Gartner survey finds government technology purchase decisions take an average of 22 months

At 22 months, the public sector has the longest average purchase cycle for technology purchases compared to other industries, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.

In November and December 2021, Gartner surveyed 1,120 executives involved in technology evaluation or selection, including 79 from the public sector, to understand how organizations approach large-scale enterprise technology purchasing efforts.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents reported six or more moderate or significant delays in the checkout process. The cumulative impact of delay factors, such as scope changes, added seven months, on average, to the government’s technology purchase cycle.

“Technology acquisition brings challenges to the public sector that typically don’t exist in other industries,” said Dean Lacheca, vice president of analysts at Gartner. “Each jurisdiction has its own procurement laws and policies, and within that, each agency or department may have their own interpretation of them. Failure to follow the rules can have serious consequences, from unwanted publicity to personal risk of prosecution.”

Public sector procurement teams are large and complex

A typical public sector procurement team has 12 participants, with varying levels of involvement in the process.

C-level government executives tend to be less involved (41%) than their private sector counterparts (55%) in technology purchases to avoid association with the process and create the perception of political influence on the outcome. This also makes C-level government executives less willing to defend the process if they are challenged by failed vendors or the media.

Public sector purchasing teams are much more likely than other industries to be comprised of lower-level operational staff (46%) affected by the purchasing process, taking on the role of business subject matter expert. While government equivalents of a C-level executive or executive government body may have the authority to make the decision, they are largely guided by the evaluation results and recommendations made by subject matter experts.

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Multiple factors contribute to delays in the buying cycle

Most reported factors resulting in significant delays often occur before what would be considered the official procurement process begins. Some of these factors include developing the business case (74%), scope changes that require additional research and evaluation (76%), and reaching agreement on the budget (75%).

“While government purchasing cycles can be long, it is important to note that these timeframes are not set,” Lacheca said. “Initial planned deadlines can be delayed as a result of a combination of controllable and uncontrollable factors, especially when there are no external deadlines.”

Better information from technology providers can help

Sixty-eight percent of public sector respondents indicate a moderate to significant delay due to their inability to obtain specific product details or vendor implementation requirements.

Public sector organizations are much more likely to value referrals from existing clients than non-public sector buyers, in part because public sector organizations rarely compete directly and often share common challenges.

Chosen vendors are much more likely to provide fact-based, actionable content to the purchasing team. Gartner recommends technology vendors maintain a readily accessible list of public sector reference customers and build a diverse library of product warranties with a strong focus on value assessment, which can be leveraged at all stages of the buying cycle. .

Gartner clients can read more in “Information on the Nature and Behavior of Public Sector Buyer Teams.”

Learn about the top government technology trends in Gartner’s free eBook Top Technology Trends in Government for 2022.

Additional insights will be presented for public sector technology leaders during Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2022, the world’s largest conferences for CIOs and other IT executives. In a world changing faster than ever, CIOs and IT executives will learn how to seize the moment to deliver the vision and results needed to take their organizations to the next level. Follow conference news and updates on Twitter using #GartnerSYM.

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Upcoming dates and locations for the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo include:

September 12-14 | Gold Coast, Australia

October 17-20 | Orlando, Florida

October 31-November 2 | Tokyo Japan

7-10 November | Barcelona, ​​Spain

November 14-16 | India

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