Lawyers need to do more to manage technology procurement, says a leading expert in the area.
Maddocks partner Jeff Goodall said that early engagement is the key to avoiding potentially lengthy and expensive disputes. He said the biggest issue is that technology procurement is often poorly managed.
In his view, third party suppliers often hold customers to terms and conditions favourable to themselves, of which customers may have little understanding. He said it is important for legal teams to get on board early with understanding the technology needs, in order to avoid being left with no recourse if something goes wrong.
“As a technology specialist, I would prefer to see customers investing the time upfront during the procurement process to ensure that they are adequately protected and get the most from their technology procurement,” he said.
“Early and open engagement with specialist legal advice (whether internal or external) is a key component of this. “Smart” technology procurement can transform and empower organisations and investing the time and energy upfront is the key to the success of a project.”
While establishing a relationship with technology procurement managers is important, Goodall said keeping up to date with technology changes or seeking advice from a specialist can help to avoid lengthy cost blow outs and product delays.
“It’s often an in-house lawyer who may be dealing with technology procurement, and it’s not fair or reasonable to expect such lawyers, particularly generalists or those who are specialised in other areas, to be across the vast changes happening in technology and the potential impact on their business,” he said.
In response to these issues, Goodall recently released the Technology Procurement Handbook to assist companies, government entities and sole traders engaging a third party service provider.
“I hope that this handbook will help clients avoid the common pitfalls and mistakes involved in technology contracting. It is designed to be an everyday useful reference guide to get lawyers and business stakeholders, such as contract managers, thinking critically and strategically about technology procurement,” he said.