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Getting the most from your technology procurement

As governments embrace digital to engage and interact with citizens, getting the most from technology acquisition is critical to agency transformation.

Technology procurement is a critical issue and potential impediment for agencies wanting to fast track into the digital world. Poorly managed it leads to cost blowouts, delays and in the worst-case litigation.

Many cloud applications have a set of terms and conditions, which are often weighted in favour of the provider, with little ability to negotiate any terms. When projects go wrong this can often leave an agency with poor remedies.

Technology acquisition — especially when buying as a service through a cloud provider — is still quite immature, and often means the checks that would normally be made for a more visible project or product, are not made.

Once acquired, it is often hard to switch providers, so there is a real need for agencies to invest much more heavily up front in the acquisition process.

In my view agencies also need to have a real appreciation of what might be called “market practice” and the tried and tested negotiation techniques of suppliers.

Too often agencies struggle to define what result they hope the technology procurement will achieve. What will the technology do and how will this be measured? What will be the consequences of the technology failing to meet those metrics? Again, early engagement really is key.

To help agency leaders through this process we have developed a technology procurement handbook which provides a checklist of things to consider to make sure the technology delivers what you need within the cost and time parameters you set.

The handbook reflects many of the problems we have seen among clients and really tries to help agencies to ask the right questions. This will hopefully mean they avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes involved in technology contracting.

The handbook is designed for specialist procurement advisers, contract advisers and executives tasked with ensuring the project is successful. It is also a handy resource for in-house legal advisers as it seeks to provide a road map for ensuring instructions are accurate and capture all the relevant issues.

More at The Mandarin: Catering for the digital age – the road ahead for agencies

Author Bio

Tom Burton

Tom Burton is publisher of The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He has served in various public administration roles, specialising in the media and communications sector. He was a Walkley Award-winning journalist and executive editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. He worked as Canberra bureau chief for the Australian Financial Review and as managing editor of smh.com.au. He most recently worked at the Australian Communications and Media Authority.