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Complete supplier or best of breed? This is how you become a great buyer of IT.

A crossroad | To install or buy IT are two completely different things. If you want to become a good buyer, you have to let go of the thought of daily control and quick fixes. Instead it’s all about long-term work with focus on how the average delivery is working.

Complete supplier or best of breed? This question is as old as the IT departments themselves. Here are some pros and cons of each strategy – and what they mean for your organisation.

Complete supplier

You have one or just a few contact points with your supplier. With a clear contract and well defined SLA’s, you will be able to follow up what you get for your money relatively easy.

IT is of course a complex delivery and it’s difficult to move from your own operation and development to outsource the operation and surveillance for example. It can be hard to measure the level of service which was apparent earlier in the delivery – and translate that to a contractual agreement which is measurable. The buyer simply don’t know – here and now – what they need.

“Outsourcing in big organisations especially is difficult if it’s done as a big bang. The result is that you have bought things you thought was needed for the organisation, but then you realise that it doesn’t quite live up to the needs.”

The recommendation is to  develop together with a complete supplier. The operation and surveillance is divided into several steps, that way you can develop and complement the delivery as the need arises. This means that the contracts need to be written in a way which allows flexibility in every step of the delivery.

Best of breed

The best consultants or technicians rarely work with the largest consultant and operating companies. You find them with small, niched companies – often using the cloud as their method of delivery. Of course you get better support – even if the hourly rate is considerably higher.

The cutting edge consultants do however put higher demands on you as a buyer. You need to keep track of the status of the project and the different deliveries and you also need to get the different suppliers to effectively work together. You simply need more of your own project managers who controls the big, important projects.

“Just because you’re a good consultant doesn’t mean that you’re good at cooperating with other consultants. The consultants also usually don’t have the incentive to cooperate. In many cases they are competitors who wants to protect their own business.”

The recommendation is that the client never lets go of the role as project manager in the IT projects that matter. Informal leader roles which arise with external consultants usually result in botched projects where everybody blames everybody else. With clear project manager roles and good tools for overall project management, you can benefit of all the cutting edge competence which you can buy in from niched consultants and suppliers.

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