12 April 2001 | Liam O'Brien
Britain's purchasing directors are being left out of the loop when it comes to implementing e-procurement, according to a survey of 200 finance directors in the UK and Germany.
The survey, by American Express, found that British purchasing directors were only the third most likely senior manager to have responsibility for implementing e-procurement, behind finance and IT directors.
Worryingly, 75 per cent of UK finance directors were unaware of best practice or industry recommendations for implementing e-procurement systems.
"It's a very touchy topic," said report author Laurent Gampel, American Express's European vice-president and head of corporate purchasing cards. "This is the same situation as 25 years ago, when IT was just reaching the boardroom agenda."
The realisation that e-procurement requires detailed work has led to the finance director taking a greater involvement in the back-end processes that tie in with accounting, argued Gampel.
"About a year ago, most of those we were seeing were procurement directors. Now it is probably around 50:50 with finance directors," said Mark McCarthy, marketing manager for e-procurement specialist Get Real Systems. "Both parties have an interest. But if the finance director has no input, then the project has little chance of getting off the ground."
Stephen Cannon, head of product development at consultancy the Aria Group and a member of CIPS's e-commerce group, said that leaving purchasing practitioners out of the implementation loop was risky.
"They need to involve purchasers because, in essence, they define the relationships with suppliers and deal with the transactions. They should be involved in the selection of the provider and the nomination of suppliers to go on the system. If not, the system will be impaired."
• For more information, contact American Express on 020 7630 3242.