• A couple of business stakeholders (the meat)
• A smattering of technology architects (the herbs)
• Some software asset managers (the veg)
• At least one large, thick-skinned negotiator (the potato)
The 4 Groups of People You Must Include When Preparing a Software Negotiation
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Especially in software negotiations!
But who needs to prepare? If you imagine the preparations for an enterprise software agreement to be like making an Irish stew. You need to get the ingredients right, then add them in the right order and at the right time.
Start with the business stakeholders. Like searing the meat when you are making a stew, you should put them on high heat right at the start. They need to be committed and take responsibility for the outcome. They must envision for the rest of the team what success will taste like and what it will cost. They determine what gets included in the negotiations and what should be avoided.
Without the meat, there is no stew. The rest of the ingredients are merely the supporting cast; the BU write the cheque and so they take their position as the star of the show.
Next, add in the technology architects. The business may pay the invoices, but there should always be someone giving direction; coordinating the organisation's technology roadmap to ensure that everyone buys the same stuff. In our analogy, these are the herbs. In a stew, if you put in sage leaves, then you should not add thyme. It is the same in software contracts; if you buy Control-M from BMC, then you should not buy CA-7. They both do the same thing, so try to standardise on one or the other.
Next come the Software Asset Managers. These are the vegetables. In the kitchen, vegetables should be in every dish if you want to stay healthy. So although they are third on the list here, they are really omnipresent in your culinary repertoire. Similarly, the SAM team should be the common ingredient in all software contracts, providing intelligence on what is being used, and analytics to predict demand. The SAM team are indispensable!
Finally, the potatoes - Procurement. In a stew, potatoes soak up the flavours from all the various ingredients and marry them together in a smooth texture. When preparing a negotiation, procurement must listen to all the views and develop propositions, arguments and potential concessions into a negotiation strategy with bite.
The Final Touch...
All four of these should blend well enough with plain old water (just don’t let them cook for too long or they will go soft). However, chefs will tell you that an Irish stew is always improved by letting the ingredients simmer in Guinness. And for some reason I’ve found that negotiation teams bond better when they get out of the office and share a couple of pints of the Black Stuff.
This recipe is open source. If you have anything you’d like to add… comment below!
Image credit: "Irish Stew and Guinness” by daspunkt, creative commons, flickr.com