Getting buy-in for procurement software: The Stakeholder playbook

Brendan Batch   |   May 23, 2021
procurement solution buyin

Our previous post taking inspiration from the Ever Given saga, touched on some tips to build a business case for procurement software.  No matter what job title you have, chances are you’ve already known you need a solution, now it’s just a matter of convincing others to share your vision. 

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of structuring your business case. Here, we would analyse things and write using 3 frames of reference. 

To get buy-in and lay a foundation for change management down the road, it’s crucial to air it all out for internal stakeholders. So the first frame of reference is: 

  • What they are getting 
  • Why they should care or how it will be benefiting them 
  • What they need to do to help get the project off the ground 

Closely related to the first, this second frame of reference looks at the concrete touchpoints those stakeholders will have with the new system.  

In other words, this is about how stakeholders interact with the procurement solution:  

  • Vendor information  
  • Vendor engagement/performance 
  • Processes & operations 
  • Financial performance or analytics 

When putting together the business case for procurement software, it’s also worth linking it back to the importance of procurement as a function itself. Hence, the third frame of reference is basically about demonstrating how the tool would help procurement deliver benefits to the wider business.  

Based on Deloitte’s latest research of CPOs around the world, these metrics are expected from procurement: 

  • Cost savings 
  • Cost avoidance 
  • Cash improvements 
  • Internal stakeholder satisfaction 
  • Labour efficiency 
  • Risk management 
  • Vendor performance 
  • Sustainability/diversity 
  • Revenue uplift 
  • Innovation enablement 

[We’ve also recently summarised the highlights of Deloitte’s annual CPO report here] 

In the next section, we’ll attempt to fill in the key points to “sell” to various internal stakeholders, using the 3 frames of reference above. 

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C-level executives 

While not on the tools daily, this group definitely has a lot of sway, and can often be budget holders or approvers. By getting them on your side as a “project sponsor”, your chances of getting buy-in from other groups increases.  

What do they care about? 

  • Headline items: risk management (reputation, director and senior management’s liability), financial performance, revenue, cost savings.  

Your job is to translate those high- level items of interest into concrete, bite-sized benefits to be delivered by the procurement system. Examples: 

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Audit trail 

Ensure procurement and process governance is adhered to  

Risk management: line of defence  

Automated compliance management 

Ensure no non-compliant vendor is engaged 

Risk management: director’s liability  

Streamlined processes 

Reduce cost to manage vendors at scale 

Financial performance: improved margins 

Vendor database with segmentation and tags

Meet CSR and ESG targets 

Sustainability / diversity 

 

Finance 

While the CFO’s perspective in the C-level execs group above can also be tied to this, there are more nuances to consider for the finance team. 

By default, having a system to capture all vendor-related information as well as your organisation’s engagements with them would make it easier for finance to ensure cash flows to the right places. Let’s demonstrate with a few examples: 

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Spend data and vendor engagements 

Spend visibility throughout supply chain 

Cash improvement 

Vendor payment details, rates, contract, terms 

Payment optimisation and security 

Cash improvement, cost avoidance (fraud) 

Streamlined processes 

Reduce admin cost for manual processes 

Cost savings 

Commercial 

Closely linked with finance, the project-based nature of work in industries such as construction, mining, utilities means each project is like its own entity with its own cash flows and supply chain.  

As procurement is a critical part in ensuring commercial success, the commercial team need to have visibility and the ability to collaborate on key decisions, e.g. selecting the right third-parties. 

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Vendor selection and performance evaluation 

Optimal project delivery 

 

Vendor performance and revenue uplift 

 

Contracts storage and alerts 

Reduce maverick spend or unnegotiated renewal 

Cost avoidance and risk management

Streamlined RFx processes 

Reduce admin cost for manual processes, avoid project delays 

Cost savings and cost avoidance 

IT 

A lot has been said about involving IT earlier rather than later in a digital procurement initiative. Why? IT knows far too well the challenges and implications surrounding any new piece of software being purchased.  

We’ve previously discussed some of those points, which if left too late to address, could hinder tech adoption for procurement.  

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Role-based permission for different features 

Secure access to the tool any time anywhere 

Internal stakeholder satisfaction 

Short implementation cycle 

Freed up IT resources 

Labour efficiency 

Integration with other corporate systems 

Tech stack that doesn’t require excessive maintenance and can scale  

Innovation enablement 

HSEQ  

These are the subject matter experts that monitor all the health, safety, environment and quality of projects. Since vendors are needed to deliver a significant part, procurement can facilitate the due diligence process with input from HSEQ. 

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Vendor onboarding and approval 

Ensure vendors' compliance to policies 

Risk management and internal stakeholder satisfaction

Vendor segmentation 

Allocate resources to manage different types accordingly 

Labour efficiency 

Vendor evaluation and history 

Minimise future issues 

Vendor performance 

Requalification 

Ensure new requirements are captured across vendor pool 

Risk management 

Legal / GRC

New legislations and regulatory updates can affect how organisations interact with their supply chains. In recent years, a focus on Modern Slavery, industrial manslaughter, social procurement etc. has added pressure to ensure compliance.  

Compliance also comes with a cost. You can get buy-in from Legal by looking at it from 2 angles: 

  • Reducing cost to comply 
  • Avoiding non-compliance cost 

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Up-to-date vendor database 

Risk visibility across supply chain 

Risk management 

Standardised prequalification 

Compliance at scale 

Labour efficiency 

Operations 

Closely linked with HSEQ, the operations team are on the ground ensuring things go according to plan. They also take part in the planning and pre-construction work. Hence, the ability to facilitate seamless input collection would be key for procurement.  

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Rapid and strategic sourcing 

Enable decentralised procurement activities to meet project needs fast 

Labour efficiency and internal stakeholder satisfaction 

Integrated vendor onboarding 

Ensure vendors are compliant before being on-site 

Risk management 

Performance evaluation and history 

Inform future decision making for all stakeholders 

Vendor performance 

 

Vendors  

Too often, we forget this is a two-way street. Third-party vendors, subcontractors and suppliers are also partners. Their success or failure could have a direct impact on organisations’ bottom line.  

While vendors don’t normally provide input into which procurement tool their client uses, considering their needs in the software selection process can help drive adoption later.  

Functionality/feature 

Benefit group 

Related headline item 

Guided onboarding 

Onboarding process tailored to type and risk profile 

Cost savings 

Self-service capabilities 

Freed up admin resources 

Labour efficiency 

Streamlined RFx process 

Transparency, equal opportunities 

Innovation enablement 

In summary 

This article aims to provide a starting point for you to get the buy-in you need from multiple stakeholders by being in their shoes.  

Each company and role will be slightly different, but the broad categorisation of stakeholder needs would be largely the same.  

Get The Stakeholder Playbook


Be sure to check out the latest Procurement Software Buyer’s Guide for more useful content that can help you in this process. 

Brendan Batch
Brendan is the Head of Enterprise Strategy & Development at Felix. Dealing with a range of private and Government entities, Brendan works on improving business process efficiency, minimising risk, and increasing collaboration and transparency across business units. He's always open to chat about how software innovation can improve your business.
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