Is IT Procurement for you? Explore ways you may already be the best choice to fill that IT procurement position in your agency!
In our last post, we likened finding skilled IT procurement personnel to finding a needle in a haystack. But what if you’re already a procurement professional, and you’re interested in making the leap to IT procurement? How do you become an attractive candidate?
Consider these four ways to level up into the tech-savvy IT procurement professional your agency needs:
1. Bring the IT to the Procurement Position
The world of information technology can seem overwhelming to the novice, but don’t let the IT procurement job description intimidate you. You may not have a hand in changing how the position is structured, but you can familiarize yourself with the latest technological advancements for procurement and use that knowledge to show the managerial staff how you could potentially transform the role. For example, many procurement departments are now using eProcurement websites to post, update, receive, analyze, and award their solicitations. If the procurement department you’re interested in still does their solicitations manually, what better way to demonstrate your IT capabilities than by showing them how you can make the role more efficient and accurate by using eProcurement instead? Show them that you can use technology not only to inform but optimize the work you’ll be doing daily.
2. Education and Professional Development
Another way to increase your procurement expertise is to think about your previous work experience that was directly related to information technology, project management, or hardware/software. That’s a good place to start expanding your industry and market knowledge. Although any experience with IT-related terms and processes would be helpful, the landscape is constantly changing, and new technologies are emerging, so find out what professional development opportunities are available to you and take advantage of them. If your state or public entity sponsors employee or agency memberships with any public procurement organizations that offer opportunities for professional development, find out if IT courses are offered and dive right in. Check out NASPO’s catalog of Procurement U courses; many of them are offered for free! If your agency doesn’t sponsor professional memberships or offer tuition reimbursement, perhaps a nearby university or community college offers IT or procurement certifications at a reasonable cost. Professional development may not always be free, but it’s always a worthwhile investment.
3. Demonstrate Business Knowledge/Soft Skills
If you want to make yourself an attractive IT procurement candidate, don’t hesitate to demonstrate your practical, real-world experience using soft skills and business knowledge. IT procurements are complex and involve a great deal of project management; show off the complex projects you’ve managed in your professional and personal experience. This may not necessarily mean the planning of Nana’s 95th birthday party you were involved in, but if you have any volunteer experience where you handled complicated multi-step projects or are active in a social club where you’ve done something similar, put it out there! If you’re working on your professional development in IT subjects or certifications simultaneously, it can be a great way to show management that you can handle anything that comes your way.
4. Befriend your IT Department
As we mentioned in Part I, who better to consult with about your agency’s IT needs than the IT staff? This can be a perfect demonstration of your soft skills; fostering a positive working relationship with your IT department can significantly improve procurement outcomes. Procurement professionals who want to be better equipped to handle IT procurements should regularly reach out to the IT department on an ongoing basis to talk about emerging technologies and how they will potentially affect your agency. They can also help you understand where to focus your professional development efforts.
We hope these tips will ease your transition into IT procurement roles and help you realize that it is not as daunting as it may seem. A bit of creative thinking, proactive learning, and confidence are key. For more information about information technology and its relationship to procurement, check out NASPO’s “Technology and IT Procurement” section of the Content Library.