SWITCH has created a centre of expertise for IT procurement.
Procurement became an issue for SWITCH due to a need expressed by universities. In May 2012, the Foundation Committee mandated SWITCH’s Management Board to set up a centre of expertise for software licensing and other IT goods and services. The universities had realised that licence agreements were becoming more and more complex. At the same time, pressure to keep costs low is forcing software manufacturers to sign framework agreements for a broad cross-section of customers.
Not long afterwards, in 2013, the SWITCHprocure Working Group (SWITCHprocure WG) was formed. It also serves as an information hub. The WG's members put forward the needs, wishes and experiences of their respective institutions and pass any findings on to the people responsible within their organisations. Alternative solutions, possible trends and future developments are also presented at the WG's meetings, which also provide a platform for informal contact.
When several universities are found to have similar needs with regard to IT suppliers, SWITCH takes the lead and conducts surveys to collect more precise information. The results then flow into negotiations with suppliers.
The IT staff at the university in Rapperswil really appreciate how SWITCH acts as an information hub between the universities and software providers and how it takes the effort of negotiating various contracts out of our hands. SWITCHprocure works with us as a partner, and its services save us time, money and energy.Erich Werder, Head of IT Operations & Services HSR Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil
The members of the SWITCHprocure WG are kept informed about the progress of these negotiations and are sometimes invited to play an active role in them. Especially for industry-standard products like Microsoft’s, it has become clear that the universities have very similar needs, so it makes sense to sign a framework agreement that they can join up to. The Microsoft framework agreement, for instance, saves them roughly CHF 1.5 million a year. Added to this is the fact that the 75 or so institutions that have joined up save time because they do not need to conduct their own separate negotiations.
The Licences Expert Group (Licences EG) has been formed as a subgroup of the WG to discuss issues specific to individual contracts and suppliers in greater depth. It aims to consult experts in the relevant subject areas in order to analyse problems and work out solutions for presentation to the WG. The WG meets in the spring and autumn, whereas the EG meets every quarter or as often as deemed necessary.
For a university to be part of a community and exchange experiences definitely brings concrete benefits. SWITCHprocure, in addition to being a service, is also one of several community developed and supported with success by SWITCH.Mario Gay TI-EDU IT Service Università della Svizzera Italiana
In licence negotiations in particular, complex legal issues often arise. When they do, representatives of SWITCH’s legal team or the ICT Law WG are brought into the negotiations.
The SWITCHprocure WG also fosters dialogue with the Swiss Conference on Informatics (SIK) as well as the national centre for information and communications technology in education (Educa). International cooperation with counterparts in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands is proving highly productive. The insights gained from it are presented to the SWITCHprocure WG and can flow into contract negotiations.
Meanwhile, the WG offers suppliers an opportunity to present new products or licence metrics and make new contacts with the universities.