Table of Contents
Defining Business Needs
Purchasers are no strangers to the high-technology industry, which is as old as this century. Radio was advanced by the invention of the triode in 1907. Television was perfected in 1926, and the word "electronics" was coined by the new magazine of the same name in 1930. After World War II, the high-technology industry began to advance rapidly, mushrooming during the last two decades. It is this wave of unprecedented development that has caused purchasers to focus on technology as an area requiring special consideration.
Understanding Technical Needs
Technology requires not only an understanding of a specialized body of knowledge, but a keen awareness that this body of knowledge is being redefined regularly. One of your primary tasks in purchasing technology-based products and services is simply keeping up with the latest developments. You should use all the material at your disposal to stay current, including:
Working with Suppliers
A key characteristic of purchasing technology-based products and services is that supplier participation usually occurs early on, especially if custom work is being done. Another factor in these supplier relations is that, due to a competitive marketplace, partnerships may endure for the life of the contract only. In other words, you may realize at the end of any contract period that another supplier can offer you the best product or service to meet your needs. Therefore, choosing and managing a supplier for technology-based products and services is often a changeable process requiring the utmost consideration.
Developing a Strong Contract
The procurement of technology-based products and services is an area of purchasing in which the "buying" and the "contracting" are closely aligned. This is because early supplier involvement is frequently required. Product/service development helps define the contract almost from the start. Finalization of the contract comes when all parties are satisfied that all requirements are completely understood and can be met.
JAMIE P. CHANDLER
Jamie P. Chandler is a manager for American Express Company in New York, and works for its Corporate Services division. He designs electronic tools for business travelers, and has also worked as a business strategist for the company's Global Procurement organization. A graduate of Harvard University, Mr. Chandler has published articles and given speeches on reengineering business processes and procedures; leveraging technology to streamline the procurement function; and using the Internet as a purchasing and marketing tool.
Roberta Nuttall is an attorney specializing in commercial, government, and international contracts. Her most recent appointment was to the United Nations as a procurement officer in Cambodia. She currently works as a consultant for the Global Procurement organization at American Express Company in New York. Ms. Nuttall reengineers processes to procure large-dollar commodities via effective contracting. She holds degrees in English from the University of Michigan and Columbia University, and a degree in law from Hofstra University.
- NAPM InfoEdge, September 1995, "How to Buy Purchasing Software"
- NAPM Insights, February 1994, "Automatic Faxing — Information Technology in Purchasing"
- NAPM Insights, August 1994, "Wireless and Remote Technologies"
- NAPM Insights, October 1994, "Tomorrow's Top Information Technologies"
- NAPM Insights, January 1995, "A Quick Study in Economics and Industries"
- NAPM Insights, March 1995, "Make vs. Buy — Technologically Speaking"
- NAPM 81st Annual International Conference Proceedings. "The Assessment and Management of Software Products' Procurement Risks," National Association of Purchasing Management, 1996
- NAPM 81st Annual International Conference Proceedings. "Managing High-Technology Suppliers," National Association of Purchasing Management, 1996
- NAPM 79th Annual International Conference Proceedings. "Strategic Contracts with Software Suppliers," National Association of Purchasing Management, 1994
FOR FURTHER READING
- Laudon, Kenneth C. and Laudon, Jane P. Management Information Systems: Organization and Technology, 3rd ed. MacMillan, 1994
- Jones C. Assessment and Control of Software Risks. Yourdon Press, 1994
- Meyer, Marilyn and Baber, Roberta. Computers in Your Future. MacMillan, 1995
- Proceedings of the 18th International Software Engineering Conference, March 1996. "System Acquisition Based on Software Product Assessment"
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