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Managing Expectations For Purchasing Technologies
May 2, 2012
Mercator Advisory Group
Within the past six weeks, I have attended two major conferences, each of which featured “best practices” case studies of financial supply chain management. All the hot topics were showcased, including straight through processing for “procure to pay”, ERP integration, electronic payments, card-enabled e-payables, supplier recruitment and more.
I am not alone in being impressed by what some firms have accomplished. Nor am I alone in recognizing that all of this automation and integration is more complicated than it looks. It is a bit depressing, then, to wonder why the firms talking at the conferences seem to be able to pull it off and all the rest of us are struggling. Peter Loughlin of Purchasing Insight caught my mood perfectly with his recent
entitled, “Why is Everything Always a Mess?”
“When it comes to technology, they [purchasing organizations] are not normally what you would describe as model implementations. Supplier data all over the place, catalogues out of date, Heinz 57 varieties of purchasing system. Purchase to Pay processes are very rarely joined up and if purchase to pay really is the plumbing of your organization, you’d be drowning.”
Thank you, Peter, for answering your own question with any number of good reasons for letting ourselves off the hook. A few useful ones:
Companies run different systems for direct and indirect purchases.
Some corporate divisions run on incompatible ERP systems because they were acquired in recent mergers.
Some suppliers have special contract terms that require special handling, and since they are bigger than us, we do it their way.
Peter offers more and you are sure to find several that suit your company circumstances. I appreciate his view that most firms will never totally and permanently cure “the mess,” since the relationships and technologies and needs of buyers and suppliers will continue to evolve. Managing and modernizing a complex process is meant to be messy; sometimes we forget that without the new challenges, we’d all be bored!
Contact Patricia McGinnis
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