Robin Neidorf Jinfo for Content Purchasing
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By Robin Neidorf


What are the trends in content purchasing? How closely aligned should content purchasers be with procurement departments? Jinfo's director of research, Robin Neidorf, reports.


The dominant trend we at Jinfo see in content purchasing is towards closer relationships and collaboration with formal procurement departments.

  • On the positive side, this connection brings greater rigour and expertise into the negotiation and licensing process.
  • On the negative side, many content purchasing professionals note that traditional procurement teams need a lot of education on the unique elements involved with content licensing.

Three approaches demonstrate the pros and cons of different approaches to engagement with procurement:

1. Embed Information Expertise in the Procurement Department

Two of our largest customers recently reorganised to embed one or more content licensing experts directly in the global procurement department. In both cases, the reorganisation involved a very senior-level information professional, with deep experience in global content purchasing. The primary benefits include a global view of all content purchasing across the organisation, and a reduction in duplication/overspending on content.

This approach works best in larger organisations, where procurement itself is more likely to have specialisation built into its structure.

2. Integrate Procurement into Purchasing Processes

Most of our customers take an approach whereby procurement processes are integrated into the content licensing undertaken by an information services department or equivalent. In these instances, procurement staff may act in an advisory capacity, take over licensing once a purchase decision has been made, or implement procurement checks and balances into the licensing processes the information team undertakes.

When it works well, the information team retains the ability to manage the content portfolio and integrates greater professionalism and managerial controls into its licensing work. When it works poorly, it creates an ongoing power struggle between procurement and the information team.

One customer comes to mind to illustrate the risks: the head of the information service, who has ownership of content licensing, is constantly re-educating procurement staff about her team's expertise around content and related contract negotiations. Because the content contracts are relatively small compared with most of the global contracts the company manages, her needs are not prioritised by procurement.

3. Move Content Purchasing to Procurement

Many organisations have moved all content licensing directly into the procurement department, but without bringing content expertise into that department as in the first example. This approach works in smaller organisations, where the information team can maintain a close relationship with their counterparts in procurement, advising and guiding on all purchasing.

This direct and influential relationship is critical to success, however: when organisations have attempted this approach without maintaining close connections between information services and procurement, the result has often been that the two teams end up re-doing each other's work, as each brings something - but not everything - to the table.

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