Tuesday, 20 October 2015

You need to get suppliers on board for your S2P journey (3) Comms & Skills Development

In previous posts I highlighted that the lack of supplier engagement is one of the highest impact risks with a S2P implementation. To mitigate that risk a strategic approach is required which includes creating a sound foundation and taking a wave approach to supplier engagement.  In this post, I discuss the need for a communications plan, and a training and skills development plan aimed at the supply base.
The communications plan needs to be considered as soon as discussion on the potential implementation of a S2P solution is mooted. There needs to be some flagging that change is anticipated and that the organisation intends to ‘work with’ the market as opposed to ‘doing it to suppliers’. That early reassurance will pay dividends later and signal that the organisation has a strategic approach.
In a previous post I advocated that a categorisation of suppliers as ‘Users’,‘Converts’, ‘Willing Novices’ and ‘Late Adopters’ could be applied. That categorisation flows from the first stage of a Change Impact Assessment – identifying what the implementation of a S2P solution will mean to suppliers. If suppliers are unclear what the changes could mean to them, then it is not possible for them to make the necessary commitment to those changes. The change readiness assessment will draw on the change impact assessment and statement of technology requirements to contribute to the categorisation of suppliers as ‘Users’, ‘Converts’, ‘Willing Novices’ and ‘Late Adopters’.
Regardless of suppliers engagement with S2P it is unlikely they will not have some level of training needs to match the new ways of working. Therefore it makes sense to complete a Supplier Training Needs Assessment.
Categorising the supply market is an acknowledgement that each category of suppliers will have fundamentally different needs. The Communications Plan therefore
develops key messages specifically tailored to match the needs of each supplier category, taking care not to appear pejorative. The key messages also need to clearly demonstrate the business justification, from a supplier’s perspective, to embark upon the required changes. 
Having agreed the key messages to be communicated, the next stage is to determine the most appropriate communications channels to use. The Channel Plan should reflect the number of suppliers to be communicated with, their location, language and culture, and the complexity of the information to be conveyed. The trick is to marry the channel to the needs of the person being communicated with and the complexity of the information being conveyed, as opposed to adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It is also important to ensure that communications are viewed as an integral part of the Training and Skills Development Plan.
One of the concerns suppliers’ staff will have relates to the fear of whether or not they will be able to cope with the new ways of working. The implementing organisation needs to take those fears seriously as a failure to overcome them will jeopardise the ability of the solution to deliver its business case. It is therefore useful to start by developing a skills framework, then thoroughly testing the framework through dialogue with suppliers, particularly with ‘Willing Novices’, so that there is an understanding of potential barriers to implementation from a training and skills development perspective, and then clarify how much of the responsibility for support will sit with the implementing organisation.   

In the final post I will summarise my main points.  

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