Archive for June, 2018

Here, Let Me Take That Purchasing Problem Off Your Plate…

Friday, June 29th, 2018


Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Manager of Major Accounts and Special Projects at SafeSourcing Inc.

Are you in the middle or end of a contract and stuck as to what to do next?  Has pricing increased

year after year, but service or product delays have been more frequent? Let SafeSourcing, Inc. help YOU! How, you say? With our custom e-procurement process that takes supplier vetting off your plate, helps you establish a contract ready terms and conditions that protects you, and creates a specifications that is detailed for your needs.

You see, we take all your hours of work off your plate and do the work for you, bringing you a reliable supplier base, clean contract ready terms and conditions, and an equal to or better service or product need. And we can do it quickly!  But what is e-procurement?

Wikipedia defines E-Procurement as electronic procurement, sometimes also known as supplier exchange is the business-to-business or business-to-consumer or business-to-government purchase and sale of supplies, work, and services through the Internet as well as other information and networking systems, such as electronic data interchange and enterprise resource planning. The e-procurement value chain consists of indent management, e-Informing, e-Tendering, e-Auctioning, vendor management, catalogue management, Purchase Order Integration, Order Status, Ship Notice, e-invoicing, e-payment, and contract management. Indent management is the workflow involved in the preparation of tenders. This part of the value chain is optional, with individual procuring departments defining their indenting process. In works procurement, administrative approval and technical sanction are obtained in electronic format. In goods procurement, indent generation activity is done online.

Are you interested in 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.


Looking Back Helps you look forward

Thursday, June 28th, 2018


Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

I believe it’s important to take a look in the rear-view mirror once in a while. To evaluate where you started, what it took to get further, your method for navigating, or things you wished you had done differently. Over the course of 6 years at Safe-Sourcing I have learned a lot, and think it’s worth sharing what I want to keep doing in the form of professional habits. However, the most valuable lessons might be just identifying how I want to grow, and what I want to do better:

Professional Habits:

Taking notes: Just do it. Maybe you want to appear as though you didn’t need to be told something to do it, or you just don’t like writing things down. Researchers have determined that we only retain about 11% of what we read or hear on average, and that isn’t nearly enough when you are having a fairly detailed conversation upon which the success or failure of your project may be determined. So do yourself a favor: Take notes for everything, and save them in a format that works best with your workflow (Laptop document, email, cellphone app, hand written, etc.) and check them off as you implement them.

Correlation: In procurement and inventory control, this means having unique identifiers that link 2 or more variables together. For example, how would your GPS app navigate you to the right location if there were multiple buildings with the exact same address in your city? A lot of people would get to the wrong place. Unique identifiers are a lot like addresses; they lead to a unique product or spec, so that there is no room for ambiguity in identifying exactly what you are looking for. Committing to a specification of a product because it “looks like” the specification of another is relying on luck to get the right product to fit your needs, and it will eventually end up biting you. Relying on exact matching of unique identifiers will make sure that what you want, and what you get, end up being the same thing.

Changing/Adapting: This requires a consistent willingness to reinvent one’s-self, and the humility to assume we always have new things we can learn. Sometimes this means taking notes, implementing a new policy off of those notes, and changing the way we do something going forward without having to check that its getting done right. This could also mean not adhering to static job descriptions and titles, so that when we see a need arise, we find a solution and create a path forward regardless of if the waters have been charted yet or not.

Things I want to do better:

Training “Sessions” vs ad-hoc feedback: Not everyone can turn on a dime, especially when they’re deep in the weeds. How would you find a dime in weeds anyway?? When I’ve seen new policies not get implemented quickly enough with my team (or even myself), I know it’s because I need to undo/redirect old habits. Every day we come across opportunities for improvement, but sometimes that opportunity is buried in an email from your boss 23 emails down a chain of long emails. A more formal training session has worked much better in many cases I’ve seen, and is something I would like to use in the future to develop my teams.

Reward, and provide opportunities to practice: Related to training, I really do think practice is necessary to change a previously habitualized work policy. It can be as simple as having the team do mock phone calls, draft document templates, or create faux financial calculations. But actually going through the motions of a new procedure helps re-wire the muscle memory, and memory ques, that people often need to happen in order to change habits. Furthermore, in highly dynamic businesses, I need to reward and recognize those that put forth the effort to adapt and learn quickly. The better my team is at this, the easier it makes my life as well.

Pass along the method, not just the order: Perhaps my biggest takeaway from looking back is that I want to empower my team to make the right decisions, not just teach them to take orders. This means I need to take more time to sit down with a team member, and review how to approach and analyze a problem. I would focus more on how to arrive at a conclusion, rather than just praise or criticize the result. This would be the counterpoint to the old-school means of changing activities by beating policy into the heads of employees. Policies are informed by objectives, and without understanding how to strategize to achieve those objectives, following policy will manifest as filling orders even when it doesn’t make sense to.

Likewise I need to ask well-worded questions to illicit a breakdown of how my mangers think about problems as learning opportunities for myself. I want to take a first-principles approach to both learning how and teaching how-to problem solve. As mentioned above, I believe humility is going to be a key ingredient to enacting this self-managing policy. However, I believe a lot of managers have an aversion to humility because it seems like such an antithesis to authority. I read an article recently by Dan Cable that I think summed up nicely why this is not the case:

“Humility and servant leadership do not imply that leaders have low self-esteem, or take on an attitude of servility. Instead, servant leadership emphasizes that the responsibility of a leader is to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of followers — to encourage them to think for themselves and try out their own ideas.”

Please leave a comment or for more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with your procurement 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.

Overcome the “What If?”

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018


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

“What if” is a question we ask ourselves a lot. Typically the “what if” factor can be what causes us to be our own worst enemy. Ever since I was around 8 years old, I have been afraid of biting into an apple fearing I will lose a tooth. That fear meant anytime I wanted to eat my favorite fruit, I had to have a knife or some way of slicing it. Well, that ended recently when a co-worker came into the office with a bunch of small delicious looking apples. He offered me one and I looked forward to cutting it up and eating at lunch. Well the day blew by before I knew it, it was time to go home. Not wanting to warm up my lunch and try to navigate rush hour while trying to eat, I decided to just go home and eat when I got there. As I pull onto the highway entrance ramp, I see a sea of stopped traffic. Afterabout 15 minutes, I had successfully entered the highway. With a ravishing hunger, looking through my lunch bag, there was nothing that I could eat that didn’t require some kind of prepping. I was about to close the bag and there it was, that delicious looking apple. So I decided to take the chance and it was great! I ate the whole thing and didn’t lose a tooth! That made me think I had spent a major part of my life afraid to bite into an apple.

This got me thinking about everything I had turned down or have been too afraid to do. How often I missed an opportunity. This also had me thinking on how often I have spoken to companies and they have told me how they are afraid to try e-procurement because it may not grasp the entire scope of what they are looking to take to market. They also feared this may upset their incumbents or they may be wasting their time and not see any savings. I have also spoken to potential vendors we invite to participate in the bidding process. I often get the infamous “we do not participate in e-bids”. Once I follow up on that response, it often boils down to they have never participated in one, do not know how it will work, and fear they may be wasting resources by participating and not being awarded the business. I love explaining to them our SafeSourcing representatives are here to help them through the entire process and we are practically bringing the business to them, all they have to do is put their best foot forward. By coming up with strong pricing and a plan, the worst thing that can happen is they may not be awarded the business, but it may help them reflect and gauge where their prices stack up.  SafeSourcing has successfully helped another clients and has brought new business to a happy sales team. This may not be “apples to apples’’ but it can be a great change! SafeSourcing offers “Risk Free” Trials and Pilot Agreements and we pride ourselves on an average savings of 24% across all categories. Can you imagine the savings you could see and what you could so with those savings? Overcome the “What If”!

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.



Single-Use Plastic to Eventually Become a Thing of The Past

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018


Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Manager of Major Accounts and Special Projects at SafeSourcing Inc.

McDonald’s announced this week that by 2020 all of the UK will use paper straws. In the US McDonald’s will be test alternative straws to the plastic version. Sea World already uses paper straws and has eliminated plastic shopping bags and A&W in Canada will offer paper straws only by the end of this year.

So why all the “sudden” changes? As you may know, even though oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth, humans have dumped so much plastic into them that animals such as pilot whales are dying from consuming it. By 2050, according to a prediction from the MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans unless something drastically changes in the meantime. Also, this past spring, reports came out that over 83% of our bottled water contains plastic particles.1

Laws are changing globally to combat the single-use/disposable crisis to our environment. For example; styrofoam cups are banned in California and California is also looking to make new laws to include plastic straws.

Our landfills are filling up with plastics such as water bottles, coffee pods, ziplock bagies, cereal bags, and many more items that typically don’t get recycled. Think back to what you have thrown away in the past 24 hours, how much of it was a plastic that couldn’t be recycled?

What are your business practices to emlinate or reduce your use of single-use plastics? Have you looked at alternative products? Long term what are your company goals to reduce waste or your carbon footprint?

SafeSourcing offers a wide variety of business solutions to your purchasing needs and one of those solutions is research and market changes. We at SafeSourcing can do the leg work for you to find alternatives and give the current market pricing and fluctuating market trends.

Are you interested in more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program for RFPs and RFQs, 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.



Category Discovery is a critical step in building your e-negotiation strategy?

Monday, June 25th, 2018


Todays post is by  Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

Category discovery is the basis of any quality implementation of an e-negotiation strategy. It is essential that this process be supported by the company’s executive management because they hold the key to unlocking access to data sources across the enterprise. This process will include working with all category managers, buyers, other procurement knowledge workers and anyone that participates in sourcing to uncover what you don’t know in support of your Requests for Information (RFI), Proposals (RFP) and Quotations (RFQ).

The first step in this process is the understanding of where the data is hiding and in most companies large and small it is. Here’s a list to get you started. Data discovery generally comes from two sources; Internal and external.

Examples of Internal and External Data Sources

2. Budgets
3. General Ledger
4. Detailed P&L
5. Purchase Orders
6. Contracts
7. Detailed Vendor Listing
8. Product List by Vendor
9. Invoices
10. Product cut sheets
11. Copies of orders
12. Brochures
13. Supplier Websites
14. Annual Reports

If you’d like some help with your category discovery and have a GL you’d like analyzed, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Project Manager.

As always we look forward to and appreciate your comments

The Importance of Maintaining Your Dryer Vent

Friday, June 22nd, 2018


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

A friend of ours recently used a local company to clean their dryer vent.  From being a fireman in the past, I know that clogged vents can lead to overheating and fires, but I did not know there are companies that specialize in this service.  I guess the reason I did not know this is because all of the places that I had lived in the past had the dryer located on an outside wall. Because of the location, the vent was usually less than a foot long because it went straight through the wall to the outside. To clean the vents, I would just move out the dryer twice a year and manually inspect the vent and use a vacuum to clean up any residue.  This isn’t the case in our new house. The laundry room is located in a central part of the upstairs so the vent is located in the wall and goes under the floor boards to an outside wall. Because of the length, there is a greater possibility of having a clog.  These clogs are not just fire hazards, as stated above, but can also cost you a lot of money by lowering the efficiency of the drying.  Clogged or partially clogged vents restrict the airflow which causes the dryer to take longer and be less efficient.  It also makes the machine work harder which causes wear and tear leading to costly maintenance repairs.  As you know, dryers do contain lint traps but these traps do not trap all of the lint that is produced when drying which leads to the possible build up within the vent.  So it is recommended that you clean the vents at least once a year.  Below are some common signs that you may need to clean your vent.

  • Longer drying times
  • Damp or moldy smelling clothes
  • Lint visible in the opening outside
  • Outside vent flap not opening during use
  • Outside of dryer and clothes are very hot
  • Noticeable burning smell

If you need help with your dryer vent maintenance, we can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which company meets 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.


Make Stress Your Friend

Thursday, June 21st, 2018


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

Stress is a part of life for all of us.  As long as we face encroaching deadlines, competing responsibilities, overloaded schedules, last-minute crises, financial troubles, and social conflicts, we’re going to encounter it often. So, when my cardiologist tells me ‘you have to keep yourself stress free’, my response is who does that?  Doctors have typically been telling their patients this for decades, which causes people to spas out when confronted with a stressful situation. The new science of stress reveals that how you think about stress matters.

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist, has a life-changing solution: “make stress your friend”.  In her 2013 TED Talk, Dr. McGonigal presented a scientific study which studied the stress patterns and responses of 30K people for 8 years.  The finding was that stress was deadly for those who believed that stress was bad for their health. Stress is not the culprit, but your thoughts surrounding stress can kill you. You should view your body’s stress response as helping you to get through a tough situation.

Anyone struggling with stress at work might take a few pointers from Major League Baseball’s mental-skills coaches. Currently, 26 of the 30 MLB teams employ sports psychologists or mental-skills coaches to help players’ mental game which can make the difference between success and failure. Ken Ravizza, a mental-skills coach for the Chicago Cubs, teaches players to stay aware of their mental state by imagining an inner traffic signal: It’s green when your body is calm and the mind focused. It turns yellow when your heart rate and blood pressure start rising and you begin having trouble focusing. It flashes red when you start believing your self-doubts. Your muscles tighten and you lose control. Dr. Ravizza directs players to choose a focal point to look at during tense moments, such as a foul pole or spot on their glove, and imbue it with special meaning.

Jonathan Fader, a former mental-skills coach for the New York Mets, coached a self-employed trader who worried so much about hitting his monthly profit targets that his performance began to slide. He advised him to let go of the outcome and focus on attaining the mental state he hoped to experience after he succeeded—calm, masterful and capable of quick, rational decisions.  By improving his performance on measures he could control, the trader began netting better monthly results. We can’t always control stressful situations, but we can control our thoughts and how we deal with them.

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.


Accept Change​!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018


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

Chances are, at some point, that you have had to face some unwanted changes in your life. Some changes are personal and some are professional, but they aren’t always fun. You may have been advised by friends or loved ones to embrace change. I’m not trying to tell you that at all. I am telling you that you should learn to accept change.

In eProcurement, change is usually the name of the game. That holds true for the vendors that participate in our online Request for Quote (RFQ) events and it is also true for our clients who are the hosts of these RFQ events. I thought I would share my perspective on change as it relates to vendor and client in eProcurement.


Change comes with the territory for vendors in an eProcurement RFQ. Whether you are an incumbent vendor or not, the results of the RFQ event are likely to bring change. This can be a very positive change. Vendors invited to participate in an RFQ event have an opportunity to secure new business through their participation. The host of the RFQ event might be one that the vendor has been calling on for years, or the host may be a net new sales opportunity. Either way, the potential for a positive change is there. Incumbent vendors might be more reluctant to the change. Certainly, there is risk in any such process that the incumbent vendor may not be awarded after the RFQ. That’s not always the case. Either way, it’s best to accept the change and make the most of the opportunity.


The client who is hosting the RFQ event must also accept change. As a result of the RFQ event, their award decision may mean that they will be awarding to a new vendor. This might not be a vendor that they have worked with in the past. For this reason, there are always steps in the process which will allow this change to be managed by the client. One of the most common ways to manage this change to ensure that it is successful is to request and review samples. There are many other ways as well. This is meant to be a positive change. While savings is important and one of the largest benefits of the change that comes with this process, it is not the only benefit. Change can also come in the form of product or process improvements or in service levels. Accepting change and being open minded is very important.

I don’t view change as positive or negative. There are definitely times when change falls pretty directly into one of those categories, but the concept of change doesn’t imply either. In eProcurement, change should be accepted and managed. Perhaps through acceptance, you might even find you’ll be able to embrace it.

For more information as to how SafeSourcing has been able to assist its clients adapt to the ever changing world of procurement best practices, please contact a SafeSourcing customers services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.






Procurement Expectations

Monday, June 18th, 2018


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

If you have never utilized e-procurement or used a procurement partner, you may not know what to expect when first beginning. Typically, a procurement partner works with your team to assist with the procurement process. This can mean a number of things, and could include e-procurement tools, like those offered by SafeSourcing. These tools and the expertise of a procurement partner can greatly help with the success of your own efforts and can help your organization realize more savings, more opportunities, and a more streamlined and quicker process.

When working with these tools and your procurement partner, it is important to outline what you hope to achieve from the process. Making your expectations known can help direct those procurement efforts to produce the results most sought. For example, if an organization is seeking to use a new product in store, a procurement professional can help research that product, list potential suppliers, and provide a market estimate of costs to implement that product. If an organization is expanding into a new region, your procurement partner can source everything you might need, from construction companies and building supplies to products to fill the new stores. Even if a company is looking for a private label product from a certified green vendor, that is what your procurement partner would focus on finding.

Ultimately, utilizing e-procurement, and especially a procurement partner, can help you attain the results you hope for. However, if expectations aren’t known or aren’t relayed, the outcome may not align with what was wanted. A procurement partner’s job is to help your organization get the results it desires and works with you and for you to ensure the outcome is a success, because when your organization succeeds, so does your procurement team.

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



Retail collective buyer organizations and consortiums are evolving in order to compete with mega retailers.

Friday, June 15th, 2018


These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e-negotiation and eProcurement tools. Their retailer members are also benefiting from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs in many different ways

These types of organization can go by many different names such as wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but for the savvy consortium can also be wildly different.

In the retail vertical, companies may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Consortiums are also evolving and beginning to focus mixed markets where it makes sense. In general consortiums tend to be vertically focused such as a drug industry consortium with the members generally representing the drug industry only. However some consortiums are beginning to market them selves outside of their vertical to retailers or other companies who want to take advantage of learned expertise that the consortium possesses in the categories that are common across more than their own vertical and offer increased volumes. An example might be drug stores sourcing very similar products that health care organizations like hospitals source. Although this may seem like a stretch fro most, it is now very common within retail for non vertical specific players to work together.

Today?s advanced e-negotiation or e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying and aggregating outside of a consortiums initial area of expertise. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers and other companies while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these types of tools and what they have to offer in terms of introductions to other companies for increased volume.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.