Archive for June, 2016

Enterprise Software RFPs

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

We’ve discussed the differences between the RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, and Surveys many time and also touched on why they were different as well as when you would use one.  What we said then was that you typically want to run one of these events when you have an idea about the basic functionality of a product you need but are not sure who can provide it and what else it is they can bring that you didn’t think of.

In many cases, the road to procuring enterprise software will require one of these tools due, in part, to the fact that software can change so quickly, but also because typical decision factors like price play a much smaller role to the features and functionality of the software.

In preparing to make a major software purchase a Request for Information or Proposal can be a great first step.  Here are some things to keep in mind about the solution and the company when preparing for one.

Flexibility – One of the keys in the process of evaluating software solutions and the companies that create them is to gather information about the flexibility of the product.  A focus on how configurable the system is and how well a solution can be fitted with your company’s needs and appearance is an important part to building a good software RFP/RFI.

Reputation – A company’s reputation for delivery used to go a long way in the business world but in the wake of a tougher economy price has begun to gain ground.  In the arena of software, it is still one of the most important factors to evaluate when selecting a software partner.  Building a relationship with companies known for under promising and over delivering on a consistent and referenceable level can be a huge factor in protecting a million dollar investment.

Pricing model – The key here is not in the actual price but how the company prices that is important.  Your company’s needs will dictate the pricing model that benefits your company whether for the enterprise; per seat or per user.  How a software provider prices and what they charge you for are HUGE factors in determining if they are suited for you and your company. The more information you can gather at the RFP/RFI stage as possible is very important.

Support – There is no more important product to verify good support on than software.  As upgrades occur, employees get promoted or leave the company, new employees need training, or issues arise, the level of support a company will commit to is critical to the confidence you can place in them.  On top of this, the more mission critical the functionality the software is to support is for your company, the more important the level of support becomes.  Any software RFP/RFI you create should have a detailed section to determine what level of support you can expect from each vendor.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can provide RFIs/RFPs that help you focus on these important factors, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

How to identify good ideas – Episode I

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

 

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

Creativity is the ability to come up with novel ideas, but innovation doesn’t occur until those ideas are productive. Many businesses end up chasing ideas that never bring any productive value, because the idea was adopted for reasons that were not objectively measured and vetted. There are two primary things we should be considering when trying to determine whether an idea is good or not: Value, and Validity.

Value and validity is NOT contained within an idea just because:

  • It was given loudly
  • It was given by the highest ranking voice in the room
  • It was given from someone with many ideas
  • It was given eloquently

These are all attempts to validate an idea through personality, not value or validity. Everyone has ideas, but quantity doesn’t mean quality. How many musicians have you heard that put out a brilliant project, but followed up with something that made you question their talent altogether? The true talent lies in the ability to order, demonstrate, communicate, refine, reject, and select their ideas.

An idea has value when:

  • It solves an identified problem
  • There is a specific benefit
  • It supports a specific goal

An idea has validity when:

  • The facts behind it are true
  • There is hard evidence backing up what’s being proposed
  • There are specific numbers taken into account, calculated correctly

Adopting an idea just because it “sounds good”, “feels good” or “makes sense”, doesn’t mean it will accomplish everything it needs to in the context of the conversation being had. It can be easy to get lost in the weeds, forget what you were trying to accomplish, and adopt the idea given by the most senior representative in the room with the most passionate speech, even if solves a DIFFERENT problem than the one you met to solve in the first place.

Objectivity means you can separate yourself from the object, measure the object with other objects, view it from a perspective outside yourself. Subjectivity means you can’t see the periphery, you can only see from a perspective from within yourself, and therefore can’t bring in anything not dependent on you to measure against. Don’t get lost in complex narratives, appeals to emotion, or appeals to authority in your meetings. There are more specific methodologies available for qualifying ideas, and I’ll get into those in future posts (Six Sigma perhaps being the most well-known, but cumbersome methodology). But for now, just remember that you have the ability to step back, look at the bigger picture, and find the appropriate solution by measuring each idea’s value and validity objectively.

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.

 

 

 

What does a procurement department do?

Friday, June 24th, 2016

 

 

Today post was written by Ryan Melowic, Vice President of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

According to Wikipedia, Procurement is the act of acquiring, buying goods, services or works from an external source. It is favorable that the goods, services or works are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the acquirer in terms of quality and quantity, time, and location.

wiseGeek defines a procurement department as being responsible for managing the purchasing activity for the organization. There are two types of purchasing or procurement departments: centralized and decentralized. In a centralized model, all requests for materials or goods are center to this department. In a decentralized model, individual departments can process their own purchases.

SafeSourcing is an e-procurement company offering a complete procure-to-pay suite of applications under the SafeSourceIt™ banner which reduces costs, improves efficiency and extends the reach of your current procurement organization. The heart of our family of products is our eSourcing tools which includes our popular reverse auction technology. Our historic ROI is greater than 10x and in many cases companies receive an ROI on their subsequent roll-out during the pilot stage.

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.

 

 

Add this to your RFP.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Tyler Walther; Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

“What additional value or cost savings ideas is your company proposing? Please list.” Many times requirements are written so stringently that customers end up paying more than they need to while failing to benefit from the expertise in their supply chain.

Asking for value and cost savings propositions in RFP’s could potentially list profit increasing methods that your organization may have never contemplated. Adding this statement will help your procurement department achieve its maximum financial impact.

You also want to track the implemented value adds and cost savings ideas when requesting this information from your suppliers. Imagine the increased profit you can obtain by asking a simple question. The knowledge is out there, you just need to ask for it.

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.

 

 

Do Your Thing Well

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

 

 

Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing

Ralph Waldo Emerson has a point. While nothing in life is ever so cut and dry, this author can definitely relate. There certainly is satisfaction in a job well done. Personally, I know that every time our team does a thing well, our customers reap the reward which means they did well too.

So, how do you measure whether or not you’ve done a thing well? Perhaps, you measure the savings from a successfully negotiated decrease in the cost of a contract. Maybe you prefer the reward of hitting your goals.

We can all use a little help along the way to do a thing well. Our customers appreciate that they can leverage our e-Procurement solutions to improve the outcomes of their negotiations and or that they can rely on our Customer Services teams as a partner to help deliver against their goals. We know the importance of getting a job done right and have the experience to step in at any point in the Source-to-Pay process.

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 SafeSourcing can help you do your thing well. For more information, please contact a SafeSourcing representative. 

 

We look forward to your comments.

 

Are you on the fence about procurement?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

 

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

Whether you have been involved in the business world for just a short time or for decades, despite whether you are at the top or bottom of a company, you probably have heard about procurement, but might not really know too much about it. A common misconception is that procurement is just for big companies or retailers, or that a procurement company just couldn’t help you. Procurement is, in fact, for everyone.

First, if you aren’t familiar with what exactly procurement is, it is defined as the “acquisition of goods and/or services at the best possible total cost of ownership, in the right quantity and quality, at the right time, in the right place for the direct benefit or use of governments, corporations, or individuals, generally via a contract.” In other words, it can help anyone get the goods or services they need.

But procurement is more than that. It can help to lower the costs of those goods and services, realizing immediate up-front savings, as well as back-end savings on things like warranties and discounts. It also allows for a better purchasing process, providing better visibility into an organization’s spending patterns and allowing for better forecasting of future spending.

If those reasons aren’t enough, e-procurement, like SafeSourcing’s suite of tools, can help with a multitude of other aspects. First, through their electronic database, vendors are hand selected for their ability to deliver quality goods and services and are researched to ensure the specifications match exactly what is needed. The electronic platform makes the procurement process easy, understandable, and smooth to run, which can free up the time of your employees, allowing for better utilization of your workforce. On top of that, it can help with contract management, document management, and overall supply chain management.

For more information on e-procurement and how SafeSourcing can help, 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.

When should you consider a generic product?

Friday, June 17th, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe; Vice President of Development at SafeSourcing.

Comparing alike products and deciding which is best can be a very daunting task. Should you buy a name brand or will the generic option meet my needs?  These are a few questions that can enter in your mind during the decision making process.  Some people feel more comfortable purchasing name brands.  If this is the case, you may be able to get the name brand item cheaper than the generic by watching sales, using coupons or utilizing price matching.

Some items purchased may not make a difference in cost because of the frequency purchased. For example, choosing a generic food item; it may be a little cheaper but you only purchase it once or twice a year.  In this case you may want to settle for the brand that you enjoy.

When it comes to more expensive items you may want to purchase a generic over the name brand if it’s something that you may only use a few times a year. If it is something that will be used more frequently then you may want to stick with a reputable brand that is known for its durability and warranties.

When purchasing over the counter medications, you may want to purchase the generic form. These generic medications are regulated by the FDA and must contain the same active ingredients, strength, dosage form, route of administration and label.  This ensures that the generics will have the same benefits as the brand name equivalents.

Keep in mind that buying a generic product doesn’t always mean that it is an inferior product. Some generic products are often made by the same name brand companies but are packaged differently.

Interested in learning how SafeSourcing can help your company run more efficiently? Like to try a risk free trial?  Please don’t hesitate to contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. Our team is ready and available to assist you!

 

HVAC System Efficiency.

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

 

You do not want trouble with your air conditioner in the summer

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

In today’s blog, Gayl discusses the economics of air conditioner filters.

Recently one of our air conditioners began making loud noises each time it cycled on and off. It was so loud in fact, that it would wake me up.  In addition to the loud noise, it wasn’t cooling the house.  Living in a hot climate such as Arizona, you do not want trouble with your air conditioner in the summer.  I made a call to my service company on Saturday and explained the problem.  Luckily, I was able to line up a repair person to be at my home on Monday morning.  After some investigation, the repairman said my unit was frozen.  In order to remedy the situation, he had to turn the heat on in the house to melt the ice in the system.  Initially the repair person said he thought I had dirty AC filters, but I knew that the filters were clean and are changed out regularly.  It turned out the air conditioner was working overtime with the heavy-duty, pleated filters I have been using and strained to pull the air to cool the house.  I was advised to use a fiberglass filter that needs to be changed out every 30 days.  Although I change my air conditioner filters on a regular basis, I learned about the damage a dirty filter can have on your system.

  • A dirty filter in your HVAC system will raise energy bills. A dirty filter restricts the air flow into your HVAC system air handler, causing it to work harder to cool or heat your home.
  • A dirty clogged filter can restrict HVAC airflow and potentially cause problems with the system. They also cease to filter allergens and other particulates out of your air.
  • Dirty filters can make your HVAC system fail completely. Repairing a HVAC system can end up costing you a pretty penny.

The air in your home is up to five times more polluted than the outside air and in businesses it can be even worse. Impurities in the air such as pet dander, mold, bacteria, dust and dirt, and pollen build up in your air conditioner and ventilation system which can cause allergies, asthma triggers, and other respiratory problems.  Thus, it is very important to keep up with changing air conditioner filters regularly.

An AC filter uses special, densely woven, electrostatically charged material to trap pollutants in the air before they pass into your air conditioner or HVAC unit. Over time as the AC air filter gathers more pollutants, it becomes clogged, making it more difficult for the air conditioner to pull air through it.  If you live in an environment where you are doing remodeling, if its allergy season, or if you have pets, you should consider changing the filter more often.

SafeSourcing has a wealth of knowledge on sourcing HVAC units, filters, and maintenance agreements. Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative or ask about our Risk Free trial program. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

 

It’s a real crime that so many companies continue to stay on the sidelines!

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

 

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing

Unfortunately some 70% of companies still do not use eprocurement tools. If they did, their results would be better. SafeSourcing can give you customer references that exceed the 17X ROI mentioned above. So what happens when you combine your spend with another company?

Generally speaking, the greater the spend amount, the more interest you will get from potential vendors. As a result, many of our customers have been turning to collaborative eProcurement events in order to benefit from the additional savings that higher volumes can generate. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits of getting involved.

1. Higher savings due to aggregate volumes
2. Improved payment terms
3. Larger vendor pool
4. Greater ROI
5. Source smaller category spends

Based on the five benefits listed above, perhaps it’s time to try a collaborative event. You may ask; “how would we become involved?” The answer is simple. Contact your SafeSourcing customer services representative and ask if there are any open or upcoming opportunities in which you could participate. Similarly, if you have any upcoming projects either large or small, ask your partner to attempt collaboration within their customer base.

Here’s an example of savings generated from a recent collaboration. In this scenario, our customer was in need of a relatively small spot buy for replenishment purposes. Their spend in this category was actually quite low and was actually the lowest overall amongst the participating companies. In this example, the customer saved almost 37%. I find it difficult to imagine that they would have done so well without the eProcurement process. Further, this is evidence of the benefits of the collaborative process as their pricing was likely much better off as a result of the aggregated spend.

So, are you ready to get involved, or will you continue to stand on the sidelines?

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

HEY Leadership Teams!

Monday, June 13th, 2016

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Let’s also assume that you want to drive the greatest possible savings across the broadest range of categories in the shortest amount of time, like the next budget period; and want a sustainable process moving forward. Are you comfortable with your teams answer?

A number of issues you might consider are whether you have the requisite headcount, specifications, strategy, research skills as well as knowledge of new sources of supply to accomplish these lofty goals yourself.

Once you have settled on the fact that your existing team cannot achieve the above goal, the next question should be; what type of event services can an e-procurement solutions provider offer to help us if we can’t this ourselves?

By now, let’s assume you have come to the conclusion that there is no way possible for your team to do this alone. You now need to find a reputable eProcurement solutions provider. A quality e-procurement solutions provider should be able to ramp up to your task immediately. They should possess skills that are the foundation of their past success. These are very specific skills that enable them to run large volumes of e-procurement events in a full service mode with little guidance from you that have historically driven impressive savings on products and services over a long period of time. They should be able to provide reference to where they have done this in the past and how they were able to augment other company’s staff with little interference of their day to day work. Remember, knowledge transfer; passion, skill and required headcount to carry out these practices on a day by day basis are what drive results.

This process is provided by people behind the scenes with a very specific skill sets. If you really want to drive the greatest possible savings across the broadest range of categories in the shortest amount of time, like your next budget period. And, you already know that you cannot do this by yourself, reach out to a Safesourcing customer services account manager to see how quickly we can be of assistance.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.