Archive for November, 2013

Lessons Learned Documentation: Is this a common practice in your business?

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Today’s post is by Dennis Nicoletti, Manager at SafeSourcing

What steps or processes do you currently have in place to ensure continued quality, successful projects and best in class customer satisfaction, not to mention achieving the desired results?

The major benefit of completing the lessons learned process is that the organization retains and documents both successful and unsuccessful project activities for future reference by project managers and staff. This allows new projects to repeat successful activities and to avoid those that were not successful.  Documenting lessons learned will provide for ongoing improvement and help deter the recurrence of significant adverse events.

A Lessons Learned session also provides a forum for praise and recognition for project team members, allows the team to acknowledge what worked well, and offers an opportunity to discuss ways to improve processes and procedures.  Participants of a Lessons Learned session are typically the Project Manager and project team, but even more effective is the practice of including the customer and/or external stakeholders as appropriate. This will allow for candid feedback and will help to avoid the pitfall of assuming you “hit the mark”.  

Some typical questions to consider in a Lessons Learned format should include but not be limited to the following:

•  What did we do well?
•  What could we have changed?
•  Did the project deliver/meet the specified requirements and goals of the project?
•  Did the project stay within scope?
•  Was the timeline met?
•  Were risks identified and mitigated?
•  Were problems or issues resolved timely and adequately?
•  What could be done to improve the process?

We, at SafeSourcing, are always looking for ways to improve on what we do and believe that following the Lessons Learned format will build a stronger team, foster long lasting relationships and achieve maximum benefit for you, our customer.  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

Are you industry certified?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Today’s post is by Heather Powell, Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

You may be certified in your field of expertise, but is your company?

According to Wikipedia:

There are three general types of certification. Listed in order of development level and portability, they are: corporate (internal), product-specific, and profession-wide.

Corporate, or “internal” certifications, are made by a corporation or low-stakes organization for internal purposes. For example, a corporation might require a one-day training course for all sales personnel, after which they receive a certificate. While this certificate has limited portability – to other corporations, for example – it is the most simple to develop.

Product-specific certifications are more involved, and are intended to be referenced to a product across all applications. This approach is very prevalent in the information technology (IT) industry, where personnel are certified on a version of software or hardware. This type of certification is portable across locations (for example, different corporations that use that software), but not across other products. Another example could be the certifications issued for shipping personnel, which are under international standards even for the recognition of the certification body, under an International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The most general type of certification is profession-wide. Certification in the medical profession is often offered by particular specialties. In order to apply professional standards, increase the level of practice, and protect the public, a professional organization might establish a certification. This is intended to be portable to all places a certified professional might work. Of course, this generalization increases the cost of such a program; the process to establish a legally defensible assessment of an entire profession is very extensive. An example of this is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), which would not be certified for just one corporation or one piece of accountancy software but for general work in the profession.

Clearly to have a personal certification benefits you as an individual in multiple ways, as a standardization that you understand your field of expertise and this can create a bigger salary.

Now, is your company certified? The same benefits of certification to you as individual are excellent benefits to your company! These certifications show your company knows its business inside and out, is organized to a set industry standard, and by being certified shows you took the extra steps to the best in your field- whereas your competition may not be.

Companies looking to hire a new service look for certifications. They may look for the certifications before looking any further into your business, its practices, and even pricing models! 

At SafeSourcing, Inc. our databases of suppliers are certified in their fields of expertise and when we source new suppliers for you our customer, the first thing we look for are certified companies who can achieve all that our customer would want in a company.  We take the extra care and steps to ensure you are getting the best of the best when sourcing new business, products, or services.

If you’d like more information on the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database of over 427,000 cleansed global sources of supply, on how SafeSourcing can help you with your eProcurement needs, or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Share This Post

I could not finish watching the disgusting video of an Oklahoma Pig Farms abhorrent behavior!

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Today’s post is by Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Why are we called SafeSourcing?  It’s very simple because we strive for a world where the products and services from our supply chain are safe. That includes the safety and humane treatment of our farm stock. We hold our suppliers accountable to these standards and have from day one of our company launch. In the beginning we supported 25 standards that support the supply chain and the environment. What has changed since then is the number of certifications and organizations we support. We try to introduce suppliers and companies that support each other’s corporate and social responsibility initiatives as a way to pay forward both our suppliers and customers best practices for a safe supply chain.

I have to be honest I am not a vegan. I do eat meat including pork. However, there are humane practices that support the harvesting of this farm stock. One example is the  Humane Raised and Handled a program administered by Humane Farm Animal Care at www.certifiedhumane.org.  We regularly publish information on our SafeSourcing daily blog such as the recently posted Farm to Fork – Where Does the Trace Start? As well as other pertinent subject matter. We also provide more detailed information relative to safety programs and certifications in the supply chain in our Sourcing Wiki such as the following link on the Humane Raised Handled.

Now be ready to be disgusted.

NBC news released the following video titled Tyson-foods-dumps-pig-farm-after-nbc-shows-company-video-of-alleged-abuse? Congratulations to Tyson. We just wish you had uncovered and acted on this sooner yourself.

I hope like this author you could not finish watching this disgusting behavior. Pigs are intelligent animals and this behavior is disgusting. I can’t image what the home life is like for people related to these workers.

If you’d like to learn more about safety in the supply chain or how our programs can support your social responsibility initiatives, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representive.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Share This Post

Freight Tendering 101!

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Todays post is by Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

This author has been in and around the freight business for years. Actually for 40 years. Just like the unrelated movie, I have seen it all. Planes, trains and automobiles (trucks really) to be sure but also ocean bound freight. The ships and planes get bigger, but at the end of the day the same issue exists. How do companies get their products to where they need to be efficiently and at a cost that is acceptable in order to satisfy customer demand?

This is not necessarily about your internal optimization models; it is more about the data that feeds your internal optimization models. That is of course if you even have one. The basis for collecting that information is not all of the math calculations and pivot tables; it really is the following types of data.

• Lane data in distance for your delivery model such as Plant to DC.
• Volume discount data from carriers
• Lane rate per mile
• Fuel Surcharge rate
• Human resources rates for loading and unloading (Lumpers in the US)
• 3PL storage rates
• Load balancing charges for LTL versus FL

There may be other data that is required for your individual model, but the above will cover most of what you need to come up with a well rounded format that freight companies can easily bid on. An example of other information may be questions such as “What is  your overall logistics strategy”. With the cost of rail down versus traditional freight lanes, are you thinking about developing a  rail hub service model. do you even know what this is?

Relative to who should be bidding; this authors recommendation conducting a three step process that includes a detailed RFI, followed by a detailed RFP and then ultimately the RFQ data compression piece or a reverse auction.

• RFI  – Incumbent and other participants selected from a quality sourcing database
• RFP – Participants include a reduced number from the RFI process
• RFQ – Includes all RFP participants unless otherwise indicated by the host.

The terms and conditions of the reverse auction or RFQ can cover the balance of information needed by providers that relates to quality, certifications, payment terms, safety, insurance etc.

If you want to get control of your freight costs, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Share This Post

Just what is a Private Label product and where do you source it?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Probably the best source of information on private label or store brand products is the PLMA or Private Label Manufacturers Association. This is actually a global organization.

According to their website, their show this week ending today the 19th in Chicago  presented more than 2,000 exhibit booths, featuring food, snacks and beverages, household and kitchen products, GM, and health and beauty. Exhibitors range from large, well-known store brand makers to small and medium-size companies. More than 35 countries will be represented on the show floor, including ten national pavilions.

If you’re not happy with your current private label offering or have never had one, this show is a must. There are also a number of educational workshops. In fact, PLMA sponsors workshops throughout the world annually. You can find a little more information on these at their website http://plma.com/.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Share This Post

Sourcing Results and Supplier Participation

Monday, November 18th, 2013

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

When we help our customers run sourcing projects one of our mottos is that is must have participation and it must generate results.  Seldom will you get one without the other.  In today’s blog we will be taking a look at some of the ways you can begin laying the groundwork to cover both of these areas successfully. 

Understanding the results you need – The first thing that must be established regardless of what stage in the RFx process you are starting with, knowing the results you are looking to achieve is the first critical step.  This may come in the way of establishing who the key suppliers in a new category or for a new product of service.  During this stage another key piece may be to understand if there are any new technologies or services the suppliers are offering that you are unaware of.  Collection of data is an important result for a Request For Information stage.  Some results may deal with prices you need to see from the suppliers or a compression of current pricing that may result from consolidating disparate spends into a bigger opportunity.  Once you understand what type of results you need you can begin shaping where you begin in the procurement process.

Setting the definition of success – As critical as understanding what type of results you need is establishing the bar for which you will measure how successful the project was.  In the way of a request for information, that may mean having a list of 5 vendors who are able and experienced to handle a business like yours from which you will pick 2 to present.  Another definition for success is to not only understand what each of your locations is doing but also to understand the impact of running a procurement exercise to consolidate those 12 suppliers down to 3.  Part of understanding if the project is successful will be to understand which locations will be most effective with which of those 3 suppliers.  This requires a project that returns, by location, the current spend, incumbent, incumbent new pricing and pricing from the best of the 3 suppliers you are narrowing your choice down to.  The definition of success will create the structure of your event and the reporting that is output.

Bringing the suppliers – Part of the research of every event should be to understand the supplier landscape of a product or service.  There are some products with very little competition and there are others with great options for suppliers to participate.  Participation in any part of the RFx process is critical to achieving the results you are looking for.  Part of this process begins with screening the suppliers before the process begins through internal research or third party tools and processes.  Once you have the vetted list of suppliers you must work with them to make sure they are willing to complete the project whether in the form of an RFP response or participation in an online bidding event.  Some suppliers will present reasons why they do not want to participate and the challenge here is make sure the process does not end with the first response and if necessary raising the objection up the ladder so that they are aware that they will not get an opportunity to bid in the future if they do not participate in the beginning stages.   Supplier participation will make all the difference in obtaining the results you need.
There are many ways SafeSourcing can assist your company with getting your results and ensuring you have good supplier representation.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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

You might think that suppliers understand that a reverse auction is a great opportunity for new business.

Friday, November 15th, 2013

The easiest way to do this it to keep the communication open friendly and non adversarial. At SafeSourcing we have a training class for this that we have with our customers and for all new associates as the join our company.
A friend of mine that is a manufacturer said it this way. “Openly communicate with our supplier’s because their relationships are important to us. Make sure they understand everything and are comfortable with it. Make sure they have no lingering questions.

Here although not all inclusive is a list of sample questions one might consider when inviting a supplier as a new participant.

1. Does the supplier understand that there is no cost to them to participate?
2. Do they understand they will be trained at know charge?
3. Do they understand event timing and requirements?
4. Does the supplier understand the terms being used and how they apply to a reverse auction event such as?
a. Reserve Price
b. Low Quote Indicator
c. Max quote
d. Funds
e. Terms & Conditions
f. Notes
g. Extensions
h. Matching quotes
i. Event  rules
j. Product specifications
k. Samples
l. Award of business
m. Letter of Intent
n. This is an opportunity for new business
o. Event communication strategies

At the heart of it, it comes down to something we all know but don’t always practice and as such negatively impacts the sustainability of processes that just make good sense. That would be open clearly articulated communications.

If you’d like to know why SafeSourcing has a customer satisfaction rating greater than 99%, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Share This Post

Fall is falling – You should already be planning for 2014!

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Now that fall is approaching its midpoint  and the holidays are around the corner, how are you planning for 2014?

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

Procurement professionals our success is dependent on how well we are continuing to think forward to the coming months so that we are prepared when the business is ready to go out and make spend decisions.  This usually can’t be done in just a few weeks, it requires looking months in advance at new projects, new spends and existing contracts and reviews of the market for the best offering.

Typically this type of planning involves sitting down with your department heads to understand what their budgets, spends, and plans for the business are in the future so that you can get ahead of what is coming.

With fall just beginning and the holiday season right around the corner, now is the time to begin scheduling those sessions with the departments and looking at the contracts that are due to expire in the first and second quarter in 2014.  Coordinating these meetings can take time and the larger your company, the more lead time you are likely to need to get on the appropriate peoples’ schedules.

Waiting until after the first of the year to do this when budgets have officially been set may be too late to get this done, as people are generally coming back from the holidays and catching up on the other items that have been awaiting their attention.  It can be the end of January or early February before you get your meetings scheduled which will likely mean you will lose an opportunity to help them source some items in the first quarter.

Get your meetings scheduled by the first or second week in November.  Using a three step approach like the one followed by SafeSourcing Managers, look for those departments which have a higher number of easy, high opportunity categories.  This includes spends with fast approaching contract deadlines.  Also look at those departments that have more complex projects but with high dollar spends followed by the departments involving the most complex spends but with high opportunity.  This last group can generally take more time to gather information and strategize so make sure you include time with these departments to get ahead of the projects.

Going through the projects these departments have planned for 2014 is a great exercise in understanding how the procurement department can help them select the right products and services for your company providing better overall value.

For more information on scheduling your internal department head planning sessions or for templates you can use during those sessions to help collect the data you need, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

The Pitfalls of the P-Card

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

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

For the last 15 years or so the mainstream use of company procurement card programs has gained continued to gain momentum as companies look to improve the efficiency of their procurement process.  The attraction is understandable. 

P-cards can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes departments to get the frequent small spend items they need and can actually provide a clearer view of reporting on where the spend is being broken up and sent to, allowing procurement teams the capability to focus large aggregated spends into projects of their own.  Throw in intrinsic benefits such as improved relations with suppliers due to quick payment and allowing employees to feel more empowered in their purchasing decisions and it is easy to see why thousands of companies have employed such a program. 

In today’s blog we will be looking at the flip side to that coin and some of the things that should be considered and thus accounted for when implementing or revamping an existing p-card program in your company.

Abusing the system – The number one downside of p-card programs is when they are implemented without the full controls necessary to control fraud and abuse of the program.  Because of the nature of p-card programs and the fact that they are meant to streamline purchasing without having direct approval of each transaction the potential for fraud and the time it can take to comb through transactions to find it make this a serious concern.  With proper controls in place such as purchasing from selected vendors only, spend limits and category purchase types, many of these concerns can be eased.

“Just buy it” – There are times when fraud is not at play but something just as damaging for a company comes into play in a p-card program; the attitude of buying without thinking because “it isn’t my money.”  In legacy procurement programs that require more red tape, people evaluate decisions much closer before making purchases because of the effort involved in making it happen.  The easier the process for purchasing items becomes, the more apt people will be to buy first and evaluate whether they really needed a product or service later.  This mindset can be just as damaging to a company and harder to control because the need of the products are often legitimate, just not always as critical as the purchase of it would make it seem.  Controlling this from a higher aggregate total will show the individuals and departments that are purchasing outside of the norm.

The Devil is in the Details – There are so many different meanings for this saying but I believe the most applicable to p-cards is the time suck that develops when people get their hands on granular detail they never had before.  Immediately you have people pouring through millions of transactions to analyze areas where the above two situations are happening.   This can cause inefficiencies in a company where the p-card was hoping to streamline the process.  Applying proper spending controls and developing a data analysis strategy in advance can help with this process and in ensuring the efficiencies created are kept intact as the program grows.
There are many advantages to p-card programs and with the proper foresight and controls built around it, they can be very successful while minimizing the risk for your company. 

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist with ideas or p-card vendor suggestions 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

Execute better a little at a time.

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Today’s post is by Steve Schwerin, an account manager here at SafeSourcing.

I come across the thought quite a lot these days that the overnight success is a myth.  I’m left wondering if there was a time this saying was gaining force.  The idea of overnight success is everywhere, and yet it constantly proves untrue.  Certainly, some victories are decided in this fashion.  During some game or some battle, one party suddenly musters overwhelming force seemingly out of nowhere.  The end.  This is a horrible metaphor for business, yet it is embedded in the modern psyche.  As you watch the training of Olympic athletes, class valedictorians, chess grand masters and concert pianists, you come to realize that success is made up of a lot of incremental victories.  I venture to guess that all great entrepreneurs are in this same class.

What I see authors writing about these days is often the incremental changes over time that end up defining a great company or winning team.  For this to happen, companies need a willingness to learn incrementally, and who really wants to learn incrementally?  I know I don’t. 

Applying this thought to what we do here at SafeSourcing, procurement is a process.  A successful company isn’t defined by one purchase or the next big purchase for that matter.  Are you steering your company away from eProcurement, because you can’t see how it can work for your company or could you be looking for the quick, infallible plan?  As with most worthwhile pursuits, eProcurement is a process.  Procurement victory constitutes success over not one individual spend element, but a process over time that involved learning about what your company buys, why they buy it and from whom they can buy it.

Here at SafeSourcing, we know the risks of change which is why we offer risk-free trials in learning more about procurement with us.  Honestly, how much is procurement victory worth?  One answer is more than free.  Contact one of our customer service representatives at 888-261-9070 and start the process.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Share This Post