Covid-19 recovery: A CIO’s playbook

Agile IT procurement in a post-COVID world

During the pandemic, organizations adopted transformational sourcing and procurement practices to drive savings, speed, and agility. They may never go back.

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Over the last several months, IDC has hosted several virtual roundtables with sourcing and IT executives on technology sourcing and COVID-19 recovery practices. One theme that emerged is that agile sourcing practices are driving their recovery strategies.

For some, the shift to agile procurement happened out of necessity. "When COVID hit, I had to accommodate new IT procurement requests by doing master agreements in less than three hours," one senior procurement executive told us. "But then we went back to our risk-based negotiation, doing speedy risk assessments to see where the tolerance was and whether we could mitigate risk in a contractual relationship. If we couldn't mitigate certain risks, we did a risk advisory," she notes. "We used a quick risk assessment of the situation to expedite negotiations or click through terms and keep going. After COVID, we'll come out with a leaner and more practical, flexible, and agile procurement process."

Towards an agile approach

Organizations have long recognized the difficulty of the traditional procurement cycle, anchored with the ubiquitous request for proposal (RFP). As one Fortune 500 CIO recently commented, “We spent a year developing ERP specs to include in an RFP only to find that the technology landscape and capabilities had changed. We literally fell a year behind.”

Indeed, with digital disruption, an overly cautious and extended traditional procurement process introduces its own risk component: when competitors move more quickly and the technology changes more rapidly, slow-moving procurement can leave a company flat-footed and vulnerable.

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