Archive for January, 2017

Could YOUR Company be saving more money?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

 

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

What prevents a business from reducing costs by engaging in eProcurement best practices? The most common obstacle we see is simply a limitation in mindset, or the lack of will to change practices that maintain the status-quo. eProcurement practices have been around for as long as the internet has, and yet we still find businesses that aren’t aware of the most up to date tools for sourcing, and for whom suggesting a change in practice is akin to blasphemy. What is the barrier to change, and how can you overcome internal objections to improving procurement practices within your organization?

A concept that has come back into the spotlight this election cycle is The Overton Window. This concept is sometimes called “the window of discourse”, and signifies the range of ideas that your audience will accept. Though typically applied to political ideas, it simply relates to what ideas a group of people is willing to consider, and not willing to consider. However, the effort to enact any type of change within an organization will come up against this concept, and will require that The Overton Window be widened. Once the window is widened/the range of concepts willing to be considered has grown in scope, you can begin to garner buy-in of improved processes. So how can we accomplish this in the procurement space? Here are a few recommendations:

  •  Let the results speak for themselves: We run risk-free pilot events for new customers to demonstrate what can be accomplished with eProcurement practices. We routinely saving upwards of 20% on spends in excess of a million dollars using our process. Seeing one category save hundreds of thousands of dollars can quickly get your team to see the possibilities open to them for other categories across the business.
  • Implement cost reduction goals: If you create goals that can’t be accomplished by maintaining the status-quo, your team will have to open their expectations to considering new possibilities. “Necessity is the mother of all invention” as they say.
  • Find examples of being overcharged: We often do analysis of a company’s spend categories and uncover situations where companies are being charged 50% more for products/services than other clients of ours being charged. The only difference is that they’ve never addressed that spend and taken it out to market. If your boss isn’t interested in eProcurement, find a spend he’s losing money on that a category RFP has high historical savings in to demonstrate how much money is being left on the table with current purchasing practices.

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.

To-do List Management

Monday, January 30th, 2017

 

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

Today Tyler is discussing methods of managing your to-do lists.

We are all overwhelmed with work. Organizing our to-do lists is a job amongst itself in addition to performing our job duties.

The purpose of a to-do list is to organize your tasks and their deadlines for completion. If you keep adding to them with no method, they can become a roadblock to your efficiency as opposed to simplifying your work.

If you have multiple to-do lists, combine them into one all-encompassing list, and then put the tasks in some kind of logical order for job or project. You’ll find just completing this simple procedure will make you feel less stressed out about what needs to be done because you’ll know what that is.

Another critical step is the prioritization of the tasks on the list. You will need to update and have the list in a fluid form so that the priorities can be set. Prioritize based on target dates, the amount of work anticipated to complete each task, the complexity of each task, and the importance of the task towards the deadline.

Now you’ll need to set completion target dates. When a new task arises you can decide whether it is a critical task. You can have soft, flexible target dates for noncritical tasks.

You need to keep your list updated and relevant. The to-do list should be visited and updated numerous times. If your to-do list is accurate, you track your progress, and refer to it multiple times throughout the planning and monitoring of your project, you will find more success.

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.

 

 

My App Needs What?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

 

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

In our ever evolving mobile age, apps are a must have on our devices. Whether you want to clip coupons, like through Target’s Cartwheel app, watch your favorite shows while you’re out (thank you Disney Junior!), or just have fun with photo filters and Face Swaps, our phones have become essential in the things we do every day, giving it equal everyday importance to that of wallets and keys.

Before we can enjoy the fun and helpfulness of new apps, it must first be downloaded. Part of that initial download, however, the app asks for permission to access portions of your phone. These permissions can vary from app to app, but generally include your identity, email, location, contacts, photos, camera, microphone, and messaging. So, why would an app need those?

This is where you must decide whether an app is something you need or not. Apps that have access to email, can access and use the information in your email, despite an email being private or confidential. Accessing your phone’s camera and microphone can be equally unsettling, because once an app has been downloaded, it can use your camera to take photos and your microphone to record audio, all of which no longer needs your permission. While it is unknown how often this actually happens and what app companies do with the information they gather, it is known that there are many companies that make profits selling consumer information.

There are, however, other reasons an app would need access to your phone, many of which are completely legitimate. For example, I would expect a Map app to need to access my phone location and Snapchat would need access to the camera and other media files.

While app permissions vary, it is ultimately up to you which ones you choose to download. If you ever question why an app might need specific permissions, an easy way to find out is to simply google whatever app it is plus the word “privacy”. You can then read what each app needs, why, and what they do with the information they receive.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help keep your information safe and source what you need, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

Paying too much for your goods?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Steven Belvin, Account Manager at SafeSourcing

How do you know if you are paying too much for a particular item or service? Many companies over the years have discovered they have been paying a vender way too much for an item or service. In some cases, a company may discover that they could be accumulating these items for a cheaper price from their current vender. When trying to determine if your company is paying too much for an item, you will need to keep two terms in mind while conducting your research. Those terms would be Market Value and Total Market Size. The Market Values is the highest price a buyer would pay a vender for a particular good in an open and competitive market. The Total Market Size is defined by the business dictionary as “The number of individuals in a certain market who are potential buyers and/or sellers of a product or service. Companies are interested in knowing the market size before launching a new product or service in an area.” In other words, how many buyer or sellers of a particular product or service are in the market today? That a company will need to know this if they wish to have success with launching a new product or to check the feasibility of continuing to sell a product.

After reading this, it is easy to see where a company could overlook and continue to over pay for a service or good. It is simply too much work to constantly check the market size and the market value. This is where SafeSourcing could be of assistance. We would conduct a supplier research to discover the market size that is available to you and also use our online web tool to discover the Best Market Value of a certain item or service. So if you feel like your company is paying too much for a service, or any items, give us a call and let us review your accounts with you and discover where we could help your company cut back in your procurement process.

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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 “What Is Market Size? Definition.” BusinessDictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.

 

 

 

What are my Internet connection options?

Friday, January 20th, 2017

 

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

When looking for an Internet connection solution, there are several types of connections available. The most common are DSL, Cable and Fiber Optics.

DSL(Digital Subscriber Line) uses telephone cable to transmit data. When using DSL you have a dedicated connection that is not shared with others within your area.  The speed is, however, affected by the distance between your location and the location of your Internet Service Provider(ISP).  There are two types of DSL connections, asymmetric and symmetric.  Asymmetric uses the phone line to connect to the internet and still allows you to use the same phone line to make phone calls.  Because of this design, the upload speeds are slower than the download speeds.  Symmetric also uses the phone line for the connection but uses both parts of the phone line for its connection.  This allows for increased upload speeds, but the line cannot be used for incoming or outgoing phone communication.

Cable uses coax cable to transfer data. Cable is generally faster than DSL, but it is not dedicated so you are sharing bandwidth with others in your area.  So there may be peak times during the day when the connection is slower because of the amount of usage within your area.  Since most of the internet usage is used for downloading, cable is designed to give priority to downloading and upload speeds are much slower.  If you are planning to upload a lot of data then you may want to consider DSL or Fiber for your solution.

Fiber Optics, which is the future for transmitting data, uses optical fibers to transfer data. Instead of using electricity and metal cables it uses light and glass to transmit the data.  Because of this, it offers faster speeds because of its ability to move large amounts of data over great distances.  Along with DSL, Fiber is a dedicated connection and not shared with others in your area so your speed will not be affected by other users.  One downside to this technology is that is new and expensive to install so it may not be available in your area.

If you would like some help finding the right Internet solution, we can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which one will meet your needs.  If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help you, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

Why Knowledge Management is Important?

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing Inc.

“Knowledge management (KM) is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”1.

KM is about making the right knowledge available to the right people. It is about making sure that an organization can learn, and that it will be able to retrieve and use its knowledge assets in current applications as they are needed. In the words of Peter Drucker it is “the coordination and exploitation of organizational knowledge resources, in order to create benefit and competitive advantage” (Drucker 1999).

Three key reasons why actively managing knowledge is important to a company’s success are: 1.) Facilitates decision-making capabilities, 2.) Builds learning organizations by making learning routine, and, 3.) Stimulates cultural change and innovation 2.

Fortune 500 companies lose roughly “$31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge” (Babcock, 2004, p. 46), a very scary figure in this global economy filled with turbulence and change. Actively managing knowledge can help companies increase their chances of success by facilitating decision-making, building learning environments by making learning routine, and stimulating cultural change and innovation.2 By proactively implementing knowledge management systems, companies can re-write the old saying, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional” to “Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”2

Stay tuned for next month’s blog where we explore more about explicit and tacit knowledge management.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. 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.

 

Where to start with eProcurement

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

 

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

When an organization begins leveraging eProcurement for its sourcing needs, there are many great ways to select the initial categories. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the three most common considerations that we see and often recommend to our clients who are either beginning their utilization of eProcurement or are looking to strategically plan their sourcing schedule.

One consideration when choosing categories has to be the spend. We recommend considering large spend categories as they are often a great way to reduce costs significantly. While the reward of sourcing your large spend categories will be great, bear in mind that these categories are likely to be more complex.

Another consideration is the number of suppliers in the category. We work with our customers to identify and understand categories with high supplier counts. Once we understand the category better, we often find that there is opportunity to reduce the number of suppliers. Often there are many suppliers who are all providing similar products or services. Reducing the number of suppliers creates an opportunity to better control the category and to create a larger opportunity for savings by consolidating the spend as well.

A third consideration that we recommend is to identify quick categories that can be sourced right away. These categories should be of a relatively lower complexity, but should also still be categories where there is sufficient spend and very large savings opportunity. We identify these quick categories as great areas to begin and to help build momentum for the overall eProcurement initiative within the organization.

Ultimately, where to start is driven by your organization’s spend and is best decided after careful consideration including analysis of spend data and budgets. We work with our customers to develop this plan with them and more often than not, the outcome is a plan that has a healthy mix of each of the three types of categories that we considered in this post.

Dave Wenig is the Director of Sales, North America at SafeSourcing. Dave or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing would be happy to discuss how SafeSourcing can help you with your eProcurement planning. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

 

The Importance of Keeping Your Heating/Cooling Systems Well-Maintained

Monday, January 16th, 2017

 

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

Climate control systems represent half of a home’s energy bill or more, according to Energy Star.gov. It is recommended inspections of the unit be done twice a year – one in the spring before the summer heat and again in the fall before cooler weather arrives.  Maintaining your heating and cooling system is much the same as keeping your car maintained properly.  There are five reasons a heating inspection is recommended this time of year.

  1. Warranty. Whether your system is currently under warranty that covers your HVAC system, your best assurance for coverage for a major repair is a receipt from a certified technician who has inspected your unit twice a year.
  2. Clean and Safe. An inspection twice a year will most likely reduce the buildup of soot in the burners. When valves are adjusted regularly, you can avoid potential system failure. Cleaning out dust and debris around the system, keeps the system running safely.
  3. Technician Tips. Heating and cooling inspections done regularly by a certified technician will provide homeowners with tips on how to save energy. Regular filter changes need to be done. Do not clutter items around the system. The unit needs room around it in order to run more efficiently.
  4. The Best Time of Year for Discounts. After the hot summer months when the system has been running continuously, you can save money on the “off season”. Many discounts are available after the summer months and before the cold weather hits.
  5. Six Key Factors to be Aware of When a System Replacement is Recommended.

Furnace age (12 years or older); energy costs keep rising; several repairs over the las few years, burner flame is yellow instead of blue; system makes strange noises; and you and your family members feel ill when the heat is running.

SafeSourcing can provide you with all your service needs. 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

 

Could YOUR Company be saving more money?

Friday, January 6th, 2017

 

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

What prevents a business from reducing costs by engaging in eProcurement best practices? The most common obstacle we see is simply a limitation in mindset, or the lack of will to change practices that maintain the status-quo. eProcurement practices have been around for as long as the internet has, and yet we still find businesses that aren’t aware of the most up to date tools for sourcing, and for whom suggesting a change in practice is akin to blasphemy. What is the barrier to change, and how can you overcome internal objections to improving procurement practices within your organization.

A concept that has come back into the spotlight this election cycle is The Overton Window. This concept is sometimes called “the window of discourse”, and signifies the range of ideas that your audience will accept. Though typically applied to political ideas, it simply relates to what ideas a group of people is willing to consider, and not willing to consider. However, the effort to enact any type of change within an organization will come up against this concept, and will require that The Overton Window be widened. Once the window is widened/the range of concepts willing to be considered has grown in scope, you can begin to garner buy-in of improved processes. So how can we accomplish this in the procurement space? Here are a few recommendations:

  • Let the results speak for themselves: We run risk-free pilot events for new customers to demonstrate what can be accomplished with eProcurement practices. We routinely saving upwards of 20% on spends in excess of a million dollars using our process. Seeing one category save hundreds of thousands of dollars can quickly get your team to see the possibilities open to them for other categories across the business.
  • Implement cost reduction goals: If you create goals that can’t be accomplished by maintaining the status-quo, your team will have to open their expectations to considering new possibilities. “Necessity is the mother of all invention” as they say.
  • Find examples of being overcharged: We often do analysis of a company’s spend categories and uncover situations where companies are being charged 50% more for products/services than other clients of ours being charged. The only difference is that they’ve never addressed that spend and taken it out to market. If your boss isn’t interested in eProcurement, find a spend he’s losing money on that a category RFP has high historical savings in to demonstrate how much money is being left on the table with current purchasing practices.

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.

Happy New Year 2017. This year’s strategic sourcing plan should already be in place

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

What specific short term tactics will you deploy that support your plan and drive immediate and measureable results.

One example of the above might be to augment the manual processes that many  sourcing professionals use today in order to find new sources of supply interested in bidding for their business rather than continuing to live with the same small, known group of suppliers they have used for years. Historically this has been a very time consuming practice that results in few if any new sources of supply. This represents a great opportunity to deploy a tactic that can have an immediate impact for an organization without the need for the implementation of a complete new sourcing strategy.

There is a specific process to follow that will encourage new sources of supply to want to bid for a companies business beyond just being invited. Simply having your buyer assigned the task of picking up the phone and calling new sources of supply will not result in new suppliers agreeing to bid for your business. There are specific objections to overcome and questions to answer that require a specific skill set.  This is a perfect opportunity for Software as a Service providers that offer supplier research. Skilled providers in this area can provide companies with as many as a half dozen or more willing new sources of supply in as little as thirty minutes  that may in fact reside within a companies existing marketing  area.

Sourcing tactics can be isolated procurement related actions or events that take advantage of opportunities offered by the gaps within strategic plans such as lack of new sources of supply mentioned above.  So our tactic here would be to find additional sources of supply that we can invite to compete for a companies business in a variety of categories. The fact is that additional sources of supply competing for a companies business results in compressed pricing and often better quality products.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.