When the Blood Boils

‘It’s just business, nothing personal.’

How I hate to hear those words. Business is personal, at least partly because we spend a large portion of our lives conducting it. Human relationships are at the heart of it. And there’s far more to a business relationship than a contract – trust, for a start, and possibly liking and pleasure.

We’re not in business only to make money or even to do good in the world. Business is part of life, and the extended community we live in. We need to feel proud of it.

Procurement departments should take note of this when they are unleashed on suppliers.

baying dog

Procurement doesn’t have to look like this!

Yesterday’s experience is a good example of bad practice. It’s for you to judge whether mine or the potential customer’s.

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent days and days working out how to use our expense management system, expense@work, for an interesting and unusual purpose. It’s been fun. There’s nothing I enjoy more than working out some tricky logical problem and fitting the features of our software around something unlikely.

With this particular company, we got to the point where the system I’d configured looked entirely plausible (and indeed is entirely plausible). I’d swapped requirements documents, sample data, queries about the rules of the system, and had reached the point where I could demonstrate to them quite clearly that the system could do what they wanted.

So, once convinced, they were ready to unleash their procurement department to negotiate a deal. We’d already agreed, informally, an absurdly low price, which seemed all the more ridiculous as the complexity of their requirements increased, but it was still just about worthwhile.

Their procurement department then announced that their maximum daily consulting rate was about 30% of the very reasonable rate I’d suggested. Moreover, they wanted an unlimited license for far more users than I’d agreed.

I found this more than slightly infuriating, so, blood boiling, and unable to stop myself, I replied as follows:

‘You’re a cheapskate company, with an insulting approach to procurement, and I want nothing more to do with you.’

I have no regrets.

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