IT and Procurement. Can we ditch the stereotypes?

Two things caught my eye this week on the ongoing love/hate relationship between IT and Procurement.

IT doesn’t like Procurement

An article in Computer Weekly, 10 June 2008 print edition under the title: Procurement teams fail to serve IT. It reports on a talk given by Andy Kyte from Gartner. Some quotes from the piece:

Andy Kyte said that some businesses spend as much as 90% of their IT budgets on third-party suppliers but fail to get good value for money. Kyte said that IT procurement teams often act as if the only stakeholder they work for is the finance departments, and this is the reason why many deals do not add value and even lead to projects failing.

And, directly quoting Andy: “There is an obsession with cutting costs in IT procurement, but IT is about ensuring a better quality service to users.”

You’d expect Andy Kyte to know his stuff when it comes to procurement. After all, he’s featured here at AribaLive 2005.

Procurement doesn’t like IT

Which brings me to the this posting on the Ariba blog about Software As A Service vs IT. Here’s one quote: “it seems clear that IT’s tight grip on all things digital is gone and end users are winning the war.”

Which war? Justin goes on to explain:

What business user can survive without access to SaaS applications like WebEx or Salesforce? After a long battle over letting those and other apps through the network gates, the end users have won. IT simply can’t hold their end users back, strangling their productivity as more and more critical applications move online.

So can we ditch the stereotypes?

The stereotypes are there in full effect: From IT’s perspective, procurement is only about cutting costs. From Procurement’s perspective, IT is a gatekeeper which prevents users from doing business effectively. Sure there is some truth to both of those stereotypes. Yet at the same time there are CIOs who are looking at ways to break down information barriers within and between enterprises just as there are CPOs who are looking to generate value beyond unit price savings. From what I’ve seen in my professional life so far – which has touched both IT and Procurement – the similarities between the functions are greater than the differences.


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