IT procurement according to the Amazon principle

How a self-service portal can revolutionize your procurement process

Companies’ complicated and time-consuming order processes can make it feel like an eternity until employees receive their workplace IT equipment. This not only tries the patience of employees in all departments involved, but also causes them stress. After all, these days we are used to fast and user-friendly e-commerce portals such as Amazon. Companies can also deploy and benefit from this type of self-service portal.

Many employees would like the order process for their workplace IT equipment to be as straightforward and user-friendly as online shopping. It could be so simple: enter the desired or required equipment specifications in the self-service portal, add information such as the cost center, and add a note for the line manager explaining why the equipment is needed – done. The employee also receives an email containing the status of the order, additional or alternative configuration options for the equipment, and a dispatch confirmation with an expected delivery date.

Reams of paperwork instead of an online portal

The reality in companies is often very different. Employees might wait weeks, if not months, for their new IT equipment. According to research by consultancy IDC, only 10 percent of companies are satisfied with how their procurement processes work. One of the main reasons is that different departments are involved: IT, finance, and procurement. Coordinating them can be time-consuming, leading to delays in the delivery of the equipment. This can impact on employees’ effectiveness, who have to wait longer for their new workplace IT. Ineffective, paper-based processes can exacerbate this.

We are only at the beginning

These types of paper-based process can frustrate employees, who in the worst case might even think of finding a new job. Young employees, in particular, value a workplace that offers the latest IT equipment. The Future Workforce Study conducted by Dell found that over 40 percent of young employees would leave a job if the IT equipment did not meet their expectations.

Unsatisfactory procurement processes are also likely to be a reason why companies in Germany are not making the most of the potential offered by mobile working and digital workplace concepts. According to the D21 study, fewer than half of those in employment are provided with a laptop by their employer, and only a quarter have access to a company smartphone. Not only does this impact on employees’ motivation and performance but it also tempts them into using their personal, more powerful devices for business purposes. This leads to what is known as shadow IT, i.e. the use of unauthorized equipment at work, which has a negative impact on IT security and compliance.

Meeting expectations with Procurement 2.0

Yet it is not difficult for companies to learn from Amazon et al and implement a similar user-friendly procurement strategy themselves. A key element of any Procurement 2.0 strategy is a self-service portal where employees can order IT equipment according to their individual requirements. The options available to them can be configured for each department and job profile. By limiting the selection to specific product families, operating systems, and software versions, companies ensure that seamless, standardized processes for procurement, rollout, and maintenance can be put in place. Key to improving the order process is that the portal supports standardized interfaces and processes. This makes approval procedures quicker and reduces sources of error, for example inputting information on paper into the system.

Integrating a self-service portal

Companies can set up and operate their own portals, of course, but there are advantages to relying on a service provider, in particular for SMEs and large corporations. The provider can take on key tasks at the start of the project, such as configuring the procurement portal, establishing the processes, and selecting the devices that users can choose from. Many service providers not only provide non-captive IT equipment and complete digital workplace options but also offer tailor-made financing solutions.

Benefits of a digital procurement process

The complete digitalization of procurement processes and the involvement of users via a self-service portal frees up time and increases user satisfaction. Users are no longer the passive recipients of IT equipment that has been selected by somebody else; they are now actively involved in choosing the IT equipment for their workplace. A modern, digital workplace can also give companies a competitive advantage in the war for talent.

Optimizing procurement processes by introducing a self-service portal can reduce the amount of operational and administrative tasks that the internal IT and procurement departments have to handle. This type of efficient IT procurement solution allows your employees to focus on their core tasks, which is why a seamless procurement process can make a valuable contribution to your company’s success.

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Lukas Wojoczek

Functional Teamleader DWP / Senior Technical Sales