IT Purchasing Group

I have been invited to attend the University’s new IT Purchasing group and attended the first meeting today.  The group will be a subgroup of the University’s Value for Money Committee which in turn is a subcommittee of the University’s top-level Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (PRAC).  The picture might make it clearer!

The group’s membership is quite wide and includes:

  • Anne Trefethen (Chair): Professor of Scientific Computing, Director of Oxford e-Research Centre
  • Nigel Rudgewick-Brown: Director of Information Management Services Unit, Medical Sciences Division
  • Me!
  • Tom Payne: Director of Business Services and Projects
  • Philip Biggin: Structural Bioinformatics and Computational Biochemistry Unit, Department of Biochemistry
  • Geoff Calvert: IT Manager, Centre for Geography and the Environment
  • Dave Price: Head of Systems and e-Research Service, Bodleian Libraries
  • Maria Castro: Finance and Purchasing Administrator, ICT Support Team
  • Ghassan Yassin: Professor of Astrophysics, Department of Physics
  • David Miller: Senior Administrator, Department of Engineering Science
  • Mark Bowen: Director of Purchasing, Finance Division
  • Stuart Forster: Corporate Expenditure Category Manager, Purchasing Department

The purpose of the IT Purchasing Group (ITPG) is to offer expertise and advice to the University Purchasing Department (UPD) to maximise savings in IT purchasing across the
University. Members of the group are asked to provide their knowledge and expertise as individuals working with, and representing users of, IT in the University.

The terms of reference state that the group will:

  1. Assist the UPD to develop a good understanding of the needs of academic departments
    both in terms of current expenditure and future requirements of the University.
  2. Review and provide expertise on purchasing initiatives and their implementation.
    (i) The UPD will present papers on purchasing initiatives to the ITPG. ITPG members
    will be asked to comment on and/or endorse these initiatives.
    (ii) ITPG members will be asked to contribute ideas for potential purchasing
    improvements.
    (iii) ITPG members will be asked to assist in the two-way communication between
    Divisions and UPD, and to recommend alternative approaches if a purchasing
    initiative meets a roadblock.
  3. Recommend appropriate representation for the purchasing initiative working groups.
    (i) The working groups will be set up to carry out specific initiatives. It will be important
    for the success of the initiative that the group is made up of an appropriate cross-
    section of end-users.
  4. Contribute towards the promotion of cost-effective purchasing practice within
    departments.
    (i) The UPD will promote and monitor the adoption of purchasing initiatives. The ITPG
    will review and advise on the promotion of these initiatives and approaches to non-
    adopting departments.
  5. Contribute to the development of effective communication regarding purchasing
    opportunities available.
  6. Meet once a term and report periodically to the Value for Money Committee on progress
    made.

I was impressed at how this group really seems to have a good grasp of how University IT works and how decisions must be left at the local level.  I think the approach of making offers so good people will want to use them rather than being forced to use them is a really good one.  I think the trick that perhaps many of us are missing is in appreciating the value of working with the Finance Division so we can contribute to the University’s buying power and increase the value gained from that.

We also agreed that Stuart Forster, from Central Purchasing, would be invited to all future Divisional Software Licensing Group meetings so he is aware of what is being purchased and so the group can better inform Finance division of its needs.

The IT Purchasing group meets again in Week 2 of Michaelmas Term 2011.

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One Response to “IT Purchasing Group”

  1. Brian Wright says:

    It is good to see that this group is alive and well. In particular can I praise the negotiated Dell contract, and hold it up as a model of what is helpful to me as an end-user. I would love to see similar deals for switches, parts and consumables…

    But for a more local issue can we not have a very simple web based database of purchases that have been made (perhaps just starting with IT) through whom and at what price, just for the basic stuff – things like I got 5 HP toners from X at cost Y, or Reems of paper (80gsm matt) only cost me £Z this week.

    And when I say can we not have, what I mean is if nobody is going to do it, do you mind if I do…

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