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