When it comes to procuring new software, the IT department can find itself in a difficult position.
In some cases, they’re responsible for buying a software solution when they’re not the executive sponsor nor the front line employee using it. Other times, they’re brought in as a stakeholder, but their feedback isn’t given proper consideration since they are not the end-users.
But either way, it is still the IT department that ultimately has to implement and support the solution.
In this article, we look at six best practices to make IT procurement processes go smoothly, both for IT stakeholders and for other stakeholders in the procurement process who are working with IT.
1. Assign a champion
Make sure your IT procurement project has a champion. It’s easy for projects to drift when they’re a problem everyone knows you have to solve but no one is owning the responsibility of actually solving it.
This champion doesn’t necessarily have to be from the IT department. More often than not, it makes more sense for them to be from the team or department directly involved, to help increase adoption. IT can play a supporting role in seeing the project implemented successfully.
2. Get IT involved in the RFP/RFQ process early
There’s nothing worse for a project champion slaving away over an RFP and then sending it off to the IT team for approval only to have the whole thing needing to be overhauled.
Include IT early so any technical objections or integration requirements can be raised upfront and save everyone from a headache later on.
And on the other side of the table, if you’re part of the IT team, make sure you dedicate time and resources to RFP/RFQ processes and offer the input that will set the project on the right path as early as possible.
3. Ensure IT’s concerns are understood, not just heard
There’s a recurring problem in technology procurements that can be boiled down to a lack of understanding.
Whether relevant departments don’t understand technically how the product will work beyond their own experience, executives don’t understand the technical integrations, or vendors don’t understand the requirements or implementation specifications, a lack of technical understanding by stakeholders can plague a project.
All of these challenges can be resolved by IT teams ensuring they’re included early and those same teams take the relevant precautions to ensure the technical perspective is well-understood – not only what’s needed, but why.
4. Present solutions
IT procurement is fundamentally about solving problems. Make sure it’s clear from the beginning what problem you’re solving with technology and how that specific technology solves it.
It’s easy to get caught up in “we need a new [technology platform]!” way of thinking. When really, as a business, you never need a new technology.
What the business needs is more leads, fewer bottlenecks, lower costs, or higher revenue – and these are facilitated by new technology procurement.
But the fundamental reason to buy something isn’t to own a thing, it’s to further business objectives. Make sure that’s well understood throughout the procurement process.
5. Resist the urge to build instead of buy
A recurring problem we run into is the enthusiasm and perceived cost-saving measure by IT teams and businesses in general to build instead of buy.
Rarely does this work out effectively:
The solution you can build is almost certainly not going to be as polished as the one you can buy – after all, a team of specialized developers have been building that solution for years, whereas you’re new to the challenge.
There are rarely enough resources available to both maintain existing IT infrastructure AND take on major net new development projects
The total cost of ownership, including salaries, means that it’s rarely, if ever, cost-effective to build over buying.
But the trap is undeniably tempting. Before you decide to build over buy, make sure you consider the total cost, not just the sticker price.
6. Find solutions that work for you
Very few organizations actually need the top-shelf solution presented in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.
Rather, organizations need to find solutions that are best for them.
Don’t fall into the trap of paying extra for industry-leading software when you really need a bare-bones solution.
Evaluate the business needs and objectively weigh it against the full range of offerings on the market.
There you have it: six ways that you can streamline your next major IT procurement.
With these principles in mind, you should feel better prepared to find software to accelerate your business and solve your specific challenge, rather than end up in the IT Procurement Quagmire of endless meetings and few decisions.