October 27th, 2016

What is ullage? Envision the top of a bottle of wine.


Today’s post is by Tyler Walther; Account Manager at SafeSourcing. Tyler is adding to the SafeSourcing Wiki and defining ullage.

Doing research for my blog today I came across a word I did not know; ullage. What is ullage? It is the free space above a liquid or other content in a container and the “full” level. Envision the top of a bottle of wine.

Many liquids or chemicals will expand during storage. This becomes important particularly in shipping for two principal reasons. The expansion of the liquid or chemical requires pressure relief valves. With many pressurized tanks the load cannot be to capacity because the pressure relief valves will not work when in contact with liquids. In dry loads, such as grain, or liquid bulk cargo, ullage allows the load to shift as the ship kneels from one side to another. This allows for greater stability in the vessel in which a full capacity load would not.

Let SafeSourcing better manage your sourcing projects. We enjoy bringing this blog to you every week and hope you find value in it. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.




The Advantages of e-Procurement

October 25th, 2016

The challenges and implementation made easy in working with an e-procurement company.


Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Customer Service & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

It is not easy to implement e-procurement and it can have its challenges; additionally, it takes time for business managers and procurement departments to fully accept it. However, with SafeSourcing as your partner, we can show you the advantages of e-procurement and make the transition to e-procurement much smoother by the following:

Reducing Costs

Costs can be reduced by leveraging volume, having structured supplier relationships and by using system improvements to reduce external spend while improving quality and supplier performance1. E-procurement eliminates paperwork, rework and errors1.

Visibility of Spend

Centralized tracking of transactions enables full reporting on requisitions, items purchased, orders processes and payments made1. E-procurement advantages extend to ensuring compliance with existing and established contracts1.


Internal customers can obtain the items they want from a catalogue of approved items through an on-line requisition and ordering system1. Procurement staff can be released from processing orders and handling low value transactions to concentrate on strategic sourcing and improving supplier relationships1.


Standardized approval processes and formal workflows ensure that the correct level of authorization is applied to each transaction and that spend is directed to draw off existing contracts. Compliance to policy is improved as users can quickly locate products and services from preferred suppliers and are unable to create maverick purchases1.

Using technology

E-procurement advantages can only be fully realized when the systems and processes to manage it are in place1. Software tools are needed to create the standard procurement documentation: electronic requests for information (e-RFI), requests for proposal (e-RFP) and requests for quotation (e-RFQ)1.

These are proven methods to source goods and make the framework agreements that offer the best prices. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.


References: 1) http://www.purchasing-procurement-center.com/e-procurement-advantages.html

eProcurement Time to Value

October 19th, 2016

Setting expectations for fast results


Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing,

In eProcurement, one important, yet often overlooked measure of success is time to value. Of course, one of the primary goals of any eProcurement strategy is to reduce spend for the goods and services that an organization requires.

For the sake of this post, I am defining time to value as the time between when you determine that you would like to host an eProcurement event, such as a live Request for Quote (RFQ), to the time that you can begin ordering with the newly negotiating pricing from that eProcurement event. I tend to see that we focus heavily on the savings result, but far less on the amount of time that was required to complete that project. The reality is that those two goals are both important and actually complement each other. The sooner you conclude your eProcurement event, the sooner you are able to realize the savings.

There are several key reasons why an organization needs to monitor time to value closely. A contract expiration date is one factor that creates pressure to attain results quickly. When a contract is set to expire or to automatically renew, it is important to negotiate quickly to avoid any unfavorable outcomes. Another factor is seasonality. For certain products and services, the negotiation must be done in advance of a particular season. For example, in northern climates, snow removal contracts should be in place well before the possibility of snow.

Every organization will set its own time to value success criteria. I always advise that projects should typically range from four to six weeks and that clients should expect to see significant savings that can be achieved and realized in the current quarter.

Dave Wenig is a Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing. Dave, or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing, would be happy to discuss how SafeSourcing can help you achieve faster time to value in your eProcurement efforts. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

Times, They Are A-Changing

October 18th, 2016

Congratulations to Bob Dylan on winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

The coveted award has been around since 1901, with such famous winners as Jean-Paul Sartre, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway. However, this year’s award has been cited as “redefining boundaries of Literature” because this year’s win marks the first time the honor has been bestowed to a musician. Bob Dylan, a folk-rock singer and songwriter, released his first album over fifty years ago, continues to make music today, and was awarded the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

It’s been said, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and this recent Nobel Prize winner demonstrates that. The appearance of Dylan and his music in the 1960s, during a time of great cultural changes, had a resonating effect on many people at the time. Not only did he poetically echo the feelings of many people going through such things as war, drugs, and civil rights movements, but he also was able to eloquently summarize cultural happenings in a way people understood, highlighting the wrongdoings of a society undergoing drastic change.

Today, once again, Bob Dylan is front and center during a time of change, from global to political to cultural. This honor should show that even if we do not fit into a traditional category of award, we can still make a widespread and lasting positive impact, and that each of us has the ability to change our world through any means, be it personal or through business. While many of us have goals a bit less ambitious, we can still use what Dylan has taught us, “There is nothing so stable as change,” and we at SafeSourcing can help your business through change.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business, or are interested in our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.






Your Suppliers Performance – Trick or Treat?

October 13th, 2016

Are you getting “tricked” or “treated” by your suppliers? How are you measuring the variables outside of price for your vendors?


Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

Last week we took a look at the life of your purchased products once you have the contract signed and begin to place orders and how you can protect that inventory along the supply chain.  Today we take a look at the job your suppliers are doing while the contract is being executed.  What is the quality of their goods; timeliness of the shipments; pricing being billed versus the contract?   Are you getting “tricked” or “treated” by your suppliers?

Many retailers have looked at the process of developing supplier scorecards that measure how well their vendors are doing in the relationship with them.  If designed and executed well, these scorecards can be invaluable in later stages of negotiating new contracts or in evaluating new vendors against a standard you are used to receiving.  Let’s look at a few of the metrics to consider when creating a good supplier scorecard.

Invoice audits – Many companies work so hard to get a great deal, great prices; finish with a contract that works well for the company only to move forward without well-defined processes for auditing the new invoices to ensure the new pricing is being affected by the vendor.  One of the most important pieces of creating a good evaluation program for your vendors will be to determine how often and which invoices you are going to audit and then stick to that audit schedule.   The bigger your company the more important this will be.

Quality Control – Scoring the suppliers on quality comes in a few different forms.  The first thing to measure is the quality of the product itself: Are you getting the product you contracted and does it meet the specifications that were agreed upon?  Another area is in the packaging of the product when it arrives.  Many times it is how the product was packaged to ship that is the problem and frequently responsible for big losses.  How the items measure up to their warranty will also be another critical area to measure for quality.

Delivery–Even the best product at the best prices has value only if you can get the product in the timeframe that your company needs it.  Vendors should be measured on their ability to deliver within the window agreed upon in the contract but they should also be measured on how capable they are in delivering unscheduled product in emergency situations.  As in any business, circumstances occur that take you outside of the normal schedules and you need partners who can deliver when you need them most.

Service–This leads us to final scoring point for this blog; services.  Delivering unscheduled product within a window of time you need it is one thing but how your suppliers handle the relationship with you business in times of conflict or when issues arise is equally important.   Scoring this area can be slightly more subjective, however developing a strategy by which you can record these bumps in the road and how your suppliers react to them will be valuable in future negotiations.

For more information on scoring your suppliers or for assistance in reviewing or creating automated scorecards, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

What You Should Expect of Excellent Customer Service

October 12th, 2016

Customer Service is more than just helping a customer in the now…



Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Customer Service & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

This author defines excellent customer service as going above and beyond expectations of the internal and external customers to any parts and aspects of the business.

Customer Service is more than just helping a customer in the now, there are multiple and unique ways SafeSourcing provides excellent customer service. Below are just a few highlights:

  1. Good customer service is a team sport. One weak link in the chain can lead to a negative experience that affects business and the bottom line. Educate our employees on rules for customer engagement. We begin with a set of simple rules, such as be courteous, listen carefully and be prepared to say “yes” rather than “no.” The best way to teach is by example. We believe, when you treat your employees well, they’ll be more likely to treat your customers well, in turn. (Open Forum, 2011)
  2. After you and your employees, nobody knows more about your business than your customers. Customers can be your biggest fans or your harshest critics. We ask the customers how we are doing, what they like about our business and what they don’t like. This is not about collecting compliments, it is an open the channel to all customers. Negative feedback can be especially helpful, though it can be a little uncomfortable. We put mechanisms in place for anonymous feedback, such as a “Contact us” button on our website and feedback surveys for our suppliers to complete. (Open Forum, 2011)
  3. While all customers deserve to receive courtesy and respect, our long-term and loyal customers merit treatment that goes above and beyond. Special offers of extra hours, special reports, loyalty and appreciation help give our best customers something extra. Far from alienating new customers, these programs demonstrate that loyalty has its rewards. (Open Forum, 2011)
  4. Nobody’s perfect, and our customers understand that. When we make a mistake, we acknowledge it, apologize and then move quickly to correct it. We use the opportunity to improve our business processes and let customers know what actions we took to prevent the mistake from happening again. Customers will feel more comfortable doing business when they see that we took the problem seriously. (Open Forum, 2011)
  5. The key to customer loyalty can be embodied in two simple words: Thank you. Nothing else sets the tone for our relationship with our customers better. Essentially, every “thank you” says, “I appreciate your business and I won’t take it for granted.” And it can be just as powerful whether it’s delivered in person or on a printed page. E-mails, invoices and phone calls are all opportunities to let our customers know how important they are to us. (Open Forum, 2011)

Providing excellent customer service is integral to any successful business. Taking care of our customers helps encourage them to continue doing business through good times and bad.

We enjoy bringing this blog to you and hope you find value in it. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.


Reference: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/

It’s important to stay on top of your Smoke Detectors and Fire Safety Planning.

October 6th, 2016

Ever hear that BEEP at 2 a.m.?


Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant for SafeSourcing.

Ever hear that BEEP at 2 a.m.? Ever end up taking a smoke detector down to make it quiet?  Ever lose a good night’s sleep?  Ever stare up at the high ceiling wondering how you are going to replace the battery in that smoke detector without falling off a teetering ladder?  That’s exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago.  Because my husband was out of town and I was completely on my own, I decided I needed to be fully awake in order to get up on a ladder in the middle of the night.  I made a cup of coffee, drank it, and then got out my 8-foot ladder out of the garage.  I got up on the ladder, and removed the battery.  (Luckily, I had replacement batteries in the house…at lease I thought I was lucky).  It turns out my replacement batteries were old and the BEEPING continued. Because my smoke alarms are hard-wired into the electrical system, once the battery is removed, the BEEPING continues.  My poor dog was a wreck with the constant BEEPING and I was losing my mind!  I had to wait until 8 am for the drug store to open in order to buy new batteries.  Now armed with new batteries, I changed the battery and finally the house was silent.  I thought I was in luck when that whole scenario repeated the next night at midnight.  It sounded like the same alarm, but it turned out it was a guest room smoke detector that was BEEPING this time.   Do they talk to each other?  Who knows.  The following week I had a handyman at the house doing some odd jobs, so I had him change every smoke detector battery in the house.

Smoke detectors are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When a fire begins, smoke spreads quickly.  Working smoke detectors give you an early warning so you can get out quickly.  The following are some safety tips:

  1. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Put a smoke detector in every bedroom, as well as outside the sleeping areas. Install a smoke detector on every level of your house, as well as the basement. Smoke detectors should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  2. Larger homes need more smoke detectors.
  3. Test detectors monthly.
  4. There are two kinds of alarms, ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use both types in the home.
  5. Alarms should be on the ceiling or high on the wall. Keep alarms away from the kitchen in order to reduce false alarms.
  6. Replace alarms after 10 years.
  7. Plan your escape route.

Safesourcing can help you with all of your personal and business related fire, safety and inspection needs, whether it is for equipment, services or both. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.


What Is a UPC Barcode?

October 5th, 2016

Or Universal Product Code……..


Today’s post was written by Christine McConnell, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

A UPC, or Universal Product Code, is a unique 12-digit identification number that appears on most retail products for sale in the United States and Canada. UPC numbers are made up of two components: company prefix and product number. While the companies or their brands normally determine the product number, the company prefix is determined and assigned by GS1 US. GS1 US – formerly the Uniform Code Council (UCC) – is a nonprofit group responsible for regulating international commerce. They introduced the first barcode in 1974. As a business owner interested in establishing your own barcodes, you must first join GS1 US. Once a member, the organization will assign you your own unique identification number which will become the first part of your UPC.  GS1 US’s membership fees are based on your production capacity and start around $250 with annual renewal fees starting at $50. The fees vary depending on the number of unique products your company sells. Here are three simple steps to set you on your way to obtaining UPC barcodes for your company’s products:

  1. Join GS1 US and apply for company prefix – company prefix codes can be anywhere from 6 to 10 digits long depending on the number of products you’ll need identified. Smaller companies are typically assigned a higher number of digits.
  2. Create Your Unique Product Number – you’ll probably need a different UPC code for each type of product you sell. And depending on how many colors and sizes of each style you offer, the number of unique products can quickly add up.  Now simply add your product number to your company prefix and voila you have your UPC.
  3. Decide on print or digital barcodes – each UPC can be used to produce a specific barcode that is then either printed out and attached to products or incorporated into their design so that they can be easily scanned at the register.

Would you like to learn how SafeSourcing could help your company communicate more effectively? Interested in a risk free trial? Please don’t hesitate to contact SafeSourcing. Our team is ready and available to assist you!



Thinking Outside of the Box Part II of II

October 4th, 2016

Do you think outside the box?


Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

Since being an out of the box thinker is such a desired asset, how does an in-the-box thinker get out? There are a plethora of ideas about how one can begin this or whether or not it is even possible.

One way to begin thinking outside the box is to approach a problem like a child would. Break aspects of the problem down into ideas that a small child could understand and imagine how that child would respond to the situation. This allows you to break things down into their simplest form, and often when things are simplified, resolutions become clear.

Another way to begin thinking outside the box is to question everything. It’s been said before that to be a scientist, you must question everything. The same holds true when trying to find a new solution to an old problem. Questioning everything allows you to start from scratch and begin the process of resolution all over. Question why the problem exists, what all of the possible actions could be, and why some actions were favored over others.

A third way to begin thinking outside the box is to stop thinking things out and just try. Trial and error has proven countless times to be beneficial when solving a problem. Sometimes, we may eliminate a possible solution before ever trying it because we assume it won’t work. Just trying anyway can sometimes produce results, even if they aren’t what we expect. For example, there have been at least a few medicines that were intended for one use, only to have side effects that are more beneficial than expected, like a migraine medicine’s ability to be marketed as a high0end beauty item.

Although there are a number of different theoretical ways to train yourself to think outside the box, some say that out of the box thinking cannot be learned, that one either has it or doesn’t. Ironically, that type of thinking could be described as in-the-box. Despite those that believe this, approaching a problem in a new way can at least provide a better understanding of the task at hand. Once a problem is more fully understood, then the more likely a positive outcome will result.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you think outside of the box, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today

Thinking Outside of the Box Part I of II

October 3rd, 2016


Do you think outside the box?

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

The statement “Think outside the box” has become a highly used business term, cliché even, but do you know what it means, where it came from, and how you can obtain this skill?

The origin of the common phrase has been debated, but popular beliefs narrow its origin down to two possibilities. The first origin is that all of us are metaphorically in a box; we are closed off from new possibilities and use only what we know (what is inside the box) to solve our everyday problems. Thus, thinking outside the box is to find solutions that wouldn’t normally be thought of. A second theory of the phrase’s origin stems from a puzzle. In this puzzle there are nine dots in three rows of three, making a square. The object of the puzzle is to connect all the dots using only four straight lines without lifting your pen or tracing over a line. To answer this puzzle you must think outside the box, and the answer requires the lines be drawn outside of the square box shape.

So, what constitutes thinking outside the box in a real world situation? General definitions use the phrase for someone who thinks creatively, in a new way, or brings fresh ideas into play. A person who can do this can bring new perspective to problems, new and existing. The idea is that when most others fail to solve a problem, an out of the box thinker can provide ideas outside the realm of what was previously thought, shedding light on a solution that may have otherwise been left in the dark.

If you have a problem in your business and seek out-of-the-box thinking, SafeSourcing may be able to shed new light on your problem. As procurement partners, we strive to find the best solution to fit your needs.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you think outside of the box, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.