by Lou Orbin, past President

In February the Board of Trustees met with several manufacturers in the offices of Insight Inc.  Insight has enabled us to initiate discussions with major corporations to discuss volume pricing.  At this meeting, Corel, Citrix, Computer Associates, Fortinet, GOto My PC, Hewitt Packard, Insight Inc., LSI Technology and Sony were present. The following is a recap of our initial discussions, and what role you play.

It was our intent to illustrate to the manufacturers that:

  • The members of the Diocesan Information Systems Conference represent the Information Technology decision makers of the Dioceses of Canada and the United States. And that the dioceses represent a market comparable to many of the large corporations that are extended volume pricing.
  • The availability of volume pricing offerings to the dioceses and their affiliates by manufacturers would be mutually beneficial. To enable the diocese and their affiliates to upgrade to their products, our limited funding should be taken into consideration. Their assistance with the availability of seminars and technological support would be an added advantage.
  • Dioceses, although decentralized would take advantage of these offerings by manufacturers.  Awareness of what is available can be made through the use of notices via QuickR over the internet and the posting of what is available on the DISC website.

It was very clear that there was a lack of knowledge about the Catholic Dioceses and its scope of involvement.  Neither was there knowledge of just how extensive the work of the church is.  The manufacturer’s conception of the diocese was that it was comparable to a small or maybe a medium size office. Their interest rose as they learned what the dioceses were accomplishing.  They learned of how some schools are furnishing schools with state of the art wireless networks, along with learning of parishes with networks, learning of the caseload of Social Service agencies and they networks they administer, the extensive databases that are maintained on the diocesan level and the many projects we all are responsible for maintaining in the IT arena.  Creating that awareness provided an atmosphere in which to continue successful discussions.

Although the manufacturers recognized the potential, their belief was that it was too decentralized. No one location was setting standards, and there wasn’t a central entity making the purchases for all of the locations.  The manufacturers also wanted a way to measure their efforts.  How would they know that their agreements with DISC were bearing fruit. One of the major manufacturers pointed out that they were probably already selling both their products and their branded supplies to the majority of the dioceses and their affiliates, there was no need to provide discounts to get that business. That there wasn’t any benefit for their company to offer discounts.  During our discussion with them, they learned that the dioceses represented by the members of the Board of Trustees their companies’ products were not at all used.

During these meetings we were successful in pointing out that unlike other organizations which receive the benefit of volume pricing in planning their budgets and plans, dioceses are unable to increase the price of a product or service to its customers. That the diocese is required to make hard choices when planning IT expenditures, that whenever IT spending occurs a subsequent reduction takes place in another program that is needed.

In most discussions we were able to achieve better pricing.  We were also  able to accept the offer of Hewitt Packard and Computer Associates to set up Web Seminars for DISC in the near future.  At this time there are a number of additional companies who would like to meet with the Board of Trustees to discuss volume pricing in the near future.

Now for the role you play in achieving the best pricing for all of the dioceses and their affiliates. What is apparent is that the manufactures while willing to work with DISC will be evaluating the willingness of the dioceses to take advantage of what is offered. Hewitt Packard for instance is limiting their offering only until January. At first HP wanted a trial period of ninety days.  If there isn’t any interest they will not renew their offer.

Many of the companies will be attending this year’s conference for the first time. They are making a substantial investment in attending and will be assessing  the potential return of their investment .

This can be a win — win relationship for DISC, for the dioceses and even for your home parish, and without a doubt for the manufacturers.  Take advantage of the agreements made by the Board of Trustees. And this year make it a point to attend the annual conference to illustrate that our membership is representative of the dioceses.

Lou Orbin