Archive for August, 2014

Tools Your IT Team Needs!

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Today?s post is by Troy Lowe, Director of Development at SafeSourcing.?

Cloud based solutions are great because they allow you to organize all of your projects in one place.? There is no need to invest in expensive hardware or software and all updates are performed in the cloud, freeing up your employees to focus on what?s important within your organization. Once your account is setup, the infrastructure is in place to start working within minutes.

All of your data and source code are stored in the cloud, which makes it accessible anytime, anywhere.? This makes it flexible for your employees to work no matter where they are located.

Security is a big issue within organizations and cloud based solutions. These solutions have security measures to help protect your code and data.? In some cases, all communication between your computer and the service takes place over an encrypted HTTPS connection.

Things to keep in mind when you pick your solution:

? ? How much does the solution cost?
? ? How many users can access the solution?
? ? How much are additional licenses?
? ? How much storage is available?
? ? Are there any hidden fees?

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business get started with a cloud offering, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.? We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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The Procurement Specialist vs. The Saleswoman

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Today?s post is by Alyson Usserman? an Account Manager at Safesourcing

I have been SUV shopping for close to three months. I have researched, test driven, looked at, researched again, and I am still not ready to buy quite yet. There are so many lingering questions that need to be answered before I sign a contract for x amount of years.

This past week I test drove two SUVs that were virtually the same on the outside. However, the inside was extremely different. SUV A had Bluetooth, and heated seats; however, SUV A was an automatic. SUV B was not equipped with Bluetooth or a back-up camera, it had a standard black interior, but the most intriguing part about SUV B was the fact that it was a 6-speed Manual Transmission.

Most people do not know how to drive a manual transmission, which is fine, however I prefer the manual over the automatic especially in the awful Ohio winter. I can control the manual completely, how fast it?s going, which gear it is in on the ice.

I already knew I wanted the manual over the automatic any day. But then questions started coming up more frequently. Will this SUV be a good long term investment? Will my 17 month old son be safe? Will he have enough leg room in 10 years? Can I fit four teenage boys in it and comfortably? Can two car seats fit safely, what about three? The car saleswoman I was speaking to and expressing concern to, attempted to convince me that that SUV was the one I had been searching for! Of course she did, that is her job to sell cars whether she believes it will be a good fit or not. Without pre-existing knowledge of the industry, the top brands, and potential issues, I may have left with SUV A instead of the one I actually wanted.

Sometimes well-meaning sales consultants think that their product is the best out there. Some of them are right, and some of them are wrong. At SafeSourcing we dig beyond face value for our customers, we not only try to find the best price possible, but the best product for that price as well.

Let SafeSourcing help you find the products that your company needs. We have an entire customer service team that can help with your procurement needs.

We look forward to your comments

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The Importance of Subject Matter Experts

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Today?s post is by Michael Figueroa, Account Manager at SafeSourcing

Reaching out to vendors to obtain quotes or information is only as effective as the quality of specifications and requirements communicated. Variables such as size, quantity, color, material, mixture, function, distribution, configuration, integration, certification and compliance, or even unknown variables, can often times be readily identified by the individual with deep understanding of the product or service. Subject matter experts (SME) are often time the only link a procurement manager has within their organization to the processes that require the purchase.?

Having the wrong party involved
Getting buy-in from an internal resource who isn?t well-informed about how the product/service is to be utilized can undermine the value of a request for quote. Without the right understanding, a vendor can misinterpret specifications that leave too much open to interpretation. A SME with good insight can inform the process to keep the requirements in line with expectations.

Vendor referrals
Often times a SME will already have some preferred vendors in mind, and their referrals can be a great starting point to finding a full complement of vendors that can meet your needs. Furthermore, previously known vendors often work in the specialization that your SME operates within, and may be familiar enough with the industry to forge a smooth transaction.

Confirm what you know
Make sure to check what you learn from the SME with the information you have on previously purchased products, because a misunderstanding can be costly. Also, if you are bringing a new vendor to the table the SME may not always be on board with the change, even if it needs to happen. Make sure there are no conflicts of interest steering the project in the wrong direction.

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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What We Can Learn From Our Pets?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

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

This weekend I had a few incidents with my two dogs that made me stop and think about how some of our most basic behaviors in life and in business can be learned from little things.?? It should me how we hang onto things, we learn new tricks and we find out that covered up mistakes almost always get found out.

Not letting go? ? The first incident happened when one of my dogs would not let go of his favorite toy.? He had to go outside and he was going to get the toy back but he wouldn?t let go and finally the toy (it was an old one) ripped in half so instead of letting go of the toy and doing what he needed do in which case if he wanted it back he could have had it.? It reminded me of how strongly we hold to processes and relationships, refusing to let go for just a moment and examine the options, doing what we need to do, and then deciding whether we want to keep those things we hold onto.? Not letting go causes tensions and in some cases forces management to look at that process or relationship and ending or changing it so that the option of going back to it isn?t even there.

Learning new tricks ? With some time my other dog learned a new trick.? It was not something he ever knew how to do before but when he was able to do it, he got rewarded and we got a dog that was much more pleasant to be around.? New tricks are the way business advance and succeed.? They take time and effort but usually the effort benefits the team or process and the business itself.? Take for instance a process that requires a team to look at historical spend and vendor relationships and attacks a category in a new way that benefits the company and the supplier.? It takes time and it generally doesn?t happen on the first try but in the end it benefits everyone.

Covering up mistakes ? A friend of mine had purchased a cinnamon roll that she was planning on having early Sunday morning.? When she woke up her dog was hiding and walking around the house with his tail between his legs.? He had obviously done something wrong and was feeling guilty.? Then she found an empty container behind her couch and realized her dog ate her cinnamon roll.? She was upset, the dog felt bad and then the dog eventually got sick.? This typifies behavior in the business world in so many ways.? Mistakes happen but attempting to cover them up leads to guilt by the offender and prevents the business from being able to reduce the damage or correct the mistake in a timely manner.? Helping to prevent mistakes comes with putting processes in place that help protect your employs from making the mistakes to begin with but that also have checks and balances to ensure mistakes are caught early.? The worst thing you can do is place an unprepared employee in a situation where they are not closely monitored.? It almost always leads to the cover up situation.

For more information on how we can help you develop ?new tricks? or work with your procurement departments to development effective sourcing projects, 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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“Part II” Why don?t middle market retailers use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools?

Monday, August 18th, 2014

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

Please read yesterdays post first.This is part two from yesterdays blog post that end with the following statement. Expect pushback from two sources.

The first source is your own buyers or category managers. For some, it is the false belief that these tolls will eliminate their jobs. For others, it is the thought that in rising markets, buyers tend to be conservative in the hopes that their suppliers will continue to honor old contracts and delay price increases. Neither assumption is true. E-procurement tools make a buyer?s job easier as they can do more in less time such as working with dozens of suppliers versus only the same few. Honoring old contracts almost never happens. Ever-greening of contracts is a huge problem in retail where the lack of sophisticated contract management systems that provide automatic alerts results in hundreds of contracts auto renewing at predetermined price increases resulting in huge cost increases to retailers. That was not planned for. This is all the more reason to be thinking about your spend months before contracts expire even if it only results in cost avoidance.

The second area where you can expect pushback is from your incumbent suppliers or wholesale distributors. If you have never participated in the setup of a reverse auction and most middle market retailers have not, that initial call to your suppliers to ask them to participate in a reverse auction event is always an interesting journey. Be prepared for all of the reasons in the world why you should not waste your time on this type of process. The more forceful the pushback the more likely you are to see savings that you should have seen earlier. As such, although suppliers may b well aware of or even using this technology to reduce their costs, middle tier retailers were not able to share in these savings to the extent they should.

If middle market senior executives lead the charge and cost and the availability of new sources of supply is no longer an issue, there is no reason middle market retailers should not benefit greatly from running reverse auctions.

Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager in order to begin your successful approach to eProcurement today.

I look forward to your comments.

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(Part I) Why don?t middle market retailers use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools?

Friday, August 15th, 2014

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

This is part one of a two part blog. Part two will be published on Monday. For the purpose of this blog, we?ll call middle market retailers, those with sales of less than $2B annually.

Much the same as larger retailers, in the middle market prices are up and consumers are spending less. The impact to retailers in the middle market however may be far worse. So, what have been the roadblocks to middle market retailers using e-procurement tools to help fight competition from national and international chains as well as to insulate their earnings? Why in the world aren?t middle market retailers already running reverse auctions or using other e-procurement tools?

Let?s answer the last question first. Most of the major providers of e-sourcing or e-procurement solutions, particularly reveres auctions have either neglected or avoided the retail middle market. The primary reason for exclusion was that historically these solutions were not hosted and providers generally assumed that companies of this size would not have the infrastructure to support on site installations. As solutions evolved into hosted, on demand and Software as a Service implementations, the major providers could not or would not develop pricing strategies that were attractive to middle market retailers. For the middle market the major players partnered with third parties to deliver the solutions, which juts like the supply chain, the more players involved the more expensive the solution and as a result limited use.

Today there are newer lower cost solutions available to middle market retailers that will let them enjoy the benefits that larger companies have enjoyed for years. But, and it?s a big but. Expect pushback from two sources.

Please join us?on Monday?to find out where this pushback comes from. If you can’t wait, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager today.

I look forward to your comments

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So, just what is a retail market exchange?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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

Quite honestly this is a fairly complex question so the answer is not simple. To begin with let?s take a look at just what a market (retail) exchange is.

One of the earliest exchanges in the retail space was called the Retail Exchange which was sponsored by some very large retailers and is still available today from a company that bought the system from its retailer sponsors. As simply as possible, a? Market (Retail) Exchange? is a business to business or B2B E-commerce platform that allows Suppliers, Resellers, and their customers or buyers to offer, purchase and manage their goods and services in a simple and effective way. Typically an organization must be a member of the exchange in order to participate. Once a member the organization can then conduct business with other organizations by establishing on line connections with each other. Typically exchanges are a shared hosting environment and in some cases for very large companies dedicated server implementations. In recent years exchanges have migrated to SaaS or software as a service models in order to address wider markets.

The success of an exchange is based on the number of suppliers or resellers that belong to it and their willingness to participate with a retailer for their business. The activity is more of hands off approach once your offer is posted that can include punch outs to a supplier?s website and catalog services for sourcing of products.

From my perspective I like the personal touch of the historical RFX process in the form of a SaaS full service offering that actively engages new sources of supply and sells them on wanting your business.? There is a much smaller investment from both a financial and resource perspective. If you want to learn more about the RFX process please visit SafeSourcing Blog archive or the SafeSourcing Wiki.

If you’d like to learn more about how SafeSourcing can assist you in the complex world of eProcurement, please contact a Safesourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Back to School?Already?

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

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

For many parents, this is may be the most wonderful time of the year. It is time for school to start. It may not necessarily be that parents enjoy seeing their young ones bussed out of the house and off their hands to learn for a large portion of the day, although some may, but rather that this time of year indicates a return to normalcy. Vacations are wrapping up, the busy summer schedule is simmering down, and the focus on the daily grind of the next ten months is back to priority.

So, what does back to school have to do with business, or even procurement? First, I can vouch for an increase in traffic on my morning commute when the school season starts. More people are out doing the things they need to do because business season is back on full-time.

As strange as it sounds, the return to school also marks the beginning of the holidays. Even though Thanksgiving isn?t for another three months and Christmas another four, now is the time to start preparing. Many companies must bring on more staff and it takes time to get the new hires properly trained. For those in retail, the start of the school year brings an increase in sales in addition to the upcoming needs of the holiday season. They must start planning and procuring now for what they will need later.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business plan for the new school year or source for the upcoming holidays 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.

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Market Basket Sourcing alone is old school and does not drive the best results.

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

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

Market basket sourcing has been around for a long time. Most of us are familiar with a market basket as something we see or use in a supermarket. Every market basket is made up of different items and different quantities of items based on the needs or desires of the individual consumer. The majority of the mix is based on use both planned and historical.

If we are talking about the consumer price index, that is determined by a fixed market basket that is made up of commonly purchased items across many consumer market baskets. In fact almost no consumer market basket ever matches or even comes close to matching these market baskets. As such it is the uniqueness of individual market baskets that should concern business owners when they develop their sourcing strategy.

Understanding the unique characteristics of products and their relationship to other products is key to understanding how to source those products. Just as retailers look at the their top deciles of customers and try to figure out how to get better wallet share from these groups by understanding the mix of the products they buy; businesses can look at the top deciles of the goods and services they buy to conduct their business and figure out how to get a better price for the items used most frequently. A market basket approach to sourcing where everything is lumped together will not accomplish the compression goals set in a companies sourcing strategy.

Sourcing based on the top deciles within a particular product category on an item by item basis not only drives the best compression, it also creates data relative to products and services where incumbents or awarded suppliers are not competitive. This data is extremely useful in setting next cycle strategies.

Sourcing using market baskets combined with sourcing based on deciles will achieve the best results. To learn more please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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So you think you can do it yourself and do it better than an e-procurement service provider?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

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

That is if you want to drive the greatest possible savings across the broadest range of categories in the shortest amount of time; and have a sustainable process moving forward.

The question one needs to ask is; what type of event services does my e-procurement provider offer? If your company is deciding to try self service, which is to be 100% self-sufficient, you need to know if your provider offers readily available classroom education that can be conducted on-site in order to train your team in all the nuances of event creation and support. These skills are the foundation that allows e-procurement providers to support large volumes of events in a full service mode, which drive greater savings over the long term. Knowledge transfer in this area is one thing; the passion, skill and headcount to carry out these practices on a day by day basis are what drive results.

Typically event services falls into two broad categories:

1. Event management
2. Event monitoring and support.

Event management provides end to end e-sourcing support that begins with a companies overall strategy and ends with the actual execution of the e-procurement event. This is a true cross category effort that includes a rather lengthy list of services that may include buyer training, supplier selection, category discovery, supplier communication, data analysis and the overall strategy for taking a specific category to market including timing, training and overall supplier expectation management.

Event monitoring and support is actually the tactical implementation of the over all e-procurement event management process. This may include all communications with suppliers on the day of an event including making sure they have access to the system, get logged in properly, don?t have problems placing quotes, monitoring supplier and buyer system communications techniques during an event such as notes and texting and being available post event for questions as needed.

These services are normally provided by people behind the scenes with a very specific skill set. If you plan to do self service it would be very wise to make sure you have them covered at the same quality level.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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