Cheaper by the dozen

SWITCH presents a new service: SWITCHprocure. It is designed to simplify IT procurement.

Text: Immo Noack, published on 01.04.2014

It all started with a mandate. 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. It wanted the new department to support Swiss universities in their IT procurement so that they could use their funds more efficiently. We on the SWITCH Procurement Team now represent the interests of as many as 85,000 university staff and some 270,000 students – a substantial market share in the education sector. That makes us an attractive partner for suppliers and manufacturers too.

The basic concept behind the new SWITCHprocure service has already proven its worth elsewhere. In the Netherlands, SURFmarket has been successfully meeting the entire education sector's needs for 22 years. In Switzerland, the Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics (FBL) performs a similar function for the federal government, the Swiss Informatics Conference (SIC) does so for the broader public sector, and Educa serves schools from nursery to grammar school level. Of course, these institutions differ from SWITCHprocure not only in terms of their target customers, but also with regard to their remits and purchasing volumes. The Procurement Team was therefore tasked with developing a suitable concept.

Systematically identifying customers' interests

SWITCHprocure is driven by the specific needs of our customers. We are working hard to understand how the various institutions organise the operation and purchasing of their IT, what processes they employ, where the challenges lie and what they expect from us. To this end, we have held extensive talks with IT managers at the institutions and their partner organisations on the one hand and with suppliers on the other. We have formed a working group that will provide a forum to discuss the universities' fundamental needs. We are also working with expert groups from the institutions concerned on particular issues.

Our customers' main interest is obvious. They want simple, legally protected access to high-quality IT goods and services that are geared to their requirements and offer good value for money. They want a means of sharing experiences and answers to difficult questions. With this in mind, we at SWITCHprocure act as a central point of contact for both universities and suppliers. We bundle interests, simplify administrative procedures and provide information platforms.

We also aim to provide easier access to various services as well as impartial advice on all legal matters relating to procurement. Going forward, we will additionally offer tendering in accordance with the World Trade Organization rules as well as training and events.

Put simply, SWITCHprocure brings a significant advantage for customers that might not be apparent at first glance: thanks to simplified processes and lower costs in IT, participating institutions ultimately have more money to spend on their core activities, namely teaching and research.

SWITCHprocure in pictures

This article appeared in the SWITCH Journal October 2013.
About the author
Immo   Noack

Immo Noack

Immo Noack has been working in the SWITCH Procurement Team since November 2012. Prior to that, he held posts at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and on the Neptun project, among others. He originally graduated in Electrical Engineering.

Peter Schaad

Peter Schaad joined SWITCH in August 2012. He has worked in IT procurement for 13 years. He graduated in Business Economics.

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