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In our previous blog we were talking about how organisations tend to focus more on the actual “implementation” part of an e-procurement project, while sometimes neglecting the before phase and aftercare. There are some very common mistakes and misunderstandings made during the implementation phase which can easily be avoided. For example, the business case and outcome expectations are not laid out properly, or internal teams are simply not prepared. It needs to be noted that implementing a new e-procurement solution should not be regarded as a software implementation process, but as a change programme. We cannot stress enough the fact that procurement affects all parts of the business, and procurement processes have an impact on a lot of other business processes inside the organisation. In addition to this, procurement influences the organisation’s relations with external stakeholders, such as the supplier. This is why internal and external stakeholder engagement is key for a successful e-procurement implementation project. Given the number of implementation projects we have successfully delivered so far, we believe organisations should pay attention to 6 areas and opportunities during the implementation: 1. Early and ongoing stakeholder engagement and communication Engage your stakeholders early on in the process: listen to their ideas and concerns, take into account needs and properly manage their expectations. Address them and ensure they don’t alter timelines or the relationship. We’re not referring here only to the internal users, like the procurement department for example, but to all stakeholders involved in the process and affected by the project. Here you need to consider the finance department, AP team, business executives and, last but not least, your suppliers. 2. Policy review An e-procurement implementation project is a good chance to review policies and processes and assess their effectiveness; perhaps even change policies that are outdated. These can range from supplier payments and PO process, to electronic invoicing and early payment discounts. 3. The mechanics of data and integration One of the elements that can hugely influence your e-procurement implementation process, is data. The way you handle your data can cause major delays in implementation. Whether we’re talking about procurement, finance or supplier data, organisations need to make sure their data is clean, structured and accurate in order to help with reporting before the actual implementation. Systems run on data. You can even regard it as the fuel that keeps the motor running. Seems pretty basic that you need the right fuel to make the car function, right? The same principle is valid for e-procurement systems; without an up to date, clean data source with the right information, implementations can be hugely affected. From an integration point of view organisations need to make sure they keep it as simple as possible in terms of the data they’re trying to integrate. Xoomworks tries to help its clients with the integration between their e-procurement system and their ERPs while reducing error handling and scheduling services. You can read more about our XoomConnect service here. 4. Have a SaaS mentality e-Procurement solutions are usually cloud-based – you need to keep in mind this is the future of procurement technology. Therefore, implementing an e-procurement solution is not just buying a piece of software that you customise to your specific needs – it is much more, as it implies a shift-change in your S2P mentality. 5. Content You have a brand-new system in place. That’s exciting, now you need to use it! Once the system is up and running organisations need to make sure they content to it, which in turn, helps test its functionalities, make their processes more efficient and start taking advantage of its savings opportunities. It’s important to have a clear, predefined supplier enablement plan in place, once your system is up and running – don’t wing it! Which are your key suppliers? Which of these have commodities that you can put into catalogues? Which suppliers have high transaction volumes that you want to receive electronic invoices from? 6. Internal drive and motivation For organisations to obtain internal drive and motivation, the “start of the journey” is vital, as it is the stage where you define your statement of work, which clearly states which activities everyone is responsible for. Now you need to make sure that you keep up with your tasks within the project. Identifying the problem areas and challenges with keeping up with tasks is essential to ensure project success and avoid missing deadlines. If you want to learn more about “the during the journey” stage, when implementing a new e-procurement solution, download our eBook “3 Stages on a successful Source to Pay implementation journey”. Stay tuned for the last part of this blog series as we talk about the importance of aftercare and optimisation involved in and e-procurement implementation.