Jan. 25, 2016
Summary of ProcureCon IT Europe conference   The following is a summary of some of the key ideas and discussion topics from the ProcureCon IT Europe conference, organised by Worldwide Business Research (WBR) on 24 and 25 November 2015 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.   5 Prominent Ideas and Themes   Providing your customers with information so as to be able to concentrate on more high-value work. The low value stuff should run itself. Develop catalogues, publish information on how to obtain quotes, list the key contacts at suppliers, provide contract summaries and information on purchasing channels. By doing this you can focus on important tasks of negotiating savings, developing category strategies and bring more spend under management. Audits are on the rise and the big vendors show no signs of stopping this lucrative practice. All of the big software vendors have a policy of auditing their customers at least once every three years. One delegate claimed that one quarter of IBM’s revenues in fiscal year 2015 came from audits. This is not news to anyone, but few are prepared. IT is becoming such a key part of almost all businesses. Most business are now tech companies who happen to sell insurance, or seats on planes, or whatever. Digitalisation and eCommerce is everywhere. The app or the website (and everything interacting with that app or website) is now fundamental core business. No modern business can keep up with the tech, so supplier selection and managing the IT purchasing process is key. Procurement people have to be able to think with the business people and with the technologists, and then add value through traditional purchasing capabilities. The importance of having high-calibre people is critical - “its the people stupid”. Many delegates complained that software vendors are publicly marketing cloud as “flexible - scale up scale down” and “only pay for what you need”. However, old habits die hard. When it comes down to doing the deals, commitments are king as usual. Software vendors are expecting 3 - 5 year commitments with minimum volumes etc. Same old same old. As usual when you get over 100 software procurement professionals in one room, there was a general distaste for the behaviour of the big software vendors. Mention Oracle, Microsoft, IBM or SAP and everyone has a story to tell about how manipulative their sales tactics are. However, one delegate suggested that we (i.e. procurement people) need to realise the importance of ensuring that our buying power does not crush the smaller vendors. SME software vendors need to be in healthy financial shape if they are to be viable long-term partners. This point was met with general agreement from around the room. One delegate agreed, adding that the biggest risk of doing business with a smaller vendor, is the low priced deals that the vendor might be doing with other customers which might result in financial weakness.   5 Top Tips   Propose an audit clause in your agreements with software vendors - especially if your data is going to be sitting in the cloud. Even if this is not especially a concern, you could use it as a bargaining chip to remove or soften their audit clause. When examining a software licence agreement, look at the licence grant and focus on what you are not allowed to do with the software. Ask yourself if you can live with that. Find out what the vendor is being measured on. For many vendors, at the moment, it is selling more cloud hosted solutions. With some of software vendors, you can get additional discount on traditional on-premise software deals by merely displaying an interest in their cloud solutions. As a procurement organisation, do not limit your KPI measurements to only savings. The old Peter Drucker quote is as relevant as ever: “what gets measured, gets managed”. Measure things like innovation brought to the business by the procurement department. Firstly, this will encourage procurement staff to suggest innovative solutions. Secondly, it will get people in the business thinking… “is procurement supposed to do that?” opening their eyes to the value we can provide. Another measurement which was recommended was to measure customer satisfaction with a survey sent after an interaction with procurement. Stories are important to building the identity of the procurement department. They can make procurement staff feel proud, and they can foster a positive attitude from business units towards procurement. It was recommended to have a stock of these stories ready to present /publish when appropriate. These could be a mix of lessons learned, case studies, success stories, white papers etc. Doing this well propels the procurement department along the journey to becoming a trusted advisor to the business.   3 Inspirational “Tweatables”   Three quotes from Alastair Henderson-Begg, Global Head of IT Procurement at Hoffmann-La Roche, whose presentation got a standing ovation.   “Customers do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” “It’s the people, stupid.” “Be humble - humility goes a long way to winning the BU’s trust.”
Oct. 25, 2015
Interview with Benhilda Mlambo on how companies can integrate IT systems quickly and prevent the loss of value during a merger or acquisition.  Benhilda Mlambo is an MBA student at the University of Bath and is writing a thesis on Transaction Costs of Achieving IT and IT-dependent Synergies Post M&A. In this conversation we discuss: what can go wrong when companies of different sizes merge; how the integration of IT systems can help phycological and cultural integration; why some companies stay separate after a merger; and the need for an independent view when it comes to the choice of systems. Show notes for this episode can be found at http://softwarespend.com/013    
Sept. 9, 2015
High Risk Stonewalling Situations Being on the receiving end of stonewalling is not fun. When licensing enterprise software, you are particularly at risk when: you have no choice, and the supplier knows it; the software is business critical and there are expiring licence keys; your relationship with the supplier is poor; or the supplier does not like the direction you wish to take the negotiations The Six Stonewalling Mistakes Avoid these 6 common mistakes to limit the likelihood of being stonewalled by the supplier. 1. Failing To Set Effective Project Deadlines If you do not hand out precise actions and deadlines at the end of every interaction with the supplier, then most sales people will assume that they have a right to rest on their laurels until you chase them. Of course, when you chase them they can claim to be busy and stonewall you. So continuously set clear deadlines for the project as a whole and then also for each particular task or deliverable requested. Make this part of your checklist for meetings with the supplier that you a) check on progress; b) reevaluate timelines; and c) confirm expectations. If possible, give yourself some buffer when setting these deadlines. If you need information for an internal meeting on Friday, tell the supplier that you need it on Tuesday. That gives you two days to chase. 2. Using The Wrong Communication Methods You can leave six dozen voicemails for someone, but if you need to escalate those voicemails won’t be much use to you. Emails are “for the record”. They should be formal, forceful and frequent. Describe clearly what the next steps are and the timelines. When things go wrong and you need to escalate to get temporary licence keys over the Christmas holidays, you will be glad that you documented the supplier’s lack of cooperation in an email. Phone calls are for chasing - at least in this context. If you don’t get an answer leave a voicemail, and then write an email saying that you have left a voicemail. Text messages get through. Ignoring a text message to a mobile phone is much less socially acceptable than ignoring an email, so use this communication method to reinforce the others. Social media Whilst Facebook is definitely off limits for business communication, LinkedIn is fair game. Not only can you pester the sales person on LinkedIn, you can also get round the stonewall by reaching out to their senior management to request cooperation. 3. Banging your head against “take it or leave it” proposals In essence, what the supplier is telling you when they stonewall you is: “there is an offer on the table, take it or leave it”. Avoid this, and keep the conversation going by continuously asking for something slightly different. The more aggressive and resolute the supplier is being, the more you should couch your requests in language that makes you appear reasonable and seeking a resolution (this is not to say you give in or give up). 4. Not Escalating Early Enough If you wait until 23 December to start complaining to the supplier’s senior management about lack of cooperation in a software renewal, the escalation is not going to be effective. You may simply get a stonewall “take or leave it” response from them also. Try to start escalating at an appropriate time, citing the sales person’s tardiness as the reason that the deal will not get done 5. Rapport Building People do business with people. Building rapport and getting to know your negotiating adversary is important in order to understand what their motivations are, but also because the goodwill built up during the negotiations can be called upon at crucial moments in the negotiations. When it comes to being subjected to the tactic of stonewalling, the more rapport you have built up with your contacts at the supplier, the more difficult it will be for them to ignore your communications. 6. Losing Control Of The Negotiations Remaining in control of a negotiation is difficult as a procurement professional. Skilled sales people will always be trying to diversify their contacts within your organisation, especially with your business stakeholders who sign the cheques. Maintaining control requires the confidence of your business stakeholders. Regular status updates during formal meetings with documented progress reports is the best way to ensure this. If the supplier starts to negotiate directly with your BU stakeholders, then you, personally, will be stonewalled and the negotiations will go on without you. Another example of losing control relates to the supplier receiving too much information.  Licence inventories, demand forecasts by business unit and budgets for the cost of the software should never be provided to the software vendor. Once they know how much software your business units need and what is in the budgets to pay for it, you have no chance of negotiating an improved deal. Keep all exchanges of information within the context of the negotiations and give nothing away unilaterally. The advice above will not protect you completely from this negotiation tactic. However, having a documented email trail showing that the supplier did not cooperate will make it easier to escalate within the supplier’s organisation to have licence keys and renewal deadlines extended, and bring the supplier back to the negotiating table.  
Sept. 2, 2015
  Higher Authority is a negotiating tactic whereby you reduce confrontation in negotiations by having a unidentifiable and inaccessible board make the decisions on a deal. In this episode of SoftwareSpend, Christiaan explains how this can work in different situations.
May 24, 2015
Software licence audits: advice on how to prepare for and defend a licence audit from any software vendor. Advice gleaned from a recent ITAM Review seminar.
Feb. 13, 2015
A discussion with Adrian Vaughan on third party support providers like Rimini Street, building savings funnels, effective stakeholder engagement and the hype around cloud.
Nov. 14, 2014
  Christian Shawcross is an experienced recruitment consultant for procurement and supply chain positions at PSD Group. In this interview, Christian gives lots of useful advice on succeeding in the procurement job market, and insights from the recruiter’s point of view on how organisations view software and technology procurement.
Oct. 22, 2014
Lora and Christiaan explain the dos and don'ts of negotiating IP indemnity clauses in software licensing agreements. 
Oct. 17, 2014
Escrow agreements - what are they really worth? Christiaan delves into why you would want to enter into an escrow agreement.
Sept. 15, 2014
Lora Valtcheva explains intellectual property ownership clauses in software licensing agreements.