If you’re planning a digital procurement transformation, have gone through one, or are in the middle of one, you are likely well aware of the statistics and the percentages that fail. We note several of those statistics on our website, to bring awareness to the problem. But our “reason for being” is uncovering the reasons they fail, and solving for those.
A recent HBR.org article on mapping out a digital transformation included this quote “At the heart of this uncertainty is a simple question: How do leaders make sure that digitalization makes a purposeful and sustainable impact on the business — and doesn’t just follow the next tech hype?”
One part of the answer? Adoption.
Our own informal poll on LinkedIn noted that adoption outweighed speed, user experience, and ROI as the most important element of digital transformation. Without adoption, all of the benefits will be watered down, if not completely obstructed. Governance and determining ROI will be impossible. Not to mention the possible frustration and decrease in morale of your team members, something no organization can afford. Your organization will become one of the statistics.
There are two key steps you can take while designing the solution that can result in a completely different outcome – a widely adopted technology that has successfully delivered sustained performance on all KPI’s.
Addressing the root cause
A common challenge we ourselves faced and hear from organizations today is that the technology does not do X. Work arounds have been created. People, functions, sometimes entire business units have “opted out” formally or informally. “The technology is not right; it doesn’t do what we need it to do for our business. We’re different”.
The tech is not the problem. Adoption failures are people failures. The failure could have occurred at any point in the process – tech selection, implementation where all needs and requirements weren’t uncovered, change management where culture was not addressed and communication didn’t deliver, or poor governance.
Here we share two key practices we apply to the people component during digital transformation design. Because your people will transform your business – not the digital solution alone.
(1) Before the tech – start with the people
During the design stage of Wonder Services’ three-part approach, the change management process begins. Most procurement leaders today recognize the importance of aligning and engaging stakeholders very early on in the process. We did too, but here are some areas we have fine-tuned that has made big impact.
- Engage the right people in the project initiative, those that will be most impacted, including those whose roles might be perceived as negatively impacted. Bring them into the fold.
- Think of other past initiatives, the loudest voices, and internal dynamics. Anyone who might want to obstruct the process – invite them to “design” meetings.
- Consider formal and informal influencers – there are often leaders who by title alone might not be in the typical stakeholder group who would be helpful to engage, whether in formal project meetings or 1/1 meetings. They can often be your best agents of change.
- Take a wide and deep approach, and a two-way communication plan – include senior staff, and those that will be in the trenches with the tech, as well as departments or functions that will interact with the tech, even in the smallest way. Customize the frequency, content and medium accordingly.
(2) Equip the leaders
One of the best things about digital transformation projects is how collaborative and inspiring they can be. Gartner did a study a few years ago that noted that 90% of the people they surveyed wanted to be “innovative” so even though it sometimes seems people are resistant to change, evidence would show they want to be empowered, contribute and make an impact.
One very important consideration; these cross functional teams should include senior level people but many of the members may not be in a leadership role and/or aren’t fully equipped with the leadership skills that are needed to communicate, motivate, and manage this very specific change.
We created our proprietary methodology, ALICE, for this very reason. The “I” is inspire others. This is a leadership development approach that is deployed to serve those involved in the process. The team leading this initiative will have to work through points of friction, ease fears, manage different levels of proficiency and lead with empathy. The ability to inspire people in these scenarios will lead to adoption. It’s an area often missed. Your people have to be supported through the change in order to embrace the change.
So, how can you make sure your digital procurement transformation is successful? First and foremost, it’s important to design the transformation for people. That means taking into account how different groups of employees will interact with and use the new system. It also means anticipating and addressing resistance to change and developing people to lead through it. By focusing on adoption, you can help ensure that your procurement transformation is a success.
At Wonder Services, everything we do is focused on your team, the most critical asset to any digital transformation. For more details on the ALICE playbook, reach out and we are happy to share.