Going Global: Strategies for Success with an International eProcurement Implementation

August 10, 2021

The prospect of a global e-procurement system rollout may seem intimidating, but it offers just as many opportunities as challenges (if not more). A successful strategy for this breaks up your implementation into a phased approach. By planning for an initial implementation and phased localizations, your organization can implement efficiencies and generate saving right away while paving the road for the rest of the organization.

At The Shelby Group, we do this through what we call our “Global Core Methodology.” This methodology centers around an initial implementation in your organization’s primary region, followed by phased regional localizations. For example, if your organization is headquartered in the United States and does the majority of its spend in North America, your initial implementation will focus on enabling users and suppliers in North America. After Go Live, your rollout strategy will take you to the region with the next highest spend.

Structuring the global rollout around an initial implementation and subsequent localizations is designed to accommodate competing design requirements generated from regional business requirements and take advantage of the opportunity to create global standards. While the initial implementation includes a comprehensive design effort, the subsequent localizations minimize design requirements to legal and regulatory requirements.

Designing for current regional business processes can feel like an impossible task. Often, different regions have developed highly specific business processes in response to a lack of visibility and control or lack of reporting and approving tools. An approach that ‘lifts-and-shifts’ current business processes will add complex and contradictory design to the new e-procurement platform. Often, these processes increase the exceptions to standard processes, manual process or simply cannot be supported. Localizations provide the opportunity to re-address the current business processes and define requirements based on legal and regulatory requirements. Generally, the new e-procurement system will provide the visibility, controls, and tools the current regional processes are designed to provide.

In addition to addressing the challenges of regional variation and complexity, this strategy offers the opportunity standardize business processes throughout the organization. This enables controls and spend visibility to be centralized. Approvals, buying policies and reporting metrics can be administered and delivered consistently across the organization. Additionally, system maintenance is minimized. With a standard experience for users and suppliers across the organization, the user experience is optimized.

When successful global implementations are planned, the first step is to define each rollout phase. In addition to considering the timing of major IT projects, organizational initiatives, and key financial dates, plenty of time is needed to ensure each stage of the implementation is executed well. Each phase should be prioritized by the amount of spend in each region, with the highest spend regions taking the earlier rollouts. The initial implementation will be the longest and most complicated rollout. This is because the initial implementation not only constitutes the most spend but will also set the global standard for all regional phases to come. While designing the procurement process and platform to support them, the initial implementors need to keep in mind the global model. It is of the utmost importance to stick to best practice during the initial implementation, this will help support the standardization of these same processes across the organization globally.

After a successful initial implementation, the organization will be ready to tackle subsequent localizations. Successful localizations begin by building support from regional leaders and information gathering. It’s important to understand specific regional processes and why they exist to understand and demonstrate how the new e-procurement program will support the new regional users. Regional leaders will be asked to support a lot of change to existing process, so it is important to ensure that they trust the new standard processes.

Another hallmark of successful localizations is documenting and designing for true exceptions. Typical exceptions to the global standard include country-specific compliant invoicing requirements and data privacy requirements, like GDPR. Generally, the e-procurement platform will provide strategies for meeting these requirements without deviating greatly from the standard design. For the most part, regions adopting the e-procurement platform should be prepared to adopt standard approval and control processes and processes for submitting and processing transactions, setting up users and suppliers. A key goal of localization is to minimize the number of variations to these processes.

Lastly, localization success can only be achieved by successful changes management. Fortunately, a strong initial implementation can support strong localizations by creating change champions – users that have seen the benefits of the e-procurement system and can build trust throughout the organization. Adoption can be maximized by ensuring that the organization is supporting the language requirements of both users and suppliers. To learn more about change management, check out our eBook series that covers the strategy, launch and expansion of a successful change management program.

Ultimately, setting up your global implementation for success will benefit from your organization’s ability to standardize your requirements and ability to support regional change champions. If done strategically, the global rollout of your e-procurement system can run smoothly and provide swift and impactful business results for your organization.

By: Corinne Whitaker, Manager