October 13, 2023

Technology Adoption in Procurement - What's working and what's not?

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In today's fast-paced business world, using technology in procurement isn't just an option; it's a must-do. The way companies buy and manage their suppliers has changed drastically with technological advancements. Old-school manual methods are no longer efficient or cost-effective. However, despite the obvious advantages of adopting technology in procurement, it's not a walk in the park. There are challenges to overcome. That's where understanding human behavior comes into play.  

In this webinar (and article), we'll explore the underlying psychological drivers of technology adoption for individuals based on the UTAUT (Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology) model and the effectiveness of initiatives to influence these drivers at Emmi as discussed by Simon Berweger, Head of Emmi Procurement.

The theoretical background  

Behavioral research tells us that when it comes to getting people to adopt any new behavior, there are two important things to consider. First, we need to make sure people have a positive attitude about it. Second, we should create an environment where adopting a certain behavior encouraged and supported by the people around them, like colleagues or friends.

But what does it actually take for individuals to perceive a technological tool as something helpful and valuable and have a positive attitude towards it?

This is where a further development in research can help us that focuses specifically on technology adoption. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), developed by Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, and Davis in 2003, is a widely recognized model in the field of technology adoption and acceptance.

It combines various elements from prior technology adoption theories into a unified framework. Here's an overview of its key components:

Performance Expectancy: This factor assesses the extent to which an individual believes that using a specific technology will enhance their job performance or make tasks easier. In simpler terms, it's about whether people think the technology will help them do their work better.

Effort Expectancy: Effort expectancy relates to the perceived ease of using the technology. If users believe that using the technology will be straightforward and won't require a lot of effort to learn and operate, they are more likely to accept and use it.

Social Influence: This factor considers the impact of social factors on technology adoption. It examines how much influence opinions and recommendations from friends, colleagues, or other influential individuals have on a person's decision to use the technology.

Facilitating Conditions: Facilitating conditions refer to the extent to which individuals believe that they have the necessary resources, support, and infrastructure to use the technology effectively. If they feel that these conditions are in place, they are more likely to adopt the technology.

Behavioral Intention: Behavioral intention represents a person's readiness and willingness to use the technology. It's influenced by the factors mentioned above, such as performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social influence, and facilitating conditions. Higher intentions indicate a stronger likelihood of actual technology use.

Actual Use: This is the final step where the individual's behavior is assessed in terms of whether they have actually adopted and used the technology.

By considering these elements, we at Archlet have tailored strategies to address the specific factors that influence users' decisions.

Strategies based on the adoption drivers above that worked for Archlet and Emmi

Performance Expectancy

  • Always explain how the tool in question solves THE USER’S problems. Simon specifically mentioned that it was crucial for him to understand his “internal” customer.
  • Demonstrate how users could spend more time on tasks they actually enjoy or do their current job better. If possible, you can let already successful users share their expertise (a strategy that also caters to the driver “Social Influence”).
  • Incentivize (or penalize) usage to show how usage could lead (or hinder) career advancement. It should be clear how usage of the tool contributes to the overall business goals and how each and every user can thus contribute by using the tool.

Effort Expectancy

  • Demonstrate ease of use with demonstrations or videos and don’t forget to take first time users by their hand to be close and quick to identify success hurdles.
  • Show how the technology fits into existing processes/ technology landscape. This is important to avoid that users have a negative first experience because they tried to use a tool to solve an ill-fitting use case or problem.
  • Compare it to something they know (how is this like – or better than – Excel or a different known tool) but also never forget that learning something new takes time. Simon’s approach here was to ensure that everyone had the extra time to get started so they don’t feel rushed and overwhelmed (find more on this in “Facilitating Conditions”)

Social Influence

  • Make learning and adopting a group task. For Simon, being able to also hide behind a larger group can be a good way to “safely” learn about something new and see that everyone else is just at the beginning of their learning journey.
  • Let a colleague/internal influencer do the talking/convincing. At Emmi, it was important to increase management awareness.
  • Create a forum for exchange or regular roundtables to share expertise. This could also help to spread the message that it is “cool” to work with a tool like Archlet.

Facilitating Conditions

  • Invest in an easily accessible knowledge hub and for Simon, in professional tool marketing. He and his colleagues tried to make it impossible to not know about Archlet by sharing information in commonly used channels (Intranet, etc.)
  • Enable contact to internal and external champions. Leverage opinion leaders internally and making it easy for new or unexperienced users to see who is using a tool to great effect has proven itself to be a success driver at Emmi.  
  • Don’t forget to SUBTRACT! Try to identify practices that can be abandoned or other tools that will be replaced so that users need to worry about one less thing and can concentrate on learning something new.
  • At Emmi, using Archlet is encourages as a best practice. Simon pointed out that a next step could be to make it mandatory and tie specific performance targets to it.

The key learnings for Emmi

  1. Ensure you understand the “internal customer” and their challenges
  1. Steer perception and increase awareness with proactive communication on all levels (Tip: The ADKAR model offers a great approach for change management initiatives like these)
  1. Make usage of a tool a target, but offer plenty of support and adequate time for learning and upskilling

Watch the full webinar here.


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