Archive for October, 2014

Ebola

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

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

I am sure I am not the only one a little worried here. Ebola is in the United States and not only has someone been diagnosed with it, but now someone has contracted it here in the States. Is the CDC prepared? Do we have the correct personal protection equipment to protect the nurses, doctor, paramedics, hospital staff, and anyone everyone else?

Many articles online state, “You should not be worried; it is highly unlikely you get infected.” If this does spread and become a bigger issue, are we prepared? Being prepared for an emergency small or big is crucial in the success of running a nation, and even a business.

Is your business prepared for an emergency?

Your biggest fear within the business is probably not Ebola, but what about a tornado, fire, or data breach? Providing emergency planning information to employees so they know what to do if there is an emergency and are prepared for the worst is usually missed by companies. Even if there is an emergency plan, does everyone required to execute it, understand it? Include emergency information in newsletters, on your company intranet, and train all employees for proper protocol.

Prepare for Utility Disruptions

Businesses require water, electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, sewerage, and other utilities. You should plan ahead for extended disruptions during and after a disaster. Evaluate options such as portable generators for backup power and strategies to deal with interruptions of other utilities.

Natural Disaster

When your office or store-front suffers a disaster and the building is exposed, you will need to have protocol on protecting the valuables (money, merchandise, etc.). You will want to call in a professional to temporarily cover the damage to avoid risk to customers and protect valuables. In addition, call a security guard on-site until the damage is repaired. You are at risk when your building is exposed at all times during the night. 

Security Breach

Protecting your electronic data and information technology systems may require specialized expertise, but even the smallest business can be better prepared. Protect networked computers with firewalls, install anti-virus software, and keep software up-to-date. Back up your computer data off-site.

These are only a few of the disasters to be prepared for. Having the right equipment and suppliers ready to service you when needed is important in an emergency. If you do not have a contact for security guards, emergency disaster maintenance, and equipment readily available, you are not ready for an emergency.

Let SafeSourcing help you gather the suppliers and equipment you need to be prepared. We will make sure you are prepared for any disaster and provide reliable suppliers to meet your needs.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

There is much ado about new retail supplier or vendor scorecards.

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

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

Do you remember bringing home your report card from school as a child and maybe even receiving an early warning that you were having problems a couple of weeks before the actual report card arrived. You worried and worried but ultimately it took you just a minute to view it and determine if you were in trouble when you got home or not. Some parents even gave rewards for good performance. These were your first look at scorecards. They were simple, easy to react too and easy to measure against over time.

The first goal of a supplier scorecard is to use the KISS method and keep it simple. Know what you are trying to measure and measure it. Don’t go adding things that have nothing to do with what your original goal was.

An example of a scorecard for a new supplier or vendor that was just awarded business from a reverse auction or other e-RFX event might include the following and not much more.

1. Objective Elements
2. Quality Elements 
3. Delivery Elements
4. Quote or Pricing Accuracy Elements

Unfortunately too many companies in attempting to simplify analysis create tools that support the phrase that a camel is a horse created by committee? The simplicity of the statement just emphasizes how ineffective a committee can be by having too many conflicting opinions that influence, grow or make unwieldy a potentially simple project like designing a new supplier or vendor scorecard.

Included in the four elements above for a new vendor are the following.

1. Did the award of business take place as described within the terms and conditions?
2. Did a contract get executed as described within the terms and conditions?
3. Were samples viewed, inspected and approved if required?
4. Did the supplier deliver the specification as bid?
5. Did the supplier deliver the product or service on time?
6. Did the supplier deliver the product or service at the price quoted?
7. did the product or service work as promised?

Don’t fall into the trap of measuring more than you need to. At the end of the day a score of 90-100 is still an A and a score of below 60 is an F. A quick look should still tell you if you are in trouble or not.

If you’d like to learn more about SafeSourcing’s dashboard and scorecards, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The Pros of Offering Educational Benefits for Employees

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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

In the modern business world of 2014, employee benefits play a huge factor when it comes to potential employment candidates, hiring, firing, and the overall company bottom line.

Potential employment candidates, as well as other established employees, are always looking to further themselves. You want your employees to maintain the “go getter” attitude that keeps them motivated and working for your company, but what drives this attitude? Of course ambition; that is a given, but if you offer incentive to keep learning, will they do so? If your employees continue their education, does it benefit your company as a whole? The answer is yes. Having employees that have multiple degrees can benefit the company greatly because, in theory, the employees should then take their learning from the classroom to the workplace and improve the company.

Educational benefits are becoming more common across the United States, but what are the potential ramifications? One of the largest issues that Forbes discusses is the fact that the employer puts monetary value on their employees, they invest in them. When the company makes an investment in their employees they are looking to reap the benefits of that investment. Many companies are offering educational benefits with “strings attached,” Basically forcing the employee to sign a contract that says, “if we, the company, pay for your education, you cannot take that knowledge elsewhere.” Many companies put minimum grade point average expectations, service requirements, and any other “strings” they can because they want to protect that investment from leaving to go to a different company.

SafeSourcing can help you lower your overall company spend so that way you are able to offer more employee benefits to attract more employees and can grow your company. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Don’t lose your well-earned eRFX savings by delaying your Letter of Intent or Contract execution.

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Today’s post is by Ryan Melowic Director of Special Projects at SafeSourcing

In today’s post, I will be reviewing some of the issues that could occur when a Letter of Intent (LOI) or a new Contract, doesn’t get executed efficiently after a successful eSourcing RFX. 

LOI or a Contract is delayed

When an LOI or a Contract is delayed, the savings identified in the RFX will not start accumulating until the first invoice from the new supplier or the incumbent supplier arrives post contract.  If a Contract is delayed, the RFX Host Company will have to pay the current contracts negotiated terms for products or supplies until the LOI and/or Contract is executed.  Depending on the volume of the items, it could equate to a lot of lost savings.

When RFXs aren’t awarded efficiently

One of SafeSourcing’s many service offerings is identifying historical categories to take to market.  Our goal is to create an RFX calendar that outlines future projects extending at least one year out. We then populate the calendar with past eRFXs that should be reruns due to previously negotiated contract expirations. We then identify upcoming potential spot purchases that are a result of our deep dive with our spend analysis tool into all category spending.  When RFXs aren’t awarded efficiently these rerun dates will change and as a result may cause future issues with the strategic selection of targeted dates for new RFXs. If you slip 5 months which we see way to often, and prices are headed up over 41% of your savings may be lost.

For more information on how we can help your business reduce spending and maintain savings or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

 

Twitter and the “Buy” Button

Monday, October 20th, 2014

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

Last month Twitter announced that its 270+ million users would be introduced in a limited rollout to their newest “buy” button feature allowing them to buy merchandise or donate money directly from a Tweet.  Users would have the capability to enter their payment information with Twitter before purchases allowing them a quick “one button” purchase that, once confirmed, will notify the merchant of the purchase for shipping or a donation for an automated email receipt.  With a base of more than a quarter of a billion potential customers actively using this channel it begs the question “What are you doing in your business to tap into new opportunities such as this?”

Talk to the experts – One of the best steps forward in exploring new sales channels and technologies is to speak with the experts.  The industry is full of social media and new technology marketing experts who are ready to assist companies.  They can help with developing strategies and explaining the new options companies have to go after markets they never thought were possible.  Beginning this exploration with a simple Request For Information project will allow you to look at who the leaders and niche players are and who can provide the best fit for your company.

Stay focused – Once there is an understanding of the options and strategies available the next step is to narrow down where to focus time, attention and money to get the best results.  For some companies, selling via Twitter would not make sense, but connecting to or starting a specialized group on LinkedIn to allow your customers to share their experiences with each other and their peers might.  The key at this stage is to remain focused and not chase every possible channel.  Some will fit, others will not, and some will fit better once the plan of action is under way.  Mini RFIs to understand each new option at this stage can also be an effective next step.

Coordinate efforts – One of the biggest killers to companies changing or expanding their marketing and sales approach is to send mixed messages about who the company is.  This happens frequently with companies attempting to employ new technologies that contain messages and imaging that not only do not parallel previously established branding, but in some cases directly conflict with it.   Make sure the team working with these new channels and technologies are engaged and managed just like any other marketing media and are telling the same story.  This may be the time to change that story to reflect a more current offering as long as it is consistent so as not to confuse customers of who the company is.

At SafeSourcing we have a vast amount of experience helping companies with their search for new marketing services and partners and have led many successful projects for our customers in this area.  For more information on 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.

Wow, what beautiful new refrigeration cases you have in your grocery store.

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Today, Ryan Melowic Director of Special Projects at SafeSourcing

Why companies need to add protection language in their agreements when purchasing new refrigeration cases for their stores.

I was at my favorite grocery store around four weeks back and noticed they had replaced all their refrigeration cases in their bakery.  It looked very nice and allowed all their bakery products to be displayed to customers when they walked in the door.  In fact, it made me want to purchase some fresh baked cookies.  When I returned back to work with the cookies I reached in the bag to grab one and it cwas a soggy mess.  Boy was I disappointed!  I had been purchasing these same cookies from this grocery store for years and never had an experience like this before.  It really made me think.  Here, this grocery store was attempting to replace their old equipment with newer and better equipment and  it back fires on them. 

Being concerned, I called the store and communicated my issues with the cookies.  They expressed to me that they were having issues with their new equipment and were sorry.  The grocery store said they would replace the cookies.  When I went back to the store a week or so later to get the replacements I asked the worker to please be sure that the cookies weren’t soggy.  The worker then went to the case to  and said oh my goodness these  cookies are  soggy too.  I felt really bad for this grocery store because they serve fine foods and I’d never had an issue like this before. 

Looking at the circumstances I knew what caused the issue, it was the new equipment cycling off during some period of time causing condensation to saturate the cookies.  Can you imagine if I were a new customer who had never purchased their cookies before?  This grocery store could well have lost a new customer.

The reason I share this story was with you is that when working with SafeSourcing, we are experienced with this category as well as hundreds of others.  We would have written protection language into the  statement of work agreement for the new refrigeration equipment.  The manufacturer and the installer would be responsible for insuring that the equipment was setup correctly.  There would not have been weeks of wasted bakery goods and any dissatisfied customers because of it.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you with your store equipment needs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.

Peak Fall Colors Mean Beauty for Some and Hard Work for Others

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

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

Are you prepared for falling leaves? Will you rake the leaves or mulch them? If you rake them will you bag them or rake them to the curb?

If you bag the leaves, does your solid waste removal company take them? Is there an extra charge? Does your solid waste company provide bags?

 fallcolors

Who knew there were so many choices regarding leaf disposal?

Many waste removal companies will take leaves, but it is best to call them and ask things like if there is an additional fee, if can they provide bags, if is there a maximum number of bags you are allowed, etc.

In Ohio for example, many of the waste removal companies partner with local grocery store chains and sell yard waste bags for $4.00-$5.00 each or a bundle deal of 5 bags for $20.00. By choosing this option there will not be an additional haul rate and that waste management company will pick it up regardless if you use them for your regular waste removal.

Another option to research would be to find out if your city has scheduled pick up days for the leaves to be “vacuumed” from the curb.  Usually they are held on certain days and have strict specifications about what they are picking up from your curb. Typically this service fee is included in your city taxes or HOA. You do not have to participate, but know that you are more than likely paying for a service hidden in your taxes or HOA fees.

Peak season is for much of the country is in a couple of weeks, and I intend to watch the leaves change their brilliant colors and then mulch them. However you dispose of your leaves, do so safely and smartly.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions 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.

 

Tools Your Business Needs

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe; Director of Development at SafeSourcing

As the popularity of smart phones has grown over the past few years, people are spending more and more time online.  With all of this traffic, wouldn’t it be nice to know what is being said about your company or the services you provide?

There are several online tools designed to help you do exactly that.  These tools are monitoring programs that alert you via email when there are hits on the keywords that you pre-define.  The results that you get back can be such things as web pages, blog posts, news stories, or anything else that is posted online.  The results are sent to you as links in an email that take you right to the discussion.  That makes it a fast and effective way to keep on top of what people are saying about your organization and your offerings.  The alerts are flexible and, depending on your schedule, they can be setup to notify you as they happen, once a day, or even once a week.

As well as keeping you informed about your business, you can also use the tools for other things, like keeping track of what your competition and customers are doing and keeping track of trends and stories in your related industry.  If you have any searches that you conduct on a regular basis, use these tools to automate that process for you.

Below are a few of the Web Monitoring Tools available.

Google Alerts:      https://www.google.com/alerts
Talkwalker Alerts:    http://www.talkwalker.com/en/alerts
Mention:     https://en.mention.com

For more information on sourcing tools and services like these, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Don’t Get Caught Without Transport This Winter

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Don’t Get Caught Without Transport This Winter

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

In a recent article from Inbound Logistics they covered ten tips companies should be taking advantage of to prepare for what the 2015 Edition of the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting to be another very tough winter for most of the country.   The article was a good one for logistics professionals to keep in mind with a few major points bubbling to the surface we will focus on in today’s blog.

Don’t wait – One of the big issues we, at SafeSourcing, saw with our clients wanting to source transportation services last year was that the ones that waited too long were faced not only with high rates, but in many cases, with no supply of equipment to their locations at all.  The weather was obviously at play here because of the inability for trucks to be on the road leading to a severe backlog of shipments, but another factor was that there were far fewer available drivers than ever before.  The retiring Baby Boomers did not help in this area and it is an issue that is likely to continue to get worse in the next 10-15 years.   If you are involved with sourcing logistics for your company, you should be looking at locking things down for your early 2015 needs today.

Create the backup plans – There are two main areas to consider when developing your backup plans.  The first area is to create a backup plan for your own logistics needs.  The shipment of your product and any of the raw materials and products you handle shipment of yourself.  The second area to create a backup plan in is with your current suppliers.  If your suppliers are responsible for shipping product to you, make sure you diversify the supply sources to other areas of the country where weather might be having an effect.  Having a primary and secondary source scenario is always a good one regardless but this winter it may be the difference between making and losing money.

Communication – Virtually any blog ever written could probably have this item included in the mix in some way.  Internal and external communication is essential to dealing with what this winter may be bringing to our businesses.  Make sure your company understands how inclement weather will affect its business.  Internal surveys asking departments what they would do if product could not be shipped in or out of the company and what effect it would have is a good way to get that thought process started.  Externally, you should be strategizing with your supplier partners to plan for the worst case scenarios.  Make sure they understand that you value their efforts but that you may have to put out an RFI for some secondary suppliers in case the weather prevents them from getting product to you.  They will appreciate not being blindsided and you will be able to strengthen your network of suppliers openly.

At SafeSourcing we have seen the effect bad weather has on our customer’s logistics needs and have successfully developed projects to strengthen that network without damaging good relationships with incumbent suppliers.   We use our team, expertise, database and eSourcing tools to ensure a company has all of the information necessary to make the smartest decision for their business.  For more information on 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.

Scary Movies Improve Businesses

Monday, October 13th, 2014

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

It is a good time for a scare! As Halloween approaches, scary movies are beginning to appear in theaters, online, and on television. There are many people that do not like the adrenaline rush that stems from tales of terror, but there are a few things that can be learned from watching them.

Stay Together! This tactic is seen in multiple genres of film, but most notable in those Halloween classics. When faced with a challenge, everyone must stick together. Not doing so leaves a person vulnerable and without help. This can be applied to business as well. When everyone pulls together as a team, more can be accomplished and the business is better prepared for whatever obstacle is hiding behind each door.

Behave! We all know that the misbehaving teens in the movie are the first to go. It is a classic faux pas saying that if we behave, we will make it out in the end. Even this can be applied to the business world. If you work hard and stay dedicated, you will live a long and happy life with your team. If someone misbehaves or shows the company how little it means, they may be on the way out too. Every person must be as committed as the next for a team to be truly strong.

It was someone else the whole time! This is the classic maneuver famously seen by even the likes of the Scooby Doo gang. They often would expect someone or something as a problem, but after removing the mask, they find out it was someone else entirely. Many scary movies follow the same formula of keeping the audience guessing “who did it?” throughout, with the final twist revealed at the end. This lesson also applies in the business world because it teaches us to always stay on our toes and be ready for whatever twist or dilemma comes our way. It teaches us to be ready for anything.

Even though scary movies aren’t for everyone, there are lessons there that can be applied to everyday life and the business world. Recognizing those lessons and utilizing them in the workplace can turn an organization around and lead a group in a positive direction.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business pull together as a team and be prepared for the unexpected 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.