14 April 2005 | David Arminas
Good relationship management skills are essential if IT purchasers want to get the best from their suppliers, according to Sandy Duncan, the new chief operating officer of consultancy and web-based procurement provider TiVA.
"IT is fundamental to a business and so much is outsourced now that purchasers must have a core competency in relationship management," said Duncan.
"When things go wrong in a contract the effect is felt in weeks rather than months," he added.
Duncan was previously director of group purchasing at financial services firm Bradford & Bingley, where his responsibilities included a £30 million IT budget. The majority of this value was outsourced to IBM and BT "for everything from hardware to software applications to telecommunications."
He left in December 2004 and was acting chief operating officer at TiVA until 1 April. He was also chairman of the Financial Services Purchasing Forum in 2004.
He said his three years as head of procurement at Bradford & Bingley showed him that "purchasers have to sweat their IT assets" to get value for money.
However, there are still "adversarial attitudes" on the part of both supplier and buyer.
"The heat has to be taken out of this relationship and objective performance measurement is needed for both sides to understand how relationships are going."
He said consultancies such as TiVA can help by establishing performance data, but ultimately it is the responsibility of suppliers and purchasers to make sure they work to better understand each other's needs.