In conversations with clients and colleagues, RPA, AI, and other digital investments are typically top of mind. In fact, our latest research indicates that 83 percent of CPOs prioritize digitalization as a key objective. Yet, only 28 percent of those CPOs see great adoption and positive ROI from their investments. Many CPOs are struggling to manage the disconnect between digital prioritization vs. actual user-adoption that generates meaningful business results. Why is there such a big disconnect? Often times, procurement practitioners rush with the technology enablement piece without considering the connectedness of the procurement ecosystem.  

For example, we worked with a client to support the final stages of a large S2P platform implementation last year. When our expert joined their team, they immediately identified several missing pieces from the project plan, including: 

  • key financial and legal process concerns had not been taken into account

  • the operating model did not include ongoing user support, change management for suppliers, or allowance for increased volume

  • the end-user engagement was non-existent 

The client had to unwind the last 6 months of work. Then, they started from scratch with a more holistic approach. Unfortunately, this increased costs and delayed go-live by months.  In contrast, we recently supported a synchronized rollout of the same platform across 27 countries at a global company  including a concurrent services rollout with 100% volume take over from day one. We exceeded the go-live projection, and didn’t miss a step. Why? Because we took the ecosystem approach from the very start. 

How CPOs Can Get High-Impact Results from Digital Transformation Projects 

The best way to drive the user adoption that creates high-impact business results is to consider how digital enables your procurement ecosystem. If you think about the ecosystem holistically, then you will see highly interconnected components and elements that make your business function, including: 

  • Stakeholders

  • Business Imperatives

  • Suppliers

  • Third-party partners

  • Data (internal)

  • Intelligence (external)

  • Enabling tools and systems (which ensure this ecosystem functions in harmony)

A successful framework for digital transformation aligns with ideal business outcomes. The plan is supported by:

  • process excellence

  • change management

  • stakeholder engagement strategies 

In other words, technology alone won’t fix broken processes or a lack of knowledge within your team. Recognizing the gap between good intentions and great results, I decided to tackle the topic of smart digitalization in a broader forum. I partnered with an experienced digital transformation leader, Michael Van Keulen, who is currently the CPO of Coupa. Together, we shared our perspectives about smart digitalization at the SIG 2020 Spring Virtual Summit.  

4 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Digital Transformation Project

There are practical ways for you to overcome the hype, minimize digital fatigue, and drive true transformation for your organization and within your unique ecosystem. Start by asking these questions: 

  • Where are we right now? Before getting started, you must understand your maturity level and readiness for a digital transformation. Make sure you consider how digitization can help you overcome real bottlenecks you are facing right now.

  • Where do we want to go? Take time to uncover and set your vision. If you undergo this digital transformation, what does success for your organization look like in 3-5 years? Prioritization and the right intentions are critical to achieving digital transformation success. 

  • Which business outcomes align with our digitalization roadmap? Be sure to discuss your overall strategy and alignment with key stakeholders who will support the digital transformation. 

  • How will we get there? Finally, evaluate what is required to build your roadmap for your digital transformation journey. 

Remember, technology is only as good as the process it enables, and most complex business problems are best tackled which a simple approach. When planning, designing, and implementing your digital roadmap, keep simplicity ingrained in your approach. When done properly, your company will start to see benefits from digitalization, including: 

  • Gaining better visibility and control of spend

  • Reducing administrative complexity 

  • Improving efforts to better manage cashflow 

  • Mitigating supply chain risk (which is a growing priority considering the global pandemic) 

  • Increasing intelligence and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders 

For more actionable tips and lessons learned from smart digitalization projects, listen to this webinar, I hosted with SIG and Coupa. 


About the Author

Alpar Kamber
Corporate Executive Vice President & Head Procurement Services

Alpar Kamber Alpar Kamber is the Head of Procurement Services at WNS. He was the Founder and CEO of Denali Sourcing Services (now a part of WNS), a next-generation procurement services provider that enabled procurement organizations to influence more spend, and execute more effectively and efficiently. Prior to Denali, Alpar developed his cross-industry expertise in procurement value chain while in management positions at Ariba, FreeMarkets, Diamond Technology Partners and E&Y. He holds an MBA degree from the Tepper Business School of Carnegie Mellon University.

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