Implementing new software into an organization can be a challenging process, and marketing procurement software brings with it a unique set of challenges not faced by other procurement software systems.
The introduction of cloud-based software has simplified the process but even so in Deloitte’s 2019 Global CPO Survey, 53% of the 481 top procurement leaders surveyed reported that they’re not satisfied with the results of software implementations within their organizations.
So why is it so hard to successfully onboard new software, or is it?
We believe that there are two overriding factors in onboarding new software, technology and people.
Let’s look at technology first, marketing procurement is a complex category due to the highly bespoke nature of products and services being sourced. Over the years we’ve met with numerous organizations attempting to use general procurement software or even email and spreadsheets for marketing services, which can be like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Category specific software eliminates many of the issues you may face as it will have been designed around the demands of marketing procurement. This means that sometimes the technology you’re adding may in fact be filling a gap left by an enterprise system you may have already deployed.
Secondly technology has to be used by people, and generally people hate change. The bespoke nature of marketing products and services means that buyers usually have their own ‘preferred suppliers and processes’ so they can sometimes feel that new software is invading their day to day to activities. And once you start talking about introducing common suppliers and transparent workflows, the walls of resistance commence construction.
So how can you undertake a successful software onboarding project, one that will deliver on the organizations objectives, get done on time and on budget.
Here are 6 tips to help make the process run a little smoother:
Understand your organization and how your marketing buyers currently operate
If your organization is made up of different companies, brands, or entities then differences will exist in how marketing services are sourced for each. Are businesses and buyers justified by having unique requirements and suppliers, or could the process and supplier selection be standardized and automated?
Working on process standardization before implementing software will minimize your configuration/development costs and there will be significant benefits to be gained if you can create a common or standardized approach to sourcing marketing services across the entire organization.
Data, data, data
If you don’t have a handle on existing rules and processes (sourcing, suppliers, variations, etc.) then how you intend to manage your data is something you must address prior introducing new software.
Think about how you may want to access and use data, what type of data is critical for your business, and how you’ll control the input of information to ensure good data can be extracted.
The combination of your new software and the data output should provide powerful insights and further enhance the advantages the software delivers to your organization.
Don’t make price your primary focus
When it comes time to review marketing procurement software, do some research and trust your instincts. Your research should look beyond the initial price, ease of use and functionality are critical as they will impact the total cost of the software in the long-term. And take our word for it, an RFI process doesn’t work in this category, it’ll simply waste time and money.
Replace the RFI process by getting your hands on the software, while having a series of demos is great, get access to a sandbox environment so you can actually get into the product and test it out based on your specific needs. One key point to keep in mind, if you need a lot of training to use the sandbox site, then imagine what your users will go through when you start onboarding.
Don’t let perfect get in the way of better!
Accept that there will always be some gaps and be realistic. Ask your software provider about their development process and how often they release improvements and new features. Most of today’s cloud-based applications work in an agile development environment so are pushing releases out every few weeks. This means the software is constantly being updated with improvements and new features, so if it’s not perfect on day one, you know you’re going to get incremental improvements as each month goes by.
Building a good understanding and partnership from the onset with your software provider will enable you both to establish trust and set realistic and achievable objectives.
Implement with purpose
We regularly work with organizations who underestimate their capacity to adopt change. It’s important though to recognise that change can be difficult, especially if as an organization you haven’t introduced new software for some time.
So, once you’ve made the final decision and secured your licenses, our recommended approach to mitigate risk is centred on following three actions;
- Communicate, great communication from senior management to all internal stakeholders and suppliers on the benefits of the project will reap significant rewards during the onboarding process, take them all on the journey with you.
- Identify the early adopters and your blockers, every organisation has them and it’s critical to understand who they are. Always be mindful that blockers will do everything they can to prevent or slow change, they will add cost, reduce effectiveness and create unnecessary noise.
- Document the process, train the users and deliver exceptional support to them once you go live.
Have the right people on your onboarding team
Marketing procurement is a challenging category driven by the fact that so many of the products and services are bespoke. So, when preparing for the onboarding project we recommend recruiting team members with experience in marketing procurement, supplier management, technology and some good old fashioned positivity.
This will give the process instant maturity and those leading the onboarding internally will serve you well as you run into issues during deployment. They will need to show empathy with users making the transition but also ensure the organizations overall objectives are not hijacked or diluted with too many opinions and demands.
Begin with the End in Mind
Once you’ve made the change and the software is live, you’ll need to have the right person taking on the role of administrator, they’ll be the ‘connector’ between your users, suppliers’ and the software provider.
The administrator will need to have a strong understanding of the software and be a great communicator. Get them involved early as possible during implementation as they will be the voice of your internal stakeholders to the software provider.
With so many new processes, workflows and system training requirements, the administrator’s role becomes a central point that will define the programs ultimate success.
Every business is different and there are always many other factors to think about as you onboard new technology. We’ve seen first-hand how some companies can become bogged down in the process and others seem to breeze through. The process is critical but so is an organizations attitude.
Staying focused throughout will ensure the process doesn’t lose sight of the benefits any new software will deliver to the organization, and by following the 6 tips provided we hope you’ll find that it can be an enjoyable and challenging experience.
Sourceit’s partners are highly skilled and experienced in the onboarding process and we have a global partner network that can help you manage the project. If you want to find out more about sourceit and our marketing procurement or catalog solutions, then why not book a meeting or demo with us today here.