A guide to indirect spend #3: IT hardware - Supply Management

A guide to indirect spend #3: IT hardware

26 March 2012
So far we have looked at the strategies you could use to drive value in both office supplies and IT consumables. This week we are considering the challenge presented by IT hardware. Galloping technology innovation and an ever-increasing circle of CAPEX and OPEX purchasing choices have changed the IT hardware sourcing landscape. Once relatively simple, it’s a category now crammed with more components parts than the average circuit board. From running your own data centres to renting everything hosted in the cloud, the sourcing team has to understand the respective merits of these different approaches and be able to compare and contrast the impact of real estate, support, maintenance and obsolescence as part of the package. While the market offers many suppliers that could provide a total solution, from server arrays to tablet PCs, there are now so many facets to an IT hardware portfolio that it pays to look at its composite parts, even if your final choice is a single supplier or “total solution”. Assessing market forces such as the fluctuating price of steel, likely product longevity and the wider costs of comparing purchasing and owning IT against virtualisation or rental are also vital. It’s obviously important to work closely with the IT decision makers to build your sourcing around the organisation’s IT strategy and objectives, understanding how different choices might impact issues like information security, business process efficiency and general productivity of staff. You should also evaluate whether best value could be drawn from one IT solution provider meeting all product requirements and supporting the organisation through installation, training and use and maintenance. If you’re looking for more than just the hardware itself, all service requirements must be factored into the tender process. If your IT department already has the capability and bandwidth to provide these services, sourcing through a range of competitive product resellers could well be the way to go. By organising your IT hardware sourcing into lots, either based around a specific product set, or a broader list of technical specifications, organisations can utilise e-auctions here to quickly source much of their inventory at best price. IT hardware choices are undoubtedly becoming more varied and complex – there’s much more to this category than simply choosing the right box at the right price. Collaboration with IT is critical and so is in-depth consultation with potential suppliers to understand their full package. I recommend casting the net wide to evaluate different approach options and seeking business value in terms of IT performance rather than simple best price. ☛ Temeena Hussain is a sourcing consultant at Wax Digital. Next week: Professional services
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