The Merger – Our Story of Procurement, Data and Sexual Tension

We published last week our “novella” titled The Merger, written by Peter Smith of Spend Matters and Steve Cobley of Ivalua. Rather than the usual discussion of procurement strategy, technology and organisation in an abstract sense we thought we would frame it in the form of a fictional story of two firms merging and the impact it might have on two individual procurement leaders, Jim and Gabrielle.

We featured the instalments of the story on our website a while back, but for the downloadable version we have added some useful commentary about some of the specific procurement technology issues that get raised in the course of the story. Learn more about “best of breed” versus “integrated platforms”, for instance in terms of choosing the right system for your organisation.

Now I’m afraid we don’t offer a wild Fifty Shades type tale of drama and debauchery, and our heroes don’t spend a passionate night together in the Premier Inn (following a cost-cutting drive in the travel management category) or cut up the CEO’s corporate purchasing card in a self-destructive savings frenzy redolent of Thelma and Louise. Some readers did detect a certain amount of sexual tension between our two main characters when we published this originally; we suspect that says more about our readers than our actual intentions!

But our story does explore what we think are some important and serious issues for procurement executives around data, information and technology, whether involved in a merger or acquisition situation or not.

In today’s excerpt, Jim and Gabrielle tunnel into the vaults of the Bank of England then use the proceeds to assassinate Christian Ronaldo in the Bernabéu. Only joking, actually Jim talks to his colleague Louise and finds out why he doesn’t have the data and information to share with Gabrielle that he thought he did. Will that cost him his job? You will have to download the whole thing to find out.


The Merger (an excerpt)

“So you’re telling me we don’t have a spend analysis report we can share with Gabrielle?”

Louise shook her head. “Well, not one I would want to, really. The latest spend analysis that we have got is almost 9 months out of date – it covers the 2013 to 2014 financial year, which finished last November.”

“Really? So what's the problem?”

“There's no problem Jim - you know, I have spoken to you before about this. We just don’t have a good spend analytics process or platform.”  Louise had looked nervous when they first returned from the call with Gabrielle, but now she was looking at Jim in a manner that made him uncomfortable.

“OK, OK, I know I'm not always as interested in technology as I should be. But I hadn't thought it was quite as bad as that.”

“We’ve got a number of different purchase-to-pay systems, and by the time our spend analytics provider has pulled the data together, cleansed it and so on - it takes time. And it’s not cheap, so we decided – well, you decided - to just do an annual exercise. Even then it takes 3 months to get the final reports.”

“Alright. So we’ll provide Gabrielle with that, I’ll just have to explain our situation. Now what about the list of the top contracts?”

“Well, I can pull something together, I reckon we have maybe 50% of our top contracts in our system. But I can chase around and add some more I'm aware of - but I can’t guarantee how accurate it will be.”

“I thought we had a contracts database? I'm sure I remember signing something off a couple of years ago for a system of some sort?”

“But the sourcing and category managers don't always keep it up to date. There is no automatic feed from the sourcing platform through to the contract management system so it depends on someone actually updating it. They have to enter a lot of manual data whenever they let a contract and you know what it’s like, they forget, something else comes up ...”

(To be continued... download here)

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