Who should negotiate a software selection?

by

Jim and I were meeting with an organization last week that is embarking on a large software selection process. We talked with them about how to run the process fast and efficiently, choose the best vendor and get the best deal possible.

Since then, I’ve been noodling on one question they asked us: Who should negotiate the software contract? I didn’t have an immediate answer; Jim and I both cocked our heads and looked at each other and practically said at the same time, “probably the best team you have, regardless of their department”. We’ve seen good negotiations led by IT execs, business execs, procurement, legal, and outside consultants, and bad ones led by the same. Since then, I wondered if others had a more specific perspective on this question, and so I did a little searching on the web.

I was actually pretty underwhelmed with what I found. There were a few basic collections of tips from a variety of sources that are worth a skim, including Information Week, Forrester and Gartner. I also found one relevant blog on the “who should negotiate” question that Ray Wang just published yesterday.

Based on some further thought and a little reading, I’ll offer these additional guidelines to backup my first answer of “it depends”:

  • It should be a team rather than an individual, since it is unlikely that one person has all of the knowledge and experience to negotiate the deal, unless it is something very small. The team will likely be a subset of the selection team, possibly with an additional member or two from legal or procurement.
  • The team needs to be established at the beginning of the software selection process, when negotiations begin. Negotiations left until the end of the process leave a lot of money on the table.
  • That team should be consistent across vendors, and should be the only group communicating with those vendors.
  • Legal likely needs to be involved at some point. They will consider risks and unforeseen circumstances outside the core evaluation.
  • Procurement may need to be involved, especially if there are cross-project or cross-domain synergies.
  • And most importantly, the team must have domain expertise. That includes a deep understanding of the company’s needs and requirements, the vendor’s capabilities, weaknesses, and interests, and the overall vendor landscape.

As always, I’d welcome other opinions … who do YOU think should negotiate a software selection contract?

READ MORE

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

Shifting Perspectives: 3 Learnings From a 3-Day Training

About a week ago, I completed the second live (virtual) training in the process of becoming a Certified Professional Coach through iPEC. Once again, my mind was blown! It reinforced for me that virtual workshops can, and do, work, and, in a lot of ways, I prefer them...

read more
Finding My Work-Life Balance

Finding My Work-Life Balance

In my previous post, I told the story of how I got back into consulting after becoming a mom. All of the diverse experiences I had during that journey have helped me to find my work-life balance by… Defining Boundaries “Go home,” my first boss said 12 years back —...

read more
How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

How I Got Back to Work After Being a Full-Time Mom

I Landed My Dream Job Throwback to 2014, I had completed my MBA, landed my dream job as a consultant, and was hoping that my new consulting career would exponentially ramp up my career growth for the next 5 years. This would position me to take on critical decision...

read more
Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

Self-Awareness is Key to Belonging

In August of this year, as part of our annual company meeting, our team at Thought Ensemble participated in the foundational session of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training led by Dr. Nika White, IOM, CDE (she/her/hers). One of the most meaningful moments...

read more
Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

Finding Your Organization’s Magic Pixie Dust

It is often said that organizational culture is like a fog — it is all around us; it impacts our ability to see, to move quickly, and to deliver; but we cannot quite put our finger on it. Indeed, some organizations see their culture as a byproduct of operations,...

read more
We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

We’ve Refreshed Our Brand!

Why have we refreshed our brand, you ask? Well, as we have grown and matured as an organization, we felt that our previous brand elements no longer represented us as well as they could. You see, we founded Thought Ensemble back in 2008 to help companies better compete...

read more
Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

Thought Ensemble’s Purpose — Inspired in 2020

I recently wrote about how company purpose is being tested and inspired by all the events of 2020. This topic is very real for us at Thought Ensemble. We’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters as we’ve navigated the...

read more
How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

How 2020 Is Testing and Inspiring Corporate Purpose

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable rewrote their statement of corporate purpose. I followed this with significant interest being that I have never forgotten the debates about corporate purpose in business school almost two decades ago. We were taught that the...

read more
Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

Why Purpose-Driven Organizations May Struggle With Change

I love working with companies who really want to make a difference, beyond just making money for their shareholders. I mean, making money is fun and all, but it is even more rewarding to join in on a just cause. Plus, as this HBR article explains, companies who have...

read more