I despair sometimes. There's been a couple of threads in the purchasing and supply chain media recently that seek to justify the role of procurement. There was Peter Smith's recent spirited defence, (here), of the procurement profession in response to David Cameron's naive attack calling purchasing professionals the "enemies of enterprise". And then there was the article in Supply Management "CFO focus on savings ‘does procurement a huge disservice" which high-lighted some research by Ardent Partners revealing a misperception of the role of procurement by most CFOs:
As many as 40 per cent of larger businesses across Europe are shying away from E-invoicing according to a report published this week by Iron Mountain. This is because of the perceived complexity and lack of standards, according to YouGov who were commissioned to perform the research.
The findings have been published to coincide with the launch of Iron Mountain’s new Business Process Management (BPM) services, details of which can be found here.
Iron Mountain Inc (IRM.N), which offers companies archiving and online data storage, launched a new invoice management unit on Wednesday, saying it aims to employ 550 people in Europe during the next three years.
Electronic Invoicing has for over a decade promised to deliver a fundamental change in the way accounts payable operates. "We will be able to eliminate the non-value add activities."; "AP will move from being a cost centre to a profit centre."; "It will evolve from an administration function to a strategic commercial operation." Promises all made in good faith but promises that were not delivered. The challenges of the numerous tax and legal regulations across the world as well as the reluctance of suppliers to play ball have both been significant blockers. But there's another blocker: e-invoicing doesn't make sense.
Have you heard about the internet fridge? The one that detects that you're running low on semi skimmed and sends an email to the grocery store to get you topped up? Well you should have. It's been announced as the next big thing every couple of years for at least the last 15. I saw a prototype in London in 1996. It's never taken off and it never will.