You have a classic procurement problem…maverick spend, ridiculous number of suppliers, you put together great contracts that nobody actually buys from, SOX compliance risks, you name it. It's basically a free-for-all. But this isn't your first rodeo, so you know the answer – implement an e-procurement system. You know these systems have come a long way in terms of functionality, and you also know many have updated user interfaces to provide a "consumerized" shopping experience. You'll just look at the latest analyst reports to identify the leading e-procurement players, bring them in for a bake-off, select one, and you'll be on your way to solving all your procurement problems!

Well, unfortunately, it's not quite that easy. Here's the dirty little secret about e-procurement: most e-procurement systems have a fatal flaw – the solutions are still built for the procurement department. You may say, "Well of course they are. Isn't that the point?" Actually, not really. The point is to get visibility, control and savings. How do you do that? By getting 100% of your end users actually using the system. Trust me, an Amazon-like shopping experience isn't nearly enough. You will only achieve 100% adoption if the e-procurement system is the easiest way for the end user to get the stuff they need to do their job. It really is that simple. If they need something, and the e-procurement system is the easiest way to get it, they will happily use it. If instead it appears to be easy on the surface ("shopping is easy"), but workflow limitations or underlying design flaws mean it takes too long to get their stuff, they will not use it.
Oh, and by the way, that "No PO, No Pay" policy your company rolled out…that doesn't really work. It just means you are going to spend a lot of time getting frustrated trying to force everyone to use the system. You know it and I know it, so let's stop pretending. Either give the employees a tool they love, or don't waste your time and money on e-procurement.

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