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Caribbean procurement departments face a lot of challenges that other countries typically do not. Whether it’s moving on from a complex custom eProcurement solution or stewarding public trust, there are many factors that Caribbean procurement leaders need to navigate to see success.
We set up a panel discussion with Craig Milley, Principal Consultant at Wayfinder Consulting Inc., and Joe Fagan, an eProcurement consultant with many donor banks, who both work directly with Caribbean procurement departments. The aim of this event was to help government agencies see sustainable success in eProcurement transformation.
Continue reading to learn how this advice applies to all public agencies or watch the full recording of this webinar here.
Getting started with eProcurement can be daunting if one doesn’t understand the reality of the tool. eProcurement is just that, a tool, not a magical cure-all to all of your procurement department’s challenges.
The panelists discussed different challenges that should be identified before moving forward in your eProcurement transformation such as financial reasons, ease of access for vendors, or transparency to foster trust from vendors and the public.
eProcurement is a tool that supports and facilitates the exchange of information between all involved parties and can help you address those identified challenges. That being said, the success of eProcurement greatly depends on your policies and processes and how they evolve to be able to take advantage of technology.
Taking on a large, complicated tool like an ERP with hopes that it will solve all your procurement woes will most likely do more harm than good. Although ERPs have their advantages in certain use cases, they simply aren’t built for the rigor and regulations of public sector sourcing and contracting. One approach is to find software that does one thing really well to address the specific problem you’re having and stitching it together with other systems that address other specific problems. This is the “best-of-breed” approach.
In a previous article we phrased it as “a ‘swiss-army knife approach’ to buying software.”
Deciding on which solution to go with, it comes down to what tools and functionality you need and the capacity of your team. Overall, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and off-the-shelf solutions have more benefits than custom-built tools that take a lot of time and resources to build and sustain (and that’s not even counting the time it takes to train and support users). Many governments—not just those in the Caribbean—don’t have the luxury of those resources.
Here are a few benefits of SaaS and off-the-shelf solutions our experts outlined:
Simplicity is key! A common issue with custom or in-house-built solutions is they are very complex. One question that Craig Milley asks when determining the user-friendliness and ease-of-use of a software is the Amazon test. Is using the software more difficult than shopping on Amazon? If yes, then that may not be the software best-suited to your team or solving your particular problem. Choosing a software that is easy to use and intuitive avoids putting the burden of learning it on the end user of the system while addressing your issue.
The key to any large project within any organization is buy-in. The panelists discussed creating supportive relationships with C-level executives, management, and those you will be working closely with. Educate them on how this change will make their jobs easier and benefit the organization as a whole. Finding those champions that believe in your cause will help you bring others into the fold for a smoother transition and adoption.
At all costs, avoid big changes all at once. Don’t make transforming your procurement into a daunting process. Instead try for slow, manageable changes with constant communication and support for stakeholders.
For the last portion of the discussion, we asked the panelists what their “recipe for success” in eProcurement transformation looks like.
Here are some actionable steps they recommended:
There’s no “one size fits all” way to successfully transform eProcurement in your organization but this event was intended to give Caribbean nations a solid foundation to get started on. It doesn’t need to be an overnight change and it doesn’t need to be a scary process.
Bonfire can help you get started at the pace that’s right for your organization.
Book a demo with one of our experts to see how Bonfire can help you achieve your eProcurement dreams.