Change Management – Addressing Adoption Issues in Procurement Transformation

August 19, 2013

If you are getting ready to implement a new technology or process within your organization, there is, unfortunately, a high probability user adoption of the change will be less than successful. Experts agree adoption is a common issue:

According to a recent article in the Gallop Business Journal (, 70 percent of change management initiatives fail.

A survey by Deloitte Consulting reports 80 percent of CIOs believe “resistance to change” is the number-one reason why new technology initiatives fail.
In studying reasons why ERP projects failed, Gartner found technology wasn’t the problem—it was a lack of focus on adoption issues.

Overcoming adoption issues for your upcoming change initiative won’t require an advanced degree in management or a team of organizational psychologists. In our experience, adoption problems for new procurement processes or technology usually occur because of the following key reasons:

Lack of understanding by the user of the new process or technology
Lack of knowledge about “What’s in it for me?”
Lack of faith in the new processes or technology to be an improvement over current processes

End user adoption can be improved through good change management techniques that identify and alleviate sources of resistance.

A Case Study: Uncovering sources of resistance often requires little more than proactive engagement of stakeholders and basic active listening skills. Last year, we were called upon to support the stalled deployment of a supplier enablement program for eProcurement and eInvoicing. We found stakeholders in the business units didn’t understand how to create a purchase order and didn’t understand the benefits of eInvoicing for their organization. As you know, if end users do not utilize an electronic catalog or suppliers do not send their invoices through the designated preferred routing, the savings from the supplier enablement are lost.

Effective Messaging: To prevent leakage of spend through a lack of adoption, communications to end users and suppliers should be designed to improve their understanding and belief in the new processes. The following questions will help to develop more effective communication with end users:

In terms the business unit will understand, how does the new process work?
Why should the business unit use the new catalog or invoicing process?
What does the company as a whole gain from moving to electronic purchasing and invoicing processes?
Do these reasons make sense to the business unit end users and the supplier?

The change management effort for any procurement transformation initiative must clearly communicate the value of the change and the details of the new process to end users. In addition, the communication must be presented in a way clearly understood by the intended audience. The message must be delivered using words which can be understood and related to the business problem. If the change is not thoroughly understood and supported, end users will have difficulty making a commitment to the change.

These change management ideas can be applied to help improve adoption of any process change or technology change deployed at your organization.
Contact us directly at

Julie Floyd
Manager, Procurement Optimization
The Shelby Group