Archive for June, 2014

So just what is a Category Manager?

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Todays post is by  Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

The job postings have been in the Financial Services and the Pet Food retail area. Now, someone might point out that pet food is a category by itself within a number of retail verticals. With that said, it is also a category within a category killer format.

The good news is that many companies are getting to the point that they understand the benefit of having categories managed strategically. This takes into account the mix of the category within the scope of its contribution to the entire company from a financial, strategic and tactical perspective. It also requires specific business acumen that combines the jobs of the historical buyer, subject matter expert, marketing professional and financial business analyst. The position originated in retail but continues to evolve into many businesses with certification and education programs to support the skill sets required.

According to Wikipedia, Category management is a retailing and purchasing concept in which the range of products purchased by a business organization or sold by a retailer is broken down into discrete groups of similar or related products; these groups are known as product categories (examples of grocery categories might be: tinned fish, washing detergent, toothpastes). It is a systematic, disciplined approach to managing a product category as a strategic business unit.

The question is, are your buyers acting as category managers, do they have the skill set to do so and if not, how efficient is your procurement department.

If you lack any of these skills on your team,  please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager to see how we can help elevate the performance of your procurement team.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Let’s play supplier poker!

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

If this were a real poker game, I’d raise our big supplier data versus your existing supplier data.

Locating, managing and updating supplier information that companies choose to do business with has never been more difficult. How many companies that you used to do business with 4-5 years ago are no longer in business? How many new companies have taken their place? I already know the answer you are going to give me. It’s I don’t know.

We keep hearing about big data. With new regulatory requirements emerging daily, economies failing, the supply chain shrinking in some places and expanding in others,  changing  safety factors and  environmental factors ( think LEEDS), detailed supplier information and traceability are but a few of the issues that require regular maintenance in order to mitigate a company’s risk.

Solution Providers like SafeSourcing that provide supplier databases (SafeSourceIt™) that are part of automating the procurement process, need to step up and make sure that their data support these changes on a regular basis to the greatest extent possible by providing tools that interacts with both regulatory agencies and suppliers to insure consumer safety and environmental impact as more new sources of supply and new products enter the supply chain on a daily basis.

Actions that solution providers can take should include but are not limited to:

1. Monitor daily alert data as to product recalls and safety warnings.
2. Trace warnings back to the original source of supply automatically and maintain history.
3. Require that suppliers meet certain safety certifications in order to participate in their database.
4. Require that suppliers meet required environmental certifications or programs in order to participate in their database
5. Provide a regular purge of suppliers that do not comply with necessary standards.
6. Validate the entire database regularly for companies no longer in business
7. Adhere to a strict RFI process for new suppliers requesting participation in their database.
8. Provide a rating system for suppliers that are offered to companies as new sources of supply.
9. Monitor regulatory agencies such as ISO for new standards and include them as further requirements in supplier databases.
10.Conduct on going category research for evolving sources of supply.
11.Compare your best customers GL to your database for additions deletions.

Ask your solution provider what their process is to grow manage and maintain their supplier database for your benefit.

If you’d like more information on the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database of over 427,000 cleansed global sources of supply, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Redefining heroics

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

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

Dale Carnegie advised us in 1934 that we should be “Hearty in our approbation, and lavish in our praise”. And we are, of the people who save the baby from the burning building, divert tragedy, or run ultra-marathons. These individuals do deserve our admiration to an extent, but we need to be careful not to overemphasize the more visible accomplishments to the extent that we de-incentivize the small wins.

If management is pushing productivity through an organization, leadership is pulling from in front. But leadership doesn’t have to be 1 man or woman pulling an entire organization up the mountain. It takes a chain of linked individuals, each pulling everyone forward in great and small things to create success across an organization. However, the culture of the optimal organization is not to point to the top rungs and say “be THAT guy”, because we don’t need 2 CEO’s, we need people who take ownership and create value in every position of the company. But how many times have we had people go above and beyond in the small things that had a profound impact on our personal or professional life and never given them the praise they deserved? Or worse, how has it effected you when someone only gives marginal or poor effort, because the tasks they’re working on aren’t praised in their organization no matter how well they are done?

When we make leadership into something bigger than ourselves, we give ourselves an excuse to not take responsibility for the profound ways our actions affect other people. We all have had experiences where someone’s “small” act has had a profound impact in our lives, for good or bad. Don’t forget to praise their investment in you or your organization, or learn from their mistakes.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team in being a savings hero for your ortanization, 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.

Thermal Printing vs Inkjet Printing

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

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

Recent Institute of Medicine report entitled “Preventing Medication Errors” cites that medication errors harm 1.5 million people and kill several thousand each year in the United States, costing the nation at least $3.5 billion annually. Because of such wide-spread drug errors, hospitals have made the implementation of automated bedside administration systems a top priority. Within a majority of the bedside automation system is a thermal barcode printer.

Thermal label printers are ideal for bar code printing because they provide an accurate, high quality image. Thermal printers are engineered to print within tight tolerances. There are two types of thermal label printers; direct thermal printing and thermal transfer printing.

Direct thermal printing uses chemically treated heat-sensitive media that blackens when it passes under the thermal printhead. Direct thermal printers have no ink, toner, or ribbon. Because there is no ribbon, direct thermal printers cost less to operate than inkjet, laser, impact, and thermal transfer printers.

Thermal transfer printing, a thermal printhead applies heat to a ribbon, which melts ink onto the material to form the image. The ink is absorbed so that the image becomes part of the media. This technique provides image quality and durability that is unmatched by other on-demand printing technologies. Thermal transfer printers can accept a wider variety of media than direct thermal models, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene materials. Thermal transfer printers can create extremely durable wristbands, asset tags, and certification labels, in addition to common labels, tags, and tickets.

So, what is the cost difference between laser and thermal labels?

Overall, the average list price for a thousand laser labels is $40.00 and $30.00 for thermal labels. Laser printers have an additional $10-15 per thousand labels in toner costs. However, the thermal label printers cannot provide the multiple functions that your laser printer may be providing.

Do you currently purchase labels for your laser printer and want to look into another solution, such as thermal labels? Let SafeSourcing help analyze your current spend, the capital investment, and future savings for switching equipment and products.

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.

Babies and Procurement

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

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

Some say that becoming a parent is the greatest, most rewarding thing you can ever do. While I agree, I am also well aware that it is the most trying times financially. The average cost of raising a child in the United States from birth to age 18 is $241,080, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. I doubt that number includes things like braces, injuries, or extracurricular activities over the years; it is also based on the child leaving the house at age 18. This number is also based on public school education, and a family income of less than $60,000 per year.

So, where does this leave parents who only have one income? Bargain shopping, couponing, and putting off expenses until the very last day possible. It poses the question of what is absolutely necessary and what is not? If it is not absolutely necessary then it is left on the store shelf. They find ways to make their own baby food, finger paint, and sometimes even baby wipes.

However, for the things you cannot make, most of us shop around for the best deals. We look at the value of what we are getting for the money we are spending. Questions often come up like, “How long will this last? Can we reuse it again?” These questions also come up in businesses too. What is the best deal? Who can provide what we need in the most cost efficient way possible?

We, at SafeSourcing can help answer these questions to see if your company can improve on unnecessary spending. 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 your comments.

Dad STILL Wasn’t Wrong About Too Much

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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

Last year I wrote a blog about Father’s Day and this year it means all the more to me so I have decided to refresh and repost it again this year.  I have enjoyed another year of my Father’s sage advice and wisecrack jokes and have graduated from normal Skype to video Skype which has been even better than I could have imagined.  As I reflect on this day it makes me think of all the advice that fathers, mine and millions of others, have given their children over the years and how simple the ideas are and yet at the same time how powerfully applicable to the business world we all live in every day.

In today’s blog I want to go back to some of that advice and see how much value still stands in concepts that are so simple.

If you keep doing the wrong things it WILL catch up with you – So many procurement departments have begun and are being run based on practices and principles that are not only not sound but are potentially damaging to the company.  Having weak supervisory controls for buyers, no or poor management of the company’s contracts, and not researching the background of your suppliers are all things that can leave an organization vulnerable.  Like living without auto, home or medical insurance, in time it will catch up with you even if it has been years since anything bad came as a result.

Treat people as you expect to be treated – The procurement space can be brutal.  Suppliers are trying to deliver value and make money; customers are trying to get as much value as possible while controlling costs.  These two things can often create clashes and tension as both sides work to get the things they want out of a business relationship.  The key that comes here is to remember that the same suppliers you are beating up on price will be the same ones you are asking for rush service and special assistance on down the road.  Creating partnerships with the best value and cost is the goal.  Everyone is a supplier and everyone is a customer at some level and applying this simple advice can help forge the greatest value for your company.

Plan your work; work your plan –  I have heard this advice over the years from many people I have admired and respected.  It is simple and encompasses everything that best sourcing projects need in two pieces.  1.  Plan the work (create the project); this involves research and a knowledge of what you are going after that goes beyond a 15 minute Google search.  It means researching the market, indexes, new technologies and trends, new suppliers and new government regulations that may affect your goals.   Knowing your category allows you to plan the work with measureable milestones teams can follow and be a part of.  2.  Work the Plan you have created with little exception.  Once you have created the plan for the project, stick to the timelines and employ leverage where you need it to keep projects moving.  Everyone is always going to be overloaded with work, so if you are not the one working your plan every day you will be replaced in our people’s priorities by someone else who is.

Don’t spit in the wind and don’t take any wooden nickels –  I will be honest, I still have no frame of reference by which to link these sage pieces of advice back to the world of procurement, but they both still seem like really, really good ideas.

We, at SafeSourcing, hope your Father’s Day was full of great memories and happy times!  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 your comments.

American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Manager of the Center of Excellence and Project Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc., Heather Powell had been very active in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  Relay for Life events are a gathering of communities that come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has already taken too much. The funds raised truly make a difference in the fight against cancer, and typically stay in local American Cancer Society locations. Relay for Life teams camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park, or fairground. Events are up to 24 hours long, and because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times.

Heather had been active as the team captain of Team Gabby’s Angels, in honor of her Mother, as Entertainment Chair in 2009, and in 2010 she was the Event Chair Person.  From 2008-2012 Team Gabby’s Angels was in the top 5 teams of each year’s event, having raised money for the American Cancer Society.

relay for life

Since 2013, as a caregiver to her mother Heather could not participate in the Relays concentrating on her mother’s health.  She recently lost her mother who battled colon cancer for 11 years and her paternal grandfather who lost his 4 year fight of cancer, both died on the same day. 

So, this Friday June 13th, Heather will again put on her walking shoes and participate in the Springfield/Clark County Ohio Relay for Life. She will walk the Survivor Lap, and participate in the Celebration Ceremony- a Relay event for survivors celebrate what they’ve overcome. Heather is in her 18th year of surviving cancer. She will walk during the dusk Luminary Lap and participate in the Remembrance Ceremony- to remember people lost to the disease, and honor people who have fought or are fighting cancer. The path is illuminated with paper luminaries with Names to remember or honor loved one.  Heather will participate in the Fight Back Laps and participate in the Fight Back Ceremony-   inspires Relay participants to take action against a disease that has taken too much. This year Heather will walk with and for her family with no team or fundraising, however next year she will again form Gabby’s Angels and with family, friends, and co-workers pick up the spirit and fight against all types of cancers!

For more information about the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and how you can help, create or support a team, or donate your time, money, or resources, please visit: http://www.relayforlife.org/

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Maybe we really are making progress!

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Today’s post is from Ronald D. Southard, CEO of SafeSourcing Inc.

As many of our readers are aware, we post regularly regarding social responsibility. A significant area of social responsibility   is  a companies’ efforts to reduce their total carbon foot print. Most recently this author offered a post titled Corporate Social Responsibility on March 11th of this year.

It was a pleasure for today when I was reading the Wall Street Journal to see the headline 72% Share of S&P 500 companies that published sustainability reports last year which was attributed to The Governance and Accountability Institute. According to the article this number is up significantly in the last 3 years from 20% in 2011. Great News!

Now if we can just get the public to support these companies by making sustainability a significant part of a company’s annual results through Triple Bottom Line accountability we might actually have something. To learn more about TBL visit our post titled How should companies determine today’s true value? Part I of III or visit Wikipedia’s definition.

Pay it forward and Support companies that support our environment.

If you’d like to learn more about our efforts at SafeSourcing to vett suppliers on your behalf that support your CSR initiatives, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

 

 

Customize What You Do

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Today’s post is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

Many of us have heard the popular phrase, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” No, coming to work dressed as Batman doesn’t count, but the underlying idea is the same. You should customize what you do, based on where you want to go.

I recently read about the popular snack brand, Cheetos, and I was not surprised to learn that the brand is available in 36 different countries. I was, however, surprised to learn how much the snack is altered for cultural preference in order to succeed. For example, in Japan the snack comes in a Zesty Japanese Steak flavor. In China, they have a Strawberry Cheetos flavor.

My take away from that article was about how each and every thing your business does, should be tailored to the results you want. This means doing the research of the areas you want to start doing business and asking the questions like, “What are the cultural preferences here? Will my product or service succeed as-is or should it be more customized?”

The first step toward understanding how to customize your business for success, is first to know the specifications you are working with. When you know everything that is involved with your product, you can be more aware of what could be improved or customized for greater success. One you know those specifications, then the next step is sourcing the things you need to make your product the most sensational it can be.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help source what you need to customize your product or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Reflections and Milestones

Monday, June 9th, 2014

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

As I celebrated my 44th birthday yesterday, it occurred to me that birthdays and other life events like, weddings, funerals, graduations all seem to be common checkpoints to evaluate the project we call “life.”  We evaluate how far we’ve come, remember certain successes and look forward to what is still yet to come.  In so many ways the evaluation of the long term processes and projects run in the procurement world need those same types of checkpoints to evaluate the progress and to make adjustments where needed.  Today we will look at some of the things that should be done during these times.

Sweating the small stuff – I can honestly say yesterday, when reflecting back on 44 years of life, that I could not remember one time when I stressed over a little mistake or some perceived problem I had at work.  Oh they happened, many of them, but my brain decided to filter out and store only the important pieces of experience.  If only we could employ this same mentality on our procurement projects.  There is a goal and that goal has milestones and tasks that need to be accomplished but there will be challenges.   Specifications that change and need to be updated, suppliers that choose to be difficult, business owners that change direction for the spend are all things that happen but that need to be overcome quickly and with as little stress as possible so that the eventual goal, the value add, the savings, the new supplier, the one piece that WILL be remembered can be achieved.

Enjoy and recognize the progress – Business moves fast and business practices, especially in the United States, come with high expectations.  As much as we sometimes try to act like it in our business and personal lives, we are NOT machines!   We need gratification and confirmation that what we do and who we are is important.  Build it into your business processes and projects to recognize when your teams do well.  Your owners, suppliers, internal customers and peers will have no problem letting you know when you haven’t succeeded so take some time and enjoy when you do.

Evaluate and Adjust goals – When I was 10 years old I wanted to be a train conductor because that was what my dad was, an engineer.  Many people were amused when I told them my Mechanical Engineer dad drove trains.  When I was 16 I thought I wanted to be a doctor and by the time I graduated from college I was a journalist who knew how to write software.  The point is that my goals changed.  I planned accordingly and set out to meet the goals I set but periodically I had to checkpoint my life to see if there were any factors that were influencing the success of those goals, and decide if changes to those factors need to be changed or did the end result I was reaching need adjusted.  Purchasing Standard Operating Procedures need this same type of review.  Factors will influence the expected outcome that either must be changed themselves or the expected outcome or timeframe adjusted to accommodate the new factors.  This can only be done if the checkpoints are used to honestly evaluate the progress rather than plowing forward with blinders on coming to the end saying “What happened?”

Time and the world will change and it will change your SOPs and projects and require points to evaluate where you came from and where you are heading.  For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you with these changes 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.