Archive for March, 2014

Is an RFI your solution to the legacy product headache?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

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

How much does early upgrading cost you each year? There once was a day when products lasted years, and there was little visible change in many industries. However, with slight changes in technology these days, the product which lasted years becomes obsolete. We have become used to this message from service providers handing over our older, operable product and our cash in exchange for assurances that the new product would be supported while the old would not. Certainly, it is often time to move to newer equipment along with everyone else in the industry, but do companies really have you in mind when they force an upgrade? Are you happy with your equipment which seems to last like a quality product should, but can’t afford for it to be out of service for any period of time when it does fail? If so, you are in a tough position if your long-standing service provider tells you the equipment has reached End of Life. There are probably excellent service providers who still offer support to your product. Finding one and being assured that the transition will not cost you more than just going with the flow can be tough. A simple way to address this may be with a Request for information (RFI).

Put simply, we here at SafeSourcing

• Identify vendors from our SafeSourceIT supplier database
• Derive questions from our knowledge of the industry
• Use our systems to provide the best execution in a timely manner

The RFI then sets you up for a successful Request for Quote (RFQ) in which the vendors, who are now qualified, can bid on a service that has been well defined. The result is often a short list of vendors who you can then interview to see which one best fits your company culture. You can award business not based on merely price, but with confidence that your new service provider is well suited to deliver the services they bid on in the RFQ. This entire process can easily pay for itself in a few months in which your legacy hardware remains in service instead of heading for an eRecycling bin ahead of its time.

Contact a customer service representative here at SafeSourcing at 1-888-261-9070 to find out how we can help you address your legacy hardware needs.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

SafeSourcing’s entire Software Suite is a CLOUD based SaaS solution family.

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

It’s a brave new world and changing every day. Solutions take less time to get to market due the open source alternatives to traditional development methodologies. The fact is you simply do not need the IT staff from the past to develop and support applications today. And that is why you can buy what you need  when you need it for less than any other company in the procure to pay space from SafeSourcing. If you want to run a single project or automate your entire procurement function, let’s talk.

SafeSourcing recently released our Procure to Pay Suite of applications under the SafeSourceIt™ banner as follows.

1. SafeSourceIt™ eRFX tools including Reverse Auctions
2. SafeSurvey™
3. SafeContract™
4. SafePO™
5. SafeCatalogue™
6. SafeSourceIt™ Global Supplier Database
7. SafeSourceIt™  Product and Services Specification Library

All of the above solutions are offered as a SaaS based cloud offering and can stand alone or function as a sophisticated integrated solution. Customers can buy and use what they need when they need it at the lowest costs in the industry

If you’d like to learn more about our tools or our customers please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What does it mean when a holiday also becomes a brand such as St. Patrick’s Day

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

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

What began as a religious feast day for patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival. We celebrate with parades, food, dancing, parties and GREEN!

St. Patrick’s Day has become associated with green, gold, shamrocks, luck, and Irish food dishes. With every holiday there are items and themes associated with them, but it does not stop at holidays.

Companies have a brand, and establishing the brand may be the easiest part. How do you sustain the brand and cut cost is the question? Your customer is your judge and knowing your customer base is important in this process. When you are purchasing a product, this will effect what your company will be associated with.

When sourcing a product or service, and possibly selecting a new vendor, many questions and concerns come to mind.

  • What is the sustainability of this company?
  • Will the quality be to your company’s standards?
  • Is the product helping your companies “green” initiative?

When running an eProcurement event, it may be a concern how these things will be handled. How can you capture this information online? SafeSourcing has many tools to capture information about the companies experience and overall value to your company. We understand price alone is not the final deciding factor. Let us “meet” with potential customers through an online RFI/RFP. We also have the ability to facilitate samples from select suppliers to keep your company’s brand to the standards you expect.

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.

March Madness Lessons

Monday, March 24th, 2014

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

This time of year sports enthusiasts are treated to one of the greatest stretches of excitement as the Men’s NCAA College Basketball Tournament gets underway.   As 66 teams full of young players put everything they have on the line to win their games, we as spectators get to enjoy some of the greatest moments in sports history.  Of equal importance to fans are the bracket challenges where the object is to correctly pick the outcome of each game in the tournament.  There are all sorts of strategies I have heard of how people select their pools from in-depth research to the color of a team’s jersey.  In today’s blog we will be looking at some of the common traits found in most successful bracket selections and how those concepts can be applied to selecting your next sourcing projects.

Low hanging fruit: The #1 Seeds– When laying out the strategy for upcoming sourcing projects one of the first tasks for success is to go through and get the quick easy projects lined up and executed first.  Like going through and selecting the #1 seeded teams in a bracket challenge, this locks in quick wins with good results and creates positive energy about the strategy right away while more time can be invested in researching and developing the plan for the more complex selections. 

Taking risks: The Cinderellas– As with any selection process there will be times when certain risks must be taken.  These may be sourcing projects that have a lower spend, few available suppliers, critical categories to the business or recently negotiated deals.  These projects may pan out and deliver great results and are the ones that from time to time should have a chance taken on them so that the department does not get so focused on the easy and safe projects that potential value slips through the cracks.  Risk is only good, however, in moderation because too much risk quickly becomes recklessness and leads to a poorly structured foundation of choices that will not lead to long-term success.

Using the stats: Let the Data Talk – Once the first few rounds of project selections have been made it requires some additional time and attention to detail to go after the next projects.  These are projects that are not as straightforward and are the decisions that should be worked on while the low hanging fruit is being executed so that the momentum of that first set of successes is not lost.  When analyzing these decisions it is important to look at what is being done everywhere.  Research the market to find out if other companies are taking paper products out to market and the level of success they are having.  Are there any recent updates for the company or industry which would improve or decrease the success of a potential selection?  Dig into how a category has been sourced in the past few years.  What was learned about previous strategies that worked and that didn’t?

Sourcing project selection is obviously a much more complex and important process than filling in a tournament bracket but the concepts of selecting your easy projects first to get momentum, taking some risks occasionally and using the data to point you in the right direction are good concepts that still apply.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist with project slection 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.

Don’t Overpay for Office Supplies

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

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

You may or may not know this, but the standard internet price for office supplies is overpriced. With the following ways below, you have the opportunity to obtain an optimal amount of savings.

Price: Ultimately, the standard internet price still has quite a bit of a markup for Office Supplies, especially Office Furniture. Request for Proposals and Request for Quotes can help drive down the price to make sure you are receiving the best price possible. The higher the quantity and total spend, the more savings Office Supply companies will be willing to give you.

Account Conversion Incentives: Many companies will offer an additional savings to either gain or even maintain the business. If the current incumbent feels threatened that you could potentially take your business elsewhere, they may be willing to provide you additional money to stay with them. The more of the opportunity at stake and the longer contract term, the more incentives that will be offered to you.

Category Discounts/Market Baskets: Collecting Category Discounts and Market Baskets are other additional ways to achieve further savings on top of the other two ways above. One benefit of Category Discounts and Market Baskets is that these percent off savings can be applied to additional items, not part of your current general ledger, purchased in the future.

Here at SafeSourcing, we can help ensure you receive significant savings with your Office Supply needs. The average savings can be anywhere from 10% to 20%, and can be even greater as well depending on the items and/or total spend. 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.

Are you bragging about your eProcurment experience like you do when you experience other new technologies?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

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

What would be the response of people around you at a party if you had on a pair of Google Glasses (You may have to Google these)?  While chatting around the water cooler?  People would want to try it for themselves.  They would also be asking you what they were and how they benefit you.  Though not a pair of high-tech glasses, eProcurement is still a technology that many people in business have not yet tried.  Whether you were the purchaser or the seller, wouldn’t people want to hear about such an experience?

The thing about technology is that you will learn something from the experience and someone else will learn something entirely different many times; you both benefit when you share.  There are all sorts of ways you can benefit from bragging about your eProcurement experience besides getting the conversational floor for a few minutes.

  1. New products – Your friends and coworkers will certainly have ideas for products on which your company could benefit from eProcurement.
  2. New ways your company could benefit – The people around you could be the impetus for you bringing products from your indirect spend into the eProcurement world opening your company up to new avenues of supply, and building new relationships.
  3. Saving money – Would you like to realize a 10x return on your investment?  Who wouldn’t?  If you have taken part in an eProcurement event as a seller, why wouldn’t you take part in one as a buyer?

Technology does not have to be as new chronologically such as Google Glass to cause a stir.  Technology just has to be new to whomever hasn’t tried it before.  We all like new things and we all like saving money.  Why not brag about your last eProcurement experience next time the subject of business as usual comes up in your world.  Everyone involved will benefit.

We at SafeSourcing would love to take part in making eProcurement a larger part of your sourcing strategy.  We have an entire customer service team who can assist you.  Call our customer service line at 888-261-9070 to find out more.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Creating our own limitations.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

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

Opportunities to learn are everywhere, but can be used either to improve or damage your capabilities. For example, any married couple knows it’s not easy to have two flawed individuals share life together. However, even in less than ideal situations, there are opportunities to learn that you will never get anywhere else other than a situation where someone’s soul is bared to you in ways neither individual can hide from. There will be opportunities to learn how others think and operate, and to discover your own biases and shortcomings. However, there will also be opportunities to hide your insecurities, deny your flaws, blame shift, and stubbornly hold fast to your own LIMITATIONS. This is typically what people do when meeting viewpoints different from their own: We get defensive, myopic, and squander an opportunity to better ourselves.

Whether we like it or not, character traits like humility, and work ethic, will profoundly influence how well we perform our professional activities. No one promoted this fact more heavily than the author of “The 7 habits of highly effective people”.

Stephen Covey proposed that maturity is a continuum from least to most mature by the steps of Dependence (reliance on others), to Independence (reliance on self), to Interdependence (Independently chosen reliance on others, to accomplish cooperatively what we cannot independently). This is counterintuitive because we typically think of Independence as being the most mature, in the form of the lone wolf leader, or the maverick who does things “his/her way”. But the truth is it’s far more difficult and beneficial to assume someone else might know something you don’t. By definition, this means you have to let other people make decisions out of their unique perspective and expertise that you WOULD NOT, or else you’ll always be LIMITED by your own understanding, and no organization will ever be all it can be without utilizing the collective expertise of the group.

Are your limits strictly determined by how hard you work? How fearless you are? How smart you are? What if you’re limiting yourself by making assumptions about how much value other individuals or organizations can contribute to your business? Do we have the strength of character to admit there are individuals or organizations that can perform certain tasks better than we can? Leaning on other’s expertise isn’t an insult to your capabilities; it’s a means of interdependent improvement.

There are variables in our lives we genuinely can’t control, and we shouldn’t want to, especially when it comes to learning through how we work and relate with other people. If we truly want to extend beyond our current limits, we have to allow external factors to force us to explore outside of our current paradigms, and deliberately chose to EXPAND, not LIMIT, our understanding through it.

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.

Making Your Own Luck – The Three “P”s

Monday, March 17th, 2014

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

I suppose it is appropriate that on St. Patrick’s Day we would post a blog about luck.   I was asked this weekend whether my company was hiring or if I knew anyone hiring.  In the course of speaking with a few people and hearing their approach to finding a job this statement was made “I guess right now I’m just not that lucky finding a job.”  I countered my belief that, to a large extent, you make your own luck.  You make it with how you prepare, how you pursue, and how you perform.  People don’t “luck” into jobs, promotions or successful sourcing events, they prepare, they pursue and they perform in a way that achieves what they want for an outcome.

Prepare – Through the years there have been many quotes from wise people concerning “luck” and preparedness but the one that seems to sum them all up was by Lucius Annaeus Seneca, an ancient Roman Philosopher, “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”   Opportunities will present themselves, other departments will approach procurement teams with new projects and the team that has been prepared by developing documentation, processes, and research, and how have made relationships with 3rd party strategic sourcing partners will be the ones that are prepared to take on the new opportunity and execute it in a way that builds on their reputation internally for getting things done and returns value to their company.

Pursue – The world we live in is quickly being handed over to generations of people who have been labeled as the “entitled to” group.  They expect they do not naturally value the effort it takes to be successful.  They send emails and expect to become a priority to someone.  They leave a message one day and wait days before following up.  They apply for a job and when they hear nothing they move on to the next posting.  They have an internal customer mention a sourcing project and wait until they hear back from that person before following up.  Everyone is busy.  One more time; EVERYONE is busy.  The only way to achieve the success that many people desire is to be the ONE person that works harder than anyone else to follow up on opportunities.  Pursue, pursue, pursue.  When a new sourcing project is mentioned internally, follow that up regularly until the project begins or the initial owner pulls it off the table.  People are busy and they will generally not have their work stopped in order to help procurement run a project correctly.  Dogged pursuit will bring many projects to life.

Perform – Preparedness and pursuit gets someone in the game, how they perform will determine the level of success they can expect from the outcome.  Performance will depend on how well a team follows their own processes and procedures for good procurement projects.  How well they pay attention to what they have learned from their research and how well they have learned from previous experience.  Performing well will determine how many more projects will come after the current one is completed.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist with the Three Ps 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.

The “Elephant” In Your Company

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Today’s post is from Alyson Usserman, an Account Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc.

We have all heard the saying, “the elephant in the room,” when referring to an awkward situation, but have you applied this strategy to your company?

Often times an awkward situation can arise socially and financially for a company. Usually, when an awkward situation arises within a company the first instinct to the employees is to ignore it. This approach has the potential to be detrimental to the company, especially when the upper echelons do not know that there is an internal issue.

Within your company the social atmosphere can be positive, upbeat, with a conductive energy for maximum productivity. But when this lags in the company the productivity can be affected by how happy your employees are. If the employees dread coming to work, seem unmotivated, and lacking then you may have an elephant to talk about. Addressing these issues within your company would be the best strategy to alleviate any issues. Scare tactics for the employees is not the best strategy because then your valuable employees that have a relationship with you will start leaving. When employees begin leaving you are then left to find replacements and working to figure out how to get the new employees trained while you still have a business to run and maintain.

The financial elephant that can be threatening your company is an extreme issue. If your employees are not happy and they are giving that over to the customers, then you will have unhappy customers that won’t come back. In conjunction with the unhappy employees they may not care if the company is successful or not. Meaning that they may not tell you about potential issues or red flags when it comes to the financials of your company.

These issues can turn your company down a path that it may not be able to come back from without help. SafeSourcing can help you determine the “elephants” in your company by using our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

I’m GREEN You’re GREEN! What does it really mean?

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

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

The word green has been thrown around for years and driven  even further  and more detailed discussion relative to companies desire to reduce their carbon footprint. This has touched every segment of industry from producers to users and in trades a wide ranging as construction to energy.

I’m sure the term global warming is not new to anyone any more. It might be humorous if Jay Leno (it’s too bad he is gone) conducted one of his street segments to get passersby to try and define the term. Many don’t even care what your company is doing about it or that you have adopted triple bottom line accounting methods either. In fact most definitions as mentioned above would likely center around the crazy weather we have all experienced the last several years. (Know Your Audience)

Here’s an opinion for you. If your company’s buyers are vetting your supply chain for their green initiatives in order to support your own initiatives, you might not be getting what you think you are. The fact that a supplier is certified in some particular area such as LEED or The Marine Stewardship Council and you do business with them does not automatically transfer that certification or greenness or the savings associated with the process to your company or the specific product or project the vendor is supporting.

As an example, I was recently reading the Conversation Starters section of the Arizona Republic. A small blurb by Anastasia Swearingen a research analyst for the Environmental Policy Alliance titled MIS-LEEDING GREEN REFORM indicated that a comparison of buildings that were LEED certified vs. those that were non LEED certified showed that LEED certification has no bearing on buildings energy efficiency.

SafeSourcing maintains the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database and constantly VETTS our suppliers to insure that your green standards are adhered to and deliver the benefits you expect them to as indicated in your terms and conditions and specifications.

If you’d like to learn more as to how SafeSourcing can assist your sourcing in support of your reduced carbon footprint initiatives, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.