As technology has evolved, traditional corporate roles, and the delineations between them, have blurred. Nowhere is this perhaps more evident than in the corporate telecom arena where IT and procurement now overlap each other vying for ownership of the telecom relationship. Sometimes this causes confusion – and occasionally, some rivalry – over which department should wield the reigns.
The answer, if you’re doing things right, is both. IT and procurement each have a stake in the outcome of how you source and procure telecom services for the enterprise. Procurement will drive the ‘paper’ defining the relationship between your provider and you, and IT will manage the technologies being bought, implemented, and maintained.
Both must work together to achieve the best results for the organization but they often have different goals. Those goals need to be reconciled for the relationship to work effectively for the entire organization.
Man in the Middle
The procurement team is there to protect the company’s financial assets, to ensure the best pricing, and yield the greatest efficiencies possible. IT is there to make sure the right technologies are in place to serve all the organization’s legitimate telecom needs.
While procurement is tasked with ensuring compliance with purchasing policies even as they seek to reduce costs, the highly specialized, complex nature of telecom contracts often means they are operating without all the benchmark intelligence necessary to guarantee the best possible deal. That’s where enlisting the expertise of a telecom negotiating team can prove to be one of a company’s best assets.
Inherent with the roles it is often assumed that IT will be biased (of carrier relationships, technologies, etc) and Procurement will play the unbiased role. Sure, pricing is pricing and services are services but there are factors beyond the spreadsheet that need to be considered and vetted.
Without a bridge between IT and procurement, both departments can find themselves with a deal that satisfies neither one of them. Procurement is wrangling contract terms for the development and implementation of telecom systems they won’t have to manage and IT is left trying to manage systems that may meet purchasing guidelines but don’t do the job or sufficient resources weren’t set aside to complete the implementation as contracted.
The key to a successful outcome is to engage a telecom contract negotiator at the outset. The negotiator can evaluate the services at the lowest element in the carrier’s billing systems, breaking it down to its most fundamental state.
They can identify and remove anomalies in the existing arrangement and validate and incorporate future requirements in the new contract. This “book of business” is then presented to the carriers in the context of leading-edge pricing benchmark intelligence. The floor isn’t so much opened for bidding as the gantlet has been laid down; you’re telling the carrier you know what you need, what you don’t need, what’s possible, and what is acceptable. You’re no longer asking the carrier, “What’s the best you can do for us?” You’re telling them, “Here is what we expect.”
And that’s the difference between getting a good telecom contract and the best possible contract. Procurement is satisfied because negotiations complied with internal processes and the most competitive terms were realized for the company. IT is content because they were able to match the new agreement with their existing and future infrastructure needs.IT was also involved in defining the resource requirements to meet their service level agreements to the organization.