Archive for January, 2018

Safety in Contracts

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

 

Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing.

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.

 

 

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What is a Blister Pack?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

 

Today’s Post is by Eli Razov, SafeSourcing Account Manager.

SafeSourcing helps clients save money on a wide variety of categories. From sugar to fuel hauling, there isn’t much we haven’t sourced for our clients. One category that we source regularly is Blister Packs. Blister Packs have consistently provided significant savings for our clients making it a successful event. Currently, we are offering an opportunity for you to become involved in that savings opportunity. But first let’s learn little about Blister Packs.

Blister packs are the unsung hero of the retail world. They are used to package products such as toys, hardware, medication, etc. Blister packs have been around for many years and come in many different forms. Blister packs are commonly used as unit-dose packaging for pharmaceutical tablets, capsules or lozenges. Specifically, that is our focus at the moment. In other regions of the world, blister packs are the main packaging type since pharmacy dispensing and re-packaging are not common. In some parts of the world, the pharmaceutical blister pack is known as a push-through pack.

Materials Used to make Blister Packs:

  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)
  • Polychlorotrifluoro Ethylene (PCTFE)
  • Cyclic Olefin Copolymers (COC)
  • Cold Form Foil
  • Lidding Foils

There are many benefits to using Blister Packs. Blister packaging is a cost effective way of showcasing a product. Due to the nature of the material and design, it makes it more cost effective than other types of packages that are on the market. There is a wide range of colors and finishes that blister packaging can be constructed to feature. Manufacturers can use that to help make their products stand out on shelves. Blister packaging allows either the manufacturer or retailer to include promotional materials or advertisements to help build a brand and increase customer loyalty. To prevent retail theft, packages are specifically designed so that the customer cannot “touch and feel” the product. Clear, protective, and durable thermoformed plastic packaging enables the customer to fully view the product while maintaining the security of the product. Blister packaging can easily be sealed using heat sealing machinery.

So what does this mean to you? Many of our retail pharmacy clients use Blister Packs at their stores. What many don’t realize at first is that there are numerous vendors in every region competing with the larger, national vendors and that this is a very competitive category when sourced using e-Procurement. With the use of SafeSourcing’s services, many of our clients have saved significantly. The last client who sourced this category with us saved over thirteen percent.

SafeCollaborative™ is a new way for many companies to pool their procurement needs to aggregate larger savings with higher purchasing volumes. We will be offering a Blister Pack SafeCollaborative RFQ Event in Q1 of 2018 which is open to any companies that might want to join. If you have any questions or are interested in participating please contact us at 888-261-9070

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Representative we have an entire team waiting to assist you today

 

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The Pitfalls of IT contracts

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives.

IT contracts are difficult. 

Now that we have that out on the table let’s follow that up with a second statement:

IT Contracts are usually in the top 5 categories of spend of every company on the world.

When it comes to executing IT contracts the main problem boils down to having a service, software license or piece of hardware requiring a contract the details of which a legal team doesn’t always understand from a technical standpoint and which has legal elements an IT staff does not always push hard enough to improve.  Some companies have developed strong Legal IT staffs to handle this issue but most are letting the IT department review and approve contracts that meet the technical needs without attempting to improve the business or legal elements.   Today we will look at some of the elements which the legal and IT team should be working together on ensuring meet the standards needed by their company.

Technical Aspects  – Obviously the most important first step is to ensure that the service or product meets the technical requirements of the business.  This is accomplished by having a well-defined Statement of Work which clearly defines the roles of both parties and what will be delivered during the course of the contract.  For hardware and software this defines how much each party is responsible for the installation and configuration of the project and the support of the project moving forward.  This includes testing, specifications of what the solution needs to deliver, the timeline for delivery, and what is covered by warranty or maintenance and support agreement.

Legal Aspects – Once the technical requirements are met then the legal team needs ensure that all of the language surrounding the engagement and contract are also met and to the satisfaction of the company’s best interest.  One of the first sets of details must surround protection in case the relationship is not executed according to the agreed upon terms.  It is the job of the business to foster a productive and beneficial relationship with the vendors and the legal team’s responsibility to plan for the protection in case that does not occur.  Defining the governing laws and jurisdiction of a potential disagreement, precedence of documents attached to the agreement,   as well as details surrounding the termination of the agreement by either party are all things which must be examined so that the business can be protected from every angle.

Business Aspects – Several aspects affect the business portion, but most of them boil down to two areas; ownership details and pricing details.  Understanding the details of who owns the product is extremely important not only for various accounting reasons but also from a liability standpoint.  If anything happens to the product, who owns it and when will determine who takes on the cost to repair or replace that product.  Having this defined in advance will influence testing, evaluation, timelines and acceptance of the installation efforts.  Pricing is also very important and should be examined closely to ensure the company has the best terms in the way of payment schedule, rebates, discounts and other factors that will result in the best possible pricing and what has historically been ultra-high margin goods and services.

SafeSourcing routinely works with our customers’ IT departments on procurement projects to ensure many of these details are laid out and agreed upon before an award decision is even made.  For more information on how we can help your team with IT projects 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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The Evolving Workforce

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

 

Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Temporary worker demand is rising. When Baby Boomers retire, organizations will lose a lot of talent. Retiring Boomers are going to be hard to replace because Generation X (born between 1965-1980) is small, and because Generation Y has a different concept of how they want to work.  Gen Y (born between 1981-2001) is more technologically and geographically mobile. They value flexibility, which project-based work allows.

Start-ups and small businesses would normally utilize freelance workers but increasingly, larger companies are using online freelancers, not to replace their core workforces, but to complement them usually for special project work. There are a rising number of freelance positions, which typically lack benefits and other protections that come with being a full-time employee. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru are just a few of the multiple online freelance marketplaces which benefit both the freelancers and the corporations hiring them.

Freelancers now make up over 35% of the U.S. workforce and companies are always looking to outsource and work with them to meet their business goals.  Freelance workforce growth is accelerating and has outpaced overall U.S. workforce growth by 3x since 2014, according to Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork.

The use of freelancing platforms could disrupt the way workforces are organized. For corporations, there are coordination costs and other challenges that come with managing both an internal workforce and interfacing with an external one. (Forbes)

The rise of temporary workers is a workforce trend that is here to stay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, temporary workers make up 19 percent of all new jobs in the U.S.

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.

Resources—————————————————————————————

https://www.forbes.com/sites/elainepofeldt/2016/10/06/new-survey-freelance-economy-shows-rapid-growth/#7d454aa57c3f

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-loehr/these-four-workplace-tren_b_4937962.html

 

 

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Document Management Systems

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

 

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

Document management systems (DSM) are computer software tools used to manage and help track the lifecycle of your documents.  Implementing a document management tool allows you to check out, lock and check in your important documents.  Using these features will allow you to maintain older versions of the documents and compare changes that are made.  Because there are multiple versions of the documents stored, you can roll back to an older version if unwanted changes occur.  Each version that is checked in is stored and contains information such as the date, time, description and the user that made the changes.  Using the document management tool also ensures that all of your documents are stored in one secure place and can easily be searched and located when needed.  Another benefit of using a document management system is security.  The access to the documents can be set up so that users or groups can access certain folders and files.  The access can be as finite as limiting a user to access to only a single file.

Below are some of the benefits that can be achieved from a well-designed document management system like our SafeDocument™.

  • Central Repository for Easy Retrieval
  • Enhanced Security
  • Reduced Storage Space
  • Improved Search Capabilities
  • Notifications when changes occur
  • Reliable Backup and Recovery

There are several things to keep in mind before purchasing a Document Management System; such as the number of users and the amount of space you will need.  At SafeSourcing, we can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide why SafeDocument™ is the right DMS for 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.

 

 

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Baseball and Procurement

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

 

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

Baseball is widely considered America’s pastime with a colorful history and a nostalgic place in many people’s lives. Some of the lessons learned in baseball can also apply to everyday life, including your business. Here are quite a few common teachings that many of us learned from baseball and how they apply to your business.

  1. Hit a home run – to be very successful. This can mean successfully completing your project, gaining a new client, making your goals, or exceeding your goals. While just one person in baseball will hit a home run at a time, the whole team benefits. In business, the whole team can be responsible for hitting a home run.
  2. A ball park figure – an estimate. When this phrase is used, it can have a wide range of estimation. For example, a person may offer a ballpark figure for a new hire, which may cover a range of a few thousand dollars, whereas a ballpark figure of a company’s entire spend may range from several million dollars to tens of millions.
  3. Strike out – to fail. This phrase is often used in business, and especially sales. Often sales teams will try a pitch a few times, like in baseball, before they deem it a strike out and will not spend any more time or effort continuing, but rather try a new approach.
  4. Batting a thousand – maintaining a perfect record. This is when a person has been exceptionally successful in their ventures to a point where failure never seems to be an option. While such a high record in anything cannot be expected or maintained indefinitely, it is always a goal for everyone to strive for.
  5. Play hardball – use extreme measures to ensure success. This phase can be used to describe individuals or businesses that take more extreme stances when it comes to compromise. They may maintain a firm position on an offer, which may or may not work out in their favor.
  6. Go to bat for someone – to aid or support someone. This can describe when someone comes to your aid in some way, whether to reiterate strategies or points, defend positions, or just take some of the burden of a person or team for an amount of time.
  7. Throw a curve ball – to do something unexpected. This phase is very common in business and many businesses take great care to avoid curve balls, even hiring analysts and researchers to ensure no signs of an upcoming curveball were missed. However, like the definition states, curveballs refer to the unexpected, so being prepared for anything can help your organization combat any curve balls coming.
  8. On the ball – very aware, responsible, and intelligent. This phase in business is commonly used to describe a person or team who takes initiative, is proactive, or generally takes care of the things necessary without trouble, hassle, or complaint.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you cover your procurement bases, or on 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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Where is the best place for retailers to spend their effort to improve profitability?

Friday, January 12th, 2018

 

Todays post is a oldie but goody by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

Obviously all retail companies would like to focus on all three areas and there are even sub sections of these top line areas that we could spell out as needing attention. The challenge is where to deploy already taxed resources?

It does not require an accountant to figure this out. If we assume that COGS or cost of goods and services is about 75% of top line revenue that would result in a simple gross margin of 25%. Based on a number of industry reports we are also safe using a shrink number of 3% of top line revenue.

This author is aware that there area a few companies with shrink below 1% and cost of goods below 75% which means there are also companies with gross margin better than 25%. The obvious question is; are these companies that solution providers want to target for profit improvement sales? Probably not.

So let’s look at an example of shrink improvement with data analysis tools and process improvement tools versus cost compression with SaaS e-procurement tools. Let’s assume we have a company that does top line sales of $1B. Using a shrink number of 3% shrink would be $30M annually. If you were able to reduce shrink by a third in one year, profit improvement would be $10M. If this were a supermarket company with a 1% bottom line or $10M, improvement could be as much as 100%.

Now let’s take a look at reduction in cost. If we assume the same company has COGS of 75% or $750M and that we were only going to address 20% of that number or $150 and only reduce those costs by 20% which is slightly above industry averages the net profit improvement would be $30M or 300% improvement in year over year net profit. If we were only able to achieve 10% savings which is well below industry averages, net profit would improve by 150%.

I’ll leave the gross margin example for you to figure out. In the above case it is clear that attacking COGS has an impact on the bottom line of up to 3 to 1 versus addressing shrink with your already taxed resources.

If you are interested in an immediate impact to your bottom line, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Watch out that your Spend Cube does not overwhelm you!

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

 

Today’s post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing.

I’ve participated  in a lot of discussions lately about spend cubes, which can just as easily be called data cubes, because that is all they really are.

Just what is a spend cube?  In its most simple form it is a data set that includes information that when analyzed as a whole provides a better or more completed  picture of your spend universe such as the expense category.  Spend cubes help to identify opportunities within a broad category of products and services that may require more attention including going to market and ideally, when they should. Because  a spend cube includes vendor data, causal data,  and  other specifics such as commodity pressures relative to the related cost center being impacted, spend cubes by their nature are very complex.

Unfortunately good spend cubes as well as improperly built managed spend cubes can deteriorate over time based on a number of factors. Probably the primary reason is that the originating data was not complete to begin with or scrubbed properly in the first place. This is kind of a one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch issue or the wrong data bumping into the wrong data. Another reason may be that you don’t have all of the data that you need and therefore the result sets are compromised or left to conjecture that creates improperly built and executed sourcing strategies. Additionally there is the analyst’s interpretation of the data and to this author that is really the most important part once you get the data sources right (think ERP). This person or group of persons needs to know their stuff (industry and products) in order for the data to be interpreted properly. It’s pretty easy to read a GL and determine what suppliers you have been spending the most with. It’s an entirely different thing to understand what the market for a commodity that impacts that particular spend was doing during the last contract versus what it is doing now and how it is trending for the future. All of this has to be attached to specific sourcing unit activity. Think of it this way?  If your vendor does not invoice you at the unit level, where will you come up with corroborated unit spend from regardless as to whether it is a can of beans or a fork lift.

Ask your solutions provider where your data should come from, who will be interpreting your data and what data they will be interpreting. Also thinks start small.

If you’d like to learn more about how to optimize your spend data, contact SafeSouricng.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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If you can improve profitability 73%, Why don’t more companies use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools?

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

 

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

Todays reverse auctions are web/cloud based  Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings that are part of very sophisticated procure to pay applications that let retailers and other companies find the best suppliers for any resale or not for resale product or service they wish to source.  Using a web based reverse auction tool, retailers, other companies or groups of companies (Group Purchasing Organizations) can invite far more suppliers to take place in reverse auctions than they could possibly find or manage using traditional sourcing methodologies. During the reverse auction event they can review on one page all responses from suppliers, data about suppliers, notes from suppliers, product specifications and other necessary information at an instant. Upon auction conclusion which is typically less than 30 minutes retailers and other companies can review savings scenarios and award business from their desktop.

Now let’s get to the simple financial benefits. Let’s assume a $150M Retail Company with industry average earnings of one percent or $1.5M. Additionally cost of goods for this company is 70 percent or $105M. Let’s also assume this company were to only source ten percent of their for resale or above the gross margin line spend or roughly $11M. With below industry average savings of ten percent, total savings generated would be $1.1M which is a direct impact to net profitability. If all other segments of the P&L perform to plan and all savings are recovered during the same business calendar year net profitability would increase to $2.6M or a 73% improvement.

NO BS Here! If you don’t believe me, I will be glad to personally sit down with your CFO and Finance team and prove it to you!

Wen company’s  can begin almost immediately (SaaS/Cloud offering) with no risk (Cost Neutral Pilots)  and no IT involvement,why don’t more companies use reverse auctions and other e-procurement tools? That’s a great question!

If this author were you, I just could not ignore this type of opportunity. If you’d like to learn more, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Twelve areas to consider in your spend analysis if you don’t want to lose your hard earned savings.

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

 

Todays post is a favorite from the SafeSourcing Archive

This is actually a great questions and a tough one to answer if in fact it has not been planned for during the strategy process. We all know that there are all sorts of saving figures quoted in the e-procurement industry for just about any product or service available.

Here are 12 areas of focus to consider when trying to figure out not only your ROI on these projects, but more importantly how much of the savings made their way to the bottom line and what is your leakage percentage.

1. How clean was your GL data?
2. How clean were your specifications?
3. How long did it take you to award the business?
4. How long did it take you to test samples?
5. How long did it take you to sign a contract?
6. How long did it take you to accept your first delivery?
7. Was the first invoice for the exact price you contracted for?
8. Was the shipping and handling exactly as bid?
9. Were there any SOW change requests that raised pricing?
10. What P&L period are you reporting against?
11. What was the budget for this product or service?
12. Can you trace the spend to a specific P&L line item?

It would not be too hard to add another dozen items to this list. The answer here is that proper planning helps eliminate savings leakage. Don’t plan and it will hurt or erode some or all of your potential savings.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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