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Many suppliers will offer a discount for early payment. The decision to accept the discount is normally based on two factors. Are you in a position to pay the invoice early? (i.e. are your purchase to pay processes efficient enough to do so) and secondly, the size of the discount. What is not normally considered is arguably the most important factor of all – the mitigation of risk.

Shortly before I stopped working for Government I attended a particularly dispiriting conference. The theme was “Delivering More With Less”. I went to a session on “Re-engineering Government Procurement” and listened to assorted “experts” and senior figures claimed that the thing to do was to sort out procurement processes then hand it all over to SAP and Oracle. I could have thrown myself out of a high window had we not been on the ground floor. One speaker wondered out why things were so often going so badly in government despite their having invested in ERPs and there was a sense of bafflement when I asked if he had considered that things were going badly precisely because they were using ERPs.

When it comes to e-procurement, the proper concerns of supporting and enabling Procurement have been put to one side in the excitable chatter and discussion of the technology. The signal gets lost in the noise.  It’s like going to a showroom where the salesmen and their acolytes do not tell you how fit their cars are for your particular purpose but instead, squabble about which has the sharpest fins or shiniest chrome.

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