Ward Karson, General Partner
Whether it is negotiating a contract or purchasing custom software, hardware, and other related services, IT Procurement is often deemed as an expensive and complex process with a relatively high rate of failure. The reason being: factors ranging from organizational shortcomings and lack of understanding of true costs to poor planning and unclear objectives—all of which have a direct impact on a firm’s bottom line, growth, and competitiveness. Hence, it is critical for organizations to ensure that their procurement strategy not only maximizes budget while minimizing errors and poorly-timed deliveries but also aligns with their business objectives and is a comprehensive roadmap for the company spend.
But, how does one ensure that their substantial IT purchasing spend is fully optimized?
Enter, InFor500, a Santa Clara, California headquartered management consulting firm specializing in IT Sourcing and Procurement, Digital Business Transformation, and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) practices. Ward Karson, General Partner at InFor500, says, “Our IT Procurement services help organizations achieve their strategic goals, control costs, reduce risks, and accelerate innovation. We have a highly qualified team of SMEs across the following categories: Demand, Sourcing, Contract, Risk, and Performance Management.” Whether it is a short-term or a long-term engagement, the company provides full-lifecycle services, from analyzing the client’s needs and building an optimal solution, through sustaining the project. “Our objective is to leverage the potential knowledge we have in technology to realize sustainable value propositions for our customers through a nimble and flexible approach, providing a significant ROI,” adds Karson.
Bringing Value to Procurement Decisions
InFor500 was founded in 2012 and initially engaged in technology transformation projects; cloud migration; supporting, architecting and designing technology solutions and services for ERP and CRM—both on the production and non-production sides. “Our services and solutions are conceptualized to bring about cost reduction in the addressable spend for our clients and help them upscale their technology environment,” informs Karson.
A major breakthrough came for InFor500 when a public company in the life sciences industry approached them with a critical CRM transformation project. “From the Procurement perspective, we started negotiating and brought their CRM project costs down by a third. For the client, it was an unthinkable degree of success,” exclaims Karson. This success coupled with InFor500’s extensive industry experience provided the organization a head-start in the realm of IT Sourcing and Procurement. CIOs from different IT companies started approaching InFor500 seeking their support in carrying out IT Procurement projects. Today, the firm also has three delivery centers in India to support clients’ strategic and operational procurement demand.
What sets InFor500 apart from other IT Procurement companies is their team of IT experts. Instead of just negotiating deals, these experts allow clients to stay updated with industry trends and offer consulting services with regard to consuming the procured technology, benchmarking different technologies, understanding the long-term consequences of consuming a particular technology, and more. “Procurement is beyond just negotiations; it involves becoming a trusted advisor partner, while keeping a foot in both the client’s and the supplier’s camp to bring holistic success. And that is what we aim to be: consultative trusted advisor partners,” asserts Karson.
Our objective is to leverage the knowledge we have in technology to realize sustainable value propositions for our customers through a nimble and flexible approach that provides a significant ROI
For example, let’s say a company is negotiating a three-year enterprise license agreement. Typically, after three years the firm has to renegotiate the contract. “However, the difference with InFor500 is, we can predict where the deal will be in the next three years, not just via a price cap, but via understanding how the technology is consumed, and accordingly help our client negotiate the contract to reap benefits from it the first time,” explains Karson.
Besides providing procurement best practices, InFor500’s indirect/direct commodity experts, well-versed with the current market relevant commodity knowledge and relationships, help clients develop, execute, and sustain a sourcing strategy optimal to their enterprise. Furthermore, InFor500 also offers business process fulfillment services in the areas of purchase requisition for goods receipt processing with Accounts Payable support, which allows them to design a strategic procurement solution for their clients. All of these services coupled with deep-rooted experience in the areas of Strategic Sourcing, Business Transformation, and M&A activity have helped InFor500 earn a strong reputation over the years.
“We also collaborate with leading technology and services providers—Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Salesforce, VMWare, etc.—offering flexibility to fulfill a business process,” asserts Karson. This association with technology giants has augmented the company’s relationship with its executives across the globe, who help the company to influence and move business and discount structures to favorable points for clients.
Another key differentiating factor that truly pushes InFor500 ahead of the market competition is their ability to capture process maturity, bring transparency, and engage all stakeholders in a manner fostering an understanding of how services can improve, while controlling costs and securing the enterprise.
The Pathway to Success
As an expert with more than 25 years of experience in indirect-spend Sourcing across the technology, digital gaming entertainment, life sciences, and financial services industries, Karson follows a relationship-oriented approach to strategic and operational procurement, creating a win-win solution for both clients and suppliers.
“Furthermore, in each of our engagements, we collaborate with the client to clearly understand their needs and accordingly provide them with a strategic viewpoint of their internal business and what they can do to improve it,” informs Karson. “This approach has helped us consistently secure an 18 to 22 percent reduction in our client’s baseline spends.”
InFor500 essentially runs on the concept of ‘core vs. context’ for their customers. InFor500’s services prove immensely beneficial for businesses lacking the core competencies to successfully support deeply nuanced and complex IT requirements. Dedicated to supporting their client’s business transformation requirements, Karson leads his team to help clients move their businesses to cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and more. The company has offered Sourcing and Procurement solutions directly translating to bottom line savings for countless clients.
Moving ahead, InFor500’s plan is to enhance its business by delivering cloud-based services. “We are looking at acquisitions, technology development, and organic growth,” Karson affirms. “All of our engagements are purely word of mouth.” With its commitment to ensuring the all-round progress of its clients, InFor500 is on the right track to bring the best of IT Procurement technology in the days to come.