When it comes to procuring new technology for an enterprise, many organizations today often don’t know what they actually want from the software they're trying to procure.
They know the pain, but not how to translate that into a solution. Once the solution is articulated, it’s smooth sailing – but getting there is another story.
That’s where a tech procurement consultant comes in.
In this article, we look at what technology procurement is and why it’s valuable, particularly for mid-sized enterprises.
What is a technology procurement consultant?
Technology procurement consulting is essentially what it sounds like: hiring a consultant to help your organization buy a technology solution.
The basic rationale is this: As organizations grow, they find themselves stretching outside their core competency. This usually means acquiring technology that they don’t have an in-depth knowledge of, thus making procurement a challenge.
A technology procurement consultant helps organizations navigate waters they may not know very well so they can choose the right technology for their business.
Technology procurement consulting serves the dual purpose of providing leadership throughout the procurement process, and security afterwards in knowing that the selected solution has been properly vetted against all of the organization’s business needs.
An example: Acme Cafe
For instance, let's say you're the owner of Acme Cafe.
You’re growing fast, and your single store has now grown to ten outlets.
Suddenly, you need a supply chain management system because your manual system isn’t getting milk to the right place at the right time.
But your core competency isn’t buying or managing supply chain management software – it’s making coffee.
When you open new cafes, you are great at choosing the espresso machine. But supply chain management software? Not so much.
To solve this challenge, you might retain a technology procurement consultant with a depth of knowledge in supply chain management software to help you buy it and implement the system throughout your organization.
That, in a nutshell, is what a technology procurement consultant is – someone who helps you find and choose the right technology for your specific business challenge in areas that are outside your core competency`.
Why hire a technology procurement consultant?
Now that we know what we’re talking about, why bother hiring a procurement consultant? After all, you’re a smart person! You can navigate the challenges of major tech purchases with ease!
Well, yes and no. There are a few areas where a tech procurement consultant can both expedite the purchasing process and achieve a better outcome for both the organization and the project stakeholders.
1. Short term cost for long-term saving
The challenge with technology is that, generally speaking, the time when you need an expert is right at the start.
For instance, let’s say you’re switching from a freemium CRM like Streak to a paid platform like Salesforce. You probably need help setting up your Salesforce environment, building out the system, naming files, importing data, and mirroring a digital workflow to how you make deals.
Now fast forward 12 months, and your Salesforce will essentially run itself (optimizations aside).
A consultant can offer expertise and insight when you’re deploying new technology, without the commitment of an ongoing relationship.
2. Industry experience beyond your industry
Organizations retain procurement consultants for their expertise. Think of it this way: most organizations will only buy a new genre of software every 5-10 years.
For instance, once you buy a digital asset management system (DAM), you’re going to extend the lifetime of the investment and not buy a replacement a year later (assuming it didn’t cause massive organizational problems).
But procurement specialists do this every single day.
They’ve overseen the purchasing of countless systems, and therefore have had much more opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t.
And that experience is incredibly valuable.
For starters, it means you have a guide in a world you might not know well. They know the vendors, pros and cons of different options, can tell you how to future proof yourself and can read past the marketing jargon into how a technology actually works.
Second, while no one likes to admit this, many diverse organizations have similar needs. So while it might feel like you’re unique, any challenge you’re having has probably been encountered and overcome by others before. A consultant can help present solutions based on what's solved problems like yours in the past.
3. Organization expediency
When it comes to mid-sized companies, one thing is certain: organizational politics are going to play a role.
And when it comes to technology that everyone is going to use, like a CRM, CMS, DAM, website, app, or a custom solution, one thing is for sure – everyone’s got an opinion.
It’s easy to end up with too many cooks in the kitchen.
A consultant offers a third party, objective voice of authority that can consolidate needs and prioritize requirements. The result is project that delivers a better result in less time than when organizations try and go it alone.
4. Pre-existing vendor relationships
Finally, technology consultants – because they consult every day – usually have great familiarity, if not direct relationships, with the tech vendors they recommend.
Not only does this mean the quality of service you’ll receive is superb, it also means the organization is privy to other useful knowledge like discounts, payment options, additional implementation support, feature requests and releases, customizations, and more. All of these are on the table when you use a technology consultant.
Consultants can also play the role of a bulk purchaser, getting better deals on solutions because they might bring multiple deals to a vendor.
Technology procurement consultants are people who specialize in identifying organizational requirements and matching those seamlessly with technology solutions.
Organizations use technology procurement consultants because, as companies grow, they need to buy solutions beyond their core competency…
… and don’t have enough need to make it a part of their core competency.
Using a technology procurement consultant comes with 4 primary benefits:
You save money in the long term because you get extra help when you need it without the long term commitment and cost of hiring
You get industry expertise in technology you know little or nothing about
An objective third party voice can cut through office politics and expedite the purchasing process
Pre-existing relationships with vendors give you the inside scoop on what software to buy and what software to avoid.