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Procurement is the continuous process of purchasing goods and services to support organizational goals and efficiency. In IT (Information Technology), procurement involves sourcing and acquiring technology assets, such as software and hardware, while considering the company's needs and budget constraints.

An effective IT procurement process is crucial for any organization. It helps cut costs, reduce risks, and maximize the return on IT investments. Employees might bypass necessary checks without a well-structured procurement process, leading to inefficiencies and increased risks.

In the U.S. and Canada, companies waste over 1.5 billion dollars and 32 million man-hours due to inefficient procurement processes.[1]

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the IT procurement process, highlighting its importance, steps involved, challenges faced, and best practices to adopt.

What is IT procurement?

IT procurement is the systematic approach to evaluate, acquire, and manage technology resources and services. This process is designed to meet business needs efficiently and cost-effectively. It encompasses several strategic activities, such as identifying technology requirements, researching the market, selecting suitable vendors, negotiating contracts, and overseeing the lifecycle of IT assets.

Key activities for your IT procurement process:

  • Identify your organization's technology needs, from hardware to software and services, to support business operations effectively.
  • Conduct thorough market research to understand available options, including the latest industry trends and innovations in IT procurement.
  • Evaluate and select vendors based on their reputation, cost-effectiveness, ability to integrate with existing systems, and support for scaling and adapting to future needs.
  • Negotiate contracts with selected vendors to agree on terms that meet your organization's budget constraints and business goals.
  • Maximize the use and efficiency of acquired technology by managing IT assets throughout their lifecycle.


By implementing a structured IT procurement process, your business can streamline project execution, reduce costs, and ensure they have the necessary technology resources to support their business operations. 

The role of IT procurement

Effective IT procurement is crucial for any organization. As companies increasingly rely on digital solutions to manage various tasks, having a well-defined IT procurement strategy helps in:

Ensuring strategic alignment

IT procurement aligns technology investments with your business strategic goals. By carefully evaluating company requirements and conducting thorough market research, organizations can select vendors and technology solutions that enhance productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and drive business success.

Mitigating risks

One of the key benefits of a structured IT procurement process is risk mitigation. Without a proper procurement strategy, companies may fall prey to shadow IT unapproved software tools that bypass the IT department's oversight. This can lead to security vulnerabilities, data silos, and missed opportunities for software integration.

A well-defined procurement process ensures that all technology acquisitions are vetted and approved, safeguarding the organization against potential security threats and operational inefficiencies.

Reducing costs and avoiding redundancies

An effective IT procurement strategy helps organizations avoid unnecessary costs and redundancies in their tech stack. Different departments might independently purchase similar software tools without a coordinated approach, leading to duplicate subscriptions and higher overall spending.

By centralizing procurement, companies can negotiate better deals with vendors, take advantage of economies of scale, and manage vendor relationships more efficiently. This reduces the total cost of ownership and ensures that technology investments are used effectively.

Enhancing visibility and control

A structured procurement process provides greater visibility into the organization's technology usage. This makes monitoring software licenses easier, tracking usage, and identifying underutilized or unused tools.

By maintaining a clear overview of all technology assets, organizations can make informed decisions about renewals, upgrades, and decommissioning, thereby maximizing the return on their IT investments.

Market growth and trends

The importance of IT procurement is further highlighted by the growing market for procurement services. In 2022, the global procurement as a service market reached USD 6.15 billion and is projected to grow by 11.1% from 2023 to 2030. This growth underscores the increasing reliance on effective procurement processes to manage technology investments and drive business success.

The 9-step IT procurement process

Step 1: Assessing business requirements

The first step in a successful IT procurement process is clearly identifying the business needs related to the sourced product or service. This involves understanding what specific requirements the business has and how a new IT solution can address these needs.

To begin with, the procurement team should collaborate closely with stakeholders and users of the potential new software or hardware.

During these discussions, several key questions should be addressed:

  • How will this tool be utilized within our organization?
  • What are the current methods for managing these activities?
  • What are the implications of not acquiring this software at this time?
  • Who will be the primary users, and how frequently will they use it?
  • Which features are essential, and which are desirable but not critical?
  • Does this new tool need to integrate with any of our existing systems?
  • What are the budgetary constraints for this acquisition?

Step 2: Assessing current technology solutions

After identifying the business needs, the next step is to review your existing technology stack. This helps determine if you already have tools or relationships with suppliers that can fulfill the new requirements.

For example, if you already use HubSpot for customer service, you might consider their CRM tool. Similarly, if you use monday.com for project management, you could explore creating a custom CRM using their no-code builder. However, discussing these potential solutions with stakeholders is crucial to ensure they meet all requirements and are suitable for the intended use.

Step 3: Evaluating buy vs. build options

If your current technology stack doesn't meet your needs, the next step is to perform a make-or-buy analysis. This involves evaluating whether to purchase a ready-made software solution or develop a custom one in-house or through a third-party contractor.

A make-or-buy analysis assesses the costs and benefits of each option. Buying pre-built software is often the most cost-effective choice for many small to medium-sized businesses. Subscription-based software solutions are usually flexible and high-quality, making them suitable for various needs.

Larger organizations with particular requirements or those that can afford the higher costs, potentially reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars for custom software, might opt to develop their own solutions. This approach can be beneficial if the organization's complex needs are not adequately addressed by existing market options.

Step 4: Vendor research and evaluation

After deciding to purchase rather than develop a software solution, the next step in the IT procurement process is to conduct market research. This involves identifying potential suppliers that can meet your organization's specific requirements.

Start by making a list of all vendors that offer the products or services you need. For example, if you're looking for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, gather information on companies providing CRM solutions. Include details like pricing, features, integrations, and limitations for each product.

Analyzing vendor information goes beyond just listing possibilities. It requires comparing products based on cost, functionality, adaptability, and support services. This helps you make an informed decision that fits your operational needs and budget.

Market research ensures you have a comprehensive view of available options. This allows you to proceed with a well-informed strategy, find the most suitable product, and negotiate effectively once you select a vendor.

Step 5: Creating a vendor shortlist

After extensive market research, the next step is to shortlist vendors based on how well they match your organization's specific requirements. This phase involves narrowing down the list of potential suppliers to those most likely to provide the best value and align with your IT strategy.

Use the detailed needs identified earlier to eliminate vendors that don't fit your budget or lack essential features. This ensures you focus only on viable options, saving time and effort later.

Also, assess whether potential vendors offer native integration with your existing tools. Seamless integration is crucial for smoothly operating new software in your IT environment.

If a vendor's solutions don't naturally integrate but fit well, consider using integration tools like Zapier to create custom connections. While this may not initially disqualify a vendor, it should factor into their prioritization, as custom integrations can add complexity and cost.

Step 6: Evaluating suppliers and assessing risks

Once you have a shortlist of potential vendors, the next step is to vet each supplier thoroughly. This process involves evaluating various factors to ensure the vendor meets your needs and mitigates associated risks.

Key Aspects of Vendor Vetting

Vendor vetting typically includes the evaluation of several important factors:

  • Evaluate a supplier's financial health to ensure they are stable and capable of fulfilling long-term contracts during the vendor vetting process.
  • Assess the vendor's reliability and the quality of their service and support by looking into feedback from their existing customers.
  • Verify that the vendor can handle your organization's volume requirements without issues to ensure they have the capacity to meet order demands.
  • Consider whether the vendor's business practices and values, such as commitments to sustainability, align with your company's ethos during the vetting process.

Risk analysis is a critical part of this process. For SaaS solutions, prioritize assessing software security risks, including the potential for data breaches and the vendor's security protocols. This step ensures that you choose vendors who meet your functional requirements and align with your security and ethical standards.

Step 7: Vendor selection and prioritization

After detailed vetting and risk analysis, the next step in the IT procurement process is prioritizing the shortlisted vendors. This strategic phase involves ranking each potential service provider based on how well they meet the criteria established earlier.

This ranking creates a clear roadmap for making the final purchase decision. It allows your procurement team to focus negotiations and final evaluations on the highest-ranking vendor, ensuring engagement with the best possible provider for your needs.

Depending on your company's organizational structure and procurement policies, this step might also involve getting approval from higher management, such as the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO). Presenting the top three vendors to the CPO for approval is advisable.

Step 8: Contract negotiation and agreement

With vendor prioritization complete and approvals in hand, the next crucial step in the IT procurement process is negotiation. This phase goes beyond simply discussing price; it involves a strategic dialogue about the terms of the partnership, ensuring mutual benefits and setting clear expectations.

When entering negotiations with your chosen software vendors, consider key aspects like Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that define expectations for service levels from the vendor's support team, including response times, resolution steps, and support hours.

Discuss and agree on software uptime requirements, establishing minimum acceptable uptime percentages to ensure reliability and availability. Set specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the software's effectiveness and value, ensuring both parties are clear about the criteria for success and can regularly assess the partnership's performance.

Approach negotiations as a collaborative effort to establish a contract that benefits your organization and the vendor. It's about securing a lower price and creating a partnership that will support your company's growth and technological needs.

By carefully discussing and setting these parameters, you can ensure that the service provided meets your expectations and that there are clear benchmarks for assessing the effectiveness of the software solution. This thoughtful approach to negotiation helps build a strong foundation for a productive and long-term partnership with the vendor.

Step 9: Finalizing the contract

Once the terms of the agreement have been negotiated and approved by both parties, the final step is signing the contract. This step formalizes the agreement and marks the beginning of your new supplier relationship.

Make sure to review all the details one last time to ensure everything is in order.

Challenges in procurement

Here are some common difficulties encountered during this process:

Vendor lock-in: Choosing a vendor that offers proprietary technology can lead to vendor lock-in, making it difficult and costly to switch vendors or integrate with other systems.

Rapid technological changes: The rapid pace of technological advancements can quickly render purchased solutions obsolete, requiring constant updates and replacements.

Integration issues: Integrating new IT systems with existing infrastructure can be complex and time-consuming, often requiring significant customization and troubleshooting.

Security concerns: Ensuring new IT products and services meet stringent security requirements to protect sensitive data can be challenging, especially with increasing cyber threats.

Compliance with regulations: Navigating and complying with various industry-specific regulations and standards can complicate procurement, particularly in highly regulated sectors like healthcare and finance.

Hidden costs: Unforeseen expenses such as maintenance, training, and support can significantly inflate the total cost of ownership beyond the initial purchase price.

Supply chain disruptions: Global supply chain issues, such as shortages of key components or geopolitical tensions, can delay procurement timelines and increase costs.

Vendor stability: Assessing a vendor's long-term viability is crucial, as financial instability or mergers and acquisitions can impact service continuity and support.

Customization and scalability: Finding customizable solutions to fit specific business needs and scalable for future growth can be difficult, requiring a delicate balance.

User adoption and training: Ensuring employees adopt and effectively use new technologies can be a hurdle, necessitating comprehensive training programs and change management strategies.

Sustainability and ethical sourcing: Increasing emphasis on sustainability and ethical sourcing practices can add complexity, requiring thorough vetting of vendors’ environmental and labor practices.

Vendor management: Robust vendor management strategies and resources are required to manage relationships with multiple vendors, negotiate contracts, and ensure service level agreements (SLAs) are met.

Streamline your procurement process with Ramp

Implementing a robust IT procurement process is essential for maximizing efficiency, reducing costs, and ensuring your organization’s technology needs are met. Following the nine steps outlined in this guide, your business can establish a clear, effective procurement strategy.

Consider using Ramp’s comprehensive procurement software to further enhance your procurement processes. Ramp helps businesses control spending from the beginning, automate the procure-to-pay process, and prevent out-of-policy spending. Here are some of the key features Ramp offers:

Control spend from the beginning

  • Automate the entire procure-to-pay process.
  • Eliminate approval bottlenecks.
  • Prevent out-of-policy spending before it happens.

Capture every request in one place

  • Centralized intake to capture any type of spend request.
  • Collect the right details upfront and gain earlier visibility into spending.
  • Build custom intake forms with as many questions as needed.
  • Use dynamic forms that adapt to answers from previous questions.
  • Issue purchase orders or virtual cards from approved requests.

Easily collaborate with stakeholders

  • Centralize procurement discussions to streamline productivity.
  • Comment and tag team members directly in requests or purchase orders.
  • Get notified when tagged, so you can quickly respond.
  • Access the same information across approvers to reduce time-consuming back-and-forth.

Accelerate approval cycles

  • Build automated approval workflows that fit your business processes.
  • Integrate with tools your team already uses.
  • Route requests to approvers based on business-specific conditions.
  • Use a bidirectional sync with Ironclad for seamless contract review and approval.
  • Let stakeholders approve directly in Slack or Teams.

Get full visibility into committed spend

  • Automatically generate purchase orders for clear sight into upcoming invoices.
  • Get a consolidated view of every request and purchase order.
  • Code purchase order line items and sync to NetSuite or QuickBooks.
  • Match invoices to purchase orders for added control.

Ramp’s procurement software can significantly simplify and optimize your procurement process, ensuring you get the most out of your technology investments. Learn more about how Ramp can help your business streamline procurement →

Reference(s)

  1. SURVEY: Inefficient procurement systems cost US businesses $1.5B annually 

Introduction to IT Procurement

1. Importance of IT procurement in modern business operations

2. Definition and scope of IT procurement

3. The strategic role of IT procurement in achieving organizational objectives

4. Distinction between IT procurement and regular purchasing

The Significance of a Structured IT Procurement Process

1. Aligning technology assets with business goals

2. Reducing costs and managing vendor risks effectively

3. Ensuring value and success from IT investments

4. Facilitating technological adaptability and supplier diversity

Comprehensive Steps in the IT Procurement Process

1. Assessing and identifying specific IT requirements

2. Reviewing existing tech stack and considering in-house vs. external procurement

3. Conducting market research and issuing Request for Proposal (RFP)

4. Vendor shortlisting, evaluation, and negotiation

5. Finalizing IT procurement contracts and issuing purchase orders

6. Product quality checks, payment finalization, and performance monitoring

Key Considerations during the IT Procurement Process

1. Understanding and defining business needs

2. Considering total cost of ownership and scalability

3. Vendor research and evaluation for reliability and cost-effectiveness

4. Contract management and negotiation strategies

Overcoming Challenges in IT Procurement

1. Addressing common obstacles like unclear technology needs and vendor selection difficulties

2. Strategies for controlling costs and ensuring data security

3. Integration issues and the role of procurement software in mitigating challenges

Advantages of Cloud-Based IT Procurement Solutions

1. Benefits of consolidating procurement processes on a centralized platform

2. Improving efficiency through automation and real-time collaboration

Leveraging Data Analytics in IT Procurement

1. The role of data analytics in optimizing procurement decisions

2. Utilizing data-driven insights for better delivery times and cost savings

Effective IT Procurement Strategies

1. Requirement outlining and vendor collaboration

2. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) consideration

3. Keeping up with technology trends and innovations

Tools and Resources for Enhancing IT Procurement

1. Strategic procurement software and capabilities

2. Key procurement management software features

3. Resources for further reading and exploration

Best Practices and Tips for Successful IT Procurement

1. Benchmarking and utilizing technology for the RFP process

2. Prioritizing integration, data security, and risk evaluation

3. Stakeholder discovery, scope definition, and contract management

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Group Manager of Product Marketing, Ramp
Chris Sumida is the Group Manager of Product Marketing at Ramp, located in Ladera Ranch, California. With almost a decade in product marketing, Chris has a knack for leading successful teams and strategies. At Ramp, he’s been a driving force behind the launch of Ramp Procurement, which makes procurement easier and more efficient for businesses. Before joining Ramp, Chris worked at Xero and LeaseLabs®️, creating and implementing marketing plans. He kicked off his career at Chef’s Roll, Inc. Chris also mentors up-and-coming talent through the Aztec Mentor Program. He graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Political Science.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.

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