Contact centre

Contact Centre

Call Us

Speak to Sector & Technical Experts

0800 015 7299
Customer IT Support
0121 248 7932
Live Chat

Want to talk to an advisor?
Click the chat button below

The Insider's Guide to Procurement for Education IT

The IT industry is one of the most complex markets in the world and experiences thousands of price changes and product introductions per day. To browse that many products and manually compare specification, stock availability and cost is a near impossible task. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Just trying to find the right product is challenging enough, let alone keeping ahead of the latest innovations. This is particularly frustrating for the education sector as it faces increased pressure to enable a digital curriculum.

So how can IT buyers in education ensure they’re getting the right products at the best prices?

Understand the product lifecycle

IT buyers face a complex supply chain involving distributors, suppliers, and manufacturers, with each tier looking to make money. Understanding product lifecycle is critical, as new product launches can impact the cost and availability of everything else. Rather than buying the latest model on the market, it can often be helpful to wait for newer products to arrive and look for similar, older products that have decreased in price.

Value Added Resellers (VARs) can provide valuable insights from conversations with manufacturers around trends and what the future technology market looks like.

Other impactors include seasonal trends and unforeseen events like natural disasters, which can affect prices and stock availability. Staying up-to-date with key impactors can help identify unnecessarily inflated margins and socio-economic issues that may affect the supply chain.

Demanding greater clarity when it comes to market volatility

Buyers face a constantly changing market with daily product releases and fluctuating prices. Research shows that manually sourcing and comparing prices from multiple suppliers is time-consuming and frustrating, with prices changing up to 66% in a day. Obtaining quotes from suppliers takes too long and combined with slow responses, it can be hard to police prices quoted. IT directors are unaware of price fluctuations and companies often pay an 18% margin above trade price on IT products, with some paying up to ten times. Digital marketplaces can help by doing the legwork and connecting buyers and suppliers.

Embrace digital

Given the volatility in the IT market over recent years, it has never been more important for buyers to deploy digital solutions to help them work faster and smarter. Procurement teams shouldn’t be wasting time on processes that can be automated or be left hanging around waiting for purchase orders for example, which could be approved almost instantly. By adopting digital platforms, procurement teams can improve efficiency and free up time that can be spent more strategically – including building relationships with suppliers and planning future purchases to ensure they are acquiring the best products at the best time and at the best price.

Compare the market

Much of the equipment purchased for education will require a lower specification than private sector organisations – and can be restricted by smaller budgets. Lots of products are designed with this in mind and are manufactured specifically for the needs of the education market. So, the first step is to make sure you’re taking a closer look at the specification of products to ensure you aren’t paying over the odds for something that does more than you need it to.

Digital platforms can make this process much easier by offering the ability to select multiple products and view a direct comparison in just a few seconds. This might look at things like the operating system, the battery lifespan as well as dimensions and weight. If you’re struggling between two products that are nearly identical in price, reviewing the specification can help you to become more informed about which product is going to suit your needs and give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Go green

Finally, it’s also worth looking at refurbished and renewed IT equipment which can be somewhere between 30 – 40% cheaper than brand-new devices. Equipment purchased through an authorised, accredited platform will be inspected and tested as being fully functional, and many come with a two-year warranty for peace of mind. Of course, there is also an environmental argument to this approach which may help contribute to any sustainable objectives you are trying to achieve as an organisation.

By following these steps, educators can rid themselves of the headaches associated with traditional way of buying IT and spend more time on activities that are driving innovation and creating the best possible learning environment. The best news is that all of these can be achieved, safe in the knowledge that you are bringing spending under control and getting the best value.