Creating a better procurement function — one user, at a time

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“Grudin’s law: When those who benefit are not those who do the work, then the technology is likely to fail or, at least, be subverted.”
― Don Norman

In a revealing statistic in Hackett’s latest P2P benchmark report, the gaps in the ‘usability’ of procurement software become evident. As per Hackett, even for Top Performers: only 20% of stakeholders would describe their user experience as consumer-like.

With end-users who are ‘spoiled’ with frictionless shopping experiences, hyper-personalization and tailored recommendations at the click of a button – it is a huge ask, to expect them to settle for less-than-intuitive procurement software.

Corporate purchasing, unlike everyday online shopping, can be quite slow and clunky. This makes end-users likely to subvert procurement policy to make their job easier – leading to increased risk, off-contract spend, missed savings and more.

Technology can solve problems, but only as far as it is adopted within an organization. And this is why UI and UX should be at the heart of any digital transformation. In fact, a procurement solution with relatively fewer features but one that ensures high adoption must be given precedence over clunky legacy solutions. Good UX is not necessarily about fancy frills and trimmings; but one that places the utmost focus on functionality. The goal is to guide the user effortlessly to the right action by making things intuitive.

So, what are the characteristics of a user experience that ensures maximum software adoption and ROI from transformation? Here are the top 5 “Must Haves” to ensure a better P2P experience:

  1. Overall ease of use:If you are planning on purchasing a procurement solution, you must ask yourself – first and foremost – Will users be able to use this solution from day one? With easy access and minimal training? An intuitive solution puts the power in the hands of the end-user, rather than leaving them at the mercy of the system or a rigid and convoluted procurement process.
  1. Seamless workflows & guided buying: Does the software make the next step obvious? Does it guide the user through proper workflows?

“In a proper system, the process of exploration will let us discover the question as well as the answer.”

          For instance, in the case of an error, the user should be able to easily troubleshoot themselves. This can be made possible with the help of in-application explanatory and help videos, live chat, and intuitive navigation options.

  1. Easy exception handling:Does the solution have clear markers and alerts when the user is entering an exception workflow or if their purchase will require higher approvals? Does it provide a near-touchless experience? Wherein the user need only get involved when an exception cannot be auto-resolved?
  1. SmartSystems: Does the software leverage AI, pattern recognition and machine learning to detect trends and adapt to the user over time? Is it able to serve the users with intuitive suggested actions and auto-saves?
  1. Consumerization:Does the tool deliver on customizability for all users?  The software must offer preferred views, relevant filters, frequently-used sections, personalized dashboards, and audit trails, – to create tailored experiences that speaks to the individual user.

 

Conclusion:

Most Procure-to-Pay solutions fail to encourage compliant user behaviour owing to their complexity – this leads to ad hoc spends, incorrectly classified transactions, and thus falls short of its ultimate goal – to simplify the procurement process.

Given the complexity of the tasks typically performed in Procurement Software, creating an intuitive and compelling User Experience for requisitioners can be tough. And it is for the exact reason, solving for “don’t make me think” in Enterprise Software holds unlimited competitive advantage. Less cognitive load, near-zero learning curves, fast adoption, large base of power-users and sticky platform => Superior RoI!

As mankind rapidly shifts towards a fully digital world with significantly simplified and improved user experiences, the pressure of consumerization on enterprises increases. And while the increased focus on user experience has already led to some improvements, the industry has a very long way to go before it reaches its full potential.  The onus now lies on technology providers and enterprise decision-makers to prioritize seamless user experiences over all else.

 

If you liked what you read, register for our upcoming webinar on “Procurement Priorities for 2022: Go from Survive to Thrive” Register here: US/EU/APAC

 

 

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