Down the Procurement Pub with Tradeshift, Xchanging, CCS, Craig Lardner and Wussy

Here is CIPS Past President Craig Lardner having a cup of tea with me yesterday morning - not beer for a change. Craig is looking suitably shocked at an article in the Times explaining that his Queen is upset about her name being taken in vain around the issue of whether the UK will exit from the EU. I hadn’t relaised that Craig is back on the CIPS Board, elected by members of Congress, having served as President in 2013/14 - I think he is the first Past President to do that rather than slipping off into the sunset. Perhaps I should think about standing for Congress …

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Around a week ago we heard whispers – well, a bit more than whispers really – of changes at Crown Commercial Service. But we didn't pick up the big news of Sally Collier leaving until it was announced, I'm afraid. However, I can reveal that we will have exclusive insight into her (interim) replacement on Monday, so tune in for that!

From the news we had heard, one significant addition to the team is Simon Tse, who has previously been CEO of the DVLA and has recently been doing a role with the DWP welfare to work programme that involves a fair bit of “market management". He is coming in to manage the customer-facing side of CCS, but we understand he will be based in Wales. That makes it a pretty dispersed senior team, which doesn’t always help, but his background looks pretty impressive. We also hear that four very high level category leads are being recruited – we thought that might have been put on hold, as we spoke to a head hunter about that idea AGES ago! Matt Denham is also leading now on the semi-mythical “Crown Marketplace” development.

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So has Danish supplier management solutions provider Lean Linking copied Danish eProcurement platform innovators Tradeshift’s website? Tradeshift’s founder Christian Lanng certainly thinks so and said so in no uncertain terms on Twitter. Or maybe the similar colour scheme, general design, and use of the expression “all your suppliers in one place” is just coincidence? Anyway, there is conflict in the (procurement technology) state of Denmark!

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Xchanging announced what we assume will be their last set of annual results before their acquisition by CSC is finalised. There was a loss of £46.2 million, and the procurement business carried the can for this; that number was driven in the main by goodwill being written off in that division. But in addition, procurement "was hit by falling volumes, exacerbated by gain-sharing thresholds which were not met, a number of contract exits, and a failure to bring costs in line with revenue declines. These problems persisted throughout 2015, although remedial measures were implemented in the second half of the year".

There's an MBA case study to be written about what exactly went wrong here, with the disastrous "tail-spend" contract with a large global consumer goods firm being pinned as the main culprit. It's a sad end of independence really for the firm, although the insurance and IT activities are much healthier. We will wait with interest to see what happens to the procurement outsourcing and software business post acquisition.

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OK, hadn’t heard of Wussy until very recently, but this is excellent. An indie rock band from Cincinnati. Just released their seventh (seventh!) album, Forever Sounds, which we will be listening too this weekend. Yeah, this is good. That is all we have to say. Play it loud.

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