Top 5 Rules for Successful Implementations

Want your strategic sourcing program to succeed? Keep these Five Rules in mind.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
BY: Henrik Balslev, Senior VP of Operations Scanmarket A/S

It’s not difficult to find stories about software implementations gone wrong. Whether it’s eSourcing, ERP or something else, many organizations have not seen the return on investment they were expecting during their original business case and selection process.

Not surprisingly, it boils down to a few simple things that organizations forget when they are planning their rollout strategies. Even more so, it has nothing to do with the actual technology that’s being implemented.

Based on our experience of helping 300+ customers implement strategic sourcing platforms, we’ve developed the following Five Things to keep in mind for any technology rollout. All of them are fairly obvious in the abstract but it’s surprising how frequently organizations don’t follow through on them.

  1. Executive sponsorship
  2. Incentives and recognition
  3. Communication
  4. Follow-up
  5. Give people what they need

1. Executive Sponsorship

Executive sponsorship is #1 on our list for a reason. It is the single most important factor in determining the likelihood of success for a technology rollout. This is true for any initiative but technology, with its inherent change, uncertainty, and likelihood of problems, is particularly in need of a strong sponsor. There will most certainly be points where people will question the value of moving forward and a sponsor is needed to make sure everyone stays the course. If possible, enlist your CFO since he/she usually has significant influence across the organization. Similarly, you want sponsorship in middle management as well be it a department head or VP. They can look at this initiative as something to help them advance their own goals.

2. Incentives and Recognition

There’s been a lot of research about how to best design incentive programs for an organization. What we at Scanmarket have seen is that monetary incentives are, frankly, not the most productive when trying to implement a new strategic sourcing program. Instead, focus on public recognition whether through a company newsletter, awards, or statements from the CPO or CFO. Better yet, get the CEO to comment on the new program and some of the leaders.
While we are very much in favor of setting goals and targets, especially for new programs, be sure that you are monitoring them carefully. For example, we recently had one customer ask each of their groups to run five sourcing events as part of a new rollout. They later found out that one of their users had split an event into five pieces, despite the fact that it should have been a single event, just to comply with the goal.

3. Communication

Most organizations do a good job of “packaging” their new initiatives. Some even have internal teams (in I/T or elsewhere) that will help coordinate the effort and provide resources. Unfortunately, many of these programs start off with the best of intentions and lose steam over time as priorities shift. Make sure you keep at it when it comes to communicating the progress of your initiative. If you have a down month or quarter, don’t just “sweep it under the rug” but include some of the reasons for the challenge and what you’re doing to address. Use whichever medium is most effective in your organization be it newsletter, intranet or social media. We have seen customers have significant success with Twitter to highlight particularly interesting results and projects.
The most effective communications include success stories of specific users who used the platform to solve a specific business problem. Be sure that all your communication includes why you’re doing this and why it matters to the individual user.

4. Follow-up. And Follow-up Again

Even for a system that requires limited training such as Scanmarket, it is crucial that you budget resources to follow-up on the roll out. The success of your program lies not so much with your “super users” who will be in the system daily but rather with the spend owners in the business who will use it only occasionally. Make sure that you have a structured plan to follow up with people out in the business so they “remember” you and come back for help when they need it. Better yet, use this effort as a way to establish regular touch points with your stakeholders so you can learn about their pipeline and upcoming projects.

5. Give people what they need

Training material has changed significantly over time. It used to be that you’d attend a training class and leave with an enormous binder that would then collect dust on the shelf in your office. Today, most of the training material is embedded within solutions. We are a big fan of short videos that allow users to see exactly what they need. Above all, make it easy for your stakeholders to find the information they need. For better or worse, you have just one shot to get this right. If stakeholders can’t find what they need and get frustrated, there’s a very good chance that they will leave and not come back. As with the follow-up, give them a named contact within your group so that they have a specific person to go to for help.

While we’d like to take credit for all these rules, frankly we learn more from our customers than they learn from us… We are just lucky to be in a position to see so many fabulous organizations and how they work.

By following these simple five rules, you’ll be more likely to make your program a success and justify the investment that you worked so hard to secure from the CFO.

For more information on these approaches or to learn more about how Scanmarket can help you achieve your business objectives, please visit us at


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