A Unique Opportunity

            One of my favorite events each year is the IT Procurement Summit produced by Caucus – the Association of Technology Procurement Professionals

            What sets the IT Procurement Summit (ITPS) apart from other conferences, seminars and workshops is that its intimate size creates an environment charged with enthusiasm for the profession. 

            Thanks to the efforts of the Caucus Executive Advisory Committee – a dozen dedicated volunteers from some of the nation’s leading enterprises – hundreds of topic suggestions and dozens of speaker applications are distilled into an information-packed two day, multi-track event. ITPS speakers are actual practitioners of the trade, bringing their practical experience and insight into every session. 

            The ITPS isn’t “pay to play;” that is, speakers don’t pay for the privilege, and they don’t attend with the purpose of hawking their wares. (In fact, supplier participation and access is carefully restricted.) 

            Speakers are carefully selected based on their professional experience and the topic of their presentation.  The result: a more compelling presentation and a more compelling conference. 

            And because of its intimate size, networking opportunities abound. So it’s a great chance to meet others in the profession, problem solve, and share ideas, information and experience.

            The 2011 IT Procurement Summit will be held on October 27 & 28 in Orlando, FL.

            There are two unique opportunities in connection with the ITPS will disappear on December 31.

            First, the Caucus Executive Advisory Committee issued its Call for Speakers earlier this fall.  If you’re a dynamic speaker with experience in the technology acquisition field, then you can contribute to the profession by submitting a speaking proposal by December 31.  More information may be found here. 

            Second, the Caucus Executive Advisory Committee has authorized steep discounts for those people who register by December 31 and pay by January 31.  Caucus members can register for $895 per person and non-members can register for $1,295 per person.  Email Caucus Members Services or phone (407) 740-5600 for more information.

            I hope you’ll consider taking advantage of these opportunities, so you can see why I think it’s such a great event.


Do You Care about the Long-Term?

            A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Senior Manager who bought in to the “We’re Your Partners” supplier ploy hook-line-and-sinker.  Later, I had a conversation with an IT procurement practitioner (our hero) at a major NYSE-listed company. 

            It seems that an executive with his company was hell-bent on signing an agreement with a particular vendor despite the fact that the agreement was not in the best interests of the company.  Our hero explained all his objections and refused to sign off.  Despite internal procedures that require our hero’s signing off on all such agreements before they’re executed, the executive went ahead and executed the contract anyway.  (I can’t wait to see how this works out.)

            These two events got me thinking.  Nowadays, do we care more about short term results than the long-term ramifications of our decisions?  Are our decisions being driven by a “git ‘er done” mentality rather than what’s best for the company?  Are bad decisions being made because people know that it’s unlikely they’ll be around when things start to come undone?

            How are decisions botched in your organization?  How are successful decisions made? Feel free to comment – anonymously of course!

Our guest blogger is Dan Wallace, a staff member at ICN and Caucus-The Association of Technology Acquisition Professionals. For information on the time-tested, best-practice methodology called the Managed Acquisition ProcessTM, contact ICN.  If you have a story worth sharing, please contact ja4@dobetterdeals.com. 

Technology Acquisition Professionals to Convene in Chicago

(Orlando, FL – 07/28/10) CAUCUS, The Association of Technology Acquisition Professionals, announced it is holding its 2010 IT Procurement Summit (ITPS) in Chicago on September 20-21.  This is the 15th year Caucus will hold this significant industry event.  “Our members have been working hard to organize this event,” said Sarepta Ridgeway of CenterPoint Energy and Conference Chair.  Professionals, both members and nonmembers, will attend to learn the very latest best practices for putting together cloud computing and SaaS deals, software license agreements, telecom transactions and service level agreements.  Risk management , supplier relationship management and CTPE / CTPS Certification classes with exam  will be among the other subjects or areas to participate in.

The annual summit provides acquisition professionals with the latest information on all facets of the acquisition process.  “Networking opportunities abound, many of the interactions initiated at the conference develop into long-term business relationships,” said association founder Joe Auer. “If you do any type of technology acquisition, this is where you need to be on September 20-21.  The presenters are the very people that do these types of deals…everyday!”

Attendees come from a variety of disciplines including procurement, finance, legal, IT and contract management and represent organizations of all sizes from all sectors of the economy, including large global corporations;  small and medium sized businesses; not-for-profits, government agencies, states and municipalities.

The 2010 ITPS will be at the InterContinental Hotel on Michigan in Chicago and the early-bird has a deadline of August 12th.

Caucus – Established in 1994, Caucus is the only association serving the specialized needs of technology acquisition professionals. Members come from a variety of disciplines including procurement, finance, legal, information technology and contract management.  Membership gives them an invaluable edge – the Caucus Advantage. Caucus also provides certification in this field as a CTPE or CTPS.



Worldwide Software Negotiations Training Coming to the UK

(London, 15-6-2010) – Worldwide IT Contract Negotiations Training Company, International Computer Negotiations (ICN), is coming to the United Kingdom on July 1-2, 2010, for their highly acclaimed Software: Issues, Contracts, Negotiations training class.  For 35 years, ICN has been training Global 1000 companies on how to Do Better DealsICN’s Software Negotiations Training has taught over 1000 IT buyers how to do better licensing and development deals. Click here for more information.

“How Software is Protected, Key Licensing Ingredients, Software Development, Pricing Models and Strategies, Avoiding Litigation, Prioritizing Objectives are just some of the topics the business community will see,” says CEO Joe Auer Sr.  People looking to register for this 2-day event must do it in advance.  Training will take place at the headquarters of BP in London and sign-up is available through http://dobetterdeals.com. “Anybody that is involved with the acquisition of Software, including legal, IT, finance, procurement and contract or vendor management, needs to see this course,” says Auer.

Since 1975, Winter Park, FL based ICN has provided critical training and consulting in high tech procurement, vendor management, and negotiations, establishing a reputation that sets it apart from the competition.  Internationally, ICN has presented both public and customized on-site seminars in countries around the world including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.


Negotiations Pioneer Announces New Course

(Orlando, FL – 04/08/10)  Today, procurement and technology negotiations pioneer International Computer Negotiations (ICN) announced the addition of a new advanced course to its curriculum.  For 35 years, ICN has been training Global 1000 companies in how to Do Better Deals, and its new SLA Lab: Results-Based Contracting was developed to teach best practices in the use of service level agreements with suppliers.

CEO Joe Auer states, “Early in the acquisition process, effective negotiating teams must agree upon the concept of which contractual approach they will use to drive the deal. ICN’s advanced training course SLA Lab: Results-Based Contracting helps you understand the difference between contracting for resources and contracting for results and shows you how to implement a ‘results deal’.”

This “results versus resources” decision establishes which side of the bargaining table will bear the responsibility for the outcome you’re expecting from the deal. In a “results deal,” the vendor is responsible, while in a “resource deal,” it’s the customer.

Auer continues, “In SLA Lab, you’ll gain an understanding of critical elements that can help you shift risk and responsibilities to the vendor and monitor ongoing compliance.”

The training classes are open to the public and are available privately all over the world. The first class will be conducted in Chicago (May 27-28, 2010) at the AMA. Registration information along with a detailed outline is available at http://www.dobetterdeals.com or 407-740-0700.

Since 1975, Winter Park, FL based ICN has provided critical training and consulting in IT procurement, vendor management, and negotiations, establishing a reputation that sets it apart from the competition.  Internationally, ICN has presented both public and customized on-site seminars in countries around the world including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.


Tyrus Cooper


1133 Louisiana Ave

Suite 100

Winter Park, Fl 32789


Maximize Your Power in a Sole Source Deal

By Joe Auer

The absence of competition can make any deal arduous. You’re starting at a negotiating disadvantage, and if you aren’t begging yet, you soon will be when the supplier figures out its position.The only way to avoid having to beg is to create alternatives — or the illusion of them.

Your having negotiating power is the best defense against a cozy incumbent offering higher costs for the same service. If you don’t have any, create some. Here’s how:

First, issue a Request For Proposal (RFP). Even if it’s issued only to the incumbent, it gains you power, especially if you can keep the vendor’s solo status a secret. I’m not suggesting you lie about what you’re up to — just that you shut down the vendor’s normal information flow that lets him know everything that’s going on with your organization.

Second, just wait for the response. Suppliers tend to fear the unknown and will fear the worst, responding with an aggressive deal to keep the account. A major midwestern food company saved $3.3 million on a version of this strategy, the whole story to appear in a future column.

Third, review the supplier’s proposal and refine your negotiating strategy based on the supplier’s response to your stated requirements. You now have leverage. Go for what’s important, striving always to reduce, or limit, price and risks while obtaining more contractual protections. Incidentally, you can add certain new contract issues to the bid requirements and correct some relationship problems you may have had with the vendor.

Fourth, begin to negotiate aggressively with the supplier. Stress you may prefer to renew the relationship but they must earn the business to continue. Remind them they are a preference, not a need. Press on with the negotiations, but build in some down time to allow the supplier to think you may be negotiating with others.

Your supplier probably suspects you don’t have any real immediate alternatives. Your best defense is to point out to the supplier that thereare always alternatives. Then, start discussing alternatives thatdon’t include the incumbent supplier. Note: Developing the best alternative to a negotiated solution before you negotiate is a proven strategy. Focus your supplier’s attention on keeping your business, rather than maximizing its position.

Defending Your Process

Recently, on a software acquisition, a supplier confronted a sophisticated customer that has a good deal-making procurement process and commented, “Gee, your procurement process takes too much time.” This comment just happened to be skillfully laid as well before the customer’s technical architect.

This popular vendor ploy is normally effective for two reasons. First, it can disarm the procurement process by convincing the technical architect the process itself causes unreasonable delays and puts the project time line in jeopardy. The alarmed technical person then pressures the “bottlenecks.” This divides the customer’s team as it pits technical person versus procurement person.

Second, this ploy attempts to eliminate competition by suggesting the lengthy investigation and evaluation of others is unnecessary, since the perpetrating vendor could immediately provide the solution were it not for that cumbersome procurement process.

Fortunately in this case, the technical architect was experienced and trained on vendor ploys. He recognized this ploy for what it was and clued in the rest of the acquisition team.

The team responded to the supplier in the best possible way: “This is our procurement process. We use it for all procurements, and you are expected to adhere to the process just as your competitors do. Also, please be reminded you are under evaluation and any more subversive behavior will be viewed very negatively.”

The user also stressed to the unruly supplier that careful attention was paid to determining requirements so fact-based decisions can be made. And with all the clarity the statement deserved, the user added, “We take the time to do it right the first time.”

By taking this stance, the user instantly disarmed the ploy and re-focused the supplier’s attention on meeting requirements and keeping up with competition. It also clearly sent a message that the customer was committed to a disciplined process that could not be subverted — and was in control of the relationship. Now that’s a recipe for a successful deal.