Outsource Magazine Issue 26 - (Page 113)

THE BACK END INSIDE SOURCE Inside Source: lurking in the shadows, reading your thoughts… Unfair weather They say it’s in times of adversity that you really find out who your real friends are – and I’m getting more and more concerned that some organisations who should know better aren’t being sufficiently friendly to the suppliers that keep their cogs turning… A couple of days ago I had a fairly distressing encounter with a man I’ve known for many years who owns a catering business supplying to a number of very well-known firms in London (including a former employer of mine, who definitely should know better). His company has been feeling the strain like pretty much everyone else – but the last few months have been particularly tough and when we bumped into each other it was immediately clear that he is under immense pressure. He told me that several of the businesses which have traditionally been his “cash cows” and with whom he has built up supposedly very strong relationships have in recent times started playing hardball when it comes to making payments – stretching right up to, and frequently well past, payment deadlines and responding to my friend’s urgent entreaties with a very cold shoulder. One firm even went so far as to threaten him with total disengagement if he didn’t give them another three months to pay – and this on a five-figure bill owed by a firm making eight-figure annual profits. The volume of business has not, apparently, decreased significantly (recession? What recession?) but payments are coming later and later – so my supplier’s own cash flow is being stretched to the utmost to protect those of his clients. He is of course understanding of the need to be flexible – if only his bank felt the same! – but his despair comes from the fact that this flexibility is being imposed with an iron fist by customers who appear to have little qualms when it comes to souring decades-long relationships for the sake of comparatively miniscule shortterm gains. From what I know from my comparatively privileged vantage point, this scenario is being played out all over the country, and the world, as big players squeeze their suppliers – in many cases til the pips run dry. My friend is staring down the barrel, owing less to the bank than he is owed by his customers but struggling to find breathing-space. He is by no means alone. Is this the way towards recovery? A Good Samaritan If the previous story left a sour taste in your mouth – it did mine – here is something a little happier (it is – at the time of writing – nearly Christmas). A VP at a large US-based software firm was in the UK recently, rousing the troops. As he left HQ on his way to dinner he came across one of his company’s newest and most junior recruits in floods of tears outside; upon enquiry, he discovered that a family emergency was in progress but on her way to catch a train she had had her bag snatched and was now without money, cards and phone – she had run back to the office to try to beg enough money from her new colleagues to get home. Immediately, our gallant hero escorted the desperate rookie to a taxi, where he gave her a couple of hundred pounds in cash out of his own pocket, refusing all protests, and sent her off to her family. The grateful lady in question has since been singing his praises to the skies; if it hadn’t been for him, she would not have seen her grandfather again before he passed away later that evening. Sir, I will not name you here – but I salute you. “This is the wonderful thing about espionage, nothing exists any more.” – William Stephenson www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk 113 ●●● ● http://www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outsource Magazine Issue 26

News & Comment
2012 in outsourcing
Fine – but what does it all mean?
Steering Steria
Separate Ways?
Getting Smart
Northern Lights
Heads in the Cloud
Connecting Service
Bigger and Better
NOA Round-Up
Breaking Through
You Cannot be Serious!
Back to the Future
Accounts Payable
The Power of Two
Public-Private Partnerships
Kill or Cure
Public Problems
Top Ten
The Legal View
HfS Research
Online Round-Up
Inside Source
The Last Word

Outsource Magazine Issue 26