Published on November 9, 2023, 6:31 am

Public sector technology acquisitions face unique challenges that are not commonly encountered in other industries. According to a survey conducted by Gartner, government C-level executives are less involved (41%) in the buying process compared to their private sector counterparts (55%). The study also revealed that 68% of delays in technology purchases can be attributed to a lack of specific information from the technology provider.

Gartner estimates that the public sector has the longest average buying cycle for technology purchases, lasting around 22 months. This is significantly longer than other industries. In a recent survey of executives involved in technology evaluation or selection, Gartner found that 48% of respondents reported experiencing six or more moderate or significant delays in the buying process.

These delays have a cumulative impact on the government’s technology buying cycle. Factors such as changes in scope added an average of seven months to the overall process. Dean Lacheca, VP analyst at Gartner, emphasized that each jurisdiction within the public sector has its own unique procurement laws and policies, further complicating the buying process. Failure to adhere to these rules can lead to undesirable consequences, including unwanted publicity and personal risk of prosecution.

Public sector buying teams are typically large and complex, consisting of an average of 12 participants. The level of participation varies within these teams. Government C-level executives tend to be less involved (41%) in order to avoid association with the process and any perception of political influence on the outcome. Lower-level operational staff make up a significant portion (46%) of these teams and play a crucial role as business subject matter experts guiding decision-making.

Multiple factors contribute to delays in the buying cycle. These include developing the business case, scope changes requiring additional research and evaluation, and reaching budget agreement. Lacheca emphasized that while government buying cycles can be lengthy, it is important to note that these timeframes are not set and can vary depending on various factors.

To address these challenges and reduce delays, better information from technology providers is crucial. Up to 68% of public sector respondents reported significant delays due to their inability to obtain specific product or implementation requirements details from the provider. Public sector organizations highly value references from existing clients and rely on fact-based, actionable content provided by chosen providers.

Gartner recommends that technology providers maintain an easily accessible list of public sector reference clients and build a diverse library of product collateral focused on value assessment. This will help buyers make informed decisions at every stage of the buying cycle.

In conclusion, the public sector faces unique challenges in its technology acquisitions process. Understanding these challenges and taking steps to address them can help streamline the buying cycle and ensure efficient procurement processes in government agencies.

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