Spend Matters UK/Europe Round-Up

Duncan Jones (Forrester) on why Strategic Relationships Go Bad – part 1 -- Duncan Jones of Forrester has published an excellent and very interesting research paper, titled "Transform Your Strategic Supplier Relationships From Duels Into Duets". You can get it here if you're a Forrester subscriber – I think you have to pay if you're not.

Who owns your supplier? And does it matter? -- Wetherspoons, one of the UK's largest pub chains, reported their results last week. What was interesting was the comment of Tim Martin, chairman and founder, that although their cost pressures were increasing, he didn't think his customers were capable of accommodating increased prices. So he was planning to take the hit on margins, which of course is not what all the shareholders or City analysts wanted to hear. But Martin appears to follow the principle that if you put the customers first, then in time profits will follow, and shareholders will eventually be satisfied.

EU Procurement Regulations – a bulwark against corruption, or a pain in the bulwarks? -- We had an interesting debate last week in our "comments" section around the EU regulations – or the proposed changes to them. It wasn't an argument really, more a constructive discussion. I wanted to feature it here as it was at least as interesting as most of the material I produce. It started with Dan's excellent comment (more of a guest post really!) "As a public sector procurer and a law graduate, the problem I have with these proposals is that, while needed, they reflect a missed opportunity. The original procurement rules were put in place in 1993 ...in those times, the public sector provided most services in-house and 'procurement' was synonymous with 'requisitioning'. 'Commissioning' was unheard of...

CIPS can't be the solution to public procurement if it's the problem -- When I saw that David Noble, the CIPS CEO, had published a new article on the CIPS website on public sector procurement, I wondered if he would at last be defending the profession against the criticism – some deserved, some not – it has received from politicians and media. The Times the other week was the last to have a go, with a few rent a quote comments from politicians about the "lack of professionalism" in public procurement and other such nonsense. So I was disappointed that Noble continued in the main with the line that we've seen before – which is pretty much to agree that public procurement is rubbish, but then to offer the prospect that CIPS can help address that. Here he is, on the CIPS website.

Procurement of Consultancy – it's the value, not the cost that matters -- I was very honoured to be asked to serve as a judge for this year's Management Consultancies Association Awards, I suspect based on the huge success of my book, Buying Professional Services, co-authored with Fiona Czerniawska, which has single-handedly restored the fortunes of the UK book retailing industry*. Joking aside, it is an honour, and I've now read the entries that I'm assessing, and very impressive they are too.

January Music Review – Maccabees, Tribes and Howler -- Special announcement – if you want to see our musical tips for 2012, you need to subscribe to our monthly newsletter (free of course) here. We'll have our top predictions for 2012 in this month's edition, out very soon! The first big rock album of the year is the Maccabees with Given to the Wild, which features perhaps the most boring album cover in history. This band started out as youthful indie merchants, but on 2009's Wall of Arms they showed a deeper side, with some yearning Arcade Fire touches allied to strong tunes, making them a real favourite at festivals over the last 2 summers.

- Sheena Moore

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