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.
I attended the round table event on e-invoicing in London on the 9th December and I shared some thoughts on the event here. I want to share a few more thoughts, but this time I want to look at the way the debate is framed technically.
I have previously criticised PEPPOL for being far too rooted in technology rather than business. I am not alone in making that comment although I seem to have my head above the parapet more often. A similar sense washed over me at the roundtable, partly from the contributions from the European Commission and Open PEPPOL but also from other industry insiders there.
My feeling is that there is an industry agenda in play here, an agenda which ignores business realities. The impetus is to seek a ‘solution’ which ticks all the boxes of the industry ivory tower whereas if we really want eInvoicing to gain traction we need to look at what is already working in the market and at what participants actually want.
I wasn’t expecting a drama but when Sarah Chilman rushed to Nigel Taylor’s rescue following what appeared to be an unprovoked attack with a coat stand, I immediately thought of Wendi Deng’s intervention at the phone hacking hearing when her now estranged husband, Rupert Murdoch, was the target of Johnnie Marbles. “Surely Parliamentary business isn’t always like this” I thought but quickly realised that the coat stand had simply fallen on Nigel’s head.It was a moment of distraction during an otherwise fascinating session, the first sitting of the UK Parliamentary Inquiry on e-invoicing.
[caption id="attachment_8723" align="aligncenter" width="576"] From left to right, Caitlin the stenographer, Luke McKeever from OB10, Tim Coleman from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Nigel Taylor from Taulia and Chair of UKNeF, Nigel Clifford from Procserv and to the far right, the coat stand.[/caption]
The coat hanger mishap wasn't the only surprise. The Inquiry that I was privileged to be a part of, sat on Tuesday of this week, the day after an intense, all-day debate hosted by the UK National e-Invoicing Forum (UKNeF) during which I sat with Ian Burdon and Peter Smith, both of whom brought fresh and expert views and insights to the public sector e-invoicing discussion. These two days, the UKNeF meeting and the Parliamentary Inquiry, led me to some conclusions about the direction of electronic invoicing in the UK and they were conclusions that I would absolutely not have predicted.
A couple of articles ago I mentioned the EU’s draft Directive on eInvoicing. It is a sensible document. However it has some problems which raise important questions.
The core problem is that the reasoning in the Explanatory Memorandum to the draft is flawed. This is not just grumpy pedantry but something fundamental.
A few weeks ago, somebody asked me why supply chain finance had suddenly burst into life - especially in the UK - with a new breed of SCF providers appearing at the same time?. Why is it that in the space of a few months the market place seemed to blossom? Tungsten bought OB10 to create a new SCF proposition. Crossflow Payments emerged in the summer and there were others. Why the sudden explosion?There was nothing sudden about it. These operations have years of planning and preparation behind them. It appears sudden – but it’s not. And we’re about to see something similar happen in Europe around e-invoicing.
In October 2008, some colleagues and I were in Brussels for a European Commission/PEPPOL session. Halfway through the morning we called our office travel agents and asked if they could book us onto earlier flights home and left. During the morning session I wrote in my diary “trying to decide between slitting my wrists or hurling myself from the window. One of the most dispiriting experiences of my life is sitting here listening to policy officers and IT staff talking rubbish and reinventing the wheel. Do our taxes pay for this nonsense? Yes they do”.
Two things reminded me of this recently: the first was reading a PEPPOL Business Interoperability Specification (BIS 28A – Ordering) which was out for review; the second was the reaction when the Draft Directive on eInvoicing managed to omit any mention of PEPPOL.
The debate on these pages on e-invoicing and interoperability has been fascinating. It was inspired by the EU’s consultation designed to solicit views in order that e-invoicing in public procurement can be stimulated and encouraged. But there’s more to this than interoperability and we think that there are three things that the EU can do to get electronic invoicing really motoring in Europe - mandate, regulate and educate.