It isn’t news to say that purchasing outsourced IT services
can be complex. Oftentimes, enterprises can get tied up in knots while trying to create context and understanding around the many different approaches, platforms and suppliers that are available to them. However, it’s also important to realize that much of that complexity is birthed within the organization; comprehending and navigating your own internal buying center can sometimes be the most complex part of the equation. Consequently, to provide maximum possible impact it’s often best to understand your own buying center before going external.
Any IT purchase journey begins with an assessment of the goals of the organization. Why are we considering this and what is our target outcome?
Once those goals have been identified and agreed upon, it’s smart business to build a roadmap to success. Much like a marketing team will attempt to map out the influencers and buying patterns of an organization it’s trying to sell in to, that roadmap should begin by taking stock of the influencers, trends, politics and other procurement realities that will come into play. Begin by identifying all stakeholders and identifying their role in the decision-making process. In large enterprises, this can be in the neighborhood of 10 people, typically including the CFO, CIO and/or CTO, head of procurement, as well as titles such as VP of Infrastructure, VP of Application Development, VP of Network Services, VP of Telecom
, etc. Catalog their departmental strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Consider their desired outcomes – for instance, the CFO will surely be looking for cost containment and risk management, while the CIO may be looking for a significant expansion of capability with budget concerns being very secondary. If possible, consider the selling path you want suppliers to travel within your buying center. The industry is filled with IT providers complaining of being ping-ponged back and forth between various departments, levels and agendas. If you’re able to prescribe a systematic approach that suppliers must follow, both the organization and your partners will reap the benefits. Mapping out your own internal buying center can make the procurement process go more smoothly by creating a process of alignment. While it’s unlikely that all stakeholders will be fully aligned at the outset, a logical roadmap for the decision will help to facilitate compromise for the good of the enterprise. When it comes to maximizing the ROI of a multimillion-dollar IT purchase
decision, it often begins with a simple commandment: Know thyself.