Hannu Kilpeläinen
Product Marketing Manager

Once you have a vision (see my earlier post “Define your procurement strategy & build vision statement”) the real work begins. To succeed at procurement project management, you’ll need adequate resources – and you should be prepared to make your case for why you need them. Over the long term, an under-resourced project is likely to cost more and deliver less, so now is the time to get this right.

Four elements of successful procurement project management

There are four basic elements to any project of this kind: people, time, money and scope. These are, of course, all interrelated – so a deficit in one area will impact the others. Procurement project management succeeds when these elements are carefully balanced – and each treated as part of the whole.

Anyone trained in project management understands the need to balance the first three: people, time and money. But it’s the fourth element – scope – which often has the greatest effect on the success or failure of these projects. So managing scope should be the first and last task for any procurement project.

Avoid scope creep in your procurement project

The number one threat to any project this complex is “scope creep”. This is the tendency for even
a well-specified project to gradually expand beyond the original plan. The result: deadlines are missed, costs steadily rise and the project becomes increasingly politicized.

Tips for avoiding scope creep

  1. Articulate your vision: Make sure you’ve agreed on a vision for the project and ensure that relevant stakeholders understand it (both what it covers and what it doesn’t). 

  2. Be clear about the priorities: List your priorities and make sure your other team members know them too – and review them regularly. 

  3. Get key stakeholder commitment: Get key stakeholders and company leadership to sign off on your vision, goals and deliverables. 

  4. Examine your current processes: Before implementing an e-procurement solution, make sure you have critically examined your current processes. Don’t be afraid of change or of re-engineering processes to leverage best-practices. Take advantage of purchase-to-pay process expertise offered by vendors to give insights into your company’s current practices instead of simply accepting the existing process as-is.
  5. Minimize creep: Project creep happens – the challenge is to minimize it. Conduct cost-benefit analyses for requested changes as a way of determining whether they are really worthwhile – and get the sign off from project leaders (and preferably general management) before diverging from the project’s original scope to please any single stakeholder. 

  6. Start small and expand: Consider starting with a single location or division as a test bed. Invite a limited number of key suppliers to participate. Then, use this template to roll out the solution to other divisions and countries. 

You need dedicated people

Finally, a few words about people. It’s great when you get volunteers stepping up to help at the beginning of an e-procurement program. However, from our experience of hundreds of such projects, unless their time is 100% dedicated to the program, you should count these people as a zero-percent resource. The simple day-to-day realities of business mean that other pressures will all too quickly pull them away.

The lesson here is that you must resource your project properly. You must ensure that enough of the right people from selected divisions are fully allocated to your e-procurement rollout project. Otherwise, your resources are likely to disappear just when you most need them.

Want to learn more about how you can ensure the success of your e-procurement project? Read our complementary ‘how-to’ guide for making e-procurement work for your business: 7 Secrets for Successful e-Procurement >>

Read our complementary ‘how-to’ guide for making e-procurement work for your business: 7 Secrets for Successful e-Procurement

Read our complementary ‘how-to’ guide for making e-procurement work for your business: 7 Secrets for Successful e-Procurement >>