Archive for December, 2013

Communication, Communication, Communication…

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

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

In any situation, whether it is in your personal or business life, if communication is broken, or if there are multiple parties involved, the communication can get a bit hazy, making things unclear, and causing confusion.

Think about the game telephone we used to play when we were kids. We would all sit around in a circle, the first person would whisper a word or phrase into the ear of the person sitting next to them. That person would then do the same to the person next to them and so on and so forth until it reached the last person in the circle. Almost always, the starting word or phrase would never be the ending word or phrase.

This is what can happen if you have multiple parties involved in a project and not all parties are involved in all communication, or if one of the parties involved has communication outside of the regulations set forth.

As a procurement company, it is our job to make sure all communication gets distributed to all parties and make sure all communication is clear and well understood. It is also our job to make sure we facilitate the communication between the clients and the vendors, even if the vendor is an incumbent to the client. The reason for this is because if conversation takes place outside of these guidelines, communication could not only become broken between one or more parties, but it can also create an unfair playing field for the other vendors involved.

Here at SafeSourcing, we ensure that communication is always at its best. 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.

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Why is the Hired Service Category a Great Choice When Executing an eProcurement Event?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

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

Why the Hired Service Category is a great choice when executing eProcurement events

When attempting to reduce cost at your company, please take ample time to investigate hired services. Typically, SafeSourcing sees above 20% savings on Hired Services that are taken to market. The key to hired service projects is to have a thorough understanding what it is your company requires from the service providers.

Category research must be completed to determine the scope of the current work, frequencies of the work, cost per unit for the work and locations where the work will be performed. Terms and conditions will need to be identified to inform the service providers of contractual expectations.

Depending on your companies geographical location (s) service providers will need to be researched on a National, regional and local level. In some cases consolidating vendors makes sense. In other cases with geographic outliers require regional and local vendors.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you with your hired service procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We look forward to your comments.

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Building Projects On Strong Data

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

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

I was asked the other what my thoughts are on the challenges that exist in the procurement and supply chain industry and my answer is the same is it was 5 years ago….without strong data many events will not deliver the types of results and participation you are hoping for. In today’s bog we will take a look at what that means and some of easy areas you can be using to get a better handle on categories you are sourcing.

Survey the landscape – One of the most useful ways to get a handle on a category, especially one that spans across the entire company, like temporary labor, is to ask your locations and divisions basic questions about what they are doing today. Many times companies will have summary information about what remote locations are doing from a spend perspective but no detail into what is making up that spend at each location. Surveying your locations with a simple tool like the SafeSurvey™ will allow you to understand who the locations are doing business with, what their satisfaction level is, what other services they are receiving that are not defined in a contract, or whether or not a contract or agreement even exists. This will also allow you to confirm pricing you think you are getting.

Leverage your incumbent – There will seldom be a time when any source has as much insight into what you are currently spending and receiving in the way of goods and services than your actual incumbent. Your activity is what keeps them alive and they will know exactly what level of business you do with them. If you aren’t already, you should be getting monthly or quarterly detailed reports about what you are spending with a supplier and in many cases, scheduling a quarterly business review with your suppliers to ensure the processes being used and services and goods being obtained are still the best for your company. Until that point, having your supplier run Year-To-Date reports at an item level will give great insight into what you are doing today.

Poll the suppliers – In some cases where a service or product will be new for your company, you will not have access to an internal or external data source to help build the foundation of your sourcing event. In these cases taking a Request For Information/Proposal out to vendor community will need to be a step to build that understanding both of the level of service you will need but also to understand the basic pricing structure of the industry. Requests for Information are good to understand the broad picture but they should be used to immediately create a statement of work for you company which combines the details from the responses you like the best. Standardizing what you want before heading to a request for proposal will save time in the end.

Understanding what the data is telling you before you start a sourcing event is critical to achieving the best results. At SafeSourcing we run dozens of events every month for our customers and constantly help our customers build the foundation of strong projects. Our process truly is focused on the greatest value for our customers with price being only one component of that value. 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.

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Companies need not spend millions in order to do their part to support the environment.

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Today’s post is by SafeSourcing’s new Executive Assistant Margaret Stewart

Whether you own your own real-estate or rent the following is easy and cheap to implement. Share this with your landlord and ask them to foot the bill and it may in fact cost you nothing.

With the growing environmental need for companies to go green, the issue of how to do so without placing the company in strain is one that can be resolved in simple cost-effective ways. Small things can be done to help preserve the environment and cost companies very little start-up costs.

One way a company can help with the carbon footprint, is to implement recycling. By having receptacles for cans, paper, and plastic around the office, employees are encouraged to recycle their waste instead of letting it all go to a landfill.

For companies that deal with confidential information, there are secure shredding and recycling companies that will pick up the paper waste, shred the paper, and then recycle it. The cost of these companies is minimal and they conveniently empty the bins weekly.

For more information on how your company can go green in easy, cost-effective ways, check out the following link three cheap ways for your business to go green.

For effective ways to implement green in your sourcing process, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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They’re, Their, or There?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Today’s post is by Shelly Hayre; Customer Service Representative at SafeSourcing.

Many companies admit to poor grammar and writing impacting their business decisions. These common mistakes can be the cause of an unsuccessful outcome.

Remember these common mistakes to assist your business writing:

Jan 6th or Jan 6– When writing month-day dates use cardinal numbers (6), not ordinal ones (6th). Although we pronounce this “sixth” it is written ‘6’. The ordinal number is in the following context: We will meet on the 6th, the meeting is on the 6th, or Fourth of July.

It’s and Its– The best way to avoid this mistake is to remember that contractions always have apostrophes. It’s is a contraction of it is or it has; therefore, it has an apostrophe. Its is a possessive pronoun. Try reading without the apostrophe (It is a boy!).

They’re, Their, or There– This is a no brainer, but it can be easily swapped and spellcheck will sometimes miss it. They’re= They are. There is a possessive pronoun and should only be used when showing possession (their house). There is used with direction (place your card there).

Active voice– Whenever possible always use the active voice in business writing, avoid passive voice. It will make your writing clearer and concise. Your reader will understand the message with avoiding any miscommunication.

Tone– Tone is dependent on the audience. Knowing your audience well is key. Look at other communications that have gone out to them and try to adapt a similar tone. Be especially careful with tone over email. It is tempting to joke but the medium conveys tone very poorly and even innocent jokes can easily be misunderstood.

We, at SafeSourcing, value business writing etiquette and understand the importance. We will work diligently while keeping a professional representation of your company. 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.

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Old Laptops Hiding From You?

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Today’s post is by Shelly Hayre a Procurement Center of Expertise or COE Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

All companies should be environmentally aware of their assets’ disposal, but is your company receiving all the benefits to electronic recycling and resale? The energy required to prepare electronic products for resale is far less than recycling the raw materials.

Supplier Assessment:

What makes company A and B different in this industry? What should your company focus on?

• There are many companies, with different levels of certifications, out there that can provide this service to your company. What certifications does your company require and find value in with your electronics? This will depend on your industry and how sensitive the data is.

Suppliers can hold the following certifications for electronic recycling:

• ISO 9001
• ISO 14001
• OHSAS 18001
• e-Stewards
• R2
• Freight Security Requirements

• The distance of your company from the supplier’s location is an important key in assessing a supplier. This will contribute to the freight cost.

Many companies in this industry will provide detail reporting for asset disposal, data destruction and resale value. They can also provide different levels of packaging and service depending on your company’s volume and service needs. Example: If your company already shrink-wraps and palletizes goods for your company, it would make sense to not change this process and have the employees also do this for your electronics. If this is not an option in your company, then the supplier can provide this service level for a fee.
Pricing Model:

This is where it becomes custom to your needs entirely. Depending on your companies volume, service level, and location(s) you can develop many different pricing models that will fit your needs.

The electronic recycling supplier will recycle all your assets that have no value. The electronics with a value will be resold, and can have minor repairs to increase asset value. The assets’ data will be wiped and this will show in reporting from the supplier.

Option One:

When recycling assets the common pricing model is to have a nominal cost for every asset and an additional charge for data destruction and freight. With this model, your company will receive 60-70% of the fair market value for assets resold. Suppliers will handle all costs associate with the resale transaction.

Depending on your industry, for instance retail, you could potentially return this revenue to your customer. Recycle an old electronic device receive $XX.00 off a good or service.

Option Two:

The other pricing model is for all recyclables to be received and disposed of at no cost. With this model, the supplier will have a much higher revenue percentage from resold assets. This can be beneficial since electronic recycling is most likely not a revenue stream for our company, and it gives the guarantee that you will not have to pay for electronic recycling.

We, at SafeSourcing, will find the best suppliers and pricing model to fit your company’s needs, regardless if this is a new or current process for you. 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 services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

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

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

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

Many companies use third-party unloading services to eliminate the risks and costs of internal employees. These companies should work to thoroughly understand this category because there are tremendous opportunities for savings in it. Please let SafeSourcing explain.

The unloading services category is complex and requires a keen understanding of all the moving parts. In addition, there’re different load types, different units of measure and additional fees and they must all be broken down to properly take this category to market. For large companies, the level of breakdown that is needed is a daunting task.

When executing an eProcurement RFX for unloading services, gathering the pricing is the less complex part. Comparing the different pricing models for each vendor is the complex part. With SafeSourcing as your partner, your company can rely on us to do the heavy lifting of this category for you. Our experts have the experience needed to conduct a thorough analysis of your current unloading services category. SafeSourcing will then go to market and provide the analysis needed to show your company what options to choose to save the most money.

SafeSourcing has seen savings in this category hit the double digits numerous times this year. When looking at the amount of money that is typically spent in this category the savings dollars are large.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you with your unloading Services l procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.
We look forward to your comments.

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Rising fuel costs…how will it affect the supply chain business and you as a consumer?

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Today’s post is by Dennis Nicoletti, Manager, SafeSourcing, Inc.

While I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here, I did want to share this information as we approach a new calendar year. Isn’t it time that we all became better stewards of the environment in whatever way we can? Let’s stop and think about how rising fuel costs impact you personally. When fuel prices soar upward you begin to consciously and subconsciously scale back; making fewer trips to the stores, fewer road trips, “stay-cations” instead of “vacations”, buy lesser octane fuel or just simply buying less of what you had become accustom to as price of goods increase. Those that are lucky enough are able to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles, either selling their “gas-guzzler”, driving them less often or simply stop driving them. It’s simple – as consumable prices begin to rise, you buy/get less. These are just a few things that quickly come to mind. Supply chain is no different. Let’s look into how rising fuel cost impacts supply chain and the downstream impacts for all of us.

Business – Rising oil prices are forcing companies to rethink many business strategies that have been implemented in the last two decades. The days of static supply chain strategies are over. With increasing costs and changing markets, companies must monitor and re-evaluate their network and supply chain strategies on a continuous basis. Hence a switch to a more flexible supply chain strategy.*

The environment – As oil prices increase, environmentally friendly supply chain strategies coincide with economically effective business strategies. Increasing cube utilization, reducing deadhead distances, and decreasing fuel consumption improve the transportation bottom line and help to reduce the carbon footprint. Similarly, strategies that directly focus on reducing carbon emissions typically improve transportation efficiency.*

Emerging technologies – The search is on for technologies that help industry reduce energy consumption and energy costs, including technologies that can reduce transportation costs. These include onboard global positioning systems with centralized information that allows for real-time monitoring of vehicle operations, aerodynamic tractor-trailers, kite-assisted ocean freight, automatic tire-inflation systems, and singlewide tires (replacing the traditional two-tire systems). Investing in emerging clean technologies or implementing operational improvements and innovation to reduce carbon footprint are all part of corporate social responsibility—an area of focus for a growing number of firms.*

Consumers With oil prices rising, business must consider whether to transfer the increased costs to consumers or to absorb the increase internally and face smaller profit margins. In some industries (such as tires and plastics), oil is such an important ingredient in the production processes that they typically are more willing to transfer costs to consumers according to an article by David Simchi-Levi titled Operations Rules: Delivering Customer Value through Flexible Operations, published by The MIT Press.

SafeSourcing can assist you and your company to reduce costs; from fuel, to tires, to trucks, to goods not for resale as well as goods for resale…if you’re buying it today, we’ll source it for less. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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.

As always, we look forward to your comments.

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Ambiguity is the enemy

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Have you ever misinterpreted the meaning of someone’s written communication?

Of course you have, it happens to everyone. Why? Because it’s easy to make statements that contain multiple possible meanings. A large portion of the understanding we glean through verbal communication comes from body language, and word emphasis.

Take the following for example. We all “hear” written communication through whatever internal voicing’s we give the speaker. If I INTERPERATE the emphases of a word *denoted by asterisks* it completely changes the meaning of the phrase (the implied meaning in parentheses):

*I* don’t think he’s a liar (But somebody does)
I don’t *think* he’s a liar (But he could be)
I don’t think he’s a *liar* (But he’s probably something else equally terrible)
I *don’t* think he’s a liar (He’s definitely not a liar)

One way of testing the effectiveness of your communication is to ask yourself; How many different meanings could be extrapolated from my statement? Ideally your communication is so concise and exclusive to your meaning there’s only one possible interpretation. The same principle holds true for QUESTIONS; They should be formatted in such a way that they funnel all of the potential answers in the format that you are actually trying to receive back. Vague questions will receive vague answers.

Our RFI/RFP toolset, for instance, allows us to frame questions with as many constraints as necessary to receive answers with high degree of relevance and usability. Not only do we format our wording to convey our meaning properly, we can force answers to be as close ended as a simple a Yes/No button, or as open ended as an essay answer.

Ask us how we can help your business ask the right questions, and narrow the possible meanings of your communications before you hit the send button!

We look forward to your comments.

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Paying Too Much for the Same Services?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

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

What if you were told that you could be getting the same services for less? They said to you, you could potentially save thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars, for the same service, just by switching to a third-party business partner of the company you are currently receiving your services from? Would this intrigue you and make you want to know more?

Many times, a company will make it seem like they have proprietary services that they cannot get anywhere else for their products. Many times, that isn’t the case because they also have third-party business partners that are authorized to provide the same service or sometimes even more services while paying less for them. These business partners usually have an authorized ranking of expertise of Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, etc. Typically the higher the ranking, the more features and services can be offered, and their level of expertise is greater.

So for example, the current provider may threaten and say, “If you switch from us, you will lose the capabilities to receive firmware updates to all your devices.” If you were told that, would you just believe them and leave it at that? Or would you want to take it a step further and really see for yourself if that is the case? Many of times, you will find that in instances like this, it is untrue. Not only would you still receive the same firmware updates from a third-party business partner, but you will also receive services and firmware updates to legacy/end of life products that the current provider would no longer service.

In result, SafeSourcing could help you take it a step further, saving you time and money. 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.

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