Archive for May, 2012

Don’t Stand on the Sidelines!

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Todays post is by David Wenig Manager of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

Generally speaking, the greater the spend amount, the more interest you will get from potential vendors. As a result, many of our customers have been turning to collaborative eProcurement events in order to benefit from the additional savings that higher volumes can generate. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of getting involved.

1. Higher savings due to aggregate volumes
2. Improved payment terms
3. Larger vendor pool
4. Greater ROI
5. Source smaller category spends

Based on the five benefits listed above, perhaps it’s time to try a collaborative. You may ask; “how would we become involved?” The answer is simple. Contact your eProcurement representative and ask if there are any open or upcoming opportunities in which you could participate. Similarly, if you have any upcoming projects either large or small, ask your partner to attempt collaboration within their customer base.

Here’s an example of savings generated from a recent collaboration. In this scenario, our customer was in need of a relatively small spot buy for replenishment. Their spend in this category was actually quite low and was actually the lowest overall amongst the participating companies. In this example, the customer saved almost 37%. I find it difficult to imagine that they would have done so well without the eProcurement process. Further, this is evidence of the benefits of the collaborative process as their pricing was likely much better off as a result of the aggregated spend.

So, are you ready to get involved, or will you continue to stand on the sidelines?

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Understanding the Advantages of Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

For the past few years we have been hearing about virtual servers, clouds, Software-as-a-Service (Saas) models and all have great reasons for why they are being talked about.  These same traits:  cost-effectiveness; scalability; easy-to-service also apply to a growing trend in the corporate world toward virtual desktops/instances or Desktop-as-a-Service. 

Similar to applications that remotely let you access a computer at the office or at home (i.e. Teamviewer) this new service allows you to pick and choose the applications, memory, internet speed and how a system is used without the costs of buying PCs, software CDs and installing and configuring the environment.  These easily accessible desktops could be opened with iPads, Macs or older Desktop PCs from anywhere with an internet connection.  Today we will look at some of the reasons many companies are considering using DaaS providers in their new IT plans.

Reduced Hardware Costs

New computer hardware is a necessity of any company as software and technology changes require upgraded equipment just to keep up.  With DaaS you can create multiple user environments that can be configured based on the functionality needed.  In this way, users can access and use what seems like multiple computers from one location, reducing costs needed to have these views.  With many companies like Desktone offering this service, they absorb the costs to upgrade and maintain the computer equipment needed for the virtual desktops.  Since virtual desktops are typically installed on large networked servers, adding more hard drive space, memory or internet speed is easily done and is handled by the provider.  

Easy application support and installation

Aside from getting new hardware installed, installing and configuring the software needed can also be very time consuming and if done incorrectly, can open holes of vulnerability into your company.  With Desktop-as-a-Service providers like Applications2U, users can preconfigure all of the applications they will allow accessibility to by their employees.  These instances, once configured, are then available to any user that needs it without having to reconfigure a new pc or even to apply a saved image to a new PC.  All upgrades and patches can be applied by the provider behind the scenes with no effort by your company.

Control and Monitoring

Most of the major providers of DaaS like Nivio’s solution easily provide centralized administrative control to allow users to do only the types of things they want to allow by controlling each of the configured instances.  While many large companies with experienced IT staff can exact this same level of control, there are thousands of medium to small companies who do not have the resources in-house to do this and being able to control everything from a central administration panel is a terrific tool for them.  Another nice benefit of control is that many of the providers offered paid, free and rental licenses for applications giving the capability to allow use of applications for certain projects without the expense of purchasing the entire application.

For more information about how begin to research 3rd party DaaS providers for your company, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Soucring has a lot to do with costs. So does FREEDOM!

Monday, May 28th, 2012

From 1776 to the present day our military bothers and sisters have sacrificed and many have paid the ultimate cost to insure our freedoms.

WAS!

IS!

AND ALWAYS WILL BE!

FREE!

Is retail barter better?

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Two good ways to help control and reduce retail shrinkage is to offer overstock and out of cycle items in the form of a forward auction or retail barter. Which is better?

Why is it that we never hear of retailers running forward auctions? There are dozens of sources waiting to buy your overstock which all retailers know will reduce shrink and improve bottom line profitability. Many companies that may have large amounts of excess or slow-moving inventory use corporate barter transactions to move this inventory. This author thinks that a forward auction may drive better cost recovery.

If you go to any internet search engine and type in the term overstock, the data returned is in the millions of pages. Many of these links are locations  for Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) companies that will gladly agree to participate in e-negotiation events in the form of a forward auction to purchase your overstock or liquidated products for resale through their on line offerings.
Online forward auctions are an ideal way to get the best price for capital equipment, materials, overstock and services you may want to sell, such as when you need to liquidate excess inventory. There are two basic types of forward auctions. The first is a liquidation auction where sellers are reducing inventory from overstock or liquidation and buyers are seeking to obtain the lowest price for items they have an interest in for resale and other purposes. The second type is more of a marketing auction where sellers are trying to sell unique items and buyers wish to obtain unique items. This is typical of an eBay type of offering.
Much of retail shrink happens in the back room or receiving area of retail stores. It just so happens that this is also the location of much of the overstock in the retail community. Much of this product sits there month after month resulting in significant margin hits to quarterly and annual earnings and as such to a company’s stock price.

Ask your e-negotiation solution provider how they can help reduce your overstock and shrink with forward auction tools, and who they would invite as buyers. You company stakeholders will applaud your efforts.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.
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What is the Certified Professional in Supply Management® (CPSM®?)

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The Certified Professional in Supply Management® is the qualification that supply management professionals strive to earn. The CPSM® will be relevant internationally and reflect the expanded knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be a successful supply management professional.
 
Certification for the CPSM is offered by the Institute for Supply Management or (ISM) which was founded in 1915 and is the largest supply management association in the world as well as one of the most respected. ISM’s mission is to lead the supply management profession through its standards of excellence, research, promotional activities, and education. ISM’s membership base includes more than 40,000 supply management professionals with a network of domestic and international affiliated associations. ISM is a not-for-profit association that provides opportunities for the promotion of the profession and the expansion of professional skills and knowledge.

Supply chain workers should be proud of their profession and earning your CPSM is one way to brag about it.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Do your customers trust your product offerings?

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Today’s post is  from David J. Wenig a customer services manager at SafeSourcing.

The other day while I was mowing the lawn, a man pulled up to ask if he could take some logs that had been stacked by the curb to use as firewood. We started talking and the conversation was pretty typical for two people that had never met. Then, it took an interesting turn when I mentioned that I had been up at the high school football game and had a burger there.

The man then began talking about E. coli and how he does not trust the grocers to provide him with safe meat. He actually went on to tell me that his son is a chef who grinds his own meat. Not just that, the man actually went on to name a retailer where he bought ground beef that he claimed gave his wife food poisoning.

This conversation, albeit brief, was very interesting to me. At SafeSourcing, we are very aware of product safety issues and the ramifications of unsafe products. To this man, his fear of the meat was based on his distrust of the supply chain. He struck a chord with me when he mentioned that he had no idea where his meat comes from. 

Can this man’s concerns be managed? Through traceability, the products you offer could be proven to be safe. Retailers must be aware of their entire supply chain and the product safety procedures in place at each point. Here again, it is fair to ask; what certifications do your suppliers hold? Clearly, when these product safety questions arise such as an outbreak of E. coli, only a relatively small portion of the product is affected. With the technology available today, retailers should be able to defend their products against this type of concern.

If you don’t think this is important, ask yourself this question: How many other people did he tell?

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Here is some more on Food Safety!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The first step is to familiarize yourself with SQF and then the certification process. The best way to accomplish that is by visiting the SQF Institute website. Once there, the following information will stare you right in the face.

How to Achieve Certification from the SQF Institute:

1. Learn About the SQF Standard
There are several ways on how to learn to implement the SQF system in your company. Based on your level of expertise, the follow options are available:
• Attend an on-site “Implementing SQF Systems” training course through a licensed SQF Training Center (Recommended);
• Take the online “Implementing SQF Systems” training course provided by LearnSomething;
• Train yourself by utilizing the SQF documents available for free on our website;
• and/or take the SQF online exam.

2. Register Your Company with our Online Assessment Registration System (Quickfire Registration)
The registration fee to our Assessment Database is based on the gross sales of a company. Click here to view our Registration Fee Structure.

3. Designate an employee as the SQF Practitioner
This individual will serve as your company’s internal expert on SQF. Further information on the requirements for an SQF Practitioner is available in section 8.2.1 of the SQF 1000 or 2000 Code.

4. Choose Your Level of Certification
There are three levels of certification for each SQF standard (SQF 1000 and SQF 2000). Level 1 is mainly for low risk products and it incorporates fundamental food safety controls. Level 2 is a certified HACCP food safety plan that is benchmarked by GFSI. Level 3 is a comprehensive implementation of safety and quality management systems that incorporates Level 2. In many cases, a supplier’s customer has already designated a minimum level of certification.

5. Obtain Proposals from Potential Certification Bodies
Contact a license Certification Body directly to obtain quotes on an SQF audit. Click here for the duration outline of a general SQF audit.

6. Conduct a Pre-Assessment (Optional)
Either an SQF auditor or your SQF Practitioner can identify the “gaps” between your program and the desired level of SQF certification.

7. Choose a Certification Body and Schedule an Audit Use the licensed Certification Body directory to find a Certification Body that can conduct an audit in your country.

8. Certification Body Conducts Initial Certification Audits:
• Document review
• Facility Assessment

If you want to learn more about reinforcing the use of standards in your sourcing efforts, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What’s the best source for food safety certification information?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

I was conducting some research the other day on some outside services offerings. The site I was visiting was a collaboration of the pest control company ORKIN and NSF. The site was reviewing audit standards and it was relative to food safety.

Specifically they were reviewing The Global Food Safety Initiative as a driver for food safety standards and the fact that although they do not offer standards, they do accept the standards of other organizations focused on food safety.

I offer the following from the ORKIN and NSF collaboration website, which is actually very useful, concise and to the point information.

Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is a collaboration of global food safety experts from retail, manufacturing and foodservice companies and from food supply chain service providers. It is coordinated by The Consumer Goods Forum, the only independent global network for consumer goods retailers and manufacturers worldwide.
The GFSI framework – launched in Europe in May 2000 – has taken on added importance in recent years, especially since Wal-Mart became the first nationwide U.S. grocer to adopt GFSI standards in 2008. This move, in effect, put Wal-Mart’s vast supplier base on GFSI standards. GFSI does not undertake any accreditation or certification activities, but the GFSI guidance document contains commonly agreed-upon criteria for food standards, against which any food or farm assurance standard can be benchmarked. GFSI does not have any of its own standards but accepts the following global standards:

 SQF – Safe Quality Food
 BRC – British Retail Consortium
 IFS – International Food Standards
 Global GAP (HACCP based)
 ISO 22000
 None of the existing U.S. standards are accepted

Companies that take the time to share this type of  information offer a good indicator as to the quality of their own offerings. That’s good on ORKIN. and on NSF.

If you want to learn more about GFSI, SQF or other food safety programs please contact SafeSourcing or visit our sourcing wiki.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

If you want to source successfully you’ll need to be able to create the detail!

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I was reading the news paper this morning. The business section of our local paper always carries a section by Harvey Mackay. I have been reading Harvey’s column for years and have also read his books. The first one I read years ago was “Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive” . In the book Harvey discusses his Mackay 66, which is what his article was about today.  You can download a copy of the Mackay 66 for free on his website www.harveymackay.com.

Specifically Harvey’s list is focused on what you know about your customer. Most sales people could not fill this list out and answer all 66 questions for any customer they call on. The idea behind this list is that the more you know about your customer, the more the customer becomes personal to you. The reward should be obvious. If you don’t get it, you might need to stop reading and go fill out your list.

I have always managed my business relationships in this way and it works for projects too. Associates I have worked with over the years can all tell you about Ron’s A-Z sessions. The philosophy is that you keep asking and then answering questions and objections until there are no more.

So how does this work with procurement? Again, it should be obvious. The fact is it apparently is not based on my experience with most companies. Ask the average category manager or buyer what they can tell you about the product or service they are sourcing and they unfortunately can not tell you much.

It’s pretty simple to conduct an A-Z session. One simply starts by asking questions, answering them and continuing until you don’t have anymore questions. Yes you may have to spend some time researching the questions?

Example: Here’s a list to get you started. Each question should beg another question. When you run out of questions, you should have what you need to source the product or service.

1. What product or service are we buying?
2. How much do we need?
3. When do we need it?
4. How much did we buy during the last order cycle?
5. Do we have a specification?
6. Has the product or service changed at all since last purchased?
7. Is there a contract in place?
8. Where is the contract?
9. Do I have a copy of an invoice?
10. Who are our internal or external customers?
11. Who are our suppliers?
12. Are there additional suppliers?

You should be able to easily add another 25 questions to this list.

Here’s a hint, most procurement professionals are not subject matter experts on everything they have to source. The exercise above can be completed in less than an hour. Couple that with the research tools available to all of us today and suppliers websites and you might be the subject matter expert your customer needs.

Remember when you create value, customers will reward you and others will find you. If you would like to learn more about this post, contact a SafeSourcing associate.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Are you looking at a Company Computer Refresh?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

Computer refreshes within an organization are common.  They typically require 3 different elements that require sourcing with a possible fourth if training requires inclusion as well.  In today’s post we are going to focus on the options for sourcing the three most common elements (Hardware, Software, and Installation Services) with the understanding that training could be easily added in the future.

Option 1 – Request For Quote all items

In this option the customer already has a detailed specification for everything they need and where it should go.  Option one involves taking all aspects of the refresh out to the vendor community for pricing as one event and in the process we would offer a competitive forum for them to adjust their pricing instantly. 

The advantages to this approach would be giving companies that can handle each piece, the opportunity to bid in such a way that they can offer additional discounts for getting all of the project spend, but this can also break the vendor focus up in a way that does not lend itself to getting the best savings on each product group. 

Option 2 – Request For Quote 3 separate events

This approach breaks out hardware, software and installation/configuration services into separate events for price gathering and compression.   The advantage to this approach is that it allows the focus to remain on the “like” items in each event and typically will drive the best savings.  Vendor participation tends to be higher because the focus is smaller and can include many more vendors who just handle that group of products/services.

The disadvantage would be that fitting the results back together takes a little more time and sometimes discounts for awarding the business to one company can fall out in the process, although they can still be asked for when a contract is negotiated.

Option 3 – Request For Proposal

This approach would treat the entire refresh as one large project.  You can provide the details to vendors who could handle the entire project and request details about who they are, their qualifications and any other additional services or value add items they wish to include.  Pricing would be a part of this process with a second price compression focused on those areas you want to try and get better pricing on if it makes sense.  

This approach gives all vendors the information they need to handle the project and the potential to have one company run everything.  You would have all of the information you need to decide on a potential short list of vendors you could interview and you will have the details necessary to compress items/services that will provide the best savings.  A side benefit will be that you generally get a lot more value add services with this approach.  The downside to this approach is that it generally excludes vendors who could not handle all three aspects of the refresh which can sometimes reduce the level of competitive responses.

For more information about how you can begin to take a look at upcoming computer refreshes, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.