Procurement is a tough job from any perspective. You have multiple requests at once for some kind of technology investment, which must be run through various channels, negotiated (if at all) and then implemented. We find in many cases that the job is made more difficult by a lack of policies in place. Policies are, in many cases, either not in place, not well implemented, or not being communicated. Managing procurement with vendors like Microsoft and Oracle, in some cases, will require its own dedicated person within the organization. This function requires somebody with a lot of specialty to keep up with the frequent changes within Oracle.
One easy improvement that can be made within a procurement process is to have a system in place for analyzing software and hardware contracts as they arrive. Standardized processes are also extremely helpful. In the case of companies that are the product of consolidations or mergers, each company will have different processes which are badly in need of consolidation. It is important to have a real compliance management process with definite policies and enforcement in place. To help with your internal compliance, you need to have some means of doing an internal audit on a relatively frequent basis. If you can’t manage this process internally, outsource it.
With software and hardware vendors, timing is everything in terms of negotiation. With a strict set of policies and procedures in place, your procurement department will be better prepared to respond in a timely fashion and take advantage of quarter and year-end concessions and discounts. Planning and forecasting your needs is also a vital part of this process, but a lack of policy is the most common issue with procurement, a flaw that can end up costing organizations a lot of money.