Ten UK user groups have decided to combine into a IT super-group with the aim of improving the relationship between IT users and suppliers.

The Strategic Supplier Relationship Group (SSRG) will be formally launched on 20 April with a remit to encourage a "reasonable code of doing business", said Ray Titcombe, chairman of both the SSRG and the IBM Computer Users Association.

"The SSRG will provide an opportunity for vendors to consult with a wide variety of customers before going public with changes to terms and conditions that could prove to be unrealistic and problematic for its users," he explained.

Currently, IT managers have to contend with a variety of pricing formats, be it per processor or per user, from a plethora of vendors such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft. "An IT manager can contend with software from up to 20 different vendors in their shop, all with different pricing policies, which makes development costs very difficult to figure out. Throw in costs for services and there are even more conflicts," Titcombe said.

SSRG members are: BCS Elite Group, Corporate IT Forum, Charities Consortium IT Directors’ Group, IBM Computer Users’ Association, Computer Weekly 500 Club, Institute for the Management of Information Systems, Society of IT Management, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, U.K. Oracle User Group and Charity IT Resource Alliance.

Titcombe said he was unaware of another user group of this size.

The SSRG was initially conceived a number of years ago in response to changes Microsoft made to its licensing agreements for corporate customers when it launched Windows XP in 2001, though the group only begin to crystalize within the last year and a half, Titcombe said.

"If a group like the SSRG had been in place when Microsoft instituted its new licensing programs, we would have had a much more co-ordinated response the situation," Titcombe said. "There had been discussion about such a group for years but the Microsoft move really brought a focus to it."

Response to the SSRG by vendors has been cautious so far. "Some will like it some won't. But the larger players like IBM, Oracle and Sun have said they see it as having potential value."

Though the group has no specific plans in place for expanding beyond the UK, Titcombe believes that such growth would be a fairly natural progression. "Any such growth would most likely it would be event or situation driven," he said.

For the time being, SSRG will have its hands full with organising events between users and vendors. "We will be reinforcing the marriage to all of the different corporations and representatives," Titcombe said. "We won't be lacking for things to do."