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Best practices for a global procurement system rollout

by | November 10, 2021

One of the big questions clients ask when implementing a new e-procurement solution is whether they should choose a phased rollout or a big bang one. The later implies going live at the same time in all locations and for all users.

There are of course pros and cons to both approaches, but we advise going with the approach that best matches your company culture and that comes with the least risk to your business.

The big bang approach

A big bang approach usually has the advantage of being fast, all the users in your company can start using the new system at the same time, and the design, configuration, testing and integration phases will need to be executed one time only.

However, this approach comes with quite a few risks, which for some companies may outweigh the benefits. The risk associated to a big bang approach, usually comes from 2 directions:

  • Users could be overwhelmed by the new system and could face a number of challenges that come from deploying a new system. Even more so, as this will happen for all the regions and all the users where the new procurement system has been deployed.
  • Business disruptions – new systems usually don’t run smoothly from day 1 and if any of the required functionalities is not working properly it will likely cause disruptions to business processes.

In order to minimise these risks more planning and change management are required.

The phased approach

The advantage of a phased rollout is that it gives you more flexibility to test your system with an initial go-live and to take the lessons learned from that initial go-live and apply them to all subsequent deployments. A phased approach usually takes longer and requires more effort from the implementation team but it comes with lower risk, and it is less probable to cause business disruptions as there will probably be some overlap with the old system.

With a phased approach users learn how to use the new system gradually and by the next deployment you might already have a team of expert users in-house.

In our experience we see that many of our clients who implement a procurement system across multiple regions opt for a phased approach: choosing to go live in one region first and then planning their next rollouts.

When running a phased global rollout project we like to follow a few principles that ensure a successful and smooth rollout for our customers:

  1. Assess your business case properly. You will need to consider the functionalities and modules that need to be deployed in each region, the needs every region has to cover and the priority for deploying the system in each region.
  2. Consider the maturity of your organization, depending on the modules you are rolling out. Implementing a procurement system at a global level doesn’t mean that all the modules have to be deployed in all regions/locations.
  3. Consider the complexity of the integration.
  4. Ensure you have the key decision-making stakeholders mapped out.
  5. Assess your resource availability, as a phased rollout means that more resources are required – this will help you create a realistic timeline for the whole project.
  6. Asses your key project driver. It is time, cost or quality? If it is cost then you need to be aware that the cost will likely be higher with a phased rollout. If it is quality; in a phased rollout with each deployment you ensure a higher quality result and have the advantage of quickly applying lessons learned from previous deployments.
  7. Are there any projects running in parallel that could affect the rollouts?

There is no ‘right’ approach when implementing a procurement system. What worked out for a company might not work out for another. This is why it is important to talk things through with your implementation partner and come up with the best approach for your business. Take advantage of their experience implementing procurement systems across multiple geographies and industries and make an informed decision.

Considering implementing a new procurement system? Or just curious about the implications such a project might have for your company? Talk to one of our procurement experts at [email protected]. We’re happy to shed some light on your procurement challenges.