Strategic Purchasing

Writing an order for millions of dollars is stressful. The pressure put on you to make the right choices is immense, thousands of man-hours were required to amass the currency that is now going to be invested in assets that the organization will need to use effectively to extract the ROI required to justify a purchase so large. The decisions of what to buy, from whom, how to implement the change it brings with it are massive responsibilities.

IT buyers fortunately have many options to choose from, not that it makes the process easier, but with a plan of attack the problems that are faced by many groups that have bought the wrong product, paid too much, had difficult implementations or any other shortcoming in ROI can be avoided, even with strategic vendors that are difficult to change.

Beginning with the end in mind flattens the choices that are available, bringing new options in that might not have been seen before and eliminating others before investing time and resources to them. Teasing out the needed performance characteristics, future-proofing inside of the lifecycle, connected systems that require or would benefit from updates due to the proposed changes of the first system, changes in workflow, labor and systems management, the more detail that can be brought into the brainstorming, especially when it is specific to your organization’s needs, processes, innovation opportunities and long term strategy, the more that you will get out of the activity in the form of actionable guidance for the purchase.

You can then weight the wants, needs and nice-to-have features that you’ve created in order to directly compare all the products and services you will be entertaining as possible solutions to your need. Obviously a need will have to be fulfilled by every option you are considering, but a want, like said unit taking up less than 6U of rack space could be negotiable, even mitigated by some other aspect, and it might just be nice to have an electrical draw of less than 1400W, thus only having a minor score. Choose your own weighting scores, as many levels that you want, just apply them evenly to each solution when the time comes, adding up the scores and dividing the purchase price by the proposed solution’s weighted score to give you an abstracted measure of how good a solution is for you.

Call your sales resources in, you may use many VARs or only a single one, but that’s no matter here just have them get solutions that match your needs and bring manufacturers around to show how their product meets your needs and wants. The more the merrier, best to let all of them know of each other’s existence in the process so that they get particularly aggressive in their pricing for you.

With your organization specific feature-weighted scores in-hand you now have a simple, lower is better, score guide by which to directly compare solutions that are very likely to have more than a few differences. The weighted list of needs and wants created ahead of decision time guided your VAR resources to find plenty of compatible competitive offers to choose between. Now you’re in decision time with simple to use scores on each option guiding the order process with more than just brand logos, presentations and free lunches to base your decision on.

Would you like a worksheet to guide your own weighting process?

Fuck your processes

They’re limiting instead of empowering.

The behemoths of business have delineated processes because they don’t trust their employees, supervisors or management to do anything right when it is decision time.

Processes are the rails that a train rolls on, they facilitate ease of travel along predetermined paths, but they don’t account for all the other value available to an organization just off the beaten path.

Empowering individuals is like presenting them with a dual-sport motorcycle, where they go from then on baby, they don’t need roads.

roads

Value is created in the wild, opportunity and danger around every corner, with imagination, new approaches for answering previously unknown questions.

The meteoric rise of industries that were previously unnecessary and frequently laughed at is due to the founding members and driving forces behind them discovering the value that their creations brought to people and organizations all over the world. Facebook is approaching 2 billion regular monthly users to connect, share and brag. Shortly after their initial listing on the stock exchange they were struggling to meet their revenue goals and the future of the business was questioned despite already being one of the dominant driving forces of the internet.

There were no processes available the world over to help ol’ Zuck figure out how to right his ship, they had to fight and claw into new markets, creating new value for users and buyers. Good thing for them that is what the company had been built on, it led them to a 2016 fiscal year with $10 billion in profit.

Facebook may have figured something out and written new processes for their business in the course of fighting for their rise and survival. I’m sure that they aren’t sticking to those processes though, they’re simply using those well-worn tracks to get to that next stop where they need people who will step off that train and race into the unexplored territory to make a name for themselves and bring new value to the business.

Are your suggestions squashed for the sake of processes that were created for value that has already been realized? ‘No’ is not a rebuke of you or necessarily even your ideas, but it is a signal that there may not be enough value in your recommendations to change or set aside processes for new territory.

You should try to restate your proposition so that those around you catch your vision, it’s the new value that is praised the highest. Vice President positions are created for people that successfully bring new value to organizations, you can’t get there by sticking to your processes.