The task of buying IT equipment and services requires a professional to have a number of key skills, experts agree.
People skills. To Brian D. Kelley, CIO of Ohio's Portage County, that means someone who can work through problems and bring parties to consensus and agreement.
Good communicators are able to cultivate relationships with the IT department as well as vendors, elaborates Patrick Campbell, a senior consultant and instructor with International Computer Negotiations, which provides consultant and education services related to IT procurement. Of high importance is the ability to identify and bring together stakeholders and facilitate cooperation and action among them, he says.
Experience in structuring contracts. Buyers need to be able to construct deals that include incentives and penalties, payments tied to milestones, nondisclosure agreements and other pertinent requirements and then work with lawyers to fine-tune terms and conditions.
An understanding of the organization's technology as well as insight into how that technology meets the organization's objectives. "There has to be credibility. An IT director or an IT officer or a CIO isn't going to feel comfortable handing over a [purchasing] negotiation to someone who doesn't know IT," says Campbell.