Procurement automation project: Why you need a key user
Implementing procurement automation software is necessary for operational purchasing departments to stay competitive and resilient. Manual tasks are time-consuming and hinder procurement teams to reach their full potential. It is common for teams to resist change; introducing a new software solution can lead to push back from employees, who often need to be persuaded of the benefits.
Purchasing departments can be reluctant to determine a key user for the software project. However, having a key user is of great value since they act as an interface between the purchasing department and the software provider. The work of a key user is important for the success of both the implementation and the solution itself.
What is a key user?
A key user is an employee who specialises in a product or software and is considered the primary contact person for all questions, problems or trainings that relate to it.
In purchasing, they play a key role in the introduction of new processes and software solutions. In procurement automation projects, operational buyers often assume the role of the key user. When implementing an automation software in operational procurement, key users support the process by representing the professional interests of their division or department. Their tasks include supporting the definition of the new system’s scope of services, accompanying the introduction process, encouraging the adoption of the software among colleagues, and support colleagues after the go-live.
What tasks do key users perform?
Key users accompany the entire automation project in operational purchasing and have a wide variety of tasks during the different phases:
Key users help to define the scope for improvement in the purchasing department by formulating the goals and requirements of the automation software.
Netfira offers a checklist for defining software requirements that support enterprises in specifying users’ goals, IT requirements, business requirements and more.
The software selection checklist supports companies in defining goals that meet the SMART criteria and selecting the right procurement automation software.
Key users are also involved in the market analysis; they obtain product information through direct contact with potential software providers and review case study materials.
Since key users are often part of the analysis phase, know the existing systems and what functionalities the automation solution should have, it is not uncommon for them to join the negotiations.
Development of the rollout strategy
After choosing a software solution, key users are also part of the process of accessing the initial needs and developing the rollout strategy.
In the implementation phase, key users are indispensable. They ensure that requirements are implemented correctly from a technical point of view. Furthermore, they carry out functional tests and give feedback to the project and management teams on a regular basis.
Key users are responsible for designing training concepts and training their team members who will work with the procurement automation software.
Key users actively accompany the go-live.
After the go-live
When using the procurement automation solution, key users stay the first point of contact for questions and problems. They collect ideas for improvements and thus contribute to the further development of the automation project.
What functions and roles do key users have?
Usually, key users fulfil several functions and roles in a company.
Key users are specialists in their field. They are experts in using the systems and know all processes. They can provide input and offer insight to the challenges in operational procurement like manual document processing on a daily basis.
As ambassadors, they have two functions: On the one hand, they communicate the underlying idea of the automation software as well as the motives and goals of the department management or executive board to the service provider. On the other hand, they are ambassadors for the purchasing department and the users when communicating with management for they know and understand the problems and challenges.
Key users take on a central role as testers. They test both beta versions and new versions of the software before they are rolled out in the purchasing department. That way, key users ensure that the automation tool meets the needs of the organisation. Therefore, they are always in direct contact with the software provider to give feedback.
As trainers, they design training concepts and can explain the functionality and operation of the procurement automation software to the team.
Key users act as supporters who can answer questions about the operation and use of the automation solution for purchasing.
As multipliers or corporate influencers, they increase the knowledge about the implemented procurement automation solution and its benefits. They play a vital role in promoting the new solution within the department and thus contribute to greater use and corresponding amortisation.
What are the benefits of having key users?
Appointing a key user has several benefits:
- Having a key user reduces the training effort. The key user receives a comprehensive training through the software provider and can relay the relevant learnings onto their team, who may not need to understand the full scope of the software.
- The speed of response is increased because a lot of questions can be answered directly by the key user.
- The service provider has a clear contact person so that the collaboration is always smooth and efficient.
- Purchasing benefits from a key user who communicates the needs and challenges in one voice and thus facilitates communication between departments.
Key users determine the success of a procurement automation software implementation
Whether a key user is determined in a procurement automation project or not, can heavily impact the outcome of the project. The benefits of key users when implementing new software should not be underestimated. They are experts in their field, influencers and a feedback channel to the management level. Key users enable smooth communication between all parties and support the adoption of digital automation tools on both a personal and technical level.