Down the Procurement Pub with Synertrade, NAO, Fast Stream, Basware. Mastercard and Alt-J

I had a pleasant lunch yesterday with SynerTrade. I met Andreas Schwarze previously when he was at German software provider Onventis, but he is now a board director at this German technology firm, a software provider that has one of the widest ranges of procurement and supply chain products I’ve seen. No less than 32 “applications” as they call them! More to come on the firm, but we met at the Red Lion Hotel in Hillingdon (handy for Heathrow). They claim King Charles I once stayed there, and it is certainly 16th century, but is now not in a very picturesque location. Lovely inside though, with decent Fullers type pub grub. And we drank tea and Coke! (It's been quite a heavy week, including our wedding anniversary celebrations).

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The UK’s National Audit Office released two reports yesterday. We’ll take a look at both in more detail next week, but they cover contract management in central government generally, and then a detailed look at how two departments – Ministry of Justice and the Home Office – have addressed their need to improve performance in that area.

“… according to Transforming government’s contract management, a report published today by the National Audit Office, a lot remains to be done – including instituting widespread changes in the culture of the civil service and its capability to procure and manage commercial contracts”.

And it looks like the MoJ gets higher marks than the Home Office in the more specific report: “… the MoJ started from a significantly weaker position than the Home Office, finding far greater overbilling and areas of weak contract ownership. But the MoJ has responded promptly with a more comprehensive improvement plan…”

More next week anyway.

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Interesting two-pronged announcement from e-invoicing leaders Basware and MasterCard this week.

“Over half (57%) of international businesses surveyed by Basware and MasterCard admit to having actively delayed paying their suppliers in the past 12 months. The findings underscore a late payment culture, which three out of four businesses now consider normal practice, that is hampering in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In order to break this cycle, Basware and MasterCard introduce Basware Pay, a solution that connects buyer and supplier payment processes and enables working capital optimisation. It allows buyers to better manage their cash flow and allows suppliers to get paid sooner”.

We’ll take a look at both the survey and the Basware Pay announcement next week in more detail.

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Applications for the 2015 Civil Service Fast Stream opened this week, “offering talented graduates an accelerated route to leadership and an opportunity to “make a difference” in an unrivalled range of careers in government”. It now includes a Finance and Commercial strand, giving a chance to those who want to become senior public sector procurement and commercial folk.

The Fast Stream is the largest public sector graduate recruitment programme, and employs over 800 each year. It covers 16 separate disciplines, ranging from a Generalist stream, to Commercial and Finance, Analytical, European and Human Resources. Those who began their careers as mainstream civil servants in central departments and may not have a degree are not excluded from the scheme – they can apply for the Fast Stream Digital and Technology, and Commercial and Finance options. More details here.

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The amazing and deeply strange Alt-J are releasing their second album soon, follow up to my personal favourite of 2012. This is a deeply strange and amazing track from it, issued with two alternative videos – a Boy and a Girl version. Here is one of them… with some tasteful nudity…

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