Author: Chris Cliffe, CJC Procurement
Quite rightly, housing associations are focused on supporting their employees and sustaining services to their residents and tenants at this time. The third side of the triangle is the sector’s suppliers, and we’ve heard the term ‘supply chain’ used a lot in the last few days, not least in respect to supermarkets. Please take some time in the coming days to reflect on your IT supplier positions and whether you need to support them, and ultimately protect your organisation in doing so.
For example, let’s reflect on the sector wide trend for ‘digital transformation’ and the consolidation of legacy systems into strategic systems. I suspect that the implementation plans for these projects have already been affected or if not, will likely need to be postponed. Organisations that were planning on changing, reducing or consolidating their software estate may now need to consider extending licence agreements or support agreements for at least an additional year. If that’s the case, it might be commercially sensible to take this action proactively and agree a deal with your suppliers sooner rather than later. Even better if you can support the cash flow positions of those businesses through agreeing beneficial payment terms to support your suppliers at this time of economic crisis.
For hardware and products, it is highly likely that supply chains have indeed been impacted. A huge increase in claims for ‘Force Majeure’ relief from contracts has already been widely reported. Again, it would be prudent to engage with your IT suppliers and have sensible conversations about the impact of the current crisis on your supplier and be prepared to agree sensible contract variations and tolerable variations to service levels and delivery schedules. The more supportive you can be to your suppliers over the coming weeks and months, the more your relationships will endure and the more long term payback you will gain, whether that’s personally in respect of your individual reputations, or in respect of your organisations reputation in the market.
Another example is that now that most colleagues are working from home, you may need to reflect on your mobile phone contracts and negotiate terms for increased data, data pooling and technology funds to invest in new or a greater number of handsets as required. You may need the help of their project teams, or independent telephony expense management businesses to deploy new services. Again, be proactive on this and considerate to the demand mobile phone companies will inevitably have at this time.
Your IT procurement resource should be offering you all the support and assistance you need. If they are not, then perhaps you should be asking your executive teams whether your organisation is mitigating the current risks appropriately through their overall procurement strategy. Whether supported through procurement or not, please reflect on your suppliers and your strategies at this time, as well as looking after yourselves, your teams and of course your customers. Stay safe, healthy, and protect your suppliers.
You can contact Chris for further info here: firstname.lastname@example.org