Down the Procurement Wine-Bar With Top Earners, Ariba, the NHS, FT and Christine

Didn’t actually go to the pub much over the last couple of weeks but drank some very good wine at home, including one bottle pictured here I bought for £25 back in the late 1990s.  A lot of money then - but I was really shocked when I looked up what it retails for today – if you can find it at all. It’s rated a 97/100 by Robert Parker, whose ratings can literally move the price of wine by an order of magnitude. And it was … very good, not bad at all. Didn’t make us go “wow” though, to be honest. And I would certainly have swapped it for 20 half-decent bottles of Chilean Merlot which would cost about the same! That just goes to show a) I don’t deserve to drink fine wine and b) the difficulty of assessing “value” rather than “price”.


Before Christmas, the UK government published a list of top earning civil servants. Very interesting, and it is clear how “commercial” and procurement has gone up the priority list from the number of people in that field who feature. The list is dominated by rail though, with many high salaries at Network Rail and HS2. It is clear that HS2 is already a gravy train (excuse the pun) and that is only going to increase over time, we suspect. The list also raises some interesting questions about fairness that we will come back to – read the parable of the workers in the vineyard for a clue!


Talking of announcements made just before the holiday season, but this time presumably not timed to avoid publicity, SAP Ariba went live with four new module releases aimed at spurring innovation in the procurement market. The new releases offer support for guided buying, supplier management, supplier risk and direct materials sourcing.

“SAP Ariba quietly made what appear to be its biggest product announcements of the year just as December is winding down,” said our esteemed founder Jason Busch, founder and head of strategy at Spend Matters. “These four releases appear to be a material step forward for SAP Ariba in bringing innovation to the procurement market once again”.


We got a mention in Roy Lilley’s newsletter for our article on the Department of Health procurement programme. Lilley is highly influential in the health world and his daily newsletter is often very personal but influential and essential reading for anyone with interest in the sector – or indeed just anyone who cares about health issues for whatever reason.


Yesterday the Financial Times picked up on the formation of the UK Government Commercial Function and the assessment centres that staff transferring into Cabinet Office from departments are going to undertake. However, we think the FT is probably confused between the Government Commercial Function and the Government Commercial Organisation which will be the employer for these senior staff. (Unless the “organisation” is now the “function” if you see what we mean!) Anyway, we really hope the assessment process is robust and defendable otherwise those rated with a “C” grade and transferred out of commercial roles are going to challenge the process, we suspect.


Christine and the Queens was top of our Albums of the Year list and she was brilliant on “Later” on New Year’s Eve. Here she is with an excellent cover version (Terence Trent D'Arby - whatever happened to him?). She has a knack of really inhabiting other people’s songs when she does covers, and I think I am just a little bit in love … the last minute of this is the best by the way.

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  1. IndigoBlue:

    The assessment process is doing nothing but making Deloitte rich. Ridiculous mock negotiations lasting an entire day and costing government ~£800 per person, and taking too long – greater than a month – to make a decision whether to bring people further on in the process afterwards, completely ignoring the fact that it is a candidate-driven market at the moment.

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