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Jason at Coupa Inspire – and What He Found There

Two weeks ago our US founder and CEO, Jason Busch, attended and delivered a keynote speech at Coupa Inspire, the firm’s annual user conference in San Francisco. The event was very well attended and provided a good insight into the company, its solutions and its strategic direction. Jason issued regular pre-, during and post-conference analyses of events, discussions and speeches, and now that we are all comfortably back to our daily work routines sandwiched between the bank holidays, we thought we’d round up those reports and give you some quick links to the original, more in-depth analysis of his discoveries. […]

Apple Watch Production Takes a Time Out After Supplier Parts Found Defective


There has been a huge amount of hype for the new Apple Watch – with some 1 in 4 people eyeing the flashy device. Yet already Apple has run into a snag in its supply chain with the rollout of its latest product: a critical part from one of its suppliers was “found to be defective.” Specifically, some “taptic” engines (which have ability to deliver tactile feedback) produced for the watches by AAC Technologies Holdings Inc. are breaking, forcing Apple to trash the watches with the faulty parts. While it doesn’t seem that Apple has sold any of the defective watches to customers and doesn’t have to deal with a product recall, it still will slow production of the in-demand device, causing an even bigger headache for the tech giant already suffering from supply and demand issues with the watch. Thomas Kase, Spend Matters vice president of research, shared his thoughts on the news, calling the dilemma “cultural issues at work.”

Friday Parody: Accounting For R&D In China — Internal Politburo Memorandum Found

Spend Matters has found an inside source close to the Chinese politburo (one of the rumors circulating in intelligence circles, which is not true mind you, is that we managed to smuggle out a secure red phone and stick it right in the middle of the office). Regardless of our methods, burn after reading ... the following was intercepted and translated by our staff in the past week ... To: Politburo Members From: The Big Red Accounting Team It has recently come to our attention that the world has become keenly aware that China's collective R&D spending is increasing. In […]

Alcoa Subsidiary to Pay $384M in Bribery Case, Roaches Found (Again) at California Chicken Plant

Alcoa World Alumina LLC, an Alcoa subsidiary, is pleading guilty to paying bribes to Bahrain and will pay $384 million in the case. Parent firm Alcoa is not being charged. The cold snap may be mostly over, but several energy providers are increasing their retail electricity rate as they struggle to meet demand in the midst of a cold winter. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest news in supply chain and procurement.

See Jason Busch and Kevin Brooks Reenact the Founding of Spend Matters

The photo in this post, featuring Kevin Brooks (now Chief Marketing Officer at FoodLink), Jason Busch, two glasses of beer, and two ordinary napkins, is not a perfect reenactment of the founding of this blog, but it comes pretty close. As the story goes, Jason and Kevin came up with the idea of Spend Matters over drinks, and Kevin had Jason write down the idea on a cocktail napkin.

What Can We Learn from the Founding Fathers’ Bill of Rights in Drafting a Procurement Bill of Rights?

holla alex hamilton

I thought it’d be good to go back to the ‘source code’ for much of its inspiration – the US Bill of Rights. It’s a document that is relevant globally as well as within an enterprise context for governing procurement processes internally and with external providers. Let’s touch on a few, which I will obviously simplify and even take a bit of license with, so bear with me. And don’t start pulling out your pocket versions to throw at me (which you can’t anyway).

Flaws Exposed in the Federal Procurement Data System

The Government Accountability Office has found that the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration—the two federal agencies that account for the vast majority of consolidated contracts—misreported the number of consolidated contracts in fiscal year 2011 and 2012. The GAO reviewed 157 contracts, and found that 34% of the DoD contracts reported as consolidated, and none of the GSA contracts designated as such, were in fact consolidated, leading the GAO to conclude that the two agencies “do not know the full extent to which they are awarding consolidated contracts.” The GAO also found four DoD contracts that were consolidated, but were not reported as such.

Tips on Speaking to a Procurement Audience: Give Up the Slides, Please [Plus+]


Whenever I have a big speech to give, I usually spend a few weeks preparing, or at least going through in my head, a planned outline. Like many presenters for whom public speaking did not come naturally to start, I’ve often found myself relying on slides to guide my talk. They’re a type of crutch, if you will. But in recent years, in the rare cases that I’ve been forced to present without PowerPoint, I’ve found the audience was far more engaged – probably something about a lack of 12 point Helvetica fonts and multiple takeaway arrows per slide, I suppose.

The Big Blue Dilemma: Why Companies Overpay for IBM Solutions

For the last decade, IBM has found itself in a tight position. Despite an aggressive growth-by-acquisition business strategy, the vendor has found itself falling further behind in the race to the cloud and inheriting an ever-growing number of competitors. The heat recently reached white-hot levels when Credit Suisse downgraded the vendor’s stock under the assumption that the company’s lack of organic growth puts it “effectively in decline.” With more than a third of its gross profit dollars coming from mainframe and UNIX hardware and software (cash cow, but declining market), it’s clear that IBM is at a crossroads.

Supplier Enablement and Onboarding Lesson: Use Carrots, Not Sticks!


Spend Matters recently spoke to a P2P process owner at a Fortune 500 beverage company. The hour-long conversation turned out to be a treasure trove of tips and tactics for improving the supplier enablement and onboarding process for e-invoicing and trade financing. Today, we continue the analysis looking at how this organization got more from the careful use of carrots rather than sticks as it brought suppliers up and running with Taulia (after previously using Xign). With supplier enablement and trade financing programs, this large food and beverage company found that carrots (and frequent, active and friendly communications) tend to work better than sticks, especially with strategic suppliers.

Managing Contingent Labor: Common Challenges and Case Examples


In a recent Spend Matters research study titled Applying Supply Chain Rigor to Contingent Workforce Management, we found companies cited a number of common challenges regarding managing contingent labor relative to the direct supply chain. In this article, we share some of the highlights from the research paper.

Atkins wins HS2 job to push BIM to supply chain

Atkins wins HS2 job to push BIM to supply chainConstruction EnquirerAtkins will also work to help drive long-term efficiency and durability into asset management. Last year HS2 published the findings of a study looking at BIM readiness within the supply chain. It found an ever-increasing awareness and implementation … and more »

Redefining Procurement: Non-Labor Cost’s Growing Impact on the Bottom Line

Construction worker

We already covered a few of the highlights from Proxima’s latest report. The study, perhaps not so ironically outsourced to a third party (FTI Consulting) who conducted it on Proxima’s behalf, found a clear trend line between 2009 and 2011 around labor cost and non-labor cost (both as percentages of revenue) in companies around the world. Based on data from 1,954 organizations, the study found that labor cost as percentage of revenue shrunk from 13.6% in 2009 to 13.0% in 2010, settling in at 12.0% in 2011. Contrast this with non-labor cost as a percentage of revenue that started at 66.2% in 2009 and rose to 67.6% and 69.9% in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

COIs Plan Increase In Network Security Spending, IBM Shares Sink

The majority of COIs in North America plan to boost company spending on network security this year, a recent survey found. And, IBM plans to shift focus to cyber security, cloud computing and big data after reporting a dip in revenues for the 11th consecutive quarter. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest in supply chain and procurement news.

Prediction 2015: CFOs Rediscover Process Automation

Spend Matters welcomes this guest post by Peter Minck, vice president of business solutions at Redwood Software. CFOs and finance departments are always being challenged to streamline what they do. During our work and discussions with global organizations over the past year, we found many manual challenges and repetitive tasks that compromise the effectiveness of finance and accounting teams in many areas. But altogether, no single activity hijacked more effort from finance in 2014 than the financial close.

Cambodian Soldiers Quash Garment Factory Protest, Wal-Mart Recalls Donkey Meat Product in China

Cambodian soldiers stepped in to quash a protest by garment factory workers striking for better pay, beating workers and monks and taking 10 people into military custody. And Wal-Mart is recalling a donkey meat product in China that was found to contain DNA from other animals. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest news in supply chain and procurement.

Sourcing Gum Arabic, Chinese Zoo Tries to Pass Off Tibetan Mastiff as Lion, Wireless Phone Plan Pricing

China's good with... shall we call it "substituting"? It's Friday, after all, and one must be nice. All the same, anyone with eyes can tell the difference between a lion and a Tibetan mastiff dog, even a very large one. Visitors to the Chinese zoo that tried to pull precisely that stunt found other "substitutions" as well. Foxes for leopards, dogs for wolves. And Spend Matters has a cheetah in the office today.