Digital transformation is not just about technology

Many procurement teams are considering, or undertaking, complex projects to increase their digital capabilities. But they are making a mistake if they forget the intrinsically human aspects of the transformation, according to experts at a CIPS event in London.

The Digitally Transforming Supply Breakfast Briefing, held in February, heard from a range of procurement leaders who shared the highs and lows of large-scale change initiatives. They included Gavin Boswell, director of procurement at Serco, who said it was important to frame change as more than a technical shift: “If the transformation is purely about technology, it is much harder to get buy-in. It [should be] much more about the transformation of procurement overall, and how it makes a bigger contribution. Digital is just a tool for doing that.”

When undergoing a procurement-led transformation, Boswell added, it is vital to prioritise user experience rather than simply talking about increased efficiency – customers and other stakeholders should be involved in the process from the start and should be integral to prototyping and testing.

For Kate Jay, procurement lead – ERP Programme at Skanska UK, things got even more interpersonal. When she helped lead a £20 million change programme centred around the introduction of a new ERP, she worked to understand the psychology behind change and how it applied to employees – which led her both to be clear in how she communicated the change up front and to break things into two-week ‘sprints’ that were more manageable for staff.

“Normally when procurement is trying to drive change, it is doing it in isolation and that can be a battle,” said Jay. “Some people can look at the scale of the programme and it can seem overwhelming, so breaking it into smaller chunks can help.”

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