Purchasing Insight

Purchase to Pay, Purchasing & Procurement Process, Electronic Invoicing

Browsing Posts in e-Procurement

One of my favorite Einstein quotes is this: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. It is quite likely that, like many other quotations attributed to Einstein, he never actually said it but I prefer to believe that he said something at least a bit like it. There are various forms of the quotation: “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself” or “It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid”. I studied Astrophysics at University and I seem to recall testing that last one out quite a bit.

This valuable aphorism doesn’t just apply to explanations of complex issues – this also applies to products – simple design nearly always reflects an intimate understanding of user requirements – the kind of design that makes you think “why didn’t I think of that?” One of the best examples of this is Taulia. They address what is actually a fairly complex set of business issues but they’ve turned their solution into something a kid could explain. Look at this very cool video illustrating their dynamic discounting tools.

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New technologies always promise to disrupt – it’s nearly always hype or enthusiastic futurology manifesting itself as over excitement that hasn’t really been thought through. But it’s not always hype and it’s great to see optimistic expectations actually being delivered in the real world.

I tell you what you want what you really really want – Doritos!

It was 1995. Monica Lewinski was in the White House, Windows 95 was launched, the Spice Girls were becoming the biggest girl group ever and last but not least, the internet fridge was launched. Don’t believe the nouveau geeks who swear that the internet of things is something new. The Internet fridge has been breaking it’s promise to disrupt the world of chilled groceries for nearly two decades. It seemed like a good idea but no one really thought it through.

Many of us consider internet marketing to be intrusive. We shouldn’t complain. We know what the deal is it when we sign up for “free” services in the full knowledge we’re inviting the marketers into our inbox and onto our desktop. But if you thought internet marketing was intrusive, try inviting the marketers directly into your fridge to manage your snack inventory. You might believe you’re buying into the internet of everything but, believe me, let an internet fridge into your kitchen and within weeks it will be full of nothing but Tortilla chips and salsa dip. continue reading…

Like buses, you wait for one for ages then two come at once. It was only a few weeks ago I was speaking to Perfect Commerce – a rebranding of one of the great names of the past, CommerceOne – and this week I had the great pleasure to speak with Deem – one of the other greats.

You’d be forgiven for not recognizing the name. Deem is a re-branding of a product that many will be familiar with – Ketera. Deem acquired Ketera in 2010 and today they’re announcing what is in effect a relaunch. In their words “Deem Spend has been re-branded, refreshed and revitalized to automate entire sourcing processes and maximizes savings for our customers on every transaction”. continue reading…

This week I had the pleasure to support a seminar session run by Canon promoting their P2P offering. This is the transcript of my presentation

P2P has always been important – important in the sense that it has always been important to ensure that the correct approval is given before something is bought. It’s important in the sense that it has always been important to ensure that suppliers are paid according to contractual terms – and important in the sense that it’s important to ensure that the details on an invoice sent by a supplier match what was asked for and what was delivered.

But P2P has taken on a greater importance in recent years and there are three things that have put P2P in the spotlight

  • Visibility
  • Accountability
  • Automation

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It’s quite easy to “get” the benefits of e-procurement – electronic catalogues linked to a purchase approval workflow. It’s a no brainer and it was one of the most successful B2B technology of the 1990s as the opportunity was seen to emulate the ease of buying that amazon, Dell and eBay offered. But it was never as straightforward as the B2C equivalent. You don’t need to account for everything you buy on eBay and apply GL codes and cost centres and we don’t need a 3 way match. That’s why Amazon is easy. (How many times have you heard someone in business complain about their ERP purchasing module asking why it can’t be like Amazon?)

And what about e-invoicing? That seems like a compelling proposition until you try to automate Accounts Payable in an environment where the purchasing process is out of control. continue reading…

In October 2008, some colleagues and I were in Brussels for a European Commission/PEPPOL session. Halfway through the morning we called our office travel agents and asked if they could book us onto earlier flights home and left. During the morning session I wrote in my diary “trying to decide between slitting my wrists or hurling myself from the window. One of the most dispiriting experiences of my life is sitting here listening to policy officers and IT staff talking rubbish and reinventing the wheel. Do our taxes pay for this nonsense? Yes they do”.

Two things reminded me of this recently: the first was reading a PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specification (BIS 28A  – Ordering) which was out for review; the second was the reaction when the Draft Directive on eInvoicing managed to omit any mention of PEPPOL. continue reading…

I’ve often said, somewhat provocatively, that e-procurement doesn’t work. It does work of course but often only in the most straight forward of environments. Keeping the stationery cupboard stocked up isn’t the most challenging of business situations and even when you can address lots of spend, getting people to comply is a change management challenge that, in some corporate cultures, is impossible to overcome. Step outside of the office and you face new challenges. How, for example, do you implement a P2P system on a remote construction site where there isn’t even a a phone signal never mind a computer network?

These are a couple of examples of the real world situations that are faced by many businesses but they are trivial compared to some where the ability to get goods and services promptly to where they are needed is more than a business issue, it’s a matter of life and death. continue reading…