No internal department is harder to buy for than IT. Because of highly technical specifications, countless requirements, and a trove of IT-specific vendors, many organizations essentially get their IT department's wish list, cut it by 10%, and let them buy what they need on their own.
We know this is a bad idea, but we also like to keep the guardians of our wired worlds happy. In the end, the not-so-best practice of letting IT "go rogue" when purchasing goods and services causes more pain for everyone -- including IT.
Without visibility into IT spend, purchasing has no ability to consolidate vendors, leverage volumes, or negotiate better contracts -- let alone assure that IT is spending prudently. AP often has to hunt down non-PO invoices that are sometimes found under a coffee mug in the server room.
As a result, IT finds itself in the center of a mess it never meant to create: answering endless calls and emails from AP looking for invoices, packing slips and other documentation; fielding inquiries from purchasing about the value, location, warranty status, repair and maintenance history of IT assets; and conducting its own frantic searches for software, hardware and documentation.
Instead of giving your IT department their wish list minus 10%, we suggest a more thoughtful approach. With enablement from a purchase-to-pay system and guidance from you, here are five IT buying tricks that will make everyone's life easier:
- Purchase Orders -- Get IT on an automated PO system. Front-end approvals and visibility make all the difference on the back end. Since most IT users are natural techies, they warm up to the automated PO creation and approval routing pretty quickly. With the visibility gained from our PO system, one of our customers was able to consolidate all printer purchases to HP -- who in turn provided $75,000 in free printers (how's that for a stocking stuffer?).
- Online "IT Only" Catalogs -- Move IT goods and services to online catalogs or punch-outs that IT users can easily browse through from any computer. Every item has the negotiated price built-in, giving you peace of mind that you're properly leveraging contracts. If a user doesn't find what they need, they simply open a free-form request. And since the catalogs can only be viewed by IT, you eliminate the risk of other departments making unauthorized purchases.
- Kit Creation -- Several of our customers create new employee kits for IT, grouping a phone, laptop, docking station, mouse, etc. into one package that can be ordered in just one click, saving countless hours of tedious and costly search time.
- Asset Management -- One grossly overlooked activity is the tracking of IT assets after they are purchased. Look for a system that can track the location, work order history, warranty status and even the total cost of ownership of all IT assets. Make sure it's flexible enough to apply IT-specific attributes like hard drive size and installed software.
- Automated Invoice Processing -- kill the paper IT invoices that choke the back-end productivity of your AP department by storing, coding, matching and routing invoices digitally. Your IT department will wonder why their vendors are so much happier -- until you tell them they're getting paid much faster.
So this season, give your IT department what it really wants: more time to focus on what they do best.
-- Mark Schaffner, VP of Marketing, Verian