No, this isn’t the 12 Steps to Serenity in a different guise, and I certainly will not be asking you to accept God as your personal savior, which I consider to be a downfall of many such programs as you cannot accept that which is against your fundamental religious beliefs, which are different for every individual, but a methodical process that, if adhered to, should give your purchasing organization the respect and status it deserves in its effort to introduce a technology-enabled program to increase compliance, decrease risk, and deliver savings.
- Define the Value Proposition
The first step is to clearly define the value proposition and qualify and quantify the expected benefits and the amount of work to get there, by researching the current organizational processes and state. The benefits of an earnest e-Sourcing or e-Procurement effort generally include lower costs, supply security, improved risk control, buying leverage, quality improvements, process efficiency, and continuous improvement. However, it might be hard to get buy-in without some quantification of the expected benefits.
- Credential Check
In order to sell a business plan to upper management, one will need lots of credentials, not only on paper, but in real-world experience. If no one on the team has successfully implemented a similar project before, it will be important to line up a top consultant, or two, for the project.
- Perfect the Elevator Pitch
It’s important to nail down a kick-ass elevator pitch early and that everyone on the core team be prepared to pitch it at any time – in the elevator, in the lunch room, and standing in line at the theatre if that’s where a key decision maker happens to ask about how work is going.
- Identify the Stakeholders
Identify all of the affected parties before building the business case – not after. The stakeholders are the indidivuals who ultimately determine the success of the project – not the implementation team, the vendor, or even management – and if their concerns are not addressed, there could be severe push-back.
- Identify the Big NO!(s)
After the individuals whose blessing is needed for project approval are identified and the needs of the key stakeholders whose lack of cooperation could bring the project to a grinding halt addressed, it is critical to determine what could cause them to ultimately say “No” and tackle these issues early on.
- Build the Business Case
This step results in a formal project proposal document that is delivered to each decision maker before the big presentation. It should contain an executive summary, background information, assessment of strategic fit, a market analysis, a proposal, commercial considerations, a financial analysis, risk and sensitivities, options considered but rejected (and why), and a final recommendation.
- Call for Backup
Hopefully the team identified who its supporters and friends are when it was identifying the key stakeholders and (casually) gathering their input regarding the project. Now it’s time to update them on the formal plan and gather their support before the big presentation.
- Sell the Solution
Now it’s time for the big presentation, which could be the team’s one and only chance to sell the project. This will require being well prepared for any question that might arise.
- Start the Project
All aspects of the project must be managed without anyone micromanaging. It’s important to temper urges to move too quickly. A steady and methodical approach will yield less hiccups to be cured and lead to the best results in the long run.
It’s important to remember that it’s not over until it’s over and that the team is going to need the support of its sponsors every step of the way! Make sure to communicate project status regularly with all stakeholders.
- Sell, Sell, Sell
Just because management approved the project and the budget does not mean that they can’t change their mind three months in and kill it. Thus, it is crucial that the team constantly sells the project to make sure it reaches the breakeven point, since it is only then that the organization will start to see the significant returns promised.
- Cure the Hiccups
Nothing ever goes perfectly, and it’s important to be ready when little things go wrong. Make sure there is a slush fund built up to account for these hiccups and extra (consulting) work that may be required.
For more information on how to take your purchasing function to the next level, check out Quest for Purchasing Fire wiki-paper on the e-Sourcing Wiki, which will also help you to prepare the business case, conduct a reality check, bait buy-in, and manage the transition. It also contains a bibliography of select references that you can go to for even more information.