Virginia Tech streamlines software procurement through two new processes
Increased demand for software combined with long wait times and complicated forms spotlighted a need for a customer-friendly, expedited software procurement process. To meet this need, the IT Transformation Program developed two new software procurement processes:
- Expedited procurement of low-risk, low-cost software and IT services
- A new procurement operating model and license review process
"The new low-risk, low-cost software procurement process is perfectly in line with the university's risk-based approach to cybersecurity controls. For software systems that will not be used to handle sensitive university data, including student data, we are empowering department heads to assess and assume the risk for low-cost software procurements,” said David Raymond, interim vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “In addition, moving software procurement from the Division of IT to the VT Procurement Department puts this function back in the hands of the purchasing experts, further streamlining the overall process.”
The low-risk, low-cost software procurement pilot saw the completion of qualifying procurements reduced from 300 days to an average of eight days.
“This new process is miles ahead of the old one. We were able to get software approved that had been stuck in the other process for more than a year,” said Alison Wolfe, systems technician for Virginia Tech Electric Service (VTES). “For the free software we were trying to get, vendors were not willing to change anything in their contract to meet Virginia Tech’s requirements. While the contract was under review, we were unable to communicate with our transformers, which could have led to power outages affecting VTES customers.”
The low-risk, low-cost process was piloted this spring and is now standard practice for procurements meeting the low-risk, low-cost criteria. This new option has alleviated much of the IT procurement request backlog and delivers an expedited way to satisfy broad demand across the university for low-risk, low-cost software.
Going forward, an even larger change is reflected in the new procurement operating model. The process for technology-related purchasing, formerly under the purview of Information Technology Procurement and Licensing Solutions (ITPALS), is now directly aligned with purchasing processes used for all other goods and services at the university through the Procurement Department in the Division of Finance. This unified approach enables a one-stop procurement experience for university departments, with enhanced transparency, improved communication, and a more consistent customer experience while still completing technical and legal reviews to ensure the safety of university data.
“The transition of ITPALS contracts and purchasing functions to VT Procurement started in late August and although we are only two months in, things are going very well,” said Mary Helmick, assistant vice president for finance and director of procurement. “We are focused on reducing the backlog as quickly as possible and establishing a customer-focused protocol that will offer assistance to the campus community as they navigate the purchase of technology. Overall, we are on track, and I am pleased with the progress achieved in a relatively short time. These new processes meet the IT Transformation goal to streamline the software procurement process to expedite acquisitions and improve customer experience and increase operational efficiency.”
- View the information session on IT procurement changes held on Sept. 25, 2023.
The Software Service Center within the Division of IT continues to distribute and maintain licenses for network-based installation of licensed software for faculty, staff, and students.
More information on the software procurement processes and other IT Transformation projects can be found on the IT Transformation website at https://evpcoo.vt.edu/Initiatives/ittransformation.html.
Written by Lisa Sedlak