Project Management

Has the recession made buying IT cheaper?

CIO Jury: The verdict

Although the economic downturn is in full swing, many IT heads still find themselves having to play hardball when negotiating with suppliers.

When asked: "as a result of the credit crunch do you find it easier to strike a deal with suppliers?" seven of's 12-strong CIO Jury said 'no'.

IT head Ben Acheson of print specialist PADS said suppliers are fighting each other for his business. However, he advises IT leaders in his situation to act responsibly.

"Applying crushing pressure to the supplier-base's margins is not a sustainable strategy. Indeed, I would urge my counterparts in other organisations not to take advantage of the downturn at the expense of sustainable, long-term trading relationships with a diverse supplier base," he said.

Of those who have seen no change in suppliers' willingness to go to extra lengths to get their business, Alastair Behenna, CIO of Harvey Nash, observed that it may take some time for suppliers to feel the pinch.

"I don't believe the effects of the 'crunch' have quite filtered through into the mainstream supplier model as standard practice yet. It is beginning to shift that way and by the second quarter it should be much more evident in pricing, services and general client retention," he said.

Mike Roberts, IT director at The London Clinic, said because he deals with US suppliers, any willingness to reduce prices has been offset by the fall in the sterling against the US dollar.

Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at Hachette Filipacchi, also noted there is a sliding scale in suppliers' willingness to cut rates, depending on the technology. Bellenberg said he's getting good deals on commodity items, like PCs, but ongoing operational costs don't seem to be budging.

"A lot of the other items in the non-capex budget - maintenance payments, telecoms tariffs etc - go up every year and the only way to change this is to downgrade support or renegotiate with other suppliers."

Today's CIO Jury:

  • Ben Acheson, IT manager, PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery
  • Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
  • Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi
  • Chris Broad, head of information systems and technology, UKAEA
  • Pete Crowe, IT director, Fat Face
  • Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Model Management
  • Paul Haley, director of information technology, Aberdeen University
  • Jacques René, CIO, Ascend
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
  • Richard Storey, head of IT, Guys & St Thomas Hospital
  • Gavin Whatrup, group IT director, Creston
  • Steve Williams, director of information systems and services, Newcastle University

Want to be part of's CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at

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