eSourcing Software Adoption Challenges – an Optimist’s view

OK, you’ve invested in a license for a new eSourcing system. You love it, your team loves it and the CPO has given it her blessing. Even the CEO turned out at the launch and came to the pilot reverse auction you did and was very excited by the results.

But 6 months later and you’re struggling to keep momentum going. You’ve only managed one more reverse auction, only a handful of staff are actually using the new system with most still happily using Excel for everything. Where to go from here?

In the simplest of terms, people take to new technology (applies to pretty much everything) either when:

  • It is fun and/or makes their lives easier (Nintendo is an example of the first, washing machines are an example of the second).
  • It is mandated from above and their job/career/compensation depends upon it (Enterprise Software in general usually falls into this area).

Most eSourcing systems are not really easier for the individual buyer who is perfectly happy with Excel and Email. The people who benefit most from eSourcing systems tend to be managers who achieve better visibility and control.

Therefore the top-down approach is the one generally taken. The trouble with the top-down approach is that it requires dedicated attention from the top to continue ramming the new way of doing things down people’s throats until they give up resisting. Or Change Management as it’s sometimes called. Most organisations drastically underestimate the need for this.

What can you do about this?

  1. Review your implementation plan. Your implementation plan needs to go well beyond the initial customisation, training and pilot stage, through to how it will be rolled out across the organisation. Ensure functional heads are bought in as early as possible, understand the benefits of the system, are bought into the plan and consider it their system, not just yours. This point is often mentioned, but rarely acted upon because it is hard to do. I know it’s hard and time-consuming, but if you don’t do it you will struggle to reach the adoption levels you want.
  2. Ensure that you genuinely understand the issues that real staff members are facing, as opposed to what their managers claim are the issues. If you can demonstrate your system addressing these specific issues, or even make the software fun to use, then you will need less top-down attention.
  3. Don’t lose track of your objectives. Too many software implementations forget the original objective behind the system and get bogged down in indefinite debates with functional heads about requirements whose cost, in a sober analysis, would outweigh their benefits.
  4. Be prepared to fail. If those resisters are resisting your software then maybe they have a point. They are probably smart guys, after all. Sometimes, taking their objections seriously and adjusting your approach to adoption and roll-out (whilst continually ensuring you have agreement on the objectives in 3)  can help in the long run. 

Some more cynical comments on the subject tomorrow …

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