Author: Pete Loughlin

It’s accepted wisdom that to pay suppliers promptly, that is on time according to agreed terms, is fair. It astonishes me when businesses – and it seems that big businesses are the worse culprits – deliberately fail to pay on time and seem to think that this is a legitimate business practice. But it is equally astonishing to see small businesses failing to help themselves when their customers pay late. Some businesses are their own worse enemy when it comes to being paid on time and there is a few simple steps that they could be taking to minimize the pain of late payment.

As technology matures, industries are transformed. It is very rare that a single technology inspires or effects the change. It is more usual that a gradual evolution of a mix of technologies lowers the barriers and opens up the opportunity for business models that would previously not have been worth serious consideration. There was a time when the natural gas trapped in rocks under the ground, while known about, was simply not worth the effort to extract. But develop technologies like fracking that can tap this resource profitably and the future of a nation and its power needs is transformed. If you understand the signs, it’s possible to see these fundamental changes coming and there is one such change in the financial services industry that is visible quite clearly on the horizon. A mix of technology has matured and a new business model, barely feasible until very recently, has become compelling. It’s good news for business. It’s not so good news for the banks.

There’s a distinct change in tone in the latest press release from Tradeshift. It’s happy. I’m not saying that press releases in the past were miserable, it’s just that I would have used other words to describe their character - frenetic or excited perhaps. And the Tradeshift team has good reason to be happy. The headline announces the $75 million investment that they’ve just secured but what is really good news for the Tradeshifters, their customers and investors is the foothold they just gained in the third largest economy in the world.

There’s a guy that wants to know how to learn how to negotiate. His friend, a professional buyer, explains to him that all he needs to do is to offer half of what he’s asked for when buying anything. Armed with this new skill, he goes off to buy himself a suit. “That will be $200 sir” says the tailor. Our negotiator responds with an offer of $100. “You drive a hard bargain” the tailor replies “but as I like you, you can take the suit for $100” Our negotiator fixes the tailor with a stare. “$50” he snaps. Realizing what's going on and keen to serve other customers, the exasperated tailor gives the suit away. “Take it. It’s free. Just get out of here” Negotiator: “I’ll have two”

On Monday morning I had what I thought was a slight cold. Sniffing, I headed to London. By late morning, it was a proper cold and by the time I arrived in Westminster for the second sitting of Stephen McPartland’s parliamentary inquiry into e-invoicing, I’d developed full blown man-flu. This was a session characterised by contrasts. Forthright opinions together with cautiously expressed views. Good news mixed with disappointing revelations. But overall a great second session.

MEAT or the Most Economically Advantageous Tender has always been one of the assessment criteria upon which contracts could be awarded under EU procurement law. But no longer – soon it will be the only option. A slightly refined version of old MEAT, new MEAT will encourage evaluation of the bids offering the best price-quality ratio. This change is described by Jennifer Robinson as just one of many changes to EU procurement law that collectively represent a complete overhaul, the biggest change in public procurement law in 10 years.