IT buying: Be your company's hero by knowing what to ask

When buying IT products and services, the best price can often be trumped by the best deal.

When buying IT products and services, the best price can often be trumped by the best deal.

What that means, said IT consultant Bill Peldzus, is that the lowest price isn't enough of a goal if an IT contract doesn't include all of the things you need over the length of the purchase.

And the time to get valuable throw-ins is while you're in the midst of negotiations, not after all the papers have been signed and the winning vendor has left the premises.

"The purpose of negotiations is to get the best deal, not to crush your opponent," said Peldzus, vice president of data center and business continuity/disaster recovery for IT consulting company, GlassHouse Technologies.

"Your RFP process should always allow you to come down to the final two" vendors in a shootout for the contract, Peldzus said. "Now it gets very interesting."

Peldzus made the comments at the TechTarget Storage Decisions conference in New York City this week. He shared tips on "Buying Storage -- What the Vendors Don't Want You To Know," in a presentation to about 100 attendees.

The best way to go into the process, he said, is to have as much information about your company's needs as you can gather. By knowing what you need, you can better know what to ask for, through the preparation of a detailed request for proposal (RFP) and then later negotiation processes when you have your final candidates down to two.

One key item for RFPs before the final negotiations even begin is to demand line-item pricing so you can see what every item and service costs. That's important, Peldzus said, because it allows you to compare the costs from vendor to vendor and because it gives you more negotiating room.

"Is this about price?" asked Peldzus. "No, it's about all the other things that are going to make your life easier after you cut the check."

When the deal is down to the last two vendors, that's when you have more leverage to get the best deal, he said. It may not lower the price, but it's the time when you can get the things that will likely make a difference to you later.

So what's important to ask for at that point? What are the things that vendors won't suggest for your contract that you should always ask for?

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Todd R. Weiss

Computerworld (US)

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