Archive for November, 2012

2013 Hot Sourcing Categories – Part V of V

Friday, November 30th, 2012

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

This week we began a series of blogs looking at the hot categories being expected to be sourced by companies in 2013 starting with a view of mobile products, managed services and marketing and social media planning and contingent labor.  Today we will wrap up the series looking Travel Related Categories.

In spite of the fact the world has completely embraced the digital movement to texts, emails, online meetings and Voice Over IP conference calls there is still a great need and use for travel related services in the corporate world.  This need, however, comes with rising costs and is a big reason why travel related categories will be a focus for procurement professionals in 2013.  Today we will look into some the areas that will be concentrated on.

Travel Management Services – Travel Management Service Providers have taken a big hit in the past few years as their customers have experimented with booking their travel related activity in-house.  What the corporate world has found, however, is that the lack of good travel tools, the rigidity of tools they do have and the lack of resources has created a shift back to travel management companies.  The big areas of focus in this category will be in the “per transaction” fees charged, the support provided and the “extras” that the management companies can bring to the table. 

Hotels & Rental Cars – Many companies look at hotel stays and rental car spends as something they need and yet do not take much time to get the most valuable deal for their organization.  The hotel and rental car companies don’t make this much easier because of how their pricing is structured and their need to have a guaranteed level of activity in pre-defined areas of use.  Many times these companies are not willing to give great agreements unless they are dealing with a large company.  2013 will see many companies begin to focus on those areas where they know their spend levels and details and negotiate the best deal for themselves.  This typically ends with a primary/secondary or preferred partner program which can be easily monitored and controlled with revised travel policies and can be enforced with a Travel Management Service.

Event Planning – While not every company has big events to plan throughout the year there are still hundreds of companies that require the planning services to pull these events off.  2013 will see many companies begin to look at where they are spending their money and attempt to leverage bigger spends against more formal agreements, letting the bigger event planning partners manage the smaller specialty services they need.  Many companies in 2013 will be looking to start with an initial survey of their current providers and expand that scope to new suppliers they may not have worked with in the past.  This will allow them to put together the combination of product and service providers that best fits their needs and budgets.

Regardless of how you plan to attack your category spends in 2013; it is clear that companies are continuing to find new and creative ways to help control their expenses.  Creating a plan for 2013 now and working with a third party procurement specialist can help you get the biggest value and return on your products and services.  For more information on how we can help you with this process, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

2013 Hot Sourcing Categories – Part IV of V

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

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

This week we began a series of blogs looking at the hot categories being expected to be sourced by companies in 2013 starting with a view of mobile products, managed services and marketing and social media planning.  Today we will take a look at Contingent Labor Services.

We talked a few days ago about the changes that are happening in the workforce that are causing companies to have reduced staffs whether due to their decisions or due to external factors such as baby boomers retiring or a lack of talent in certain areas of the country.  Because of these changes there have been two big shifts that will continue in 2013; one, managed services, we have covered, the second, is contingent labor providers.

These providers supply temporary personnel, which can be contractors, consultants, independent contractors or temporary labor resources but in every case they are meant to augment a company’s staff in a particular department without creating a long-term commitment to adding more employees they may have to just lay off.

There are obvious disadvantages with this approach as it does not instill long-term loyalty and in some cases the costs to train new contingent staff can be quite high.  The flip side of the coin is what we will be looking at today as this becomes an increasing trend in 2013.

Good talent in non-core areas – One of the biggest reasons companies turn to contingent labor is for resources in departments and areas of the company that are not part of their core competency.  A company that makes a million loaves of bread may have the means for high priced IT talent but not the management or infrastructure to support a permanent team.  Outsourcing the positions and having them managed by a Managed Service Provider is often an option for companies like these as they concentrate on what they do best.

Use as needed – One of the nice things about contingent labor is being able to use the resources as you need them.  For seasonal companies this is a big advantage as they are able to staff up for periods of time without the expense of laying people off when things get slow.  As more companies look to take a “project” approach to their business the need for a temporary workforce will continue to gain appeal.

Talent pool is shallow – Many times companies are moving to contingent labor and consulting firms because they have no choice.  Larger cities have pulled a lot of talent away from the more rural areas leaving businesses with little choice but to use contingent labor for their high caliber needs.  Entering 2013, many companies will be forced to pay a higher premium for a good temporary workforce rather than settle for resources that cannot deliver what they need.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you source your contingent labor needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. Please join us for the conclusion of this series as we wrap up the 2013 Hot categories with Travel Related Categories. 

We look forward to your comments.

2013 Hot Sourcing Categories – Part III of V

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

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

This week we began a series of blogs looking at the hot categories being expected to be sourced by companies in 2013 starting with a view of mobile products and managed services.  Today we will take a look at Marketing and Social Media Planning services.

world has become a place of increased dependency on social media channels with many companies beginning to dabble in their use to try and reach new streams of customer attention.  The difficult part about this is that many are not doing much more than dabbling, which is why 2013 will see many of those companies reach out to third party vendors to help them develop their strategies to affectively use these new communication channels

LinkedIn – What began as a forum for professionals to connect and keep updated summaries of their resumes online at all times has grown to become a valuable place for professionals to interact with each other in ways they would not have normally before.  These online discussions when contributed to and monitored by a third party marketing partner can prove extremely valuable in understanding what the industry you are in is doing and needing.

Twitter – Twitter campaigns are still in their infancy as it relates to corporate use.   While it is still mainly a social entertainment communication channel, there are companies who are beginning to develop strategic campaigns to reach their customers.  Most campaigns will have two goals in mind, one to reach the tweeters and one to reach the followers.  New announcements, brand changes or other corporate changes are perfect subjects to invite your customers to check out and many marketing companies are helping their customers do this effectively.

Blogs – Corporate blogs are great at providing a constant flow of information to the company’s current and potential customers.  While they may not always lead to a sale they do something very important; drive traffic to the website with new and interesting content.  These return trips provide potential revenue streams and draw attention to other new areas of your website.  One of the ways 3rd party marketing firms are really helping their customers is to plan out the year’s social media content schedule so that blogs, tweets and announcements are telling the same messages week after week.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you source these or any of products and services discussed this week, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. Please join us for tomorrow’s post on contingent labor. 

We look forward to your comments.

2013 Hot 2013 Sourcing Categories – Part II of V

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

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

Yesterday we began a series of blogs looking at the hot categories being expected to be sourced by companies in 2013 starting with a view of mobile products and services.  Today we will take a look at Managed Services which have become an increasing part of corporate strategies as workforces continue to take hits in their numbers.

Baby Boomer Retirement and a Slumping Economy are two of the biggest reasons that companies have lost staff in the past ten years.  While the economy is showing some signs of life, the rapidly depleting Baby Boomer workforce will continue to deplete over the next ten years leaving many holes especially in skilled areas.  Because of this trend many companies are looking more and more to outsourcing their needs to Managed Service Companies who specialize in an area and have an experienced and skilled staff to handle it.  

Print Services – More and more companies are beginning to move towards having a third party company handle all of the maintenance and support for their printers and copiers throughout the organization.  Be employing this service companies don’t have to worry about keeping an inventory of toner on hand and a staff of employees to maintain the printer fleet.  With IT staffs being reduced so frequently this is not only a boost to the staff but also a very cost-effective move.

Managed Temporary Labor – Later this week we will discuss the areas of temporary labor that many companies will be moving towards in 2013, but today we will look at the management of those firms and temporary workforce employees.   Frequently large National companies will employee temporary workers to augment their own staffs.  They will get these employees from a variety of sources, sometimes with agreements in place and sometimes not.  By employing a contingent labor Managed Service Provider you can have a common source of billing and support as the independent company deals with the sources of labor and rates for you.

Managed IT Services – There are few areas of the company that are getting hit as hard as the IT departments.   As talented workforce exits the workplace, and increasing college costs limiting the number of new employees coming into the workforce, more companies are beginning to look to outsourcing their IT services to a third party company to take care of their needs rather than trying to increase their own staff.  This will definitely be the case in 2013 as companies whose core competency is non-IT related begin to determine the best way to optimize their expenses.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you source these or any of products and services discussed this week, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. Please join us for tomorrow’s post on Marketing and Social Media Planning Services. 

We look forward to your comments.

2013 Hot Sourcing Categories!

Monday, November 26th, 2012

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

Each year there are new categories of products and services that rise to the top of the heap for serious consideration by companies all over the world.  These categories can be influenced by technology, the economy or any number of social changes that shape the world in which we live.

Over the course of the this week we will be looking at some of the hot categories to consider moving into 2013 to include mobile devices, managed services, contingent labor providers, marketing and social media planning and travel related services.

Mobile Devices – These are not new to the corporate world as almost every employee has at least one mobile device and terms like “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) begin to apply more and more to the business landscape.  Companies are beginning to understand that desktop PC’s and even traditional laptops are being replaced by mobile phone and tablets leveraging Wi-Fi and mobile service technology.

Tablet Devices – As tablet devices become more powerful and functional, they will begin to replace the traditional laptop PC’s.  Several companies have released versions of tablet PC’s that range in price from $500 to $3,000 depending on the desired features.  2013 will be a year where many companies begin to look at these devices for their employees to leverage the increased acceptance of the devices in the corporate and private sectors.

Consolidated Phone Plan – Another area that will be one of 2013 focus will be that of a consolidated corporate cell plan.  By moving to a corporate fleet of mobile phones your company can begin to leverage the buying power to get the best prices on a select set of phones that will be easier to support and can ensure that each employee has the functionality they need.  As companies begin to use smart phones in new ways like mileage reimbursement tracking this can be a huge benefit.

Corporate Mobile Plan – In some cases companies will allow their employees to purchase whatever phone they want on their own and will consolidate the mobile service plan that the company pays for.  With this approach you give your employees the flexibility to choose the phone that fits them while still leveraging the consolidating buying power of your company to get better rates and service.  This will be a very hot category for many companies in 2013 as cell companies continue to compete for business and many local companies entering in to the mix.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you source these or any of products and services discussed this week, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. Please join us for tomorrow’s post on managed services. 

We look forward to your comments.

The pilgrims also ate a lot of seafood during their Thanksgiving festival.

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I was watching television report lat night about the safety of gulf seafood as a result of the BP oil spill from last year. Don’t worry, most of our seafood comes from elsewhere.

Do you ever wonder where the sea and lake food that you eat comes from and whether or not it is safe to eat? Are the seafood buyers at your local grocery or restaurant concerned for you?

Almost three years ago during my first post I promised that The SafeSourcing Blog would call attention to and comment on safety concerns within the global supply chain that may impact your customers, employees, families and other stake holders. I’m sure like me; many of you have been impacted by safety inconsistencies in our supply chain. Personally I have had issues like this impact me, members of my family and my pets.

I recently was watching a little snippet from YouTube attributed to ABC News about the origin and quality or lack there of regarding seafood we consume. As a kid growing up on the east coast near Cape Cod I kind of always assumed that all fish was fresh fish from our Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf waters. Well today, more than 80% of our seafood comes from foreign countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, China and Costa Rica to name a few. Of this, only 1% is tested by the FDA and most of it fails inspection because it includes chemicals, poisons, antibiotics and other additives and is even in some cases farmed in unsanitary conditions. The primary reason for the import to locally fished discrepancy is as you might suspect; price.

This author would hope that all seafood and lake food buyers for our restaurant and grocery chains would ask their suppliers a few of simple questions.
1. Where is the seafood you are selling us coming from?
2. Where will the incoming shipments be tested before you deliver it to us?
3. Is it safe for our consumers to eat this fish?

If the answer is not to your liking and documented, don’t buy it. Your consumers will thank you.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

So what has really changed in Washington?

Friday, November 16th, 2012

That line is from a previous post by this author in February of 2009 titled Change comes to Washington. Well, not so much it appears.

I guess that open to review does not necessarily mean change. We all review things all of the time, but unless we take action by making a decision, nothing changes. In this case inaction can lead to illness and death.

I was watching the news last night and caught some of FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s comments during testimony regarding the contaminated steroids shots from the New England Compounding Center that has made over 400 people sick and resulted in 32 deaths. This brings back bad memories from four and five years ago regarding salmonella outbreaks. Although it appears to me that this situation should be more controllable. During questioning, it was curious to me that the FDA wanted to deflect ownership of the problem to a State organization. This even though there have been inspections by the FDA and a desire to close this facility for as much as 10 years. Where is the ownership here? Where is the executive that steps up and says there is a problem that needs to be fixed ASAP?

Food and Product Safety was supposedly a priority during the 2008 election campaign. It should have been during the 2012 campaign and yet more Americans have died while hundreds of others have been become sick.

In my post from February of 2009, I stated that over 550 people have been taken ill and as many as eight people had died from a salmonella outbreak. That was the 2nd largest outbreak in decades trailing only the prior year’s outbreak associated with tomatoes and peppers which affected over 1000 people. So here we are four years later, and our government is arguing over who is responsible. That makes me sick and is not the kind of change we deserve.

If you’d like to learn more about sourcing safe products, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

It’s November Already and your 2013 strategic sourcing plan should already be completed.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

One example of the above might be to augment the manual processes that many sourcing professionals use today in order to find new sources of supply interested in bidding for their business rather than continuing to live with the same small, known group of suppliers they have used for years. Historically this has been a very time consuming practice that results in few if any new sources of supply. This represents a great opportunity to deploy a tactic that can have an immediate impact for an organization without the need for the implementation of a complete new sourcing strategy.

There is a specific process to follow that will encourage new sources of supply to want to bid for a companies business beyond just being invited. Simply having your buyer assigned the task of running a Google or Bing search for new suppliers or picking up the phone and calling sources you may know but do not buy from will not result in additional suppliers agreeing to bid for your business. There are specific objections to overcome that we call the Seven Deadly Objections as well as questions to answer that require a specific skill set.  This is a perfect opportunity for Software as a Service providers that offer supplier research to augment your team’s efforts. Skilled providers in this area can provide companies with as many as a half dozen or more willing  high level new sources of supply in as little as thirty minutes that may in fact reside within a companies existing or newly planned marketing  areas.

Sourcing tactics can be isolated procurement related actions or events that take advantage of opportunities offered by the gaps within strategic plans such as lack of new sources of supply mentioned above.  In this case, our tactic here would be to find additional sources of supply that we can invite to compete for your companies business in a variety of high profile category spends. The fact is that additional sources of supply competing for a companies business results in compressed pricing and often better quality products and services.

If you’d like to learn more about the Seven Deadly Objections or our SafeSourceIt™ Global Supplier Database please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

As always, we appreciate and look forward to your comments.

Food Prices to Source in 2013!

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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

2012 brought the Midwest one of the worst droughts since 1936.  The drought coupled with other affected sources of food throughout the world has Rabobank, a leading agricultural investment house predicting massive increases in food prices by June of 2013, specifically in meat and dairy products where shortages in feed will require farmers to greatly reduce their livestock inventory leading to shortages next year.

With so many companies being dependent on the cost of food in their offering, increased food costs will lead these companies to make other adjustments in their business to help balance the increases out.  Today we will take a look at a few of the strategies companies will be using in 2013 to help control their costs.

Re-evaluating all vendor deals – As vendors begin to enter 2013 and begin to think of how they can begin to balance out upcoming food price increases they will have to begin examining all of the current contracts and agreements they have in place especially those that are getting ready to expire in the next 6 months.  Many of these agreements have been in place for several years and have the potential to be improved even if the incumbent ends up winning the business.

Repair Vs. New – In a recent article on the Foodservice Equipment and Supplies website results of a survey to operators in the industry, 68% of the respondents stated that rising food costs would limit their ability to buy equipment and 98% stated that they repaired instead of purchased new equipment in 2012.   With a move to repair instead of replace, many companies will be searching for quality companies who can make the repairs they need in a timely manner in a way that will not cost them more money than purchasing new equipment would have.

Product mix – Another thing that will change for suppliers in 2013 will be a re-evaluation of the product mix that they offer their clients.  As prices of some products increase, leveraging other that aren’t increasing as much will be a key for many companies and understanding the companies that offer these products will be a key to changing their mix in a way that continues to satisfy their own customers.

Energy Saving Measures – Along with food costs, fuel costs are always one of the most watched indexes on the market as the ups and downs of that market affect so many things.  As food prices climb in 2013 companies will look to reduce another of their major costs by looking in energy saving measures, services and products that will help them manage their expenses.  Many companies will look to fuel saving equipment, 3rd party energy reduction consultants, and energy savings policy changes to help them reduce this expense category.

When faced with uncontrollable expense/cost increases learning how to reduce costs in other ways is a critical piece of successful business.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you with this process, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Knowing more about of your vendors!

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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

Fortune Magazine just published the top small and medium companies to work for.  Some of the highlights included extra money and vacation at long term anniversary, on-site childcare, monthly, company sponsored back massages, free breakfast buffet and game rooms.  You may be wondering what this has to do with your company.  The answer is everything.  When your suppliers are doing things right and creating a great place for their employees to work, it means they can service you better, provide better prices and products and have employees who are happier to work with your company.

In today’s blog we will be looking at a few other areas that suppliers are evaluated against that should be part of how you measure your potential and existing suppliers.

Industry Reviews – There are so many organizations these days whose sole purpose is to research and rank other companies against one set of criteria or another.  This BLOG was sparked by one of these surveys performed by a financial periodical, but there are other major companies like Gartner and Hoover who regularly publish the findings of their research for both companies and products.  These types of surveys and research results are important because they include the same types of criteria found in an RFI and are performed by independent organizations saving your organization some valuable research time.

Non-Profit Organization Ratings – Along with industry reviews, there are also organizations like the Better Business Bureau who give its ratings to companies based on complaints that have been logged against those companies and any other information available.  Others sites like Angie’s List and customer driven feedback sites allow you to see consolidated views of the companies, services and products.  These sites go beyond surveys and get right to the customer feedback you are looking for.

Certifications – Almost all organizations have been certified for one reason or another depending on the industry they belong to.   Many times their customers have no idea that they carry these certifications.  Capturing these during an RFI or RFP process will help you better evaluate the vendors you do business with.  Another way of getting this information is to go to the Certifying Organizations websites to find out which companies have been certified by their processes.

Peer Opinion – One of the most valuable questions you can ask a supplier but one that is rarely asked is “Who are your top three competitors?”  By asking all of the vendors this question during an RFI or RFP process you will quickly understand the landscape of who the leaders in the field are and how they view each other.  This can be valuable information to get from the companies who know their industry the best.

Understanding your potential and existing suppliers and how they compare in areas outside of the normal metrics, can help you develop good partnerships well in advance of any final contract with them.  For information on how SafeSourcing can help you gather these types of details, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.