Author: Pete Loughlin

Free to suppliers is no longer a big deal in the world of electronic invoicing. It was the headline feature that brought Tradeshift to everyone's attention 3 years ago and it's stood them in good stead. I never considered free to suppliers to be especially disruptive as Tradeshift claimed. It was a unique proposition but now that USP has run out of steam and there's a new new kid on the block threatening to eat Tradeshift's lunch. But Tradeshift have something else up their sleeve and this time, I think it really is disruptive. [caption id="attachment_7544" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Copenhagen Copenhagen - spiritual home of Tradeshift[/caption]

Isn't it interesting how opposites attract. When the circumstances are just right, people, businesses, natural elements and chemical compounds bind together in synergistic relationships of mutual self interest. Successful supply chain partnerships are just like that and collaborations between very different businesses can create profitable partnerships in which the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. And isn't it disappointing when different parts of the same organization repel each other like the poles of a magnet. You would think that procurement and finance divisions of the same business would have a similar agenda but when it comes to some matters of finance, buyers have more in common with their suppliers than they have with their own finance people.

Critical components in your supply chain are at risk - and you may not even know it. There are numerous points of failure in today's complex supply chains and because of the difficulty that upstream suppliers have funding their business from day to day, the risk of a damaging and expensive failure is increasing. And it gets worse. Efforts to cut costs have resulted in leaner, riskier supply chains held together by a network small suppliers. If the risk of financial failure isn't mitigated it could have disastrous consequences - which is why businesses - especially in Europe - should begin to take supply chain finance more seriously.

I'm a big advocate of KPIs and I'm a stickler for a sound business case. I don't do anything without a plan and there's no resource more valuable than a good project manager. To invest resources, whether it's time, money or both, without understanding and quantifying the expected outcome, without understanding your route map and without measuring results against a plan is a sure route to disaster. No-one plans to fail - they just fail to plan. This is what the rule book says and I've always told myself that this is the way it should work. In all honesty, I'm just repeating what I've been taught by others. It's what older, more experienced people always said - it seemed to make sense. It's the received wisdom that has become a part of the way I do things - but I've never believed it. Not really. And here's why.

There are a few things that make Stephen McPartland unusual. He's a scouse Tory (trust me - it's unusual) who writes for the Morning Star campaigning about corporate tax avoidance (and you thought a scouse Tory was unusual) and, on top of that, he gets e-business. That's right - a politician that understand e-business. Now that is unusual! I went to the House of Parliament in London to speak with Stephen about why he believes now is the time for the UK to act on e-invoicing.

When you see an organization, a community or a country embracing rapid change, it can make you realize how hesitant we can be to adopt new ideas. That is certainly the impression I am always left with when I, as a Brit, visit the United States. it can be confusing. Most of us are happy to embrace modernity - we just don't put new ideas into practice. We're sold on new ways of doing almost everything but, as I realized on a recent visit to the USA, resisting change is less about reluctance to embrace the new and more about learning to discard the old. Purchasing Insight logo in Time Square