Four years ago, the boutique Congress Hall Hotel in Cape May, N.J., managed its property and guests with a few dozen staff members and three desktop computers. By early 2006, after an extensive renovation, the historic hotel's business had grown to about 150 off-season employees (300 during summer months) utilizing 100 PCs from various vendors, myriad peripheral hardware and dozens of software programs. That's when controller David Elko realized that IT procurement processes were getting out of control.
"When I first came here [in 2004], I knew who had what and where everything was," Elko explains. But when the business reached its current size, "I realized that no one [business] area knew where all their IT stuff was. We were just patching things into the network and systems. We had this hodgepodge that we didn't exactly know how to handle."
Sound familiar? For many small but growing businesses, five desktop PCs can quickly become 35. Employees suddenly clamor for that cool 19-inch monitor in the newspaper ad, and the graphic designer wants to download some slick new graphics software onto the network that he swears won't hurt a thing. Yet growing businesses need to regain control of deployment. Procurement professionals offer these tips for developing and formalizing an IT purchasing process: