Why hasn’t e-Sourcing for bid management become the norm for procurement teams like CRM has for sales teams? A few reasons come to mind: poor implementation choices or lack of motivation from senior management, insufficient features or a poor user experience, lack of supplier cooperation or no adoption methodology.
e-Sourcing is first and foremost a management tool for procurement managers
Far too often, e-Sourcing modules are implemented to improve purchaser productivity, but the most important objectives are compliance and management. By requiring the use of e-Sourcing, the Procurement Director can manage interactions with the supplier marketplace and external partners while knowing that the right supplier group and the right processes will be used based on the purchasing category. They will also be able to measure their team’s workload using integrated indicators. Management and compliance must be the main focus when choosing a solution to implement and everyone should get support to fully adopt every feature of the tool.
Success requires skill acquisition pathways and a support team
While sales teams typically have a Sales Operations team that provides support and administration, purchasers usually don’t have an equivalent Purchasing Operations support team, which makes it difficult to adopt new tools effectively. While it’s relatively easy to use these tools to manage the department, making use of the advanced features requires more technical skills. For example, changing the way rating grids are set up to take advantage of these powerful tools will require additional attention. Beyond a support team, the success of an e-Sourcing project comes down to the purchasers. You have to help them acquire the skills they need to use the tools well and keep using them for the long term.
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Suppliers aren’t too excited about bid management tools
The CRM systems used in sales aren’t typically visible to external contacts, but internal third-parties and suppliers actively interact with purchasers and their purchasing systems. To put it bluntly, the human/machine interface vendors offer for suppliers is usually just a replica of the standard user interface. But since suppliers only use the platform occasionally, they’ll need an updated user experience before they can easily adopt the tool. To be successful with its e-Sourcing project, the change management team must get suppliers on board with the transformation. The experience must be personalized by creating content specifically for them, for example, to make sure they participate in the digitization project. They’ll also need ongoing motivation to keep them engaged over the long term.
There are two things you should pay attention to. The first is technical: managing responses that are different than the required Excel format. The other is relational: using the tool to provide transparency without eliminating communication with your purchaser.
Change management: key users should reveal themselves, rather than be appointed
During a transformation project, key users are usually appointed to oversee a certain department or geographic region. But in practice, these key users often change positions or have other tasks that are too time-consuming. Wouldn’t it be much more effective to detect key users on the fly from among the user population? You just need to tap into the energy and added value that’s already there.
I invite you to learn more about identifying key users in this article: Ambassadors to communicate the transformation process more widely within the company.
In conclusion, the ingredients you need for a successful e-Sourcing transformation and improved visibility for the procurement department are well-defined management objectives, implementation aligned with department prerequisites (management, compliance and reporting), a Support & Admin team, an improved user experience for suppliers, a personalization of content for each user and training pathways, and a change management system that dynamically detects key users for the community.