Archive for February, 2014

You cannot solve a problem you can’t identify or admit you have.

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Vice President of Customer Services at SafeSourcing

The problem is too big. We want to hide and avoid it many times. This is increasing in many organizations and unfortunately leaving money behind.

We all know how to solve a problem, but it usually isn’t the right problem we easily see.

If you don’t face the big problems too, then the simpler projects savings are being washed away by the elephant in the room. Being able to surface all the issues and building on that concept, not solving overnight, but admitting the problem and working towards a solution, will keep you out of any future pitfalls.

According to an article, Surfacing Problems Daily, has four steps to improve your company’s problem solving.

1.  Assess the current condition- what does your organization feel is a problem and what needs attention?
2.  Develop a mechanism- track/display/monitor the problem(s)
3.  Develop non-monetary incentives to surface problems- it gives people a reason to share the issue
4.  Define how leaders should respond- train leaders to not attack a problem that arises

Here at SafeSourcing we will solve your problems. No problem is too big for us.

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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It goes beyond the savings.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic; Vice President of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

When running an eRFX event there are many benefits that go far beyond savings. Most all benefits will eventually save you money, but it has value-added benefits that won’t show savings right away.

During the sourcing process it is best to establish goals that your company wants to achieve. What part of the current process is costing you money, where is there room for savings? The following goals are achieved when running a sourcing event.

Fewer Suppliers– Managing suppliers can be very costly to your company. All suppliers come with different invoices, contracts, contacts, and terms. The amount of time it takes to manage all the different suppliers will hinder any savings you originally planned on receiving. Lower the amount of suppliers will be great value in minimizing time with managing them.

Location– Are your shipments coming from across the country because the cost was so low? But are you washing away those savings in expediting shipments due to a current process and standard freight takes too long. Finding suppliers within closer proximity will save you shipping time and result in savings.

Standardizing Items– When sourcing item(s) in the customer-facing industry it is best to have a standard appearance and be able to control costs with identical item at a larger volume. Whether it is for new construction or remolding, standardizing the specifications and gathering a quote on the total volume/spend can save your company money.

Here at SafeSourcing we will work with achieving all your goals, however many there may be, and we can also help you create goals for sourcing events.

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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Framing the Problem.

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Today’s Post is by Michael Figueroa, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

A story is told about a researcher  who held an experiment to see how conceptually framing a problem influenced the outcome. He showed group 1 a pendulum swinging from a string, and told them to hang it up after providing them with nails and nothing else, and they ended up not completing the task in the allotted time. Group 2 was shown the pendulum weight, a string, and the nails, used the pendulum to hammer the nail into the wall, then hung it up with the string.
 
Group 1 couldn’t complete the task because they were thinking within the constraints of what they had just seen: A pendulum swinging from a string that needs to be hung up. Group 2 didn’t have that picture in mind, they saw all of the objects in front of them as tools to accomplish a given objective.

Creative problem solving requires the freedom to think outside of traditional constraints. Sometimes even mentioning these constraints can influence individuals and organizations in ways that negatively impact their ability to problem solve. If you really want to discover your teams innovative potential, give them all the variables, define the criteria for success, and set them to work. Counterintuitively, you may find that the less you define HOW the task is to be done, the more efficiently it will be accomplished.

We love finding creative ways to solve your procurement challenges! For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team this process 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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Trusting You General Contractors!

Monday, February 24th, 2014

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

In spite of the past few rough economic years, many businesses have continued to grow building new locations, warehouses and divisions while be able to upgrade, remodel and rebrand their businesses to match pace with the 21st century.  As part of this growth, companies have contracted with General Contractors all over North America to help with these remodels and new builds without giving much thought to a big expense that results from these activities; fixtures and supplies. 

General contractors have established relationships and pricing for these materials which they then pass along to their customers with a markup.  In small projects this can be worth the extra money paid because the General Contractor has taken the time to leverage their spend for better pricing and they remain responsible for following up on warranty issues should they arise.  When the projects are much larger and especially if they are more frequent, this model begins to benefit the customer less and less.  Today’s blog will look at some of the reasons companies in this latter situation should look a sourcing the materials and fixtures on their own.

No visibility to price  – As is often the case with construction projects, visibility into every aspect of a job is uncommon.  In fact, receiving a $50,000 invoice with only a few line items is more normal than not.  The problem with this approach is that a customer has no idea how they are truly paying for the fixtures, material and equipment being used.  Without this detail the customer cannot base, historically, whether they are getting the best value for their dollar from their contractor.  Customers with a large amount of spend have the capability to make their own deals with the manufacturers and then pass that pricing back to the general contractor along with an agreed upon markup for handling the inventory as needed.  Another option is to work with your contractor on a combined sourcing project to get overall lower prices that the general contractor can pass to you and leverage in their own way with their other customers.

Changes in quality – Another issue when the general contractor is in charge of procuring the materials and fixtures for a project is that quality can be compromised at time in order to improve margins.  When the customer makes their own deals according to their own specifications, they can use online sourcing tools like catalogs for contractors to use that will ensure the correct items are being ordered at the price they have already negotiated.  This ensures that both price and quality will remain locked in place.

Central Management of Warranties – Many customers use multiple general contractors for their projects especially of those projects are spread out geographically.  Because the general contractors manage the warranty issues for the fixtures and materials they purchase, it can be difficult to know exactly who to contact when certain issues arise covered by warranty.  When customers bring the procurement and management of those manufacturer relationships in-house they can have a central point of management when issues arise that can be integrated into company Intranets for remote locations to use whenever issues arise.  Employing the services of Repair and Maintenance managed service companies can also help manage this process.

Exploring the procurement of construction materials may not be something everyone company wants to do, but if the spend is large it should be one that is at least investigated.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process 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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How We Use Project Our Project Managers and Project Forecasting To Save You Money.

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Manager of the COE Department & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

We take project management very seriously at SafeSourcing, Inc., and we have a very strong team of Project Managers working for our customers. We utilize tools, procedures, policies, and strategies to place your business in a prime opportunity to save you money on any category of procurement. Our first priority is project forecasting, without this key element, a project can fall apart. To back up the project forecasting is through and concise communication not only internally with our team, but with you, our customer!

How do we do this is by following the basics. This excerpt is taken from LeanKit, one of the fastest growing online project manager tools:

Project Management 101

Project Forecasting:

Project managers must analyze whether a project is on target in terms of timeline and cost and provide estimates for how delays will impact the overall project. As things change, throughout a project (as they inevitably do), a project manager must update the forecast to reflect the new information as quickly as possible. Without a clear picture of a project’s status, a project manager would be hard-pressed to make an intelligent analysis.

Successful project managers look to the past to determine the future. Using historic data from other projects and advanced forecasting tools, managers are able to project more accurate forecasts than ever before. While project managers may have traditionally relied on estimates, or educated guesses, to predict the cost and timeline of a project, they are now using more advanced techniques for providing accurate project plans that save time and money.

Communication Breakdowns:

Maintaining great communication in project management may seem like a no-brainer. The ability to inform someone what needs to be done via email, over the phone or, better yet, in person may seem like a simple thing. But when you multiply the amount of communications that must take place by all the instances of change throughout an entire project, while tailoring each communication to specific people receiving it, ensuring timely and accurate communication can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare if the proper work systems and tools are not in place.

A project manager must ensure everyone is on the same page – without overwhelming the team. Maintaining a proper balance of communication can be challenging: Too little communication can create confusion, while too much communication can cause team members to freeze amidst the pressure of too much information. Finally, if all information is not properly conveyed during all phases of a project, miscommunication can easily occur, which leads to wasted effort.

Our Project Managers are the best in the industry! For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs and to know how we can put these best used practices and our team to work for you on a “Risk Free” trial program?  Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services and project manager team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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How Time Management Can Save Your Business.

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Today’s post is  by Heather Powell, Manager of the COE Department & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Did you miss the deadline to renew a contract? Did you miss place a business card in your desk drawer? Working in the 11th hour on an assignment that is due tomorrow?

These are all signs of poor time management. According to the website Time Management Ninja there are 21 killers of time management and each one can hurt your business in various ways:

1. You are constantly rushing. From one urgent matter to another…
2. You miss appointments. Sometimes not even knowing they are happening…
3. You are late. And people expect you to be so…
4. Your reputation precedes you. Important tasks are given to others…
5. You forget tasks. Until it is too late…
6. You miss deadlines. And often ask for extensions…
7. You don’t keep your word. You make a lot of promises with very little follow-through…
8. Your workplace is messy. You don’t even know what color the surface of your desk truly is…
9. You spend all your time on last-minute fire drills. And don’t get to the important tasks…
10. You don’t get enough sleep. You stay up late on activities that hinder your productivity…
11. Your organization system consists of piles. And you know “just” where you put that piece of paper…
12. Your notes are scattered across multiple systems. And even that napkin from lunch…
13. You pay penalties and late fees. Because you don’t get things done on time…
14. You miss opportunities. Doors of opportunity close on you before you act….
15. The inside of your car is a mess. This is a great first indicator of your organization…
16. You don’t have that important phone number. Business cards litter your drawers…
17. You can’t find that important document. It’s here somewhere… (see #11)
18. Your email inbox is overflowing. It’s piling up faster than you can empty it…
19. Your “system” consists of gadgets and software that you don’t use. But, you’re going to learn them someday…
20. You work during meetings. Because it is the only time you have to get work done…
21. You work long hours. Yet, there is always too much to do…

If you can associate with one or more of these you may suffer from poor time management and this hurts your business not only in revenue but potentially in reputation too. But don’t lose hope and throw in the towel. Time management is something that can easily be taught and practiced. Yes, Practice! Practice makes perfect!

There are programs, online courses, and even counselors who can teach the best practices. Tackle one item at a time, find your structure, and use it. One of the easiest solutions at your fingertips is your online calendar, task list, notes, and contact list associated with your e-mail system. Utilize those to structure your day, your week, and your timelines. Utilize them to prioritize your daily tasks. Follow your own plan. Ditch the floating business cards by adding them to your list of contacts and structure your contact list according the business area or needs.

We, at SafeSourcing, take great pride in the fact that we continually use our procedure lists and consider them to be a “best practice” which has kept our projects on plan. This practice has rewarded our customers with savings they would not have otherwise attained and in the timeliest manner.

For more information about SafeSourcing can help fill in some of the experience categories or can assist you with spend analysis, 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.

 

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Netsourcing: Packaging up the Service Providers!

Monday, February 17th, 2014

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

The role technology has played in the business world has continued to evolve at rates that are greater than anything has affected it before.  Much like the person who leases cars instead of buying because they like to keep up with the latest and greatest, IT departments are beginning to find that this concept not only works but has become a requirement for doing business in the 21st century.  They cannot justify making large investments in hardware and software when those purchases are only current for a short period of time.  That is where netsourcing comes in.   Netsourcing is the practice of renting space for managed business applications to be managed internally or externally by a 3rd party allowing companies to receive just the services they need and pay for them as long as them need them.  Many companies are familiar with Managed Service Providers (MSP) and Application Service Providers (ASP) but may not know some of the other types of services available to them.

Storage Service Providers (SSP)  – Many companies may not think they are using companies that provide storage services, however almost every company in the world has employees that are.   Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud are just a few of the services being provided by companies to store files and data.  The advantage of these cloud-based services is that their data is backed up and secure and can be grown to any size needed at any time with the click of a mouse.  The user purchases no hardware and pays for only what they need.  Other companies such as OwnCloud offer similar solutions that can be hosted by the customer themselves and can even leverage the cloud-based advantages if they are already doing this today.

exSourcers – These services are offered by companies to handle standard businesses processes in a way that connects their customers to external sources for anything from IT hardware to temporary services.  An example of this kind of service would be a 3rd party who works with their company to procure plastic bags.  Instead of locating and providing those bags they connect a community of bag suppliers with their customer in a way that allows all of those suppliers an equal chance to compete for that business and differentiate themselves from the other suppliers.  Many times these exSourcers are providing opportunities for new suppliers that would have never been considered for the business while providing their customers a greater pool of options.

Commerce Service Providers (CSP) – Commerce Service Providers will work with a company to help them focus on the sales of a particular and focused line of products.  Through CRM data and focuse and high powered analytics these companies can direct a company where to focus their efforts of marketing, merchandising and sales and then provide them the online channels to allow them to achieve greater results.  From the online interface, to handling customer payments, to working with logistics for fulfillment, these CSPs can take a medium sized business and grow their revenue exponentially in a short amount of time.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with finding NetSourcing options for your business 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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The Nine Deadly E-Procurement Objections!

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Todays post is by Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing

This is a repost from a couple of years back because I just came out f a discovery session with a roomful of buyers and heard at least 5 of these. Fortunately the company CFO who was in attendance asked the following “If this is so, why does Ron have so many examples of products and services we buy every day at lower costs than we pay”. 

The following are the objections we hear all of the time after we have presented to a prospect that has not been exposed to e-procurement tools in the past.

1. We already get the best cost.
2. We’ve done business with this supplier for years.
3. We don’t have product specifications.
4. We don’t have time for this.
5. Switching costs will be too high.
6. We can’t insure the same quality.
7. We need to adhere to certain standards.
8. We are aware of all of the sources of supply in this area.
9. Our business is different!

Often the real reason for these objections is a lack of understanding as to the services being provided which actually extend the productivity of financial and procurement knowledge workers. An underlying reason is that these same knowledge workers believe they are already doing a good to great job. They believe they understand the detail of the category, the supplier community and the leverage point for driving quality results.

So what does it mean to your procurement knowledge workers when based on the above the very first e-procurement event you run returns dramatic savings from your incumbent as well as several other suppliers you were not aware of? Does it mean your team is not doing their job? Does it reflect poorly on them as individuals and or a team?

This author does not believe so, what it simply means is that they are not aware of how much more they can accomplish, how much further they can extend their reach and how much more time they will have to evaluate data instead of collecting and assembling it based on the use of modern strategic sourcing tools that extend their knowledge base.

If you would like to learn more about how your team can accomplish more in a shorter period of time, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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What is The Certified Humane Raised & Handled Program?

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Todays post is by Ron Southard, CEO of SafeSourcing.

To begin with, we have many farms, processors and agriculturally focused companies as customers and suppliers in our database.

I was reading today in the Arizona Republic about proposed legislation by the states ranchers and farmers that would allow them to police their own farms for livestock cruelty. This is being supported by the Arizona Cattle Growers Association. In fact if a public citizen takes a picture or video of such cruelty and does not turn it over to them within 5 days it would be considered a class 1 misdemeanor. Isn’t this kind of like the of watching the henhouse with a shotgun? Nor to mention the constitutionality of restricting free speech. 

There are programs out there that provide protections against cruelty in factory framing and The Certified Humane Raised & Handled program which is an inspection, certification and labeling program for meat, poultry, egg and dairy products from animals raised to humane care standards is one of them.

According to the Humane Farm Animal Care website over 10 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. annually endure inhumane treatment. Most are confined such that they can’t behave normally. Chickens can’t flap their wings or move. Pigs can’t turn around. Crowding and stress from these conditions compromise animals’ immune systems. They must ingest antibiotics regularly to prevent disease. Further, the current system of factory farms causes problems for the people involved, the environment, and consumers, as well as for the animals.

According to Humane Farm Animal Care the impact extends beyond the animals. Overuse of antibiotics in animals is causing more strains of drug-resistant bacteria. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. at $30 billion.

What can retail buyers do? Look for and buy products labeled Certified Humane Raised and Handled® and encourage the suppliers of your favorite food brands to become certified and to use Certified Humane Raised and Handled® ingredients in their products.

The SafeSourceIt™ Global Supplier Database contains all suppliers that are Certified Humane Raised & Handled and we encourage others to follow this model. For those companies that are found guilty of cruelty in factory framing practices or violate the laws that are there to protect our livestock, they will be eliminated from our database and not allowed to participate in events for our customers.

Please contact a SafeSourcing customer service representative to learn more about our risk free sourcing trial program.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Is your message just not sticking?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

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

Do you find yourself repeating the same message over and over again to certain people, and it still doesn’t seem to give you the results you are looking for? You are not alone, but some small adjustments in your language can change the game.

I can typically see the failure of an outcome before anything is discovered. Why you ask? It all starts with the language used to request and set goals for projects. The following four tips will assist your language to get the desired results.

“Yes, but…”- This is an annoying game, and it almost is a competition with all the different scenarios and things to consider. BUT you need to point something out that is not being considered! Use “and” instead of “but”. When your coworker says, “I will execute the contract by tomorrow,” instead of “Yes, but I need to review before it is sent over,” say, “Yes and I need to review before it is sent over.” It provides the information needed and avoids the argumentative competitive “Yes, but” game.

Just TRY– When using the word “try” you are setting grounds for failure. You either did or you didn’t. It is the difference in “I will go to the dry cleaners after work” and “I will try and go to the dry cleaners after work”. When you allow the word “try” to make it into a request it opens the door for failure and usually will resulted in just that, failure. Instead of saying “Try to get the report in by Friday,” say, “Get the report in by Friday.”

Setting Goals– Provide your coworkers with clear, concise, and measurable goals. “Start working on the spreadsheet.” How much do you really expect them to get done? By when? This is a vague and unmeasurable goal to reach. Instead say, “Complete section A and B of the spreadsheet by Tuesday.” This is easier for the receiver to understand and complete to the standards you request.

Set positive expectations– I am going to be brief on this one. This is pretty straightforward, and I am sure we have all heard some version of this. Expect failure and you will receive failure! Change your perspective and change the results. Positive outlook will show, and coworkers will want to delivery that positive outcome.

Here at SafeSourcing, we ensure we are always thorough, using language to get the desired results at all times. 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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