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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  

No, it's not a Las Vegas magic act. ZUGFeRD is a PDF invoice standard developed by a consortium of players including the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the Federal Ministry of the Interior specifically to support the use of electronic invoices amongst SMEs. The standard will help more small-to-medium-sized enterprises benefit from electronic invoicing by sharing structured invoice data within a PDF invoice. ZUGFeRD ensures the file complies with legal requirements, and can be easily read and processed without manual intervention. A PDF invoice alone is as prone to errors and compliance failures as a paper invoice.

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