SCL Event Report: Foundations of IT Law – Module 4: Procuring IT Goods and Services

May 21, 2014

SCL’s fourth module in its ‘Foundations of IT Law’ programme was on the topic of procuring IT goods and services.

The event was held at Hogan Lovells in London on 14 May 2014 and included talks by three experts in the field: Andy Sutherland (partner at Radiant Law), Mark Taylor (partner at Hogan Lovells) and Gareth Davies (Senior Legal Advisor at Bank of England).

The module focused on five key areas:

1.     the sourcing process;

2.     defining requirements;

3.     evaluation frameworks;

4.     pre-contract due diligence; and

5.     the approach to negotiation.

Andy Sutherland started by speaking about the sourcing process. Focusing on private sector experience, he stressed the importance of adequate preparation, in particular properly defining requirements before circulating an RFP to potential suppliers. Andy took everyone through the stages, from the initial RFI and RFP to evaluating responses, conducting due diligence on the supplier and negotiating the contract. He finished by setting out what a good result from the procurement process looks like.

Mark Taylor spoke about the linked areas of defining requirements and evaluation frameworks. Re-emphasizing the importance of properly defining requirements at the outset, he set out a number of factors to bear in mind while defining requirements, including the need for a clear understanding of the broader business drivers for the procurement. On evaluation aspects, he said that the framework for evaluation should also be developed before the RFP is sent out.  Mark also spoke about policing the sales process and the issues which tended to arise in the use of deadlines and whether suppliers were more effective at leveraging these than purchasers.

Finally, Gareth Davies addressed pre-contract due diligence and the approach to negotiation with the supplier. On due diligence, Gareth covered some of the issues to look out for, including intellectual property, TUPE and asset issues. On contract negotiation, he navigated through the practical difficulties to contract negotiation and covered the particular issues which arise in public procurement. Gareth also addressed the risks of not having a contract in place before IT goods and services are supplied, and provided some useful tips on how to address this situation.

Alexandra Grundy is an Associate in the IPMT Group at Hogan Lovells.