IT directors burdened by complex procurement processes, study finds

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of IT directors are concerned that software...

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of IT directors are concerned that software procurement is becoming increasingly complex, a UK survey shows.

The survey of 200 IT directors, which was commissioned by Microsoft, reveals that 65% of IT said that complex procurement processes delayed software implementations.

Some 80% said that a lack of flexibility in contracts slowed down the buying process, and 72% said the unwillingness of suppliers to be accountable had a negative effect on deals.

Gillian Austin, legal director at technology law firm Olswang, said IT directors want contracts that are easy to understand and do not need a lawyer to interpret.

"That boils down to a simplified approach and the ability to speak to the software supplier if they need something specific such as licensing for phased implementations," she said.

Microsoft is calling for suppliers to change the way they sell software.

"We do not see many other software suppliers expressly acknowledging the existence of the issue and want to act as a catalyst to push this in a more positive direction," said Dervish Tayyip, head of legal for Microsoft in the UK.

"There is clearly a need for industry-wide change," he said. "We think the time has come for someone to take a visionary approach to addressing the issue rather than sticking our heads in the sand."

Microsoft said it planned to improve its procurement process by delivering better terms, which will allow customers to negotiate software contracts more quickly and cheaply. Microsoft also plans to reduce the number of standard contracts it offers to customers through its customer and partner experience programmes.

Austin said Microsoft had made agreements easier to understand, widened the scope of IP indemnity to protect customers from third-party claims, and increased warranty periods to give companies enough time to test products thoroughly to ensure that they work properly.

David Roberts, chief executive of The Corportate IT Forum, said, "We are delighted that Microsoft plans to try to solve an issue it was in the main responsible for causing."

He said coroporate users of IT would take a close interest in the software supplier's bold announcement and would be watching carefully to see what actions are taken as a result.

"However, it is vitally important that this needs to be a customer-led initiative rather than a supplier-driven one. Corporate IT users must be involved as a driving force from the beginning, otherwise the result will be as costly and complicated as before," said Roberts.

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