A Good Negotiation is Key in Technology Acquisition

But whatever you do, please don’t mistake cost savings with value generation. But, as usual, let’s backup.

A recent article over on The Financial Express on the importance of a technology procurement negotiator noted that the art of negotiation has taken on a whole new level of complexity, especially in technology procurement and that discovering the most equitable pricesis a strategic imperative at a time when maximizing returns on investments is paramount.

And this is certainly true, as are most of the other messages in their article. Specifically, such a negotiator must:

  • understand the digital disruption
  • have high intelligence, which must go beyond technical expertise
  • understand the high stakes of technology investments
  • have the personality, worldview, and knowledge to navigate the negotiation beyond the technical aspects
  • be able to reflect on the bigger picture
  • be able to sync with the project

… but the criticality of ensuring that the technology procured provides exceptional value for the money spent cannot be over-emphasized. One cannot understate the importance of understanding the product’s role, functionality, and how it aligns with organisational goals. It doesn’t matter how much you save if the product isn’t the right fit. It’s critically important to not only have the technology experts identify the products that could serve your needs, but the right configurations, the associated services that will be required, and the right partners for the organization.

Additional savings is worthless if it comes at the expense of the vendor removing a key module from the reduced offer, not including necessary implementation or integration services, limiting computing or storage, and so on. If you end up paying significantly more after implementation as a result of change-orders, you not only haven’t saved, but you’ve cost the organization more. This is what often gets missed when negotiators lead. While the eventual owners shouldn’t lead, as they’ll always go with their top ranked provider (even if three systems can do the job equally well, and it’s just a preference as to which system is easiest to use), if they’re not kept in lock stop, it’s easy to miss key details or requirements or stray away from what is truly needed for value generation and ROI in the search for the ultimate deal. This is especially true if the negotiator brings a new vendor in at the last minute for price pressure, believing the new vendor, if not perfect, meets all the key requirements, when in reality the vendor’s platform doesn’t.

This is especially important to remember in SaaS negotiations, where it’s common knowledge that most organizations that buy without using a skilled negotiator are overpaying by an average of 30% or more. This is because an average negotiator’s inclination is to drive for massive discounts to prevent overspend, which might result in not only choosing the less optimal vendor, but the less optimal agreement. At the end of the day, price matters, but ROI matters more, especially in Procurement where the right solution will generate a 5X ROI or more and the wrong solution will barely pay for itself.