Getting to grips with IT procurement best practice

Putting in place an effective IT procurement policy may not be the most scintillating task ever faced by a CIO, but it is one that organisations in the Middle East need to pay attention to

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  February 1, 2007

Putting in place an effective IT procurement policy may not be the most scintillating task ever faced by a CIO, but it is one that organisations in the Middle East need to pay attention to. Procurement policy remains a murky world in this region with a range of factors - including some that may not actually have the organisation's best interests at heart - influencing the final decision.

It shouldn't be an arduous task. Work out the company's IT requirements - be it hardware, software or services - put out the RFP, set a clear timeline and wait for the suppliers to come back with an offer. Analyse the bids, test the solutions on offer, maybe ask for a trial or a demonstration, and then make the final decision based on an impartial analysis of the results.

Let's cut to the chase here and admit that the reality is very different. Even in mature markets such as Western Europe and the USA, the procurement policies of large organisations and public sector bodies are under intense scrutiny. From RFPs that are so detailed that they preclude all but a couple of suppliers from bidding, to the influence of personal relationships on the final decisions, procurement is never a straightforward process.

There's no reason to believe that the Middle East market is any different. For the Middle East enterprise IT sector to really move forwards, the market needs to start a dialogue on the pros and cons of the various vendors working in specific sectors. To date, the market has concentrated on the pros of the vendors that win specific projects, with the end users in question queuing up to sing their praises.

The real intrigue lies in an understanding of the rationale behind the supplier choice and also the level of customer satisfaction with the project outcome. A CIO or IT manager who has spent several million dollars on a significant software purchase is going to laud their choice of supplier, explaining why they made the right decision and outlining the technical supremacy of the solution.

They are not going to say that they have had second thoughts; that in hindsight they wished they had selected a rival product and that the implementation was shoddy. After all, the CEO might be listening and admitting to an expensive procurement mistake could be career suicide for a CIO or IT manager.

As Middle East organisations strive for greater efficiency and business transparency, expensive purchasing mistakes can no longer be swept under the corporate carpet. They will come back to haunt the IT managers and CIOs that signed off the purchase order. If your IT procurement policy is flawed, you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Look out for our feature on procurement policies. Enjoy this month's ACN.

“As Middle East organisations strive for greater efficiency and business transparency, expensive purchasing mistakes can no longer be swept under the corporate carpet.”

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