Author: Pete Loughlin

In the first post in this series, we put forward the view that e-procurement has never lived up to its promise.  The promise of buying everything from an on-line catalogue. A system that would enforce compliance to contract, eliminate maverick spend, reduce the cost of purchasing and provide rich spend data that could be leveraged to make even better sourcing decisions. And that’s what we’ve got right? Wrong! I would say that in most large organizations it is as time consuming, as costly and as painful to buy something as it was 15 years ago. The problem is that the job – the job of implementing automated web enabled procurement systems – was never finished. The whole point was that buying for business was supposed to be as easy as buying off Amazon. But the objectives were forgotten and the vendors took their eye off the ball.

It was a great day for Ireland and a great day for Celtrino, the Irish supply chain document automation people. Yesterday was e-day, the day that the launch was announced of Ireland's the first Government and public sector e-Invoicing project. It's a pilot and the objective is to establish a proven, interoperable network of trusted service providers capable to accepting, routing and delivering e-Invoices.

Many will know of, if not know personally, Charles Dominick of Next Level Purchasing fame. The Procurement Game Plan is a new book that Charles has co-written together with Soheila Lunney and he kindly sent me a copy this week to review. Now I can count on the fingers of both ears the number of times I've reviewed a book on procurement so I was delighted to delve into it and see what I could come out with.

I can tell a lot about you just from the fact that you’re reading this. You have a professional interest in purchasing or finance or both – that’s not exactly rocket science to work that out – but I can tell more. You’re conscientious. You enjoy the  evaluation of ideas and the analysis of problems and their solutions. You respond relatively well  to stressful situations and you deal well with minor day to day frustrations. No one would describe you as self-conscious or shy. That’s a lot to deduce from the mere fact that you’re reading Purchasing Insight. But I’m right aren’t I? I’ve just described you.

We were promised hover cars and vacations on the Moon. What did we get? Luggage on wheels! The new millennium wasn’t what it was billed as and it’s a sad fact of life that reality rarely lives up to the promise. E-procurement solution promises are the same. One click, walk-up interface. Employee self-service. No training required. Turns your sandwich into a banquet! The promises are impressive but  “one click” actually means “one click as long as you’re only buying a pencil” -  any color you like as long as it’s black - and employee self-service is a euphemism for “do it yourself”.