It brought a small smile to my lips this week when Accenture and American Express published their new report declaring that companies aren't making enough use of eprocurement applications and purchasing cards.
I think I first wrote those words about four or five years ago now, when the favoured (for which read clichéd) examples that was trotted out ad nauseam, by vendors was the hoary old one about an 80 pence packet of paper clips that cost companies £80 to acquire using conventional corporate procurement.
Five years on and it seems that the lesson has not been learned - which is a genuine pity as eprocurement is one of those 'best thing since sliced bread' ideas that actually works in practice. But the big problem is that we've never really moved on from that damned packet of paper clips!
Powerful image though it was, the paper clips cemented eprocurement in the corporate mind set as a trivial issue, something to do with office supplies and making sure there were enough envelopes and pens and pencils to be had. It wasn't therefore raised up in the corporate consciousness to become the board-level-attention-demanding issue that it should always have been.
It's interesting to note that those companies that have seen significant benefits from eprocurement are those for whom the paper clip factor has been a side show. They're the ones that have gone to the trouble to make sure that eprocurement applications were integrated into their existing back office systems, most notably ensuring that eprocurement and supply chain management (SCM) were seamlessly joined.
Maybe one day corporates will finally get the message. Or maybe there's a wider problem. It's a harsh fact of life, but there are people who like chasing bits of paper around corporates. It's safe, it's certain and it's 'how we've always done it'.