Archive for July, 2011

Sourcing Project Fingerprints

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The day we are born we all get a set of identifying marks that make us unique; our fingerprints.  Not one us have the same set of fingerprints and so they have become one of the things that identify who we are to the rest of the world.

In much the same way our physical fingerprints identify us, how we approach and handle tasks in our everyday lives have characteristics similar to our fingerprints that identify us as the ones involved with those tasks; how we write; how we speak; how we lead; how we organize; how we communicate.  Each of us puts “fingerprints” on our work that identify us as being involved with a project.  Let’s look at a few areas to help you determine what fingerprints you are leaving behind.

Research – Every sourcing project begins with the research.  Research includes understanding what you are buying, how much you are buying, who you are currently buying that product from and who else sells that product that you could buy it from.  The diligence you show in digging up the documents, emails, contracts, potential new vendors leaves your fingerprint on a project a major way.

Tool use – Tools range from pencil & paper to Excel spreadsheets to fullblown eSourcing solutions that intelligently help you organize the procurement process.  Knowing what tools you have at your disposal and how to use them can mark a project with your involvement.  Also, knowing when the tools you have aren’t sufficient is equally important.

Organization – Knowing all of the details does no good unless the organization of a project is done well.  Great procurement professionals can assess a project; determine who needs to be involved; determine what each phase of the project should be and who should be brought in to assist with each step of the process.  Knowing what to expect and organizing appropriately can be the difference between a successful project and one that fails to meet expectations.

Communication – Communication is tightly connected with organization.  Without effective communication among all parties involved in the organized project, including what the expectations of each member are, many projects fail before they ever begin.

Desire – The wild card to the fingerprint you leave on a project is desire.  Desire can originate from many different sources but the goal is always the same; completing a successful project in the time it was expected to happen.  Among each of the five components mentioned here, desire will mark projects as yours and will many times be the difference-maker in a project being completed correctly and in a timely manner.  When you strongly care about a project being successful, the majority of the time it will be.

For more information on SafeSourcing or how you can leave better fingerprints on your sourcing projects, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

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ECOLI!! “There is a lot more to an article than just its title.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

In most of my reading I try to relate the article to what else is going on in the world and try to understand how those pressures apply to the article I’m reading.

As a case in point; I was reading the USA TODAY MONEY section where the main article was titled “Only 1 deadly strain of E.coli is illegal” by Elizabeth Weise. As was the case for this author, I’m sure you are trying to figure out what the article is about, because shouldn’t all E.coli or more accurately conditions that cause E.coli to spread be illegal?

In any case according to the article there are a half dozen or so potentially deadly strains of E.coli but in the Untied States, companies are only required to test for one. That one is E.coli 0157:H7.

How we fix this issue is a real conundrum since the United States legislature does not seem to have this (food safety) as a significant issue, but then again they don’t seem to be able to agree on anything lately other than arguing with each other and wasting time.

At least we know now that 17% of the E.coli that could kill us is tested for. I’ll leave it to you as to whether or not that’s a good batting average.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Good sourcing practices are good whether they are green or not.

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

I  reread an article titled “A Practical Guide to Green Sourcing” and it occurred to me that if you already have good sourcing practices, the journey to green will be much easier.

A Practical Guide to Green Sourcing was written by  John Christensen, Christopher Park, Earl Sun, Max Goralnick, and Jayanth Iyengar  of  Supply Chain Management Review and published on  November 1st 2008. It is absolutely loaded with great information a lot of which should be just common sense..

A quote from the article really says it all and is a theme you should already be familiar with if you read my posts regularly. It is as follows. “Green sourcing can help in two important ways. It can help companies improve their financial results, allowing them meet their cost reduction goals while also boosting revenues. It can also contribute to a better public image and reputation with the company’s stakeholders.” In essence this one quote supports triple bottom line accountability or TBL. However if you replaced the word green at the beginning of the quote with the following it still works

1. Efficient
2. Well thought out
3. Strategic
4. A refocus on your
5. Reviewing your

I’m sure you can add another dozen to this list easily. I hope you will read the entire article. It may be your company’s first step towards a more successful 2011 and 2012.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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How do you successfully source an extremely specialized item?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

If you are a company that uses specialized items in order to produce your final product or service you should be asking yourself how does one successfully source a specialized item?  I am not referring to something that may be hard to find, but instead something that only one or two manufacturers readily provide.  For example, a battery to your specific piece of equipment may be manufactured specifically to run your product.  Therefore, it is not easily replaced with AAA or even a Li-ion standard.  It may seem like your current supplier is the only company and therefore has a monopoly over your business.  This situation puts the supplier in control of pricing and that is a dangerous stance to take from your shoes!

What this author has discovered is that in this situation, there are options!  Below are a few steps that you can take to get started in order to source your item effectively.

  1. Outline detailed specification of the item (s) that you want to source.  This should include as much specific detail as possible; the shape, size, weight, interior components.
  2. Outline, as detailed as possible, what the item is used for.  Is it the end product? Or is it a part that goes into the end product?  What function does the item hold?
  3. Know where you are currently getting the item, how many you are purchasing, and how much you are spending.
  4. Be prepared to have samples of your specialized item given to the manufacturer for testing reasons.  Also, set a realistic expectation for the samples to be returned to you for your own product testing.  You will need to know that a manufacturer is actually making a compatible and comparable product.

Once you’ve compiled all this information, you and your sourcing partner are armed with information to find other avenues to source this item.  This author’s recommendation is to start with the suppliers that are competitors of your current supplier.  Look into their equivalent products or find out if there are companies willing to manufacture your specialized item specifically for your needs.  This will help you broaden the marketplace for your specialized item and ultimately be able to source them to fit your needs and keep the focus on your bottom line.

For more information on SafeSourcing and sourcing your specialized items, please contact a Customer Service representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Four R’s of Preventing Waste – Other R’s

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

This week we have spent some time discussing the Four R’s of waste education; Reduce, reuse, recycle and rebuy.  Focus on these four areas can help companies begin to take steps to help begin reducing waste and become greener organizations.

As more companies begin taking steps to improve their processes, new areas will continue to open up for ways to grow this mindset and make it standard practice everywhere.  Today’s final entry of the series will take a look some of the new R’s that are beginning to emerge in today’s marketplace.

Recover – This is defined as any operation that diverts a waste material from the waste stream and then  results in a certain product with a potential economic or ecological benefit. Recovery often focuses on material, energy or biological resources and generates income as well as reduces waste. Many companies such as Recover Waste Energy, Inc. (http://recoverwaste.com/) specialize in this process and are doing great things to manage organic waste.

Replenish – Replenishing natural resources such as planting new shrubs and trees are a big part of not only replacing those resources being used for other products but it helps to create habitats and remove excess carbon from the air.  As an organization this may not be something you can affect directly, but it is definitely an area where you can select vendors who actively practice this in the course of their business.

Rethink – This last “R” is probably the most important new R as we head into a greener future for our planet.  Rethinking how we do everything involves a change in practice and mindset that examines everything we do looking for opportunities to rethink waste; how it is created; how it can be reduced; what we can do with it; and how we can use it in order to continue making a greener world

The first step to beginning to affect change begins with knowing where you are and where you need to go. 

We at SafeSourcing hope you have enjoyed this week’s series and look forward to your comments  For more information on us or how we can help you on your company’s journey down any of these “R” paths, please contact a Customer Service Representative.

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Four R’s of Preventing Waste – Rebuy

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Today we will cover the four most common R in the Four Waste Reduction R’s; Rebuy.  As procurement professionals this is where your influence has the greatest affect as you begin to close the loop on the journey to becoming a  greener company.

When companies purchase products made from recycled products they create a higher demand for manufacturers to produce even more of those products.  More products being manufactured leads to a higher volume of products that can continue to be recycled to the point where that process becomes the norm and not the exception.

There are many ways to begin the process of only buying recyclable items starting the entire green product use over again.

Start with the vendor – There are many organizations that supply 100% recycled products.  These products from companies like Weisenbach Recycled Products (http://www.recycledproducts.com/) are made mostly or entirely from recycled products and can be recycled yet again upon the end of their lives.

Know the recycled products – A key step in the process of successfully “rebuying” is knowing what products are even available to purchase as recycled products.  Sites such as http://www.ecomall.com/biz/recycle1.htm contains extensive lists of products and companies that provide recycled catalogs of products to purchase.  Knowing what qualifies is an important step to procuring greener inventory.

Start simple – Starting simple in your organization can be as easy as selecting bottled water that comes in 100% recycled plastic bottles that can in turn be recycled again.  This seems like a basic first step and that is because it is, but the fact of the matter is, as mentioned above, that when consumers demand and then continue to purchase products like this, manufacturers will continue to produce them and will in turn employ the process with other products.

Rebuying does close the loop on the Four R’s but it is not the end.  Tomorrow we will talk about all new R’s that are being considered a part of this great new trend.  For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you find vendors and products that are associated with rebuying, please contact a Customer Service Representative.

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s series and look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Four R’s of Preventing Waste – Recycle

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Today we will be focusing on the Recycle “R” of the four R’s and touch on some new ways your business can employ recycling to become more green.

Of all of the R’s recycling is most frequently being pursued by both the public and the corporate sectors.   Recycling glass, paper and plastics have been in the works for years and are some of the most frequently recycled products.  Today we will touch on some new ways to recycle these and other materials in your business.

Start with the basics (Recycling bins) – Many offices have started putting recycling bins next to their printers, in their break rooms and scattered throughout the office. This is a great way to begin taking the recycling steps needed to becoming a “greener” organization.  Many times your solid waste removal company will be able to offer bins to help you begin this process.

Junk mail – Hundreds of thousands of tons of junk mail is delivered to companies on an annual basis but few companies have processes in place to recycle that unwanted mail once it comes into the building.  Many waste removal companies can provide you with containers that will allow you collect this junk mail for recycling rather than waste disposal.

Fluorescent bulbs and tubes – It is illegal to dispose of fluorescent bulbs, and there are many companies that can help you properly recycle these items including General Electric, IKEA, Home Depot and Waste Management to name but a few.  These companies will properly recycle these items in a safe manner for your business.

Electronics – Businesses purchase billions of dollars of electronics every year and much of that becomes unusable or obsolete on a frequent basis.  Knowing how to recycle those items can be a huge step to making your company greener.  Sites such as http://www.digitaltips.org/green/corporate-recycling-programs.asp provide lists of companies that will take and recycle your electronic good sno matter what they are.

Office furniture – Companies such as Office Furniture Warehouse (http://www.myofficefurniture.net/buy-back-program.htm) offer programs to buy back your undated or replaced office furniture.  Companies like these will not only come in and professionally remove your furniture but will also give you fair cash value for that furniture and will recycle it back into the next customer’s hand for continued use.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how you can find even more ways to support the Recycling process or purchase from companies who excel in recycling, please contact a Customer Service Representative.

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s series and look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Four R’s of Preventing Waste – Reuse

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Yesterday we started a series focusing on the Four R’s of Waste Control beginning with a focus on “Reduce” as the first R.  Today we will be looking at “Reuse” and how it can fit into the culture of your business.

Next to reducing your waste amount, reusing your waste is the next best thing for creating a “greener” world.  Reusing an item once its initial purpose has been fulfilled changes it to no longer being waste.

Practical examples of the “reuse” principle are found more frequently in a person’s home however there are still some great ways to incorporate the “reuse” principle into your business.

Printer cartridge and toner reuse – Many printer companies have programs in place to collect empty ink and toner cartridges and refill them at the factory readying them for resell.  This process reduces the number of plastic shells that need to be manufactured by the ink and toner companies, reducing waste.  Some companies are even able to buy ink kits that allow them to fill their own cartridges.

Pallet reuse – Wood and plastic pallet reuse has long been a practice employed by companies to help reduce waste and cost and today there are several programs in place to “pool” pallets that can be shared among many companies without having to incur the cost of using brand new pallets with every shipment.

Reusable transport totes – Like pallets more and more companies are moving toward plastic totes to transport goods within the organization instead of cardboard boxes.  The cost up front is slightly higher, but the savings is huge compared to the waste and cost of using cardboard boxes with only a few uses.

Suppliers that reuse – One of the biggest ways companies can support the “reuse” philosophy is by selecting to do business with and supporting organizations and vendors who are in a position to “reuse” on multimillion dollar scales of volume and economy.  These companies have developed processes and have access to the manufacturing process that allow them to reuse waste savings millions of dollars.  There are thousands of suppliers who have been certified through one organization or another for excelling in this area and can be included when sourcing products.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with sourcing with companies that have a commitment to “Reusing” waste and/or have been certified as a leader in this area, please contact a Customer Service Representative.

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s series and look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Four R’s of Preventing Waste – and then some

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Last week we talked about how the four R’s of preventing waste specifically affects corporate waste disposal and that we would be starting a 5-part series this week on breaking down each of the 4 four R’s and what they mean to your company.Traditionally the four R’s have referred to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rebuy with equally important recover, replenish and rethink being 3 more that could be added to the list.  Today we are going to focus on Reduce, with the rest of this week focusing on Reuse, Recycle and Rebuy on the other the honorable mentions.

Reducing your waste is arguably the most important of all the R’s as it deals directly with the issue of waste.  The less waste you produce the less you need to worry about the other R’s in this equation.

Reducing waste can come in many forms that include the basic processes of change like having employees bring their own mugs and wash them after use instead of continuing to purchase paper or Styrofoam cups to using both sides of printer/copy paper for simple print jobs that do not require a clean sheet of paper.

As a corporation some of the important ways you can begin reducing your waste are:

Purchase more durable goods – By purchasing goods that last longer and come with stronger warranties you can create fewer purchases of that product which equal less waste.  In the process of choosing your vendors and products these two factors should be as important in the selection as price.  While we are on this topic, make sure you are checking the warranties of products before disposing of them.  Many times this option exercised with a repair can drastically reduce unnecessary waste.

Low-waste packaging – Select products (both for individual items and cases) that have the least wasteful packaging.  Avoiding packaging with unnecessary plastic bubble wrap or double packaged products can significantly reduce the waste generated not only your company but that of your customers too.

Energy efficient electronic equipment – The selection process is your opportunity to ensure you are choosing companies and products that support a more energy efficient mission.  These can easily be specified by you during the RFI, RFP or RFQ process in order to evaluate as another important aspect along with price.

Rechargeable batteries – Using rechargeable batteries instead of normal one-time use batteries will require an initial investment up front but will return a greater savings in the long run and reduce the waste generated by multiple battery purchases. 

Tomorrow’s blog will focus on “Reuse” and for more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with sourcing with companies that have a commitment to “Reducing” waste, please contact a Customer Service Representative.

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s series and look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Still having supply chain issues?

Friday, July 15th, 2011

It has been 125 days since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, yet many companies are still struggling to cope with the fallout of their supply chain. Hopefully, our readers are not in this situation. However, if your company is still struggling with a supply chain issue or if you would like to be prepared for a future disaster, please read on.

Yesterday, I spoke with a vendor that had to sit out of a $2.9M opportunity due to such an issue. What’s worse; they told me that they have taken steps to source their products in North America, but that they are still six to eight months away from considering new business. No matter who you are, you simply cannot afford to walk away from sales opportunities of this (or any) size.

So, how could they have mitigated their exposure to this risk?

There are a variety of resources and processes that could (and should) have been in place long before any disaster struck.

1.Only purchase using an RFx service. Hosting an RFI, RFP, or an RFQ would have identified additional sources of supply with contacts in the event that a vendor change is required.

2.Implement a contract management service. In the example I have used, they have had this same source of supply for years. Using contract management, this company would have been prompted to source this product several times during this timeframe based on the appropriate schedule and contract terms.

3.Consult with your strategic sourcing partner. Whether you want to be prepared for the future or work through a current supply chain issue, call on your partner for advice. Their job is to help you succeed.

For more information on SafeSourcing and supply chain interruption preparedness, please contact a Customer Service representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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