Getting Millennials on Board the Collaborative Procurement Bandwagon

Could the secret to e-procurement adoption success be Millennial engagement? Could more collaborative approaches be the key?

collaborative approach

This article was first published on My Purchasing Center.

No matter how good your e-procurement solution is, its success depends on user adoption. Getting employees to purchase through an e-procurement system is a hurdle that needs to be overcome in any organisation, particularly when it comes to engaging Millennials.

This generational powerhouse is having a major influence on corporate culture and how we interact with technology and communicate with each other.

This generation, which grew up with technology and social media, is accustomed to getting information at the tap of a finger, participating in digital communities, and relying on online reviews and opinions.

And they have come to expect this same level of convenience, immediacy and ease of use with the enterprise technology solutions – including the procurement systems – they use.

Raising Millennial Interaction

Understanding how millennials interact with technology is critical to increasing adoption of procurement systems. And as their significance and numbers in the workplace increase, so too does the importance of recognising their needs.

So how can you effectively engage them? Here are five strategies for increasing Millennial adoption of procurement systems:

1. Make it Relevant

To minimise rogue buying, make sure your system is relevant to the daily work lives of the users. Ensure it is as fast and easy to use and as user-friendly and intuitive as consumer sites. This means offering users efficiencies that resolve challenges unique to their specific roles.

Create a seamless process, enabling users to quickly and easily find what they are looking for and submit travel and expenses on-the-go. By creating these user-friendly systems and processes, you will encourage users to make the best decision possible because it’s the easiest thing to do in the natural course of their work.

2. Leverage Critical Intelligence

Gather knowledge from users across the enterprise to tap into the wisdom of the crowd and promote success. Create your own crowdsourcing environment on your procurement system.

Allow employees to suggest the items they need to do their jobs best so that procurement teams can negotiate the best contracts for those items. Help users save time by creating a system that recognises their needs and serves up the right information at the right time.

Create social opportunities. Consider setting up a reviews section where employees can post and read products and services reviews from their colleagues. This section could also promote corporate social responsibility by allowing them to share information on suppliers with green practices.

3. Instil a Bottom-up Approach

Instil a bottom-up approach to system design, roll-out and management. Empower users to drive and improve the process, instead of trying to control people and force them into compliance from the top down.

By making users active participants in strategic company initiatives, they will have a sense of ownership and feel more engaged. This also ensures you’re delivering a system that meets users’ needs and one that they will like using.

4. Foster Awareness of Actions

Foster awareness across the user base by incorporating gaming and making it fun. The Pokémon Go craze, which has caught on like wildfire, shows the appeal that games have with millennials.

You could create healthy peer competition by showing employees how their efforts compare to their peers, such as who are the smartest shoppers, and who are the most frugal travellers. Recognise them on the system with bronze, silver and gold achievement levels.

Share the visibility you have into spend, and track usage and measurable results across the enterprise so employees can see the value they are adding, how their actions directly contribute to company goals and what others are doing to achieve success.

For example, show the progress your company is making on overall savings goals, user adoption and total spend under management. This will create the mindset that every person who buys goods and services is not only helping to optimise processes that streamline their daily tasks, but also creating spend data that can be used to make better decisions and save money for the organisation.

5. Reward the achievers

In our research, we’ve found that the number-one reason users drop out of a process is because they don’t understand what’s being asked of them and feel their actions are not making a difference.

Create a greater level of awareness by acknowledging company “rock stars” – employees who make big strides toward company goals through consistently demonstrating desired behaviours.

You can reward these individuals through points and badges. For example, “Speedy Approver” for those in the top percentile of the approval cycle. Or “Compliance Champion” for those requesting items that are on contract 98 per cent of the time.

These strategies will help you build a collaborative procurement culture that not only engages millennials, but all of your employees. As users better understand greater company goals and are incentivised to participate, they will gradually shift their spend behaviours to strategic, deliberate approaches that help realise collective goals.

You will not only turn Millennials and other employees into stewards of company funds, but your company will also benefit from the cost savings, and optimised processes that collaborative, strategic purchasing delivers.

Tehseen Dahya is General Manager, North America for Basware, a leading provider of networked purchase-to-pay solutions, e-invoicing and financing services.