Best of Spend Matters: Friday Rants

It's one of our favorites to write and from the traffic, the Friday Rant is oftentimes the most read column of the week. From putting AP into its rightful place to looking at SAP and saying "you know, there's a problem when they're the most innovative procurement technology..." to a primer on ground meat safety, the Friday Rant has taken us into some meaty (yeah yeah yeah, meant the pun) issues.

Friday Rant: An Enemy of Treasury, Procurement: Time to Blow Up A/P (Diagnostic Included!!) -- Accounts payable is a wretched function. It's mere existence, to pay vendors, strikes of something begging to be automated or absorbed into another function. And that would be if it did it right. All too often, AP organizations do a horrible job at forecasting liabilities -- they simply don't have access to the information necessary to forecast specific payment dates, let alone to enable suppliers to take advantage of early payment programs that could, theoretically, turn the function into an asset.

Friday Rant: Burgers on The Barby – A Primer on Safe Ground Meat -- We're having a mild reprieve from record breaking heat wave temperatures in the Northern U.S. at the moment, but August barbecue fare can be at least as risky as the stock market. Ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb -- and Jason's favorite, Elk -- is especially vulnerable to contamination year round, and even more so in hot weather. And if you're vegetarian, you might want to pass on the balance of this post.

Friday Rant: There's a Problem With the Procurement Technology World if SAP is the Most Innovative -- In the next few weeks, we'll begin to profile SAP Supplier InfoNet, a solution SAP officially launched late this Spring that takes the original OpenRatings concept (i.e., mash-up supplier operational data from source systems with third-party insight and enrichment data) into the social enterprise computing era. It's the most revolutionary approach to managing supplier financial, operational and quality risk that I've seen to date. Supplier InfoNet would be remarkable coming from a start-up in the procurement and supply chain arena, but it's even more so coming from SAP, which tends to move as quickly as a government bureaucracy in many product areas.

Friday Rant: e-LYNXX -- The E-Sourcing Patent Trolls Are Out Again -- James Carville, Bill Clinton's famous political consultant, once observed that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. I can partially attest to this having lived in both cities and spent one year of my life in between them. This might sound like a bit of a random observation, but stay with me for a minute. In Spend Matters' view, e-LYNXX Corporation, a Pennsylvania company that filed a patent infringement suit late last year against a number of defendants in the United States District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg Division, is likely banking on a jury whose composition fits Mr. Carville's stereotypical description of middle-state residents, who are likely not to be as versed in business-to-business practices and trade when it comes to a recent patent case that was filed.

Friday Rant: The Joys of Outsourced Payroll -- One of my favorite new responsibilities (sarcasm intended) of my new role running Azul Partners, the parent company of this site as well as MetalMiner and Spend Matters UK involves streamlining the proverbial back office -- making sure the company has the appropriate policies and procedures in place to create efficiencies, visibility (into our books and business), and last, scalability. And though Jason has done a tremendous job growing our little rag-tag business (and team) as he likes to call it, he probably had good reason to shift some of these operational tasks to me (I can't operate as effectively, shall we say, as Jason does in a fire-hose type environment). As our team has grown we've obviously needed to add folks to payroll, supply health care, a 401k etc.

Friday Rant: Critical Tips for Keeping Wedding (and General Corporate Event) Costs Down (Part 1) -- Last weekend, I attended a family wedding in Seattle. It was a great affair, and I'm happy to report that the happy couple was even able to hold the ceremony outside, as the infamous Pacific Northwest weather cooperated for just enough time. An aside for you foodies in the audience -- Copper River Salmon is in season right now and I highly recommend the splurge if you care for what I think is one of the greatest delicacies to come out of the ocean. It's only available for a few weeks, and it's absolutely worth the price premium (especially if you can get it fresh in the Pacific Northwest). (Part 2)

Friday Rant: We Don't Submit Electronic Invoices, So Why Should You? -- A couple of weeks back, a long-time reader challenged me to talk about my own experience as a P2P analyst and small business owner as to what it's like to be on the actual vendor side with all of the companies we do business with (i.e. many of the providers who offer P2P and invoicing capabilities in the market today). The reality would probably shock readers -- we've never officially submitted (at least in the US) an electronic invoice via a portal or ever paid network or intermediary fees for the privilege of submitting an electronic invoice. Granted, a little part of this is stubbornness on my part -- I refuse to pay a tax or any additional fee when I see little or no benefit from it (call me a libertarian supplier P2P fanatic, if you will). My favorite story to tell people is how we got one of the vendors in the space to agree to the following contract language: "Please note that any XYS-imposed network or related fees will be re-billed to XYZ as part of this agreement."

Sheena Moore

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