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3Quotes are better than none in IT procurement

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Getting quotes from a provider sounds simple enough. However, this critical part of the IT procurement process tends to trip up a lot of implementation projects.

For starters, searching or calling up providers or vendors to provide a request for quotation (RFQ) and request for proposals (RFPs) tends to eat up a lot of time – a resource that tends to cost many companies money as it wastes away. Once, potential providers have been lined up, the company looking to implement a project has to go through the due diligence of assessing each bidder’s capabilities to deliver.

This could be tricky as many organizations just do not have the expertise or resources to conduct such an assessment.

Outsourcing procurement

One option is to outsource the IT procurement process to a third party.

“It typically takes companies anywhere from three to nine months to turn up quotes for a project from a viable provider,” according to Matthew Eyman, president and founder of 3Quotes, a Canadian consultancy firm established in 2009 that specializes in managing the IT procurement process for customers. “Many firms just don’t have the time or domain expertise to manage all the issues involved in IT procurement.”

3Quotes is essentially a broker between companies looking for an IT provider and the IT providers. Its selling point is that it provides its customers the “acquisition diligence” needed to weed out from a slew of providers the ideal providers for the customers’ needs for the right price. After after going through 3Quotes’ process, the customer is provided with “three quotes” from the best candidates for the job.

3Quotes doesn’t get paid if the customer do not end up saving money and according to Eyman, as many as 90 per cent of his customers see an average savings of at least 20 per cent.

To accomplish this, 3quotes consultants hold meetings with customers to assess their needs, potential issues and cost estimates and then consider product configurations and options. 3quotes’ core competencies are in software, hardware and professional services. The company’s coverage include areas such as data centres, servers, networking and cloud computing, telecom, help desk, client devices, printing, displays and peripherals.

The 3Quotes team works with the client to develop a requirements template which is sent to providers as part of a tendering process. Once these steps are accomplished, 3Quotes starts selecting the providers that will provide the quotes. The whole process is transparent and controlled by the client.

Rapid quote delivery

“We turn around the best thee quotes in less than 24 hours,” said Eyman. “Customers get visibility into the process. They get apples-to-apples quotes and the internal decision to sign-off.”

3Quotes selects providers from its list of trusted Canadian suppliers, providers and service firms that includes the likes of: CDW, Softchoice, Insight, SHI, Compugen, LongView, Acrodex, CGI, TUC Managed Services, Jolera, ProServeIT, Buchanan Technologies, CMS and FlexITy.

Eyman said the market for IT procurement consultants is on an upswing especially as technology becomes more complex and intertwined. Many companies just do not have the time or expertise to throw into the procurement process.

3Quotes has over 225 clients across the country mainly in the corporate, education and public sector. These organizations typically has 25 to 25,000 employees.

Capability over brand

He said in many cases, customers are more interested in acquiring capability rather than a specific brand.

According to technology research company Gartner Research, continued acquisitions among tech companies have opened a lot of opportunities for smaller best of class vendors.

“These opportunities stem from users looking for alternative solutions to large vendors, as well as fear, uncertainty and doubt associated with the initial phases of mergers and acquisitions,” according to Chad Eschinger, research vice-president at Gartner.

Ed Saipetch, senior director, for telecommunications company CenturyLink, said that recently he has seen many companies moving away from the single IT vendor model. However, this has been problematic for some businesses.

“Some organizations tend to get stuck in their search for a vendor. They just end up spinning their wheels and losing time,” he said.

Saipetch said outsourcing the IT procurement process can be a viable option but companies need to be careful.

“Some consultants tend to be very sold on certain vendors. Customers must guard against such biases,” he said.