Implementation is the next step following pre-implementation, which we addressed in the previous post. This step is where the rubber meets the road. It’s go time—but not until you have a solid plan.
How to plan for a successful implementation
A successful implementation program must begin with a plan. Because implementation plans differ by company and for categories within the same company, it’s essential that employees from the purchasing company and the supplier work together to develop a cohesive plan.
Some key aspects for the plan should include:
- A clear perspective of the culture, architecture and sites that will be adopting the new agreement
- Knowledge of customers – end users and the key decision-makers
- Short- and long-term objectives for implementation
- Clear timelines and communication protocols
- Awareness, visibility and education components
- Measurable compliance goals
- Assignment of roles and responsibilities
What if your organization is more decentralized with several locations?
In this case, targeted planning might be necessary. This might include a phased rollout with implementation timelines for different regions or for individual locations. Begin planning by identifying key areas that are “quick wins” so you can build a reputation for success. By achieving and documenting these wins early on, your team will be able to share details and hard dollar savings in an effort to further increase awareness and compliance throughout your organization.
Assigning roles in implementation
Procurement takes on a very important sales role during the implementation and compliance phase. You want customers to embrace the new supplier offering, so your team must relay savings and non-cost aspects of the relationship. Customers are more likely to if there is a great deal of program awareness. Visibility is the key. Also important is the role of change management, and procurement’s ability to influence and support change is critical.
With the numerous roles that procurement must assume, the best thing suppliers can do is to understand the limitations procurement teams face. Many suppliers are now providing dedicated implementation managers who focus solely on assisting procurement during the initial setup and establishment. Implementation managers should be prepared to interact with procurement, function leaders and different locations throughout their customer’s organization.
Make sure you use all your assets
Remember, not every company is equipped with the internal resources to launch compliance initiatives. That’s where the supplier can play a critical supporting role by developing communication protocols and materials that will allow the procurement team to focus on their priority objectives. Success in these environments hinges on visibility, communication and setting realistic expectations up front so buyer and supplier resources can be utilized effectively.
What happens if both parties shake on the deal and accept the responsibility of their roles? There is potential to develop a long-term relationship. This relationship is best established by focusing on the total cost savings that can be realized through various functions within the customer organization. Suppliers that reach beyond the procurement contact and contact key leaders in the organization can create and strengthen this relationship and become more involved in the company’s buying decisions. Procurement should be prepared to assist suppliers in contacting key individuals within their company in an effort to generate additional awareness of the agreement and its benefits.
Take a moment for self-reflection
How does role clarification usually go in your company? Unfortunately, sometimes the best motivation to put in the effort on the front end comes from an experience of not having clarified roles. Do you have any horror stories from a lack of communication during the implementation phase?
Phew. The contract’s launched. We’re done, right?
Not at all, and you know it. Even though thorough planning and execution of pre-implementation and implementation set the stage for great compliance, there’s still work to be done.