Today I was supposed to be at the 2nd day of the Microsoft Architects' Conference, but I left Beaumont straight after breakfast to meet-up with Adrian, and then on to a meeting near Oxford with the Socitm Consulting Management Team. This was one of those "planned activities" that I referred to following the workshop last Friday.

Following a long and tortuous process of negotiation, a new contract for Socitm Consulting services, involving the intermediation of a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) was put in place around two years ago. The arrangements, 'though, have not worked either for Socitm or for the Consulting business.

In the past, the largest part of Socitm's funding has come from profits generated by Consulting Services. Latterly, however, although Socitm Consulting has performed well compared with its competitors, the whole market has seen a downturn that has hit revenues. Worse still, the way that the new contract works, Socitm Limited sees only a very small percentage of the reduced profit and, by the time cash flow and overheads are taken into account, the contribution can be negative. At the same time, the Consulting Service feels that it was pressured to agree contractual terms with which it was unhappy, and which restrict its ability to effectively run its own business.

We therefore had a frank and productive meeting which agreed to renegotiate the relationship with a view to agreeing contract variations by 1st June. We will also arranged a further meeting to check on progress, in London, on 12th May.

After that I headed home to try and get to grips with my correspondence backlog (with only limited success, so far) and was involved in a flurry of 'phone calls concerning others of those "planned activities," which I'll report on in the next few days.