Archive for November, 2014

Why do people run marathons?

Monday, November 24th, 2014

 

Todays post is by Michael Figueroa an Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

What kind of business can convince its customers to PAY to go through excruciating pain, has 10 times more volunteer staff than paid staff, and has everyone who witnesses its operations talking about it for weeks afterward? Marathons of course! And the overwhelming participation rate says a lot about leadership, and what it takes to move people to perform almost super-human tasks zealously.

I have a lot of friends and co-workers who run 1/2 or full marathons. So, I decided it was a milestone I wanted to achieve once in life, but after completing my second half marathon at the Nationwide Children’s Half Marathon in Columbus Ohio, I find myself wishing I could race every week. I am convinced, however, that no one would care to run that far without engaging the same inner drives that are at work both on the track, and in the office. 
 
When people believe in why you do something, they will go out of their way to help you get where you’re going. This particular marathon’s beneficiary was a children’s hospital, and every mile had former patients with giant orange foam hands giving high fives, some looking very healthy, some clearly disabled, some with walkers or crutches, most of them being kids. No matter how exhausted the runners were though, all 18,000 of us went out of our way to cheer for them, give high fives or hugs, leaving runners and patients alike in tears. We went out of our way to shout encouragement to every Wheelchair Division participant we passed. My brother saw a man tumble and fall short of the finish line, and other runners stop to help him cross. Motivation is contagious, and there was an unspoken consensus of purpose among the runners and spectators that moved them to go far out of their way to help each other see it through. 
 
Business consultant Simon Sinek has famously said, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” It’s no coincidence that everyone wants to be involved in Elon Musk’s quest to save humanity through the elimination of fossil fuels, Google’s mission to organize the world’s data, or Wikipedia’s mission to make an encyclopedia available to every human being on earth. But how do we get buy-in of the “ordinary” things we all have to accomplish within our organizations? Here are four things I’ve learned about what motivates runners as universal principles applicable to your organization:
 
Significance
Engage your workforce’s sense of importance by clearly defining a mission that contributes to the greater good of your community in some way. How does what you do make the world a better place, or better yet, how could it? Do you manufacture cars? Make them well to keep their passengers safe. Do you work for a bank? Identify your vision for how your product makes your customers lives better and potentially improve their financial health. This “gut check” is a great way to keep your business agile and adaptive to your customer’s needs as well.

Tangible Milestones
How often does your company identify major milestones and accomplishments? Can you think back through the year and identify 3 accomplishments that your company celebrated as “wins”? Or is every successful project just seen as a continuation of one infinitely recurring loop of fulfilling fiscal expectation? If you don’t identify where you’ve progressed from point A to point B, it will feel like you’re stuck at the starting line no matter how far you’ve gone. 
 
Autonomy
Running a race is a choice, but most of what we do in our work life isn’t. When people have the ability to choose or at least provide input into how tasks are accomplished, and what strategy to engage, they are much more likely to perform well because it is their idea. Sometimes just having permission to run with an idea is enough to motivate a workforce.  In this case you don’t have to convince anyone to do what you need them to; they’re already pushing their task along on their own. However, employees whose input is blocked/not listened to, will require a lot more pushing and prodding.

Ability
People do difficult things to prove to themselves and others that they are able. When people are given the opportunity to perform well in an achievable objective, they are more likely to excel. If your corporate culture is argumentative or adversarial, people tend to lose the belief that it’s even possible to excel at their job, because achievements are belittled in an environment where no one is allowed to be “right”.

How can we help you achieve your milestones? For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team in this process or for detail about 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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Listen to the Market!

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

 

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

When buying and selling goods and services, one of the first steps is to look at the atmosphere of the market.  Without this crucial step, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.

One issue that typically applies to individuals when they are searching for the perfect home or the right car is that they can be sucked in by the market and not even realize that they have reached their demise. For instance, if there is no market in a category, then the products will never go anywhere because no one wants them.

Potential things that will affect the market:

-Seasons
-Natural Disasters
-Changes in trend
-The items are too specialized

There are many factors that can positively or negatively affect how you buy and sell goods. Luckily for you, SafeSourcing is here to help! Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to your comments.

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Here’s some useful information that your IT Team May Need

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

 

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

If it’s been a while since you updated your site, you may want to consider giving it a new look and feel.  There are plenty of things that you can easily do to improve your site, from updating content to making small visual enhancements.  Here are few things that you should keep in mind when creating your site.

Simplify Your Navigation:  Having more options available to your visitors can make your site seem clunky and confusing.  Go through all of your menu options and see which ones can be grouped together and place them under one heading that can accessed by a dropdown menu.  This will give a much cleaner look and feel to the site and make navigation easier for the visitors.

Add or Improve Content to Increase traffic:  One way to do this is to make sure that you are creating good headlines.  The headlines will be the first thing that your visitors will see.  They should draw your reader’s attention and make them want to continue reading.  Keep your website fresh by posting your articles frequently.  This will keep your site more inviting to frequent visitors.

Company Logo:  Make sure that you have a professional looking logo and that it is located in the top left corner of your site.  This is the first place that a visitor usually looks when they view sites.  Create a link for the image that will allow the user to easily return to your home page.

Contact Information:  This is one of the most important items on your site.  Make your contact information easy to find.  Include your address, phone number, email address, and hours of business.  Everyone communicates in different ways, so give them options when it comes to connecting with your business.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business improve your website, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments!

 

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Retirement Party for….Your Spreadsheets Part 2 of 2

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

 

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

Yesterday we began a two part series on the reasons your procurement staff should be looking at moving away from spreadsheets and toward an enterprise online solution toolset.   We looked at the accessibility and security advantages of using an enterprise system and today we will look at a few additional reasons to ditch the spreadsheets and embrace an online set of tools.

Industry friendly – Spreadsheets are great tools for smaller projects where the type of analysis and data storage is known and the eventual conclusions are determined for the most part.   There are tools and templates that support certain industries; however the spreadsheet tool itself was not designed with specialized functionality the way online enterprise solutions can be.  In the enterprise model the tool can be configured to be used and to report on data that is specific to the industry using it, stripping away the confusing functionality that is not needed nor be used.

Scalable – There are two types of limitations a spreadsheet has.  The number of tabs (tables) and the number of rows (records) within that tab.   For most people, the limits of their spreadsheet application will never be reached as they work on individual projects that will never exceed those limits.  Depending on the dataset you are reviewing, exceeding those limits is an easy thing to do especially when looking at retail, shipping or manufacturing data that can contain millions of records and complex datasets.  No matter how big the data being reviewed becomes, an enterprise solution will be able to grow with the company and accommodate the storage and analysis of billions of rows of data.

Version Control – Another big problem many organizations have with using spreadsheet tools is that users have numerous spreadsheet program versions and sometimes the documents of one version cannot be opened by another.  By moving to an enterprise solution that is accessible through a web browser, the version can be controlled so that everyone is using the same version of the tool at all times.   This reduces training time, technical support resolution time and ensures that data created by one user will be accessible by another.

Integration with other tools – Companies will often find that they have data in numerous formats of various types all over the organization.   This data is useful and could prove even more useful if other applications have access to the trends that it reports.  Spreadsheets are not easily integrated and in some cases can never fully integrate either with each other, or with external business tools the way an enterprise solution could do.  Having one solution that can be the gatekeeper of this data can allow the tools the organization has already invested in to operate on an even higher level.

It is difficult sometimes to let go of tools that have been used for a long time and that users are comfortable with, however as the industry continues to advance and technology with it, looking for more effective solutions is an important step for companies to take.  For more information on how we can assist with helping you find a replacement for your spreadsheets 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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Retirement Party for…Your Spreadsheets Part 1 of 2

Monday, November 17th, 2014

 

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

It is no secret that when an organization gets comfortable with a tool or process that works for them, that they are very hesitant to move away from it.  The problem with this thought process is that many times the disadvantages and potential risks that can come with these tools and processes sneak up on an organization leaving them vulnerable without them even knowing it. 

This is especially true with spreadsheets because companies have begun to take this tool that they feel comfortable with and use it in ways it is not optimized for.  Today we will be looking at a few of the advantages for moving away from spreadsheets and towards stable enterprise online solutions.

Security – Spreadsheets have become a popular tool because they make many jobs and tasks easier to track and report on.  Some organizations have even done a good job leveraging the capability to secure a spreadsheet with a password.  Where that becomes a problem, however, is when an individual just needs to restrict access to a portion of the data.  Spreadsheets do not offer this in the same way an online solution can.  With spreadsheets it is an all or nothing option, whereas with an online tool, access can not only be restricted to portions of the data but also down to individual groups and users for certain areas.   This gives an organization ultimate control of who sees and can manipulate the data.

Accessibility – Accessible data is one of the biggest complaints with projects and processes within an organization especially when that data is contained in a spreadsheet.  With thousands of individual spreadsheets being created there is no clean way to search through all of it at once or to access working copies.  There are always options like SharePoint and DropBox, but these solutions are already halfway to having an online enterprise solution that would provide 24/7 access to however needs it.  Why not take the process the rest of the way and embrace a solution that captures and stores the data from those thousands of spreadsheets in one location to be accessed and searched when needed?

Data Consolidation – Duplicate efforts and data within an organization that relies on spreadsheets is also a very common issue.  With so many people operating within a tiny technical sphere of data in their own spreadsheet they cannot see the other work that is being performed and often times are not able to draw more valuable conclusions because of the lack of insight they have to what other departments are doing.  With an online enterprise solution they can see what trends and experiences other parts of the company are dealing with and make better decisions for their department by having access to a consolidated set of data that is capturing everything.

Tomorrow we will conclude this two-part blog with some other advantages with moving away from spreadsheets towards enterprise online solutions.  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.

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Dog Bites, Law, and Your Business

Friday, November 14th, 2014

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

Research. These three especially require digging in and getting all the information available.

Recently there was an article  about a suburban neighborhood’s ban on Pit Bulls. Having never heard of such a ban before, it was surprising that one particular breed had been outlawed in an area. The news article talked about how the city officials issuing the citations did not have a formal way of testing what breed a particular dog was, other than visual, and the main story was about how a family was repeatedly cited and fined when their family pet was in fact a Boxer, not a Pit Bull.

Despite strongly disagreeing with this city’s policy of banning one breed of dog when there are many breeds of dog that bite (and are more likely to come from a small breed ) and that the behavior of an animal has a huge amount to do with how that animal is raised, one important lesson here is that there is very little to back this law. The notion that a family can be repeatedly fined over a “dangerous” breed of dog when their dog is neither dangerous nor of that breed, is reminiscent of mob mentality without due process. Perhaps mob mentality is a bit extreme, but the principal is the same. Fear should not dictate law and those making the laws ought to know better than to pass something with no checks or balances.

The purpose of bringing this situation to light is that if a business were to run its operations similarly, it would fail horribly (unnecessary expenses, delay in parts and production, perhaps even lawsuits). A business cannot start implementing policies without having knowledge and research to back it up. For example, when ordering manufacturing parts, a business has to know the specifications of a part before ordering it. Just like not knowing the difference between a Boxer and a Pit Bull, using a nail when you need a screw is going to cause problems. In other words, do your research.

One way to ensure that your business is doing the research it needs is by implementing a SME, or Subject Matter Expert. This is just one way SafeSourcing can help your business, by providing experience and knowledge on your supplies and the industry.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help with your business research 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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No Empty Chairs at the Table?

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

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

Many procurement professionals state they do not have a strategic role in board meetings or with major organization decisions. Why should a procurement professional participate in board meetings?

Companies that do not engage their procurement department early in the process are failing to make effective purchasing decisions, not fully leveraging their spend and economics of scale, and opening themselves to commercial risk. Procurement is usually brought into the process to either close a deal or execute the contract; at this point it is too late to add significant value.

Common issues corporations face when procurement has little engagement within the department:

• Spend is spread thin throughout multiple categories and suppliers.
• Process improvements (make vs. buy) are not always the ideal cost-savings decision
• Procurement policies are lacking – leading to no contracts, multiple price points, etc.

Handling these internal issues is not a day’s job. Procurement will need to monitor and track compliance with policies within departments. Departments that do not comply will be held accountable. Many times the CPO will need to become involved in this initiative to place more focus on the value of procurement.

In turn, this will also require procurement to refocus their efforts to include other value-added services to the departments besides simply reducing costs. However, this usually requires a change in culture, taking procurement away from the tactical, category-focused culture that dominates most functions, to one that is fully aligned with the company’s goals.

At SafeSourcing, we are an extension to your procurement department. We will work with procurement and other departments to help avoid the common issues when procurement does not have a chair at the table.  Please contact us in order to find out more.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

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