Getting IT Onboard with Procurement Technology Decisions

One more paper from 2018 to update you on ...

How to get IT onboard with your procurement technology business case, was sponsored by leading spend management firm Coupa. It is available, free on registration here  and addresses an issue that comes up surprisingly often: when procurement has a good business case for investment in technology, maybe even has financial approval to go ahead, and then runs into a roadblock in the shape of the technology function, the CTO / CIO or similar.

In some cases, Technology can exert what is in effect a veto and simply say “no” to the investment, leaving the procurement folk (and perhaps the solution provider) extremely frustrated. So why does this happen and what can you do about it? It may be that there is inherent hostility between the two functions- if you have made life difficult for IT on a procurement project, they might not be very accommodating when you want their help on an IT implementation! But there are other more valid reasons for IT concern - here is an extract from the paper that starts to explain what can go wrong.


Part 1 - Why Does The IT Department Raise Objections?

Aside from “revenge” as a motive, there are several factors that may be influencing IT to act in a negative manner, and it is vital that procurement leaders understand these if objections are to be overcome. We suggest procurement people need to get inside the heads of their IT colleagues and understand why they might act in what appears to be an unhelpful manner. Remember, the Harvard Negotiation Project has pointed out that in the negotiation context, when we think others are behaving illogically, that is usually not true – we just don’t understand their motivations. Bear that principle in mind and look to analyse how IT might feel about your new technology project. For instance, the following issues may be front of mind.


A common objection from IT is based on workload. IT departments are always busy (so are procurement teams, of course), and IT is particularly susceptible to “urgent” events, from data breaches to systems failures to the CEO  needing a new laptop. Any new request or the prospect of IT having to carry out extensive implementation work will be viewed through that lens. The workload issues continue into system running, with demands from users for customisation or changes in permissions or workflow bringing more work to IT. Some solutions are very demanding of IT; in other cases, designed-in flexibility and ease of use means that users can do a lot themselves without involving professional technology staff.

Fear of the Unknown

In addition to simple workload, if the product is not one that they are familiar with, IT may be fearing the unknown. Will this new system require IT to undertake considerable amounts of training themselves, or to recruit new people? Will existing “experts” be vulnerable because they won’t understand the new system in the way they do the current portfolio? This factor is one of the key reasons why the preferred IT approach is often based on using an existing solution provider, rather than branching out into new territory, even if the new option offers apparent business benefits. IT executives tend to be risk-averse in terms of new providers for a number of reasons, but this is key. It's also important to remember that while procurement leaders may be very familiar with a particular software vendor, that doesn’t mean IT will also know the firm or even their name. A lack of familiarity breeds suspicion.

(Download the Paper to read more about IT’s likely objections – and how to overcome them)

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