Archive for July, 2013

Best practices in executing a Security Guard eProcurment event?

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Assistant Vice President of COE at SafeSourcing.

The category of Security Guards can be very complex when working with a national host with many locations.  However, it is manageable as long as you follow these suggestions below.

First and foremost, it is extremely important that you determine a baseline for each location requiring guard service.  This baseline should consist of total average hours by job title per week, billable rate by job title, average pay rate by job title and average upcharge by title.  This data will allow your company to understand the current environment and create a basis for comparison once bids are received.

The second step would be to create specification documents.  A  SOW (Statement of Work) will also be required for each job title.  A clear understanding of the training that will be involved for new vendors as well as the employee benefits that will be offered.  This is extremely important because it wouldn’t be very advantageous to declare savings in an eProcurment event if vendors are skimping on training and benefits. 

Third, finding quality vendors who know the industry and can service your company on a regional or national level is important.  Although there are a lot of vendors in this category there are maybe a couple of handfuls of vendors that can service a customer with many national locations.  Therefore, providing the vendors a list of locations and having them indicate what locations they can service is critical

Finally, the way the data is reported back to the host after the eProcurement event will determine how quickly the awarded programs can be contracted and rolled out.  A view of the data that provides an analysis of what your company could save by simply remaining with the incumbent to a more aggressive analysis as to maximum savings.   There may even be an analysis of the data that suggests a hybrid approach between the two scenarios.  Whatever way you chose to go with the award, just remember to have a good baseline mentioned earlier.  Otherwise making an award decision will be next to impossible.

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

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Don’t be like Mike…Be Like Steve (Jobs) – Part II of II

Friday, July 26th, 2013

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

In yesterday’s blog we looked at some of the well-known reasons that Steve Jobs was one of the most successful leaders of all time and how they are closely connected to being successful in other areas such as procurement.  We will wrap up this two-part series today by looking at four more reasons why Steve Jobs was successful and how they resonate in the procurement world.

Never stop learning– Steve Jobs and many, many other successful business people have shown that a dedication to learning and continued pursuit of knowledge will never be wasted.  There are few places this is truer than in procurement where services, goods and equipment are being purchased every day with a speed impossible to keep up with.  The only way procurement managers can be successful is to pursue the knowledge to help them understand the categories they source.   Whether this comes from periodicals, the internet, books, television programs or through conversations with people smarter than they are about a topic, it must happen.  Only in knowing everything they can about something can they expect to succeed at handling any part of it; this includes the markets affecting it, the conditions of the world that can influence and the environment of one’s company that can make it or kill it if the knowledge is not known in advance.

Develop strong supporting teams– This reason of Steve Jobs’ success is almost the antithesis of the point above.  There are things someone knows, things they can learn and then there are people who are going to know more and be better than they are.  Projects need these people to be successful and managers need to be smart enough to admit it.  In the procurement world this translates frequently to involving a Subject Matter Expert.  The most successful projects are those with good management and great knowledge of what must be done to complete it in a manner that will deliver the company what it needs to make decisions.  Most managers who have been in this space more than 5 years know how to source but that does not mean they understand the details or specifications behind everything they will be asked to assist in sourcing, requiring the need of a strong external partner, or internal resource, or both to see the project through.

Be willing to take a risk– Virtually every risk becomes either a mistake or a triumph that rises above the path not taking the risk becomes.  To the procurement professional the meaning of this is clear.  Continuing to source a few categories a year, while others evergreen, collecting the three paper quotes and negotiating from there is a standard and safe way to move ahead.  It produces reliable, although modest, results.  The risk would be to depart from this model; to pursue tools and processes and partners that can help turn 8% savings into 25%.  Calculated risks that can be planned for and understood can produce great results in many cases and learning experiences in every case.

Don’t wait– The sadness of Steve Jobs life and so many people like him that leave this world before it is ready for them to is the hole that appears when they are gone.  This happens so quickly that what was unchanging becomes changed in an instant.  It is for these reasons that every category and every potential project should be reviewed for opportunity regularly.  Business landscapes change, companies are purchased, natural disasters occur regularly that affect a business.  If a contract ends in three months it should be beginning the review process now to make sure deadlines and contract dates for change (if that happens) can be honored and so that data can be collected to ensure a strong view of options.  Waiting to review upcoming categories may end up creating missed opportunities to save or to strengthen contracts already in place.

This blog series could easily have been written about any area of human existence.  Planning with strong teams that are bright and pursue perfection is the start of greatness especially when they do not wait for the opportunity but are willing to take a risk to seize it.  While few would claim to achieve the success Steve Jobs did, these ideals can be put into action with any sourcing project a company has.  For more information on how we can help with these projects or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Don’t be like Mike…Be Like Steve (Jobs) – Part I of II

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

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

Recently Fortune magazine had an article about the future of Apple without their visionary leader and whether they can continue to dominate and command the respect of the world.  The verdict of this article concluded with a “let’s wait and see” feeling; however it prompted a much deeper thought of why one person can have such an impact not only on a company but on the entire world.  The deeper thought still is, as procurement professionals, how do accomplish the same thing?

Over the next two days we will be taking some of the reasons why Steve Jobs was so successful, viewing them through the lens of procurement so that we can learn how we can begin to achieve the greatness that he did while he was alive, and leaving a legacy that will last for generations to come.

Plan for the future– Earlier this week a blog was posted about managing risk and one how of the crucial steps to doing this is by planning for what could lie ahead.   Much of this is understanding how long a particular type of project actually takes to run.  Once this is understood the future becomes a much easier landscape to navigate and timelines and milestones become clearer and more real.  Successful managers are the ones with the knack of seeing their projects honestly, planning realistically, adjusting where necessary and having the flexibility to do so, and accurately forecasting when something will happen by delivering on time.

Pursue Perfection– If one were too closely examine the lives of the world’s most successful people they would share many common threads including the pursuit of perfection in everything they do.  In Steve Jobs’ case it may have been noticing the “O” in the Google icon on the iPhone did not have a yellow gradient; leading many to mistake his passion for micro-managing or his attention to detail as craziness.  The fact is that all managers should be seeking that attention to detail, that perfection in every aspect of the sourcing project we conduct.  They should be going through our strategy and documents and communication with the effort of making them as close to perfect as they can without taking 6 months to finalize a Terms and Conditions documents.  In the world today it may not be possible to BE perfect but managers should care enough to want to try and be bothered enough when they don’t.

Don’t stop; keeping moving ahead– I have seen many perfectly good managers submit to the status quo of the sourcing process when faced with the initial fallout or mistakes and wrong decisions.  They get frustrated by what they were not able to achieve and focus on returning to a safe place going through the motions quietly; not wanting to rock the boat further.  The fact is, mistakes will be made, wrong decisions will happen, projects will get off track.  The key to delivering the results in spite of this is to keep moving forward.  To understand the situation, adjust and correct, own the issue and learn from it for the next time.  Good planning and smart time management can also go a long way to helping this process but the attitude of moving ahead in these situations is the ultimate determining factor for where the projects end up.

At SafeSourcing our team is constantly looking for ways to improve our services and our support of our customers.  Our strategies and plan for customer projects take different approaches than ones many companies continue to follow without question.  Part of a successful process begins with planning, pursuing perfection and moving forward and tomorrow we will conclude with the other pieces of how we do what we do.  For more information on how we can help with your projects or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Why is the Waste Removal Category a Great Choice When Executing an eProcurement Event?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Assistant Vice President of COE at SafeSourcing.

Every company which has brick and mortar stores or facilities has to dispose of their waste.   Currently throughout North America there are a few major national players, substantially more regional players and a boat load of local suppliers to service your company’s stores and facilities.

In this category companies are faced with one major dynamic.  The dynamic is that many times  waste removal contracts are signed at  the store or facility level.  Therefore, each store or facility has a separate expiration dates which is a nightmare to manage the more stores and facilities your company has. 

SafeSourcing has in-depth experience with the Waste Removal category.  We use our category knowledge to drive saving and mitigate your companies risks.  Savings are achieved by process improvement  as well as more competitive rates.  Risks are mitigated by nationally locked in fuel rates and contract expiration dates being consistent across your company’s stores and other facilities.

SafeSourcing can review your company’s historical data and provide a cost reduction and process improvement strategy that can be executed in most cases within 30 days.  We also see this strategy through the award of business. Typically reduction of cost for your company in this category is in excess of 20% 

SafeSourcing wants your company to complete successful eProcurement   events with us!  We have the category knowledge, vendors, tools and commitment to insure that your company’s eProcurement events are a success.  For more information on how we can help you with your waste removal procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Why companies should choose SafeSourcing’s customer services for their fast track complex eProcurment events?

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Assistant Vice President of COE at SafeSourcing.

In business today most procurement teams aren’t always properly staffed.  Therefore, the cycles that would be needed to in order execute complex eProcurment events aren’t always available. In a recent example a client came to us with a project they needed completed accurately and quickly.  This project involved finding R&M vendors for their 450 plus stores.  The vendors needed to be broken down by industry and by location.  As such, SafeSourcing would need to communicate with over 400 vendors in a period of two weeks.

When faced with a tall order like this SafeSourcing has procedures we follow which will always get us to the finish line and they are as follows.

Understanding what the host would need to make their final decision.  Without knowing this it wouldn’t be possible to gather useful data for the host.  If the host wants to qualify the vendors they need to know what differentiates the vendors.  Examples might be size, experience, coverage and price, any combination of which may define the supplier.  The raw data is fine, but not a useful format in making decisions. However SafeSourcing reporting services can provide format adjustments that easily let us manipulate data to make decision making easier.

With the hosts needs defined we then lay out a proposed method and timeline in order to achieve their goals.  When using SafeSourcing our staff becomes an extension of your team.  To complete the project and timeline we assign multiple members of our team to one project such as an overall project manager and Center of Expertise associates.  So, if it is determined that it would take one team member 160 hours to complete the requirements of the project SafeSourcing might assign 4 member of our team to the project in order to finish in a week.  We have the staff needed to divide and concur you company’s fast track complex eProcurment events.

Finally, our reporting is second to none.  We insure the report package which your company is provided allow for clear decisive decisions by providing an executive summary with multiple award scenarios.  These decisions will be data driven and well thought out. 

For more information as to how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Why companies should choose SafeSourcing’s customer services for their fast track complex eProcurment events?

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Assistant Vice President of COE at SafeSourcing.

In business today most procurement teams aren’t always properly staffed.  Therefore, the cycles that would be needed in order to execute complex eProcurment events aren’t always available. In a recent example a client came to us with a project they needed completed accurately and quickly.  This project involved finding R&M vendors for their 450 plus stores.  The vendors needed to be broken down by industry and by location.  As such, SafeSourcing would need to communicate with over 400 vendors in a period of two weeks.

When faced with a tall order like this SafeSourcing has procedures we follow which will always get us to the finish line and they are as follows.

Understanding what the host would need to make their final decision.  Without knowing this it wouldn’t be possible to gather useful data for the host.  If the host wants to qualify the vendors they need to know what differentiates the vendors.  Examples might be size, experience, coverage and price, any combination of which may define the supplier.  The raw data is fine, but not a useful format in making decisions. However SafeSourcing reporting services can provide format adjustments that easily let us manipulate data to make decision making easier.

With the hosts needs defined we then lay out a proposed method and timeline in order to achieve their goals.  When using SafeSourcing our staff becomes an extension of your team.  To complete the project and timeline we assign multiple members of our team to one project such as an overall project manager and Center of Expertise associates.  So, if it is determined that it would take one team member 160 hours to complete the requirements of the project SafeSourcing might assign 4 member of our team to the project in order to finish in a week.  We have the staff needed to divide and concur you company’s fast track complex eProcurment events.

Finally, our reporting is second to none.  We insure the report package which your company is provided allow for clear decisive decisions by providing an executive summary with multiple award scenarios.  These decisions will be data driven and well thought out. 

For more information as to how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments

Share This Post

What does SafeSourcing do in order to bring value to your company’s sourcing projects?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Assistant Vice President of COE at SafeSourcing.  

Currently, I am preparing for a presentation with a potential customer who runs multiple restaurants and a commissary.  I want them to thoroughly understand the value that SafeSourcing could bring them during the process.  Therefore I’m going to break it down for everyone below.

First and foremost SafeSourcing brings deep and broad based category knowledge.  Whether we engage with the potential customer on restaurant supplies, food they use to create their menu or negotiating the way they buy power.  SafeSourcing has knowledge in typically all categories because our team knows the industry.

Second, SafeSourcing knows who the key vendors are in the industry.  We work to constantly update our database which has over 430,000 vetted suppliers.  In the database we track safety certifications, key company details, product offering detail and contact detail based on region.   Our clients value SafeSourcing for the vendors we provide for their eProcurment events that they might not otherwise engage.

Third, our specifications are extremely detailed and believe are second to n0 one.  We work with our host companies to properly spec out the items that will be involved with an eProcurment event.  Since we are familiar with the key requirements needed to properly build the specification in a large variety of industries, we understand the questions that need to be answered by the host in order to create a complete but user friendly specification.   Additionally, we work to understand how the host currently procures their products so we can duplicate it electronically but in most cases improve upon it.

Finally, our process works!  We have many years of successful eProcurement experience in a wide variety of expense, capital, and services and for resale types of events to support our claims.  Just the fact that the typically return on investment in our services is greater than 18X speaks volumes as to our processes.

I can’t wait to meet with this new potential client as I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t give us a chance to show them what we can do. And we guarantee that they will be cost neutral in the process

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

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Shopping Scam or “Good” Marketing Tactic?

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Today’s post is by Shelly Hayre; Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

As I was watching the news this morning, they were discussing large retail stores being deceitful with their sales. The stores will mark up the retail price and market the product on sale at the suggested retail price. So in reality it is not really on sale. This shocked me, not because of what the retail stores are doing, but that so many people were shocked by this strategy.

The large retail stores now have a class action lawsuit filed against them. I see this as a marketing strategy and do not see an issue with this strategy. It targets impulse buyers, who are not familiar with the market value for particular items.

I can name about five large retail stores that use this marketing strategy. Sometimes research will help you overcome this “scam”, as some call it, but how do you research the price of a shirt? This is when experienced shopping and knowing when it truly is a good deal and on sale comes into play.

When your company begins a new service or product, how do you know it is a good deal? I have worked for many companies in the past who feel they are getting a good deal from XYZ Company because they get a “15% business discount”, but there was never research completed on the individual products being ordered. This “on sale” marketing strategy is being used in the corporate world too, but with different language. So, is your company really getting a good discount or are the products being discounted marked at a higher price?

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

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Strategic and Transactional Purchasing

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Today’s post is by Steve Schwerin, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Purchasing is often divided strategic and transactional.  I like these distinctions, because they help me hone in on the places where value is added in our field as things change.  There are certainly other ways to categorize spend.  One way of looking at strategic purchasing as distinct from transactional is that it deals with the non-commoditized.  Another is how it affects your core business.  This is not to say that it doesn’t deal in commodities.  Strategic purchasing is just something that needs to be dealt with a little more deftly, and as such, adds value to your firm in often intrinsic ways.

Not too long ago, I was watching a fascinating video clip on the “appliance boom.”  I had long heard of electronics booms, various industrial booms, the housing boom, the plastics boom and even the computer boom.  Forgotten in this mix was the appliance boom, yet there was a very real appliance boom back in the early 20th century as electricity became more of a household reality.  In the beginning of this phase, appliances were not something the average person often bought.  Households might have one washer and drier for years and a toaster was not a disposable item.  Appliances back then were actually screwed into light sockets since houses were not wired for appliances; they didn’t have electrical outlets.  In situations like this, knowing who you bought your appliance from and what brand it was were very important details.  Today, many appliances have become commoditized.  We buy the cheapest one with the most features.  Toasters and irons have become ubiquitous fixtures in our households.  Our situation today would have been hard to believe back then.  

What Changed?  Time?  Technology?  The sheer number of appliances on the market?  Regardless, lots of things that are more important to our well-being than a toaster were once strategic purchases, but have become transactional.  Details in business are always morphing, so continuing to purchase things in the same old way can be very costly.  Certain products that were once transactional purchases might even become strategic purchases as they become more critical to your central line of business or develop new features that are hard to place a value on.  The way you go about purchasing whether it be strategic or transactional may not only determine if you reach your savings targets, but how successful certain business endeavors are period.    Keeping an eye on which category each of your purchases currently falls into may be the beginning of keeping on top of savings opportunities as they come and go. 

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative at 888-261-9070.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

Share This Post

Handling Questions for RFI/RFP’s

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Today’s post is by Sarah Kouse; Project Manager at SafeSourcing.

When participating in an RFI/RFP there are two sides of the question preparation process. There are the vendors who are asking the questions and there are the questions from the sourcing company gathering the questions from all the vendors and preparing them for the client.

Consolidate and Submit – As a vendor, when you are participating in an RFI/RFP, questions may come to mind at different times and you may be compelled to send questions when you think of them.  The downfall to this is that viable questions could be missed in the consolidation process and not answered. Therefore, when you have questions regarding the content of the document, the best way to get answers to your questions is to prepare them in one document and send all of the questions in that document all at once referencing the section and/or question from the RFP the item refers to.

Prioritize by Frequency – On the customer side, once all documents containing the questions have been sent, consolidate all the questions asked, labeling each question with the company name, who asked the questions, and  analyze them to determine if any questions have been asked multiple times.   With the questions organized and prioritized in this way, a team of stakeholders can quickly and easily focus on all of the questions at once, frequently getting them all answered in a matter of just a couple of hours.  Once the document has been consolidated with all the participating vendors’ questions that document will then be sent to the client to review and answer the questions.

Give everyone the same insight – Once the document has been reviewed and all the questions answered, that document will then get sent back to each vendor who is participating in the RFI/RFP process, even if a vendor did not ask a question. The reason this document is sent to every vendor is not only to make it fair for every vendor participating, but also serves as a reference guide for any questions that may come up in the future. The vendor could reference that document to potentially quickly get their answer.   Some trains of thought are that they don’t like this approach because it allows some vendors to be lazy and get the benefits of the other vendor’s questions.  This, however, usually shows itself in how a vendor like that answers the RFP as well as the fact that as the customer you know who took the time to ask questions and who did not. 

For more information on how we can help you with your RFIs and RFPs or other procurement needs, or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post