September 8, 2017
Procurement project implementations can be tricky business but it gets even more complicated when companies have a global footprint. The truth is, while it is important to standardize as much as you can in an effort to create consistency and have better control over spend, companies should beware the “cookie cutter design” approach.
When making the decision to implement globally, it’s important to recognize that each country is unique and comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Using a cookie cutter design approach can lead to a design that doesn’t support local business processes, doesn’t meet legal requirements and can lead to end users abandoning the platform and/or business process altogether.
When deciding to execute a multi-country implementation, companies should consider the following conditions:
- Each country’s “Current State” is going to be different. Companies should take the time to assess the current state of each country in order to understand what their starting point will be for the project. You should ask questions such as “What are the current processes that are in place?” “Who are the key stakeholders?” “How is reporting currently done?” “Who is making decisions and how are those decisions made?” All of these questions will provide you with insight as to how things are currently done so that you have a clearer idea of what level of time and resources will need to be put in place to reach the future state of the project. What you will find is that it is common for each country to have a different starting point and that’s okay – as long as you know what that starting point is.
- Understand the legal requirements. It’s critical to consider that each country will have its own set of laws, reporting requirements, governmental policies, etc. which can impact the implementation design for a given country. For example, Argentina and Brazil are two countries that have some of the most complex tax structures in Latin America. In order to be effective with your design and ensure that you are compliant with local legislation, you must understand what those legal requirements are for each country so that you can build a design that supports those requirements while also supporting the local business processes.
- Cultural Differences also have an impact on the project. Have you ever walked into a business meeting and you were greeted with a hug and a kiss on the cheek instead of a handshake? What would you do if every business meeting you facilitated started 15-30 minutes late because the participants don’t view time and punctuality the same way you do? How would you respond to that? These are just 2 minor examples of things you can encounter when executing a procurement rollout globally. Differences in cultural norms can be challenging to manage so having a level of cultural competence is essential to the success of global procurement implementations. Each country will come with its own set of cultural differences, that’s a guarantee, but your ability to manage and work through those differences will significantly impact the success of the project.
- Find similarities in order to standardize. While each country may come with its own unique qualities and expectations, you will also be able to identify trends and draw parallels between the different countries. Use those similarities as an opportunity to standardize policies and/or processes that can help streamline and provide consistency. This leads to better spend control, consistent reporting and value-added visibility of spend which can have long term positive financial implications. Determine what you can standardize across all countries and what needs to be specially designed for a given country.
- Treat each country as its own project. Implementing a global rollout can feel overwhelming and can seem like a daunting task when viewed as one big project. In order to make this international implementation more manageable, we’ve seen our clients be most successful when they break the project down into small, individual projects. Treat each country as its own project and take that project one step at a time. By doing so, you can not only ensure proper resource allocation for each rollout, but you can also develop best practices that can be used to make each implementation more effective and efficient.
Companies that take the time to consider the conditions outlined above and put a plan in place for handling them will be better prepared and will see better results for their global procurement implementation rollout.