Archive for February, 2013

Managed Service Provider Offerings you should consider – Part II of V

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Senior Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

Yesterday we touched on a report of MSPMentor’s Top 100 (actually it was the top 501) providers that was just released.  As part of this survey process MSPMentor also looked at some of the associated trends in this space among the suppliers and their customers.  This week we are focusing on the most commonly offered services and what they may mean to your company and its profitability.

Help Desk  (89%*) – Almost 90% of the service providers are offering their customers some type of held desk offering to augment the other services they provide.  In a space where companies are employing MSPs to help fill in the gas of their own staff it is no wonder this offering is so common.  While most MSPs are offering help desk services not all are equal in experience and quality.  Make sure you know the background behind MSP help desks you are looking at and ask the appropriate questions surrounding how they plan on servicing your organization.

Patch Management (89%*) – Patch Management is probably the most commonly offered MSP service that few people understand and at the same time it is constantly happening in their environments which is a good indication of how successful the process is.  The notices Microsoft provides, the badges alerts on your iPad and iPhone are all part of the automated Patch Process where someone or something else manages the process to keep your systems updated.  Companies such as SolarWinds have developed tools and companies help manage the many patches (OS, Virsu, Datawarehouse, etc.) the use in their businesses every day keeping them protected and current.

Managed Security Services (85%*) – Companies such as IBM, Symantec, SecureWorks, Dell and Trustwave all offer Managed Security Services and are considered “leaders” in the field according to a recent Forrester Research report.  The key to why these companies are so successful lies more in the way they partner with their customers on strategy than in the software and services they sell.  Cyber security in today’s world is so critical that many companies have chosen to partner with an MSP that has the expertise to recommend the best to protect them.  They also want a supplier who can look ahead and be proactive in their offering suite, allowing them to keep their focus on the core of what they do best.

To understand more about how we can help you find vendors to meet some of these needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  Please come back throughout the week for the other top services we will cover in our Week of MSP Service Review.

We look forward to your comments.

Managed Service Provider Offerings you should consider ? Part II of V

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Today?s post is by Mark Davis; Senior Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

Yesterday we touched on a report of MSPMentor?s Top 100 (actually it was the top 501) providers that was just released.? As part of this survey process MSPMentor also looked at some of the associated trends in this space among the suppliers and their customers.? This week we are focusing on the most commonly offered services and what they may mean to your company and its profitability.

Help Desk? (89%*) ? Almost 90% of the service providers are offering their customers some type of held desk offering to augment the other services they provide.? In a space where companies are employing MSPs to help fill in the gas of their own staff it is no wonder this offering is so common.? While most MSPs are offering help desk services not all are equal in experience and quality.? Make sure you know the background behind MSP help desks you are looking at and ask the appropriate questions surrounding how they plan on servicing your organization.

Patch Management (89%*) ? Patch Management is probably the most commonly offered MSP service that few people understand and at the same time it is constantly happening in their environments which is a good indication of how successful the process is.? The notices Microsoft provides, the badges alerts on your iPad and iPhone are all part of the automated Patch Process where someone or something else manages the process to keep your systems updated.? Companies such as SolarWinds have developed tools and companies help manage the many patches (OS, Virsu, Datawarehouse, etc.) the use in their businesses every day keeping them protected and current.

Managed Security Services (85%*) ? Companies such as IBM, Symantec, SecureWorks, Dell and Trustwave all offer Managed Security Services and are considered ?leaders? in the field according to a recent Forrester Research report.? The key to why these companies are so successful lies more in the way they partner with their customers on strategy than in the software and services they sell.? Cyber security in today?s world is so critical that many companies have chosen to partner with an MSP that has the expertise to recommend the best to protect them.? They also want a supplier who can look ahead and be proactive in their offering suite, allowing them to keep their focus on the core of what they do best.

To understand more about how we can help you find vendors to meet some of these needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.? Please come back throughout the week for the other top services we will cover in our Week of MSP Service Review.

We look forward to your comments.

Managed Service Provider Offerings you should consider – Part I of V

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Senior Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

Last week I attended the MSPMentor 100 Webinar that detailed the results of the 2013 edition of their survey on Managed Service Provider companies.  Part of the review process was to also touch on the most commonly used services from these suppliers and what you can learn about what your company needs to do to begin investigating ways to leverage those same services.

Over the course of this week’s blogs we will take a look at the top 15 services being offered by these companies with some background on each.  Some of these will be unique to the supplier offering it while others are things you can begin asking your current suppliers about today.

Remote Monitoring (94%*) – Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is the process MSPs use with IT tools to collect and analyze information and activity that is happening on a device or on the network the device is connected to.  These statistics help many MSPs not only to resolve issues remotely saving companies in costly site visits but it also allows them to proactively monitor situations before they become issues.  Of those companies using employing MSPs almost all of them are providing some type of RMM in their offering.   The obvious cost benefits and proactive approach are why many companies are looking to MSPs to augment their IT Staffs.

Managed Storage, Backup, Disaster Recovery (91%*) – Dropbox, Sharepoint, iCloud, and Amazon Cloud Storage are all companies/services that specialize in managing the storage requirements of individuals and companies.  This trend among MSPs is no different as 91% of MSPs are offering some type of managed storage for their customers.  The fact is that most companies do not have the staff, hardware or resources to effectively maintain their data in a way that adheres to standard backup and disaster recovery procedures.  By working with suppliers like Carbonite, companies can easily put a plan in place to protect themselves and their customers.

Managed Email/Anti-spam (90%*) – Like the protection of a company’s files, the protection, backup and disaster recovery plan for a company’s email is also critically important.  Many of the major Internet Service Providers provide managed Email services (including backup and disaster recovery services) but it is a growing area for MSPs as well.  The benefits from companies like Rackspace, allow companies the peace of mind that their email is protected without the huge costs of maintaining the equipment and software in-house, integrating with several mail programs include great support for mobile devices.

To understand more about how we can help you find vendors to meet some of these needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  Please come back tomorrow for the next top services we will cover in our Week of MSP Service Review.

* Source: MSPmentor 501 Global Report, February 2013, all survey participants.

We look forward to your comments.

Managed Service Provider Offerings you should consider ? Part I of V

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Today?s post is by Mark Davis; Senior Vice President and COO at SafeSourcing.

Last week I attended the MSPMentor 100 Webinar that detailed the results of the 2013 edition of their survey on Managed Service Provider companies.? Part of the review process was to also touch on the most commonly used services from these suppliers and what you can learn about what your company needs to do to begin investigating ways to leverage those same services.

Over the course of this week?s blogs we will take a look at the top 15 services being offered by these companies with some background on each.? Some of these will be unique to the supplier offering it while others are things you can begin asking your current suppliers about today.

Remote Monitoring (94%*) ? Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is the process MSPs use with IT tools to collect and analyze information and activity that is happening on a device or on the network the device is connected to.? These statistics help many MSPs not only to resolve issues remotely saving companies in costly site visits but it also allows them to proactively monitor situations before they become issues.? Of those companies using employing MSPs almost all of them are providing some type of RMM in their offering.?? The obvious cost benefits and proactive approach are why many companies are looking to MSPs to augment their IT Staffs.

Managed Storage, Backup, Disaster Recovery (91%*) ? Dropbox, Sharepoint, iCloud, and Amazon Cloud Storage are all companies/services that specialize in managing the storage requirements of individuals and companies.? This trend among MSPs is no different as 91% of MSPs are offering some type of managed storage for their customers.? The fact is that most companies do not have the staff, hardware or resources to effectively maintain their data in a way that adheres to standard backup and disaster recovery procedures.? By working with suppliers like Carbonite, companies can easily put a plan in place to protect themselves and their customers.

Managed Email/Anti-spam (90%*) ? Like the protection of a company?s files, the protection, backup and disaster recovery plan for a company?s email is also critically important.? Many of the major Internet Service Providers provide managed Email services (including backup and disaster recovery services) but it is a growing area for MSPs as well.? The benefits from companies like Rackspace, allow companies the peace of mind that their email is protected without the huge costs of maintaining the equipment and software in-house, integrating with several mail programs include great support for mobile devices.

To understand more about how we can help you find vendors to meet some of these needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.? Please come back tomorrow for the next top services we will cover in our Week of MSP Service Review.

* Source: MSPmentor 501 Global Report, February 2013, all survey participants.

We look forward to your comments.

What are the benefits of being EDI compliant?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Today?s post is from Ryan Melowic; Assistant Vice President of the Procurement COE at SafeSourcing.

Wikipedia defines EDI as the following; EDI which stands for Electronic Data Interchange is the computer-to-computer communication of business documents between companies in a standard format.? It is a paperless way to send and receive Purchase Orders, Invoices, etc.? EDI replaces human-readable documents with electronically coded documents. The sending computer creates the document and the receiving computer interprets the document.?

Some of the benefits of EDI are as follows.

1.? EDI streamlines the process and supplies more supply chain visibility.

2.? EDI provides increased security

3.? EDI helps companies? lower costs by eliminating manual keying which reduces labor cost as well as well as errors and double entry of data.

4.? EDI provide management the information they need to plan and make strategic decisions

5.? EDI standards are agreed formats and protocols that trading partners collaborate and agree to use when sending and receiving business documents.

Due to EDI data being electronic data, product sales data, product inventory status, demand forecasts and other metrics can be exchanged with the key stake holder automatically. This allows for better inventory management and tighter control on accounts payable.

If you’d like to learn more about SafeSourcing can help your company explore EDI implementation options please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

SafeSourcing is “OAD” Compliant!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ron Southard CEO of Safesourcing.

A friend and customer that has been a CFO of a fortune 100 company and now owns his own business asked me the other day why our results are so much better than other sourcing companies. For the record, he has used and been exposed to many of these companies during his career. In fact his company’s primary focus today with his customers is focused on strategic cost initiatives.  As such we get to work together quite frequently.

My simple answer was that SafeSourcing is OAD Compliant! As you might imagine, I got that HUH look. I went on to explain that we have an Obsessive Attention to Detail or “OAD”. He simply said, can you give me an example? I went on to discuss how a company might source a service like temporary labor in the administrative space across multiple geographies and multiple job descriptions. We discussed the makeup of the job descriptions and the pay rates associated with those roles. By example I explained that most companies providing these types of services wanted to provide you an hourly base rate with uplifts for overtime, holiday and other related criteria. Further, I explained that the structure our event focused on an expanded list of job requirements so that our customer would not be overcharged as example for administrative support provided by an executive assistant when an administrative assistant was all that was called for. We further broke the rates down by geography, national upcharge, and unemployment tax and workers compensation by state. Most people are not aware that workers compensation rates are different by employer by sate based on their individual company ratings. I went on to say, another quick example might be someone wanting to source heavy duty pallet racking based on the current price of steel (Hint! Think Metal Indices) while overlooking transportation cost opportunities (fuel) as well as the services required (unloading) to deploy the end product across time and geography (local distributer).

Once my friend got the gist of what we were talking about, he asked me how we continue to insure that all SafeSourcing associates function in this way. The answer was simple. We demand it. Every category that we source goes through a thorough strategy development phase where our customer and our Procurement Center of Expertise associates educate each other. We use an internal process call Question AZ. That has nothing to do with the state of Arizona where I live; it simply means that we assemble a list of questions beginning with the letter A and keep adding questions through the letter Z until there are no more questions. Simple but affective We reinforce this internally with competitions on research, adding data to our WIKI and asking every associate to write a monthly blog on a category they are working on. All of this information is shared with the entire team regularly in debrief sessions. We always think through traditional sourcing methodologies, but leave room for thinking outside of the box. Just because someone has never run a category in a certain way does not mean it cannot be done that way.

My friend’s response was WOW! and last year he ran over 300 e-RFX events with us

The simple conclusion to the above is that you can have more advanced tools, more experienced people but if you are not OAD compliant you will never drive the same results that we do.

If you’d like to learn more about the SafeSourcing 6 step process that combines three distinct sourcing strategies into one event, please contact us.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

SafeSourcing is ?OAD? Compliant!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ron Southard CEO of Safesourcing.

A friend and customer that has been a CFO of a fortune 100 company and now owns his own business asked me the other day why our results are so much better than other sourcing companies. For the record, he has used and been exposed to many of these companies during his career. In fact his company?s primary focus today with his customers is focused on strategic cost initiatives.? As such we get to work together quite frequently.

My simple answer was that SafeSourcing is OAD Compliant! As you might imagine, I got that HUH look. I went on to explain that we have an Obsessive Attention to Detail or ?OAD?. He simply said, can you give me an example? I went on to discuss how a company might source a service like temporary labor in the administrative space across multiple geographies and multiple job descriptions. We discussed the makeup of the job descriptions and the pay rates associated with those roles. By example I explained that most companies providing these types of services wanted to provide you an hourly base rate with uplifts for overtime, holiday and other related criteria. Further, I explained that the structure our event focused on an expanded list of job requirements so that our customer would not be overcharged as example for administrative support provided by an executive assistant when an administrative assistant was all that was called for. We further broke the rates down by geography, national upcharge, and unemployment tax and workers compensation by state. Most people are not aware that workers compensation rates are different by employer by sate based on their individual company ratings. I went on to say, another quick example might be someone wanting to source heavy duty pallet racking based on the current price of steel (Hint! Think Metal Indices) while overlooking transportation cost opportunities (fuel) as well as the services required (unloading) to deploy the end product across time and geography (local distributer).

Once my friend got the gist of what we were talking about, he asked me how we continue to insure that all SafeSourcing associates function in this way. The answer was simple. We demand it. Every category that we source goes through a thorough strategy development phase where our customer and our Procurement Center of Expertise associates educate each other. We use an internal process call Question AZ. That has nothing to do with the state of Arizona where I live; it simply means that we assemble a list of questions beginning with the letter A and keep adding questions through the letter Z until there are no more questions. Simple but affective We reinforce this internally with competitions on research, adding data to our WIKI and asking every associate to write a monthly blog on a category they are working on. All of this information is shared with the entire team regularly in debrief sessions. We always think through traditional sourcing methodologies, but leave room for thinking outside of the box. Just because someone has never run a category in a certain way does not mean it cannot be done that way.

My friend?s response was WOW! and last year he ran over 300 e-RFX events with us

The simple conclusion to the above is that you can have more advanced tools, more experienced people but if you are not OAD compliant you will never drive the same results that we do.

If you?d like to learn more about the SafeSourcing 6 step process that combines three distinct sourcing strategies into one event, please contact us.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

“Just what makes that little old ant think he can climb a rubber tree plant”?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

We don’t hear too much about the different types of On Line auctions anymore as many features are baked in to newer tools today! And very few understand the psychological models that are used within these modern bidding frameworks. One of the oldest types of on line auctions is the Vickrey reverse auction?

According to Wiktionary the Vickrey reverse auction is named after a Canadian professor of economics named William Vickrey (1914-1996) who was also a Nobel laureate.  Vickrey’s paper, Counterspeculation, auctions and competitive sealed tenders, was the first of its kind using the tools of game theory to explain the dynamics of auctions. Any one that truly understand the magic of a reverse auction understands that the same type of psychology that drives gaming in a Casino drives the dynamics of a reverse auction.

There are a number of types of reverse auctions which is why a strategy is important when you look at each category that you decide to take to market. Specifically to the opening question, a Vickrey auction allows for selling single items where the lowest bidder sells the item at the price offered by the second lowest bidder.

Think about how you might implement this strategy to encourage bidder. How would you set your system indicators? Might you use ranking or a reserve or low quote indicator? If so, what impact might it have? Shouldn’t you be asking that question up front as you set your strategy?

See, there is much to ponder, and much you can do. If you like to learn more about how certain tools and  features may influence  bidding behavior, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

“Just what makes that little old ant think he can climb a rubber tree plant”?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

We don?t hear too much about the different types of On Line auctions anymore as many features are baked in to newer tools today! And very few understand the psychological models that are used within these modern bidding frameworks. One of the oldest types of on line auctions is the Vickrey reverse auction?

According to Wiktionary the Vickrey reverse auction is named after a Canadian professor of economics named William Vickrey (1914-1996) who was also a Nobel laureate.? Vickrey’s paper, Counterspeculation, auctions and competitive sealed tenders, was the first of its kind using the tools of game theory to explain the dynamics of auctions. Any one that truly understand the magic of a reverse auction understands that the same type of psychology that drives gaming in a Casino drives the dynamics of a reverse auction.

There are a number of types of reverse auctions which is why a strategy is important when you look at each category that you decide to take to market. Specifically to the opening question, a Vickrey auction allows for selling single items where the lowest bidder sells the item at the price offered by the second lowest bidder.

Think about how you might implement this strategy to encourage bidder. How would you set your system indicators? Might you use ranking or a reserve or low quote indicator? If so, what impact might it have? Shouldn?t you be asking that question up front as you set your strategy?

See, there is much to ponder, and much you can do. If you like to learn more about how certain tools and? features may influence? bidding behavior, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Containerboard trends: What are they telling you?

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Today?s post is by Mark Davis; Senior Vice President? COO at SafeSourcing.

What are the latest numbers for industry containerboard pricing and inventory telling you about your corrugated cardboard needs?

With a $50/ton containerboard increase last fall and what some industry experts are saying may be another increase coming in early 2013, now may be the perfect time to look at sourcing your containerboard needs.? While this was happening, Hurricane Sandy was affecting many North American inventory levels, but industry reports released have shown a return to higher than average inventory levels for December and January.

What do these trends mean for businesses that regularly use corrugated cardboard in their day-to-day operations?

Future price increases are one of the major reasons for sourcing containerboard needs now in order to lock in prices before increases hit.? While most contracts will still be tied to pulp indexes, getting agreements in place now will allow you to take advantage of those prices before the increases hit and may justify the warehousing of pre-purchased stock at lower prices.

North American export levels finished at slightly lower levels in 2012, however industry experts are predicting that export levels are expected to increase in 2013 cutting into available inventory and increasing the demand of suppliers.? Many manufacturers such as International Paper are increasing capacity through acquisition and renovation in order to absorb the increased demand levels.

With potential price increases in containerboard coming and demand increasing, it is no wonder that traditional mills have begun to move production of traditional paper types such as newsprint to the production of containerboard in order to leverage the trends.? This increase in sources is good for customers who have the opportunity to investigate new suppliers that may be a better fit for them in terms of service and geography.

If you are a business who uses linerboard or corrugated board products, now may be the perfect time to think about sourcing your needs to avoid potential future increases or possibly to investigate suppliers who can provide you a better mix of product and services.

To understand more about how we can help you source your containerboard needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.