Today’s guest post is from Gert van der Heijden, the Executive editor of Spendmatters.nl, and is the English translation of his post, indirecte inkoop met catalogi, waar te beginnen?, that originally ran on March 27, 2014.
Organizational buyers are accustomed to thinking in Pareto analysis. This is because buying is an area where the 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the suppliers do 80% of the sales, and therefore these 20% of suppliers deserve the focus. As a result, when Procurement is designing solutions to improve compliance, they often end up with a solution that is inconsistent with what a buyer wants. One area where this often occurs is in the e-Procurement implementation of catalogs. From a Procurement perspective, it might make sense to get the spending under control, but for the end user in the organization, the critical issue is completely different.
An e-Procurement catalog implementation is only successful if the end user is lured to the catalogs and wants to use them without being forced. Compliance is only truly achieved when users follow processes of their own free will. Furthermore, one has to remember that it is the 20% of the suppliers who produce 80% of the invoices who have the most operational customer contacts and it is these 20% of suppliers who are most likely to disturb, and try to circumvent, the process. If the buyer doesn’t like the process, or it’s not easy for him to use, he will be easily swayed by the supplier (offering to make it easier with a direct order) to side-step the process and this will severely hinder your compliance effort.
A smooth process for the purchase of common items, like office suppliers, IT, and food in hospitals (for example), will provide the end user an optimal customer experience and an appreciation for the process. Only once these common, but critical categories, are fully implemented and meet the users needs, should the organization turn its attention to other, less common, categories.
One has to remember that success in e-catalog implementation and roll-out also comes from a proper application of the Pareto principle — focus on the categories that represent the majority of the user’s purchases first, and make sure the users want to use the system for these categories, and only try to go end-to-end once the staple categories are well in hand. That’s because when it comes to e-catalog success, the key is efficiency. That’s how you become truly effective with your efforts.