Execution is Everything: Ensuring the Success of Your Next Cloud Technology Initiative

March 26, 2014

While cloud computing solutions are expected to continue growing at a rapid pace over the next several years, fundamental misperceptions are eroding ROI on cloud investments. According to a recent Gartner report, 83% of companies face roadblocks that impede success. In the procurement field, these include lack of adoption, failure to follow new processes and lack of trust in the new system.

Many executives mistakenly believe that cloud-based solutions can be deployed without the same level of planning and implementation support required for traditional IT projects. Some software vendors actively support this notion because they are more focused on getting their software up and running quickly than on addressing the unique cultural, business, or infrastructure issues that will ultimately impact your company’s success. This can lead to poor adoption rates, low utilization of features, misalignment with business processes, and failure to deliver measurable results.

Regardless of what technology you are implementing, “failing to prepare,” as Ben Franklin said, “is preparing to fail.”

If you are getting ready to consider, buy, or launch a new procurement technology, below are three recommendations that will help ensure that you accomplish the business results you set out to achieve–without unnecessarily elongating your project timeline.

Capabilities vs Context: Understanding the Difference

One of the greatest advantages of cloud computing solutions is the ability to select from a feature-rich array of capabilities in configuring your solution – out of the box. This adds up to great value when you are wearing your “software buyer” hat. But when you consider the specific business objectives you want to achieve, where and when, more is by no means better. Context matters more than capabilities in driving an agenda for change. The first step in any project plan (preferably in advance of the actual purchase) is to identify the context of the business changes you are attempting to achieve over the next 2-3 years. Carefully prioritize these and then map them back to the software features and capabilities that you will enable on your overall schedule. Turning on too many features or functions too soon will only increase resistance to change and will ultimately impede trust in your initiative.

Rolling Thunder or Rolling Success?

It is extremely tempting, particularly after a thorough software vendor evaluation process, to want to “flip the switch,” and get everyone who needs to use the solution up and running as quickly as possible. But big monolithic rollouts usually backfire. Start with a core group of users that stand to benefit the most from your new technology and plan for iterative stages of deployment. Engage these stakeholders to make sure they understand what’s in it for them, provide them with the support they need to embrace change, and document process improvements and business impacts. As a result, your initial user groups will build a foundation of trust that will speed each successive stage of your rollout plan.

Get Your Suppliers Onboard Early On

Finally, overlooking the needs of your suppliers or not addressing these needs until the tail end of the deployment process can also significantly diminish your ultimate success. Just as with your internal stakeholders, ask yourself, “What segments of my suppliers do I bring on in order to maximize near-term success?” Build communications plans and KPI’s for each wave of your rollout and plan for iterative improvements along the way.

For more information on how Shelby can help you ensure the success of your next procurement initiative, contact us at

Jim Kandilas, CPA
EVP, Principal
The Shelby Group