Implementing a purchasing process is a company-wide process, and that means that you’ll have multiple types of users from different departments that hold different opinions about how this should go. Read through to get some useful information about how to approach stakeholders in modern companies.
The types of users involved
At a high level, there are three types of users: requestors, managerial approvers, and professional approvers.
Requestors carry the need to buy a product or a service. This can be a developer, a marketing manager, an HR manager, an IT manager, an office admin and so on – you get the picture. On average, 30% of your employees will submit a purchase request at some point in a given year, but this number is constantly growing to the point that organizations often grant their entire workforce requester access. Requestors are looking for a simple, transparent process that allows them to get things approved fast.
Managerial approvers are the ones who need to approve the purchase of a product or a service. This can be a manager, a budget owner, or a CXO. On average, 10% of your employees will approve a purchase request at some point in a given year, and although this number is also growing, so do the cases in which a simplified (shortened) approval process is needed. Managerial approvers are looking for a simple, contextual process that allows them to monitor and control their team’s budget and purchases.
Professional approvers, who need to approve the purchase from a professional view. These can be departments such as procurement, legal, security, IT, or FP&A. On average, 5-10% of your employees will professionally approve a purchase request in a given year, with some of those approvers approving a large portion of the purchase requests. Professional approvers are looking for involvement so that they can achieve their professional goals:
- For procurement, involvement (especially early on in the purchasing process) means big savings
- For Legal and security, involvement means compliance
- For FP&A, involvement means predictability and accurate reporting
Getting internal buy-in
On top of the above, there are additional stakeholders that you’ll want to have on-board – understanding their goals is very important, as their support will massively improve the adoption of the purchasing process you’re about to deploy.
CFOs care about profitability, margins, and IT investments that are going to be adopted and deliver a return. CFOs generally don’t believe in savings because they know a dollar saved in one area of the business will likely be spent in another area.
What they care about is that the organization is spending efficiently and are not wasting money on things that are not being used. What they care about is giving their people visibility and control to manage this process (because they currently have very little visibility and control). Building a strong business case for a CFO needs to involve points such as:
- Improved efficiency
- Improved control
- Profitability and margin
- Fast returns
This can be your head of IT, or CIO. The IT stakeholder cares about doing more with less, automating processes, implementation and support resources, and generally freeing up budget from back-office applications so they can focus on revenue-generating IT projects that will drive the top line. They are also likely a major budget owner and therefore important users of the process. They may have attempted to deploy a purchasing process on a generic workflow tool like Jira or Servicenow, or on the ERP itself – so at times, they may be change-resistant. Building a strong business case for IT needs to involve points such as:
- Improved efficiency
- Simplicity of setup
- Automation of processes
- Secure and stable integrations (especially with the ERP)
It is important to remember – Purchasing is a cross-company process that tends to get complex fast. But, by making sure you answer stakeholder needs and get them on board, you can make it much easier to implement a top-notch spend pipeline.