Archive for August, 2017

Information Reliability

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Manager of HR and Administration.

There is a trend in today’s society of calling the news that one doesn’t like “fake”. This, however, is a dangerous trend, as it sends the wrong idea that just because information is not liked, it can just be dismissed. The even more reckless effect of this trend is that people may accept that any true and factual news heard that goes against personal beliefs may simply become “fake”. With some cases, this may not have a detrimental effect on society as a whole, but there are some instances where it very well could. Take, for instance, the anti-vaccination trend of recent years. People believe that vaccines are bad and no amount of facts or proof will sway people to vaccinate, sadly to the detriment of those too small or sick to be vaccinated themselves.

This trend of dismissing unpleasant news, however, is grounded in truth. There are in fact, false news stories out meant to mislead and hype audiences toward particular conclusions for a variety of reasons. So, how can one go about verifying that what is read is truth and not false, misleading, or rooted in bias? While in some instances, the folks at the show MythBusters have helped viewers determine fact from urban legend, and those at Snopes help to determine validity of true and false articles, not all stories can necessarily be proved true or false. This is where looking into precedence helps.

Throughout school, many of us were taught, and reinforced through much practice, to find good and credible sources and cite them. Today, this exercise is one that can help those who seek reliable information. When reading or viewing an article or story, pay attention the named source of the information. Also, pay attention to whether or not facts are displayed, and not where those facts came from. If names and organizations are unknown, a quick google search can tell you more. There are some highly respected news sites that, despite what some may say, have consistently and thoroughly reported true stories grounded in facts. While not all audiences like the stories, The following agencies are reliable and trustworthy and often issue retractions if anything is a story is incorrect: The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BBC, The Associated Press, NPR, and CNN, as well as many others.

At SafeSourcing, we believe in having true and reliable information for everything we undertake, and will use our knowledge and experience to find the best information for all of your sourcing projects. For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help your organization, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

What’s the genesis of your supplier database and how was it built?

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

 

Todays post is from Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

All databases have their start as an information gathering exercise that ultimately is enhanced by those characteristics the owner or developer determines to be useful to the community of interest the database is to be offered to. The information then becomes part of a data model where information sets can be accessed or searched based on a variety of queries or questions. Most developers follow a process called Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration or UDDI  as this process.

Universal Description, Discovery and Integration or (UDDI) is a standard established for building online databases of companies and the goods and services they provide, similar to Yellow Pages for the Internet. UDDI is intended to help businesses locate suppliers and products. Sourcing companies supplier databases go well beyond this definition.

Data models can be extremely complex and that is where they become more than a simple on line yellow pages. In fact high quality supplier databases should be able to provide much of the data you might find in the opening pages of a detailed RFI. A simple query like show me all companies within a 500 mile radius of your home office zip code that provide a set of products that meet the following safety certifications.  A next step might be summarizing all company information for these companies by a list of attributes such as company description, sale, years in business, officers etc.

How easy would that make your life?

If you’d like to find more qualified and vetted suppliers to support your sourcing efforts of any product or service, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Enterprise Software RFPs

Friday, August 4th, 2017

 

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.

The Value of Data

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

 

Here’s and oldie but goody.

Todays post is from our SafeSourcing Archive

Data has a way of sneaking into every aspect of our life. In an article in the Wall Street Journal from 1/14/2012 titled “How Google & Co. Will Rule Your Rep” by Holly Finn, the uses of personal data as it relates to one’s reputation are described. Soon, it seems, data will be carefully analyzed at even the most personal or intangible aspects of life.

With that in mind, it is my belief that as you approach your procurement process, this rings true as ever. Too often in procurement, a purchase decision must be made when there is either no historical data to support the decision or the historical data available is insubstantial.

In these cases, it may seem as though there are no valid options that would help make a purchase decision beyond the data at hand.

In most cases, however, there are more options available. In an example where you do not have adequate historical data to make a sound purchasing decision based on pricing, you may find that it is possible to move forward in your decision with the confidence that you have received the best pricing possible. Ask your strategic sourcing partner to work with you to review your project. In most cases, an RFP can be created and managed in such a way that will provide you with the data that you might not have otherwise. Once completed, a live RFQ can be managed as needed to provide the compressed prices that you seek.

With your new data in hand, you can make your decision with confidence and with the metrics to back it up.

Just think, it used to be enough to want to share an opinion. But now, as we write this, we are hoping that it will be worthy of online comment and reaction so to boost my (quantifiable) reputation.

Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Representative to learn how we can help with your sourcing data needs. You might be very surprised at what we know about you based on what we have learned from others.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The Geographical Significance of Vendor Selection

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

 

Today’s post is the SafeSourcing  BLOG Archives.

Many National companies are faced with the dilemma of trying to control the sourcing of products and services across their company in a way that consolidates what they purchase and helps them control who they are working with.   Many times our customers will tell us that they are only interested in speaking with companies who can handle their entire company; only National providers will be considered.  The SafeSourcing recommendation frequently will be to expand that vision in order to create an opportunity for greater overall value, and possibly better savings.

Today we will be looking at the advantages of each of the three geographical levels that companies can employ when setting up their projects and why a good mix of all three can create greater opportunities for success for your company.

National suppliers – There are some obvious advantages for selecting National providers to be involved with sourcing projects.  As you grow they will have the infrastructure in place to support you and your business.  In many cases they have a support system and reporting system that can assist you with tracking what you are spending and where those products and services are being delivered to.  National suppliers have the size to be able to reduce the overall costs of the items you purchase but they also have the overhead and internal expenses that it takes to maintain a National company.   National companies tend to have larger market share and recognition so their aggressiveness in competing for your business may not always be in line with that of the regional and local suppliers who are looking for any way to get some of your business.

Regional suppliers – Regional suppliers tend to cover 20 to 40% of the country and focus on a specific area such as the Northeast, Southeast, West Coast, etc.  The advantages of the regional supplier are that they are large enough to be aggressive in price and to offer great value-add services but they are focused enough to know the area they are servicing.  Regional suppliers have typically mastered the logistics of their shipping lanes and many times know the culture and the people in the area better than a National supplier does.  While having multiple suppliers loses some of the advantages of having a National program, the services and prices may indicate a 2 or 3 supplier award makes the most sense for the company.

Local suppliers – Local suppliers who handle either a city or an entire state, are typically brought into a procurement event for one of two reasons.   They either are an incumbent of one the locations currently or they are being reviewed for a rural area that is not supported well by a national or regional supplier.  Local suppliers have the flexibility to be aggressive in pricing (especially for services) and they can usually support rural areas better than larger companies.  Having local companies involved gives incumbents a chance to fight for the business they have previously had and possibly win new business and it provides great options for locations that need special attention.   Local suppliers will also ensure that the regional and national suppliers are staying competitive in the service levels, terms and pricing they are offering you across the company.

The mix of suppliers you invite to your sourcing projects are every bit as important as the history and specifications you supply those suppliers and developing a strategy of the right mix will be important to how successful your projects end up.  While you may intend on finding one National provider, the value offered may demand you consider a 2-3 company award at the end and having options at the local level for special situations and emergencies is something every company should have a contingency plan for.

For more information about how we can assist you with developing these supplier selection strategies, 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

National Brand Product versus Private Label Product

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

 

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

Years ago private label products were easy to spot on the grocery shelves. They were bland in color and referred to as “generic”.  Consumers considered private label products to be inferior to the colorfully packaged national brands.  Today there is a lot more emphasis on private label advertising and packaging.  Last year, store brand sales reached an all-time high of $118.4 billion, cornering 17.7% of the total market, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

Advantages of national branded products:

  • Name recognition, visibility and trust.
  • Larger advertising budgets (tv advertising, print and digital advertising)
  • With years of experience, branded products have worked out kinks in their supply chain (Ingredient sourcing, and manufacturing techniques).
  • Better control over inventory orders.

Advantages of private label products:

  • There isn’t a need to spend money on advertising, thus keeps costs down.
  • A key source of revenue for a grocery store is to put their own private label product on the shelf next to a major brand.  On average private label brands produce 8-10% higher margins.
  • Retailers can order products that they want and demand exactly what specifications they want.

Disadvantages of Private Label Products:

  • There is more risk if a product doesn’t succeed.  Retailers have to invest in packaging, design, and ingredients in hopes that the product does well.  Less brand recognition.
  • Retailers need a good private label manufacturer (some retailers will be dealing with many manufacturers) that provide good service and have good demand planning that is efficient.
  • “If retailers want to drive more multicultural consumption of their store brand, they’ll need to improve their educational efforts around the offerings provided by their private labels, and tailor those offerings to the unique demands of multicultural families.”1

“The bottom line is it’s all driven by economics. It’s customers looking for better prices and still good quality.  It’s retailers looking for better margins.  It’s branded product manufacturers looking to fill up capacity, as well as the contract manufacturers.”2

1, 2 Carolyn Heneghan, FoodDIVE,, 11/7/16

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with your sourcing needs, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.