How to Deploy Procurement Process Orchestration Tools

The devil is in the details...

Hi readers,

📰 In this week’s edition:

A great tool can give you poor results if it’s deployed incorrectly. While Process Orchestration tools make deployment easier than other solution categories, you can still break your face…

Tonight, I wrap up this series by sharing an approach you can use to craft a winning deployment strategy for Procurement Process Orchestration tools.

Enjoy and let me know what you thought in the poll at the end of this email.

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🌙 Sunday Night Note

Last week, I outlined how to avoid falling into the “Process Orchestration Trap” by putting in place great change request governance processes when in operation.

This week, I’m sharing how to get to operations in the first place: with a solid deployment plan.

What is a Deployment Plan?

Let’s start with the basics to ensure we’re on the same page…

A deployment plan is a series of implementation steps to get you from where you are today (no system/old systems) to where you want to be (process orchestration system in place). At a high level, this means onboarding all required business users, units and geographies onto the solution.

Deploying functional IT applications (such as Process Orchestration tools) is about striking the balance 2 elements:

  • Reducing time to benefits (e.g. implement as quickly as possible to realize the business case)

  • Minimizing project failure risks (e.g. not being able to reach the planned end of the project due to cancellation, running out of budget, etc.)

Two elements pulling you in opposite directions

These two elements are pulling you in opposite directions…

On paper, you can maximize benefits by deploying your solution with a “big bang” approach… You do every deployment activity once (e.g. train employees). Everyone gets access to the new system and starts using it. Hooray! We start harvesting the business case benefits…

However, anyone who’s tried this will tell you that this approach significantly increases project failure risks for most types of functional solutions (and consequently, increases the chance your benefits will in fact be 0… Minus your project costs…).

Check out this graveyard of famous failed projects to see what I mean…

Therefore, crafting a realistic deployment strategy should be of the upmost priority in any IT system implementation project, including for Procurement Process Orchestration tools.

The Magic “Deployment Plan Formula”

So how should we go about this exercise? Let’s go back to basics to find the magic formula…

A few facts to maul over:

  • To maximize system benefits for your company, your new system needs to:

    • Be used as intended/designed by the concerned employees (Adoption)

    • Designed correctly according to your:

      • Requirements

      • Operating reality

      • Objectives

  • If training is treated as a “one and done” exercise, employees with not retain, adopt and perfect their usage of your new process/tool1

Change management’s effect on system adoption and business performance
Graphic credits to: Desai Management Consulting

  • The project team that will design/configure your system is but a microcosm of the macrocosm that is your entire company.

    • This means that it is highly unlikely, regardless of how senior the team is, that they will get the design 100% right on the first try.

What does this tell us?

  • Employees who need to adopt new processes/systems need the appropriate amount of time and reinforcement touchpoints to maximize adoption (min 2-3, depending on the complexity of the change)

  • Your project team will need to iterate on the design to get it right AFTER your initial solution implementation.

Since high adoption and fit-for-purpose design are essential for benefits materialization, this gives us the parameters of our formula in addition to the traditional timeline and budget constraints…

An optimal deployment plan is one that maximizes user adoption and plans for design iterations while respecting timeline and budget constraints.

What Does This Mean for Process Orchestration Tools?

One of the value propositions of Process Orchestration tools is that the amplitude of change for requesters/stakeholders is reduced when implementing. However, reduced doesn’t mean eliminated… General change management principles still apply!

Let’s dive one level deeper and go from theory to practice to illustrate.

Here’s how I recommend you think about deploying Procurement Process Orchestration tools:

Important Note: I assume here, you’re deploying Process Orchestration tools for Intake Management scenarios/processes. You can use these tools for a lot more than this but this is typically the best use case to start with.

The general principles still apply for other use cases but the specifics will vary.

1) Identify the Variable at Play

First, let’s identify the variables that will influence your deployment strategy for a process orchestration tool:

  • Business Processes Hierarchy (BPH) / Variations

    • Process orchestration is all about bringing business processes and business rules to life after all…

    • Read this post if the concept of a Business Process Hierarchy is new to you.

  • Categories/Commodities

    • Associated transaction and spend volumes

  • Sites/Business units to deploy

    • And their respective maturity and engagement (e.g. will they be champions of a change or detractors/resistors?)

  • Divisions/Geographies to deploy

    • Only relevant if different divisions/geographies will be operating on the same tool but their business processes (BPH) are different based on the nature of their operations/industry

  • Project team size (number of members)

  • Timeline/Budget Constraints

2) Establish Your Spend Profile

Next, you’ll need a mapping of most the of variables above to craft your deployment plan. I call this a spend profile. Get Excel out and fill out the table below:

Category/ Commodity

Yearly Spend ($)

Yearly Transaction Volume

Purchasing Channels (process + system)

Applicable BUs / Geo



200K Orders

Requisition from Work Order with:

- Material

- Catalog item

- Text item (Spot Buy)

All manufacturing units in all geographies

The goal is to establish your granular deployment scope by identifying the potential purchasing channels (business processes + system) by purchasing category/commodity and the sites where they purchase this category/commodity according to the business processes listed.

(Pro tip: Do this as early as possible in your project to help you right size the design scope and business case as well).

Don’t paralyze yourself with analysis… As you try to complete this exercise, there will be grey zones and unknowns. Aim for 80%+ correctness.

Make sure you have all your “big rocks” (e.g. most important processes and sites according to yearly transaction volume and spend). You can also add “purchasing channel maturity” and “business unit maturity/engagement” columns if capturing this information explicitly is necessary (e.g. you have dozens of sites and business units).

Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll be able to sort sites by biggest spend and transaction volume.

This will give you a good idea of:

  • Which sites will drive the most benefit

  • Which categories/commodities will drive the most benefit

  • Which sites are the most mature and engaged

3) Identify a Good First Site to Deploy

With your spend profile in hand, look to identify a site where:

  • Employees involved in Procurement/Purchasing are mobilized

  • The site has a high Procurement/Purchasing process maturity

  • They have a healthy spend (probably not the highest)

  • They have a healthy transaction volume (probably not the highest)

  • Their operations cover a high proportion of the categories/commodities and purchasing channels/processes in scope

If while trying to identify this site, you realize you have different lines of business (LoB) that make this challenging, it means you will have multiple “first sites” for different LoB variations of your solution.

The objective is to find a site where high adoption is likely, where they will be open to collaborating on design iterations with you as an early adopter but where the site isn’t absolutely critical to business results.

The last thing you want is to be tweaking a solution in a site where pressure mounts exponentially through the organization for every minute operations is impacted by an IT bug in your solution… It’s just not optimal.

The objective is to get this site “80%+ perfectly deployed” before moving onto the next deployments.

This means you’ll aim to deploy support for most purchasing channels/processes in the Process Orchestration tool with that one site, ensuring you have a “catch all” process for any scenarios/processes you may have missed in design (e.g. your user wants to buy Halloween costumes via your intake process but you did not plan for this 😅).

Give yourself more “Hypercare time” in this first wave than in other deployment waves to adjust the solution with the site. Plan to do this onsite with them if you can. Nothing beats in-person adjustment work because the feedback loop is immediate.

If you can get to 100% support, great. Just know that if you delay further solution deployment too much, you are eroding benefits realization that may prevent you from realizing your overall objectives.

Plan to circle back later as part of operations for continuous improvement when you’ve hit an adoption “tipping point”.

4) Identify The Next Sites

List out your next sites into 2 categories:

  • Sites that resemble your first pick

  • Sites that will drive the most benefit

Ideally, the second wave would be composed of your group of other sites that resemble the first one. This helps confirm your solution is solid with another set of early adopter/early majority “friendlies”.

The Change Adoption Curve
Graphics credit to the ASAE

Then, from the third wave on, when you solution is proven out in the field, you can start deploying sites to your biggest spend/transaction sites to really start driving the benefits realization. Create a “positive momentum snowball”.

The last thing you want is having to manage an onslaught of requests, escalation meetings and anger from initial sites as you try to ramp up on your deployment plan…

Open up an Excel file and start mapping your deployments into a linear calendar format. Your benefits curve and deployment plan should both consider the change adoption curve.

You can shorten the Hypercare periods and remove onsite presence as the solution maturity stabilizes and you go into “high volume deployment mode”.

5) Adjust for Other Constraints

  • If you deploy the solution in very different lines of business, start over at step 2 for that new LoB when you reach it in the deployment plan. Give the first sites more attention.

  • Do a first pass without budget/timeline or benefit realization considerations. Start with the best possible deployment plan from an adoption standpoint.

    • Afterwards, you can start the haircut based on those other constraints… Walk certain activities back, combine sites into single waves, consider the budget/timeline you’re trying to hit, consider your project team size constraints (e.g. travel possibilities).

    • Just make sure you don’t “end up bald” at the end of that haircut… Every compromise you make in the direction of higher benefits / minimizing costs increases the risks of project failure.

That’s it… That’s how you should plan the deployment of a Procurement Process Orchestration tool for Intake Management in your business.

As you can see, deployment planning is an art highly dependent on your context and what you’ve got to work with… You will have to make compromises… Just always keep in mind that you are looking to:

  • Maximize user adoption

  • Give yourself time to adjust the design in hypercare for the first deployment waves to new Lines of Business (LoB), including the first one

  • Respect your human (project team), timeline and budget constraints

Let me know what you thought of this 3-week series on Procurement Process Orchestration tools by answering the poll below.

💭 Quote of the Week

Change is not an event. It’s a process.

Cheryl James

That’s it for today.

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Till next time,

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