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How to Handle Business Units Who Buy Enterprise Software Without IT

        posted by , November 22, 2010

It's an increasingly common problem — business units who go off and buy enterprise class software without any involvement from IT.

It's a headache for the CIO — all too often IT gets saddled with data, integration, support, legal and security issues brought on by reckless purchases of software.

Why it happens

The primary reason is that some vendors find it easier to sell enterprise software to your business without IT involvement. Instead of establishing relationships with your CIO and other IT decision makers — they try to fly under IT's radar. SaaS vendors are particularly fond of this sales strategy.

Such vendors may keep track of who's joining your business via Linkedin — contacting new employees in their first month with a lunch invitation.

Sales presentations over simplify issues of support, security and data. When the business doesn't engage IT — nobody calls the vendor's bluff.


Make no mistake about it — aggressive sales organizations are targeting your business.

IT needs to be proactive to prevent the organization from making ill considered software purchases. There are three things you need to do:

1. Establish a clearly defined process for purchasing software.

Hire an engagement manager who helps people through the purchasing process. Your engagement manager needs to be a people-person (not a power tripping administrator type).

Keep the purchasing process lightweight and responsive. Get constant feedback and improve it. Put someone in charge with a hands-on, get-it-done, customer focused attitude. The goal here is to make IT just as friendly, responsive and approachable as the vendors are.

If purchases take a long time because they require an RFP etc ... be sure to explain the value of the process to the business.

2. Marketing and communication

Fight marketing with marketing. If aggressive marketing practices are causing the problem — IT needs to do some marketing of it's own. You need to continually communicate the dangers of rogue software purchases with plenty of case studies.

3. Establish a culture of accountability

Obtain the support of senior executives. The CEO and head of sales are key.

Establish clear policies and accountabilities.

Don't pay for rogue software purchases. Any team that buys software outside of the process should have any resulting costs deducted from their bonus pool.

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