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8 minute readGet the Best Deals When Purchasing IT Equipment

Buying is a Process

Every company’s goal is for consumers to jump from need recognition to calling their company to place an order. By understanding the decision making process we can help make that happen, which is just the beginning of the negotiation process. This is the first in a 3-part series about Negotiating Your Best IT Deals.

Decision Making Made Easy

5 Steps, 1 Goal

We all make decisions every day, from the moment our alarms go off and we choose to get up, hit the snooze, or roll over and go back to sleep. The decisions just keep coming all day. Some decisions are minor and rather unimportant, like whether you have fiber-fortified cereal or a sugary donut for breakfast or whether you stop for gas at this station or the one up the road. Minor decisions for us . . . yet important for the sellers of goods and services.

Five steps exist in the Decision Making Process. We all go through these steps on a regular basis, often without even realizing it.

  1. Need recognition
  2. Identification of Alternatives
  3. Determine advantages and disadvantages of each option
  4. Make your decision
  5. Evaluate outcome

Of course, the larger the expense, the more time and energy our brains will expend on this process. The examples cited above require very little effort but, when faced with purchasing a car or home, however, much more effort goes into each step. Now, take those steps into the corporate world and we have the Business Decision Making Process. It works the same way but usually takes much longer because far more people are involved, both as checkpoints along the way and as consultants for different steps.

Need Recognition

Communication of a new or recurring need may require more structure in the business to business world. Anybody in the company may be aware of a problem, but letting the issue be known, then be recognized as an issue, may take some forethought and effort. For instance, in the data center, a need could occur because a simple Cisco switch breaks and needs to be replaced. What if, however, the same machine keeps having switches go out? The data center manager may immediately recognize the need to replace the entire asset but have to convince others that money would be better spent on newer equipment before anything is done. It is also in this stage where critical factors need to be identified, such as budget, timeline, and specifications.

Alternative Identification

Even before you have permission, you might want to start collecting information about your options. Doing nothing is always an option and it may have been your go-to decision for too long. Other options, in the case of IT equipment, would be to buy new replacement parts or an entirely new, probably upgraded, asset. You could replace the parts with refurbished and pre-owned hardware, or even the entire asset with a pre-owned, much less expensive piece of equipment.

Your decision here could lead to more questions, thus more decisions. If you choose to purchase new equipment, do you buy from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)? Are you even aware that you can purchase new parts from a third party provider? If you choose to buy pre-owned or refurbished parts and equipment, which third party supplier will you choose?

Evaluation of Advantages and Disadvantages

This is where the real work comes. You can spend a lot of hours chasing down all the information from each of the options you identified. We have found that, often, the first goal is to limit your list by dismissing as many potential vendors as possible. You can do so by location, price, availability, or service, for instance.

There are lists out there to help you learn the best solution for you. If you’re new to the industry these lists help you identify key points that you will need from your vendor. Even if you’ve been in IT and data center management for a while, a good reminder is always helpful.

Three requirements that tend to be on the top of everyone’s list are price, availability, and service. You know the joke: Affordable, Immediate, High Quality – Choose two. Yep, too often if you need it to be inexpensive then you can get it at great quality, but may have to wait for it. Likewise, if you need high quality immediately, then it will come at a high price.

Again, mission critical thinking is required. Keep your priorities straight to more easily determine the advantages and disadvantages of each option you consider. Knowing your requirements and the priority of each will greatly help you in the next stage.

Decision

In a good negotiation, which will be discussed in another article in this series, prices and services should have been discussed before now, but if they haven’t, now is the time. Once you have narrowed your vendors, know what you want, and have sign-off from the final decision makers, you are ready to place the order.

Now is the time to make sure all your questions are answered and you receive specific information about what, when, and how much. You know exactly what you have decided to buy and whether a warranty is included and for how long. You know when the product or service will be delivered. You know exactly how much it is costing you now and what support and maintenance agreements are included in the price.

Follow Up

You now have the opportunity to learn from your decision. If you’re happy, then drive on. You can rinse and repeat, knowing that you made the right choice. If, however, you find yourself less than happy – maybe service was lacking after the sale – then you need to return, wiser, and repeat the process.

The Goal

For both parties, the goal is to move from need recognition, stage one, straight to stage four, decision. As customers we do not want to entangle ourselves in a lengthy process every time we need support. As the provider, we want our customers to immediately come to us, whether hardware needs to be supported or maintained, an EOL/EOSL date comes up, or an upgrade is needed. As we create good relationships the decision making process becomes automatic and all five stages are not pursued in depth, just acknowledged with a nod.

Implications

  • On paper, the five steps seem easy and straightforward. In reality, there are other factors that influence each step:
  • How much experience do we have with similar decisions?
  • What personal characteristics (early adopter vs laggard; type A or B personality) might influence and affect the steps?
  • What future effects might be seen, including potentially putting yourself out of a job as AI takes over and fewer employees are needed?
  • Is the best short term decision the same or different than what’s best in the long run?
  • How will this decision affect other departments and IT in other ways?

It is literally impossible to take everything into consideration, because we simply can’t know all the questions to ask, let alone learn all the answers. The more experienced we are, and the more honest in each step and considering these extra implications, the better we will be at making the best decision.

A Good Option

Even before you have a problem in your data center, whether it’s a broken switch or an EOL/EOSL date has you concerned, getting in touch with a third party support and maintenance provider, like Reliant Technology, is a great idea. Refurbished and previously-owned parts are a great alternative and having a source at hand is a smart step in your decision making process. Now is a great time to connect or reconnect with us to learn more about what we offer and how we can help you have an efficient and effective data center.

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Lindy Earl

by Lindy Earl

Content Strategist with a long career in Marketing. Her degrees are from Virginia Tech and The College of William and Mary. Lindy writes in four genres, including IT. Lindy is speaking on the topic, How to Get the Best Deals When Purchasing IT Equipment, at the IAITAM Conference in May 2022 in Las Vegas.

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About Reliant Technology


As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.