implementer, I want to help you navigate through the language and the catchphrases that we often hear from software sales teams.

Here are my top 5:

1. ‘The integration is easy’

One of the most common things we hear from sales teams that are trying to speed their way to a sale is that “Integrations are easy.”  Getting the system to do what it’s supposed to while talking to other systems is pretty straightforward. We all want to believe it, but as you find out when you are involved in an implementation, there is real work that must be done that is not easy, and someone has to do it.

I always laugh when I hear this stated in front of my clients IT teams.  You see, IT knows the work that is involved in a project like this and are certain that the word “easy” does not belong in the same sentence. They also know that anyone that does call it “easy,” is most likely someone who has never attempted to do this type of work.   

When you hear this it’s a good idea to have your questions ready, including:

  • What business objects are typically in scope in a project like this?
  • If you have multiple ERP’s, will each of them need to be interfaced with?  Who will be responsible for transforming each file?
  • Who will be doing the field level mapping?
  • Is there a middleware or any prebuilt connectors that can be leveraged?
  • Where has this middleware or connector been used before?
  • Do they have similar volumes/scale/complexity?
  • What  system dependencies are there?
  • What systems have you integrated with – even what version of systems? 

No question is too basic here – in my experience keeping it direct and to the point works best. 

2. ‘Your suppliers are already connected to our network’

A word can mean different things to different people and the secret to understanding the sales-speak here is to work out what ‘connected’ really means. It can mean your suppliers have participated in a sourcing event or once received a PO from another customer.

It can also mean that they have log-in information and have received all of the really great welcome emails that new suppliers are bombarded with that they have no idea what to do with. Or it can mean they are actually transacting through the system and are receiving POs and payments from other customers in the manner in which you intend they start doing for you.. In that case, they’ll know exactly how to work out what they need to do to make your life and theirs easy as you get your new system implemented.

Ask lots of questions here, especially when it comes to your big suppliers, the ones that would spell chaos for you if things didn’t go to plan . . . it’s not a bad idea to ask them where they’re at in the process of being enabled with other customers and identify any potential issues you may have before you get too far.  

3. ‘Training and change management aren’t needed for your end users and suppliers’

We all love digital technology – and sites such as Amazon and Google are designed to make it pretty easy for us to use them without the need to be trained. But we can probably all agree that many systems built for the enterprise seem to struggle to bridge the gap on major process and use case changes that take someone out of their comfort zone.  Even if it appears easier. Especially when their job does not involve them being in the platform all day, every day. 

Here’s where it is important to put yourself in the role of the user and see the system through their eyes. It’s even better to get them involved early and ask them how much change they anticipate for their department/region/etc and what type of support they will need to be successful.  

Don’t let the salesperson, or an enthusiastic user, convince you that you don’t need any change management resource. You can work out how much is needed – and, if your salesperson is right, it might not be that much. But it’s always a smart move to let your stakeholders and suppliers know what is happening, why and how it is going to impact them.  If you get any resistance, you will be thankful you have change experts at the ready to address it.

4. ‘You don’t have to have clean data prior to starting implementation’

You don’t have to follow a recipe when cooking something for the first time. But it will help – unless you like surprises and don’t need them to be good ones. Your sales team will say this because, honestly, who wants to spend time on boring stuff like data cleansing . . . especially when we all know it can take 4 to 12 months to clean up if you’re lucky? And they’re smart enough to know that too much time and effort upfront without real results can kill the deal. While we all want to get on with the really cool analytics, there’s a reason you need to do your groundwork.

If and when you hear this one, go ahead and ask the question we all know: What about the saying ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’? You never know: your sales team may be able to share some new things they have tried where data cleansing hasn’t been needed. And they might have some examples of where this has worked before – and that’s definitely worth finding out about. If not, put a plan in place now for how your data will get cleansed and adjust what modules you purchase, sequence of rollouts and your implementation plan accordingly.  

5. ‘Don’t worry about transforming your processes as the technology has best practices already built in’

‘Leverage’, ‘optimise’, ‘game-changer’ . . . It’s only a matter of time before your salesperson drops the gold standard of corporate buzzwords in – ‘best practice’. While the phrase can be meaningful, most of the time it’s a sales pitch to get us over the line. We can implement a new system and get to best practice at the same time? Sign me up! But best practice means different things across organisations, industries and sectors.

When you hear this, two things need to happen. Firstly, take a look at your implementation plan and make sure it includes a review of all of your direct and related processes. And secondly, take a look at the ‘best practices’ that are included. They may be right for you, and now is is a great time to update and improve dated processes. If not, you’ll have done your review and know that what you have ended up with is the best thing for your business.

So when you hear these or similar claims as part of a sales pitch for software, remember what they typically really mean. Be prepared with questions for the sales team to ensure that the tech solution you sign up for really is a good fit for your organisation.

Did you know that Matt has just teamed up with Procurious to launch ‘Major Tech Fails’ – a series looking at everything from implementations to getting buy-in. Register here