Archive for May, 2016

Agile procurement methodology

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

 

 

Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Manager of Customer Services at SafeSourcing

An Agile approach to project management methodology is most commonly used in software development, but has seen extensive use in business as well. Agile in and of itself is a relatively unspecific concept in execution, and as such has been flexible enough to find wide use in a variety of industries, and has been particularly well deployed in small or start up companies that must be adaptive to their customers’ needs and volatile markets.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development[1] summarizes the methodology as:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Several sub-categories of Agile methodology have emerged that break down execution more specifically:

  • Scrum – The most widely used Agile framework, it incorporates product owners, cross-functional teams, and “sprint” planning and reviewing.
  • Lean – Probably the most well-known and practiced outside of the development community, made famous by Toyota’s just-in-time manufacturing practices
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method – Follows the mission of “fitness for business purpose”, and ranks activities by incorporating the pareto principle.
  • Crystal – Focuses on team size, system criticality, and project priorities.

One of the greatest strengths of the Agile approach is adaptability. Most procurement projects are necessarily iterative; It usually takes several exploratory steps for all parties to reach parity between the customers’ needs and the suppliers capabilities. During each step, the project’s direction may fluctuate quite a bit, and the procurement team must be ready to recreate timelines, reformat strategy, relocate product or even change team members. Diving into the details of the frameworks above can be arduous, but the benefits of finding a framework to sync your team’s workflow can be enormous once you find a methodology that works for you.

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.

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[1] “Agile Manifesto.” 2003. 25 May. 2016 <http://www.agilemanifesto.org/>

Self- Regulation in Your Business

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

 

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Customer Service & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

In my first blog, “What is Emotional Intelligence? Why It Should Matter in Any Business?”, I identified what emotional intelligence (EQ) is and how it applies to any business. In my second blog, “Emotional Intelligence in Action”, I explain the What, How, and Why the competencies of EQ work.  In my third blog, “Five Components of Emotional Intelligence and Your Business” I gave the basic definition of the five components of emotional intelligence. In my fourth blog “Self-Awareness in Your Business”, I provide a deeper explanation of Self-Awareness and how it applies to you as a leader and your business. In this installation, I will discuss the importance of the Emotional Intelligence component Self-Regulation and how it is important to you as a leader and to your organization.

“When emotions are running high, they certainly cannot be ignored – but they can be carefully managed. This is called self-regulation, and it’s the quality of emotional intelligence that liberates us from living like hostages to our impulses” (Goleman, 2015, pp1).

2). Self-regulation. The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting.1

a.) Hallmarks include trustworthiness and integrity; comfort with ambiguity; and openness to change.1

An Example: 3

Imagine an executive who has just watched a team of his employees present a botched analysis to the company’s board of directors. In the gloom that follows, the executive might find himself tempted to pound on the table in anger or kick over a chair. He could leap up and scream at the group. Or he might maintain a grim silence, glaring at everyone before stalking off.

If he had a gift for self-regulation, he would choose a different approach. He would pick his words carefully, acknowledging the team’s poor performance without rushing to any hasty judgment. He would then step back to consider the reasons for the failure. Are they personal—a lack of effort? Are there any mitigating factors? What was his role in the debacle? After considering these questions, he would call the team together, lay out the incident’s consequences, and offer his feelings about it. He would then present his analysis of the problem and a well-considered solution.

Self-regulation is important for competitive reasons. Everyone knows that business today is rife with ambiguity and change. Companies merge and break apart regularly. Technology transforms work at a dizzying pace. People who have mastered their emotions are able to roll with the changes. When a new program is announced, they don’t panic; instead, they are able to suspend judgment, seek out information, and listen to the executives as they explain the new program. As the initiative moves forward, these people are able to move with it.

“Like self-awareness, self-regulation often does not get its due. People who can master their emotions are sometimes seen as cold fish—their considered responses are taken as a lack of passion. People with fiery temperaments are frequently thought of as “classic” leaders—their outbursts are considered hallmarks of charisma and power. But when such people make it to the top, their impulsiveness often works against them. In my research, extreme displays of negative emotion have never emerged as a driver of good leadership” (Daniel Goleman, 20153).

Please stay tuned for the next blog on how internal motivation can help you and your business.

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.

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References:

  1. https://www.sonoma.edu/users/s/swijtink/teaching/philosophy_101/paper1/goleman.htm
  2. Goleman, D. (2015, July 26). Daniel Goleman: Self-Regulation: A star leader’s secret weapon [web log post]. Retrieved from: http://www.danielgoleman.info/daniel-goleman-self-regulation-a-star-leaders-secret-weapon/
  3. http://avalsethi.com/self-regulation-leadership/ 

The customer experience matters.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

 

 

Today’s post is by Tyler Walther; Account Manager at SafeSourcing. In today’s blog Tyler is discussing the customer experience and how that relates to suppliers.

Within the span of one hour this weekend, I experienced both ends of the customer service experience at two retail establishments. The first was at my bank and the second at the Apple store. I went to the bank for standard cash withdraw. The line at the atm was exceedingly long so I elected to go inside. I was greeted with a more manageable line and no greeting from anyone at the bank. After 10 minutes of waiting I heard, “next”. I was asked what I needed help with. I did not have my account number for my transaction and I would have thought it was inconvenient for my banker to retrieve this information. It was an overall unfriendly transaction.

Next I went to the Apple store to purchase a case for my IPad. It was equally as busy, likely more so. I was immediately greeted and asked what was bringing me in that day. I was taken to the accessory area and asked what I was specifically looking for. I was then asked if I needed help with anything else. All while smiling I must add. I left happier than when I went in.

I want to buy from people and organizations that treat me like I matter. When I select a supplier, their culture matters. The way I will be treated matters. The way my company and my clients are treated matters.

Let SafeSourcing better manage your sourcing projects. 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.

 

 

How Does Patriotism Influence Consumer Spending?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant for SafeSourcing.

“America” will become the Budweiser label for the summer. Special cans and bottles will become available May 23 through the presidential election in the fall.  This is the peak season for beer.  One-third of all U.S. beer sales are between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  In addition to the patriotic flare, phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance and lyrics from “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful,” will also be displayed on the cans.

“We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen, with Copa America Centenario being held on U.S. soil for the first time, Team USA competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Budweiser Vice President Ricardo Marques said in the press release.[1]

Here is some brief history on Budweiser. In the mid-1800’s a large number of German immigrants arrived in St. Louis mainly because of political upheavals in Germany and Bohemia in 1848.    Due to the large migrations of Germans to St. Louis, the principal industry soon became brewing beer.   These immigrant brewers brought a new style of beer to the U.S. – Lager (derived from the German word “lagern” which means ‘to rest’). Lager beer requires more time and care when brewing.  Brewers stored the beer in wooden casks, in underground caverns and caves.  By the end of 1800s there were more than 50 brewers in this area!  In 1876, Adolphus Busch and his friend Carl Conrad, a liquor importer, developed a “Bohemian-style” lager, inspired by their trip to Budweis.  The name “Budweiser” is a derivative adjective of “Budweis” where beer was brewed and founded by king Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1245.

Although Anheuser- Busch sold to Belgian brewer InBev for about $50 billion in 2008, beer drinkers are still loyal to the brand.

[1] Dana Farrington, The Two-Way, 5/10/16

For more information on how the team at SafeSourcing can help your company with sourcing beverages and products during this unique patriotic year, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safety in Contracts

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing.  In this blog, Dave discusses safety in contracts.

We’ve all heard that there is safety in numbers. It’s generally understood that in a larger group, each individual has a lower chance of something bad happening. Fish do it… humans too.

The point is that safety is a general concern. While we all take precautions to ensure personal safety, often the same level of attention is not paid to the safety of our contracts. Of course, there are contract management solutions available to provide safety relative to your contracts.

As I see it, contract safety is knowing when contracts are set to expire and proactively taking steps to prevent unfavorable auto-renewals. Contract Safety is knowing that the price you negotiated is also the price you pay throughout the contract term. Contract safety is always having your contracts at hand in the event that you need to review them.

Without these elements, you don’t have contract safety. If you don’t know where the contract is or you can’t verify the terms including pricing, or you don’t know when the contract ends, then you do not have contract safety.

Again, there is reasonably sound logic behind the theory that there is safety in numbers. I encourage you to take the same logical approach the safety of your contracts.

Dave Wenig is a Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing and is a devoted champion of saving money. Dave or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing would be happy to discuss how SafeContract™ can provide you with contract safety. For more information, please contact a SafeSourcing representative.

We look forward to your comments.

 

 

Correlation and Causation

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

 

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

Have you ever wondered why some people find success while others don’t? Imagine there are two people doing the same kind of work, have worked the same amount of time, and work in the same area, yet one is far more successful. Now, let’s say one grew up in a distinguished neighborhood while the other did not. You may be thinking that that the one from a better neighborhood is most likely the more successful, but why?

People often associate a better upbringing with more success, which correlates to one’s ability to be successful themselves. Here is where correlation and causation become blurred. Often in our society, we deem that being raised by a successful community means one is more likely to be successful. But is it what causes success?

Now, what if I told you that of the two workers mentioned above, the one with the more successful business is the one from the less than distinguished neighborhood? You may be surprised because of how we correlate the two. One of the great things about our society is that there is often a chance for anyone to be successful, and coming from a disadvantageous background can cause more work, effort, and drive.

The case above is purely hypothetical, but demonstrates the difference between causation and correlation. Just because two things are correlated, does not mean one thing actually causes the other. Finding success can often mean seeking new ways of reaching people in business. This thinking outside the box mentality can help broaden one’s foundation, allowing for further reaching success. One underutilized example is the ever growing e-procurement industry. This industry can help businesses in multiple facets, including service, retail, and manufacturing industries. It can open up resources to areas a business might not even know is there.

For more information on correlating and causing success within e-procurement, or information about our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

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What is an RFI, RFP, or RFQ Part I of VI?

Friday, May 13th, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Heather Powell, Customer Services Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

The world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of e-procurement when it comes to the requirement for information, a proposal, or a quote.  In this series of blogs I hope to simplify for you readers the differences between the three requests, what your expectations are when receiving the requests back, and how to make a sound business decision with what has been presented back to you.

According to businessdictionary.com a request for quote (RFI) is a request made typically during the project planning phase where a buyer cannot clearly identify product requirements, specifications, and purchase options. RFIs clearly indicate that award of a contract will not automatically follow.

An example for a use of a RFI: You now are the proud owner of a used warehouse that you want to turn into a distribution center. It has some racking but you need more racking.  However, you have no idea what the best layout will be needed, what types of rack you need, how much materials are needed, or how long it will take to install the racking. The existing racking looks in ok shape but you don’t know if it is safe, placed appropriately, outdated, or even needed. You will need to rely on experts to give you this information.  The best practice is to get at minimum 2, but recommended to get 3 to 6, requests for information from racking manufactures, distributor, and/or installers.

You may ask, why so many?  In an area where you have no knowledge, knowledge is power. How will you know between 2 suppliers that one will not overbid the materials and under bid the labor, but the other supplier will underbid the materials and overbid the labor? How do you know that the materials are the same? Does the weight vary? Did they include the weight?  It is very hard to make a sound business decision based on these two requests for information. Having a pool of bids can help you see if there are major differences between them all. Having an average will direct you to what you really need.

The application of an RFI can be used on new goods for use, re-sale, packaging design, any and all services, software, hardware, equipment of any kind, actually it is limitless as to what you can utilize a RFI for in business.

Follow me onto the next blog where I  endeavor to explain  a request for proposal (RFP) and how you can tie a RFI and an RFP into one collective project.

SafeSourcing can help you with your needs in creating, running, and reporting on an RFI for any item, project, or industry need. We can do this all electronically in your set timeline, and report it back to you in an easy and understandable package where you will be able to see the apples-to-apples comparison.

For more information as to 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.

Teaming up with Suppliers For More Savings…. Part II of II

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives.

Yesterday we began taking a look at some of the ways you can arrange to run a sourcing project for products on behalf of your suppliers to increase the opportunity for the suppliers of those products, lower your suppliers’ costs while lowering your costs for those items or services as well.  Today we will conclude the series by looking at the project itself and the process of using the results to achieve greater value for your company.

Determine the greater opportunity – Once you have determined where your spend lies in relation to your suppliers’ other customers and opened a dialog with them about your plans, it will be time to begin laying out the scope of what the project will entail.  Much of this will be determined by the amount of involvement your suppliers wish to provide in the way of information and management of the process.  The first major part of this step will be to understand if there are other products or services that need to be included in the project even if your company does not use them.  These create a greater opportunity for the suppliers and will results in better results for you and your incumbent suppliers.  The second part of this step is to determine the volume, frequency and location these items will need to be delivered to so that you can begin rounding out the specification and terms and conditions documentation.

Control the project yourself – No matter how much involvement your incumbent suppliers wish to provide you in this process, it is imperative that you own and manage the project from start to finish.  The insight you will gain on these products and services throughout the process will be extremely valuable and will be the foundation by which the final negotiations are achieved with the manufacturers.  Establishing and maintaining these relationships can also be important in later stages should there be customer service issues that your suppliers are unable to leverage properly themselves.

Leverage the results to your advantage – When the project is complete you will be left with a detailed view of the manufacturers, their offerings and their pricing.  You will have at your disposal all of the tools necessary to not only negotiate better value from the manufacturers but also better terms for how those products and services are then charged to you from your suppliers.  Your efforts will be used by your suppliers with all of their customers, improving their margins across the board.  This type of leverage will allow you to reduce or eliminate upcharge percentages from your suppliers or possibly to receive some other benefit in exchange for the results you were able to achieve.  This step would include reaching out to the manufacturer(s) selected and obtaining a letter of intent stating you are working with them and they will honor the pricing to your suppliers and their customers as well.

Sourcing projects on behalf of your suppliers may not be something you are used to running; however the benefits are just as real as traditional sourcing efforts.   These projects provide manufacturers greater volume opportunities and provide your suppliers and their customers and you with better service, value and pricing and should be included in all annual project reviews.  For more information about SafeSourcing 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.

Teaming up with Suppliers For More Savings…. Part I of II

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

It seems like every article and blog you read about sourcing deals with how to get the best value out of the relationships you have with your vendors and for most companies this is not a bad thing.  One of the areas that frequently gets overlooked is the opportunity to leverage your company’s spend on behalf of your suppliers to achieve better pricing for you, them and their other customers.  Products like pallets, roofing materials, corrugated or other packaging related material are perfect categories to look for this situation because they are frequently costs that are passed straight through from the manufacturer to your supplier to your company.

By negotiating better prices than your suppliers have themselves, you can help your suppliers lower their costs for their other customers and you.  This gives them added incentive to work with you and can provide a much bigger spend opportunity to the vendors than just yours alone.  Today’s blog will focus on some of the steps you can take in engaging all of the interested parties in this process.

Understand your portion – Before anything gets set in motion or communications are begun with outside suppliers or your incumbents, it will be critical to get an idea of where your volume of product from your suppliers falls in relation to their other customers.   This understanding will help you and your company level set before speaking with your suppliers about the project.  Your leverage will come in direct relation to the portion of spend your company represents with not only your incumbents but also the amount it would represent for a new supplier.  If you make up 10% of your incumbents pass through cost for a product, you still may be able to run the project, however the leverage your spend and the results you achieve represent will need to tempered differently than if your spend represented 50% of your incumbents spend in this area.

Engage your suppliers – At the onset, engaging your suppliers and/or distributors in this process will be key.  By letting them know in advance that you are looking to negotiate your volume on your own, you give them an opportunity to examine their current suppliers and customer needs and help you form an event that provides a much larger opportunity for the market.  The other advantage to notifying your suppliers, regardless of their involvement, is that there will be no surprises once the process is complete and they understand the direction your company is going.

Tomorrow we will look at the final steps to consider when running projects for products on behalf of your suppliers.  For more information about SafeSourcing 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.

Low Quote does not always earn the Business!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing archives.

With a title like this, you have got to be thinking that I am nuts! You are probably saying things like “Why would low quote not get the business?” or “Why would someone want to pay more money for the exact same product?” These are all true and valid thoughts, but what I have to tell you is that there are more things involved in a decision process than just the low quote. It’s more about the overall value. The OVERALL VALUE gets the business.

There are many factors that come into play in the overall value. The following are a few to consider when making the decision to buy a particular product or service from a vendor.

Quality: Just because a product is the same doesn’t always mean they share the same quality. For example, if you were looking to buy copy paper, the “House Brand” may be cheaper than the name brand paper, but the quality may be a lot lower, causing constant paper jams in your copy machine. You want to make sure that you get a quality product for the lowest price possible.

Customer Service: You want to make sure that when you consider buying any product, the supplier provides excellent customer service. This is important because if you ever have to contact them for a problem, you want to be confident in knowing that your problem and/or concern will be addressed quickly and efficiently.

Value Added Services: Value Added Services are always a great perk. These are services a company would offer to help them stand out from their competitors. It could be they offer Free Shipping on a product or they may offer one free year of Technical Support on a computer or other type of electronic. Things like this should really factor in because, for instance, a company may provide you the lowest quote on the product, but may charge you a ton is shipping, where the person that quoted a little higher is offering free shipping, which actually makes their product the cheapest.

Here at SafeSourcing, we ensure that you receive the best overall value. We look at more than just the price, but all the other key factors as well. 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.