Author: Pete Loughlin

Ever since I read Hell’s Angels by Hunter S Thompson, I’ve always found the image of bikers compellingly attractive. And so I’ve not spared any cash when it comes to getting my own image right. When I’m wearing my black Rukka Merlin jacket with matching water-proof Gore-Tex, armored leather jeans and my Schuberth C3 Pro helmet with built in antennae, even though I say it myself, I look the business. All I need now is a bike. I remember from my teenage years, as I suspect will many others, the sad soul with the helmet and no bike. Pursuing the biker dream with not enough money for the full package, he missed the point. Having a helmet doesn’t make you a little bit of a biker. It makes you a little bit of an idiot. Making only a partial investment isn’t always an incremental step towards a complete solution. Often it’s a waste of money. And that’s what e-procurement is if it’s implemented in isolation – a complete waste of money.

Ask a CFO why he shouldn't pay suppliers early in return for lower prices and he or she is quite likely to say "It's fine occasionally but generally it just gives a one-off hit". I had this exact conversation with a a CFO of a large international organization recently and, not being an accountant, I chose to hold back, go away and lick my wounds and contemplate why his position was both expert and intuitively wrong.

The European Commission has declared some ambitious targets for e-procurement. They reckon that €2 trillion can be saved and they intend to get government organisations using purchase to pay best practice to deliver these savings by 2016. These targets are of course way too ambitious. What’s more, the Commission is going about it in completely the wrong way. They may be ambitious and their methods may not be perfect but I’m impressed and delighted at what they're doing.

In a research report by Purchasing Insight and Paystream Advisors to be published in a few weeks time, we indicate some real evidence that the e-invoicing market has reached or even passed the tipping point and today, the expected land grab associated with the rapid increase in interest in e-invoicing has just accelerated. Basware, already one of the largest and most important operators in this space, have just announced the acquisition of Certipost's network e-invoicing business.

A high profile public procurement exercises in the UK has become a very public embarrassment for the British government as the award of the franchise for one of the country’s busiest rail lines has been withdrawn following complaints from one of the unsuccessful bidders. This is going to lead to calls for public procurement processes to be examined and it will do nothing for the reputation of procurement professionals in the public sector who regularly come under fire from a press who will seek to conclude that the public procurement process needs to be overhauled. But that’s exactly the wrong conclusion to draw. Indeed, I think that the whole debacle shows the strength of the procurement process – not its weakness.

Last week at EXPP I had the great pleasure of meeting Dave Wallis, Director Eastern Hemisphere (great job title) for OFS Portal. You could be forgiven for not knowing of OFS portal. OFS Portal is highly niche specializing exclusively in the Oil and Gas industry. In their own words it is a “group of diverse suppliers working together with a non-profit objective to provide standardized electronic information to B2B trading partners to facilitate e-commerce in upstream oil and gas products and services.” That is pretty specific but don’t let that mislead you in any way – there’s many industries outside of upstream oil and gas that could take a leaf out of their book. They are in many ways exemplars for purchase to pay and they’re now adding to their credentials by partnering with Tradeshift.