Many companies devote so much time to selecting a procurement platform and negotiating supplier contracts that they forget how important training can be. After all, the best discounts in the world don’t benefit your company if employees don’t comply with your procurement system.
Employee compliance, which is measured by the number of employees who buy goods through approved channels, is often one of the biggest struggles for procurement departments.
Consequently, many businesses aren't realizing their efforts because employees are resisting using approved suppliers. It may seem like employees are being difficult, but most of the time, they just need a little help surmounting obstacles. That’s where training can be extremely effective!
With that in mind, we’ve outlined the reasons employees often buy via unapproved methods, as well as the five things you need to think about during training to overcome those roadblocks.
Why Your Employees Are Resisting Procurement
1. Cumbersome Platforms
Most procurement platforms are not user-friendly. Most employees are used to one-click personal shopping with two-day delivery and the typical procurement platform is much more complicated and cumbersome. Employees find it faster and easier to run to the store or order online.
2. Resistance to Change
If we’re honest, most people resist change to some degree. After all, think of the uproar that occurs every time gmail rolls out a change. It takes using the new version for a while before most people will grudgingly admit that it was an improvement after all. Similarly, many employees have a "But we've always done it this way" procurement mindset that makes them reluctant to shift to a different way of buying—even if it’s better and easier for everyone.
3. Preferred Suppliers
Another reason employees resist certain procurement platforms is that it’s a lot more fun to order from that nice guy from the office supply store who brings in donuts once a month. While it’s important to build good relationships with suppliers, a box of pastries shouldn’t undermine the contracts you’ve spent weeks and even months negotiating for the best discounts.
Many employees resist procurement policies because they prefer shopping at a particular online website. You may have negotiated discounts with a supplier, but your employees are used to typing “Home Depot” into the browser whenever they need to buy, say, ladders or paint.
Don’t despair! Here are five ways training can overcome that “resistant mindset” and help employees understand why everyone benefits from adopting a procurement system.
1. Train Strategically
It’s important to remember that training is a process, not an event. The initial training session is important, but be sure you also set up ongoing training—as a refresher and for new hires. Hit all the important messaging each time because it has been scientifically proven that repetition increases the chances of behavioral change.
Each training session is your chance to drive home why you choose a certain platform and “sell” it to your employees. After all, if you don’t explain how this platform makes their life easier—as well as why the company overall benefits—no one’s going to become very engaged or invested, let alone use it every time.
3. "Use A Carrot, Not A Stick!"
Introducing incentives during training is an effective way to get employees over that initial hurdle of resistance. For instance, a $20 Starbucks card or a catered lunch can motivate your employees to start using a new platform. But don’t stop there—continue to reward employees who demonstrate ongoing compliance.
4. Keep it Simple
Let’s face it—many employees are not very tech-savvy, so complicated systems scare them off. If your staff doesn’t use your procurement platform, the time you’ve spent carefully negotiating the best discounts was wasted. Make sure your procurement system is as easy to use as the sites your employees use to shop for themselves.
Plus, if the system is easy to explain, you can spend more training time explaining why using the system is important and less time walking through learning the system itself.
5. Measure Outcomes
Don’t forget data! The first step is asking for feedback by sending out a survey after training. If anything was unclear, you can clarify it with follow-up or another training.
Outcomes can also help in other ways. Measure adoption across your company, breaking it down to see which departments are complying and which aren’t. If you understand where your policies aren't being implemented, you can concentrate your training efforts there. After all, procurement data can help your business save money, implement effective policies, give insight into your spending patterns, improve your purchasing decisions, create better negotiating tactics, procurement planning, and much more.
The Qmerit Marketplace is an effective way to get granular data that helps give you the insight to continuously improve your procurement program. Plus, our Best Value Finder is an easy, one-click way to allow employees to shop on their favorite sites, but still buy using the lowest-cost method.