Chapter 3 – Create a DDaT procurement category

By now you will have started to think about why procurement needs to be part of the multi-disciplinary team (chapter 1) and you will have started to consider who uses your procurement service.

This chapter introduces the need to create your own Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) procurement category.

I started to draft a blog about procurement governance. In fact, it’s supposed to be more about Minimum Viable Governance (MVG) (for the procurement of DDaT), because, lets be honest, it’s all a bit out of kilter at present.

Whilst drafting I kept getting stuck on the view that: people on governance boards need to know the subject they are trying to do governance on. Well I think so anyway.

That made me think: category structures within procurement functions need rebalancing to include DDaT.

The category approach

Procurement people like to work in ‘categories’.

An example of a category is Utilities. This includes gas, electric, water.

Another example is Travel. This includes, trains, planes and automobiles (and a few other things too).  

This category approach is a good thing. It creates expertise, allows for greater planning, enables strong market awareness for buyers, etc.

Procurement categories are driven by an overarching strategy and this strategy typically includes:

–      savings targets

–      routes to market

–      governance

–      trends and future.

A common category in both the public sector and private sector is the Information Technology (IT) category. This traditionally includes:

–      Hardware

–      Software

–      Telecoms.

Its not just about hardware and software

The last decade has seen a steep rise in new technological things. As most of these new things involved a ‘computer’ procurement teams commonly lumped this spend in the IT category. That was fine 10 years ago (kinda gulp), even 5 years ago (a real gulp). However, things need to change. These new technological things:

a.    make peoples lives better

b.    they are widely used by all

c.    they have established markets (or these markets are in infancy and need shaping)

d.    they are also awesome (and the procurement profession needs to help procure them at the right time and price, in the right quantity, with the right service/quality assurance).

GDS, CCS and LGA leading the way

The Digital Marketplace, part of the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) have led in addressing some of this. GDS knows technology and data and CCS knows commercial and procurement. You can see how they’ve worked together to create a strong category to address some of this within the CCS Technology category which includes:

–      Tech Products and Services

–      Software licensing

–      Networks

–      Telecoms expense management 

–      Cloud

–      Digital

–      Hosting services.

Another strong leader in bringing its IT category up to speed is the Local Government Association (LGA) with its: National technological and digital procurement category strategy. If you haven’t seen this already take a look.

The work by these three organisations (bringing the two worlds of Procurement and Technology closer) should be applauded. This good work now needs to trickle down to individual procurement functions.

Time to change

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the IT category strategies of many public sector organisations and many are still based on hardware, software, and telecoms. I think its time the IT category was extended to include some of these new things.

The new IT category – lets call it DDaT

If you work in procurement and you haven’t looked at this already then perhaps a good way of doing so would be to start using a similar structure to this:

DDaT Category

–      Artificial Intelligence (Robotics, Sensory, and Autonomous vehicles)

–      Cloud

–      Data

–      Delivery

–      Networking and Hosting

–      Personal (Voice recognition and Mobile apps)

–      Security, Cyber, and Authentication

–      Specialisms (Programming, Development, Testing, etc)

–      Technology and Digital.

(This is my simplistic view of what I think the procurement DDaT should look like).

Helping to get closer to MVG

I believe if a procurement function changes its structure (in line with the above) it will become more aware of the wide variety of things the modern “IT” category needs to understand. The more it understands this and the issues our technology and data colleagues face the closer procurement and technology can work together. This will make governance better – a good thing, right?

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