Have you ever tried to train a cat or dog?  Was your pet agreeable and quickly learned the desired behaviors?  Or did you have to pay for someone else to train (your dog) or just give up (your/my cat)?  Multiply that frustration by 101 and you now know the pain of a system rollout or implementing a procurement solution for most organizations.

So, leaving out the overall costs involved (that’s a whole different blog post!) how long does it take to implement software, SaaS, or cloud-based procurement solutions?

While this is a rather broad question, it is one of great importance.  I’ve witnessed firsthand the distractions involved with large ERP and CRM rollouts, the worst being a disastrous ERP implementation.  For the better part of 14 months, our entire corporate office (an energy company) was at the mercy of multiple outside consultants.  The accidental deletion of a critical financial database without a working backup was the straw that broke the camel’s back and chased the very expensive implementation team out the door permanently.

According to Aestiva Software, a basic software-based procurement system requires four to eight weeks for installation from the specification stage to final deployment.  Even though this is considered a basic procurement system, I find this to be extremely aggressive. It does not necessarily take into consideration the size and skill set of the IT department at the client site.

Now, SaaS and cloud solutions offer much greater flexibility and security from such incidents as above, but they still can potentially put your business in a state of flux if you have not properly assessed and prepared for such an implementation.

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Implementing a Procurement Solution Correctly

Recently, Maher Zebib, Vice President – Procurement at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, stated that their procurement technology, “jumped from software-based to straight into the cloud”.  Zebib added, “The decision was based on many factors, but the best thing was the speed of deployment”.  Using an Ariba procurement solution, it took Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank only eight days from the signing of the contract to running their first tender in the cloud. 

I would suggest there were vast resources available from both Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Ariba to make this solution come to fruition so quickly and successfully.  However, I think the most important comment Zebib made was in regards to customization:

“Keep it out of the box.  Don’t try and customize – the more you customize, the more you spend time and work drags on. Take the solution as is – configure it to your needs – but don’t try and customize. These are usually best-in-class solutions.”

Why “We’re Unique” Doesn’t Matter

The comment “we’re unique” has come from the mouth of every CEO or leadership stakeholder I have ever spoken to.  But, is your business “so unique” that it is worth the pain and misery of a customized solution?  My answer is a definite NO!  Regardless of all the time, effort and money spent customizing, you will still find people having to do workarounds for certain procedures somewhere down the road and sooner rather than later.

We here at the Next Level Purchasing Association would love for you to share your stories of the implementation of your procurement solution. Whether it was lightning fast and smooth sailing (hurray for you!) or worthy of a Lifetime Sunday night movie, we’d love to hear from you!