Archive for December, 2018

Procurement of Potato Salad Part I

Friday, December 28th, 2018


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

Procurement of potato salad? How many types of potato salad can you name? What are your favorites? What ingredients make the potato salad your favorite?  Do you walk up to a deli counter and get overwhelmed by the sheer number of potato salad behind the glass? Do you spend your valuable time to make your own potato salad?

The types and number of potato salad is limitless. Every region and continent has their type of potato salad. If you can imagine an ingredient to be included into the potato salad, then a recipe or manufacture has probably created it. There are varieties of potatoes that can be used for potato salad, as well as, the various types of “sauce”. There is even a debate if potato salad can be served hot, such as the German potato salad.

This author’s mother would often make her own potato salad, but in her later years she would buy cheap potato salad and “doctor it up” by adding additional ingredients like more mustard or celery seed, eggs, onion, or whatever else she could imagine. This often created some very tasty salads and only one time in this author’s memory can remember a not so great potato salad with an overzealous garlic powder version of potato salad.

You are probably wondering what any of this has to do with procurement.  I often use potato salad to explain to family, friends, and even strangers what procurement is and why it is important. Potato salad has so many facets of purchasing requirements, whether the salad is pre-made by a manufacture or homemade. Where do the potatoes come from? How are they processed? Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip? Yellow Mustard or grain mustard? Eggs? Spices? Celery? Even bacon?

Why there are three to five different types of potato salad behind the glass at the deli counter and why do the price per pound vary so much if the potato salads visually look similar? How would you choose which one to purchase? In explaining what procurement is, it is also important to explain why sampling is critical to making a purchase.  The best deli departments are the ones who will let you sample each of the potato salads and be able to tell you what makes each one unique to be behind the glass and not in some plastic bucket in the refrigerator section to be purchased by the gallon.

This author hopes that you find this series fun and educational. In part two of the Procurement of Potato Salad, this author will start at the “root” of procurement of the potatoes for potato salad.

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.



Benefits of Using a Staffing Agency

Friday, December 21st, 2018


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

Hiring new employees can be a very daunting task.  Sometimes it can be a real struggle finding the right talent.  Even if you find the right talent, the new hire may not fully satisfy your company’s needs.  This can result in wasted time and money.  As a result of this, a lot of companies choose to work with staffing agencies to help them find the right talent.  When done in-house, the vetting process for a new hire can be very time consuming and expensive.  Staffing agencies can help with this because they do all of the vetting and may absorb other costs such as skill assessments, background checks, drug screenings, driving records and training.  Using a staffing agency ensures that you get qualified candidates that can come aboard and start being productive right away.  Below are some other reasons to consider working with a staffing agency.

  • Faster Hiring Process
  • Better Candidates
  • Save Money
  • Superior Market Knowledge
  • Lower New Employee Overhead
  • Performance Guarantees
  • More Effective Job Descriptions
  • More Access to Experienced Candidates

If you are planning to hire new employees and would like help finding a staffing agency, feel free to contact SafeSourcing.   We can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which one 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.

We look forward to your comments.



Staying Alive

Thursday, December 20th, 2018


Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

Amazon is now in the oil business, with the release of its Amazon Basics Full Synthetic Motor Oil. Amazon’s private label oil is a competitor to Valvoline, Quaker State and other leading brands. Proving, that there isn’t an industry Amazon can’t enter.  According to former Amazon executive BrittainLadd, now a consultant specializing in digital transformation and strategies, Amazon is becoming so powerful that even Walmart can become marginalized in as few as 10 years.

Private label is becoming extremely strategic to Amazon. As of July 2018, Amazon has a total of 76 private label brands and Ladd estimates Amazon will have over 2,000 private-label brands within 3 to 5 years. Companies can no longer afford to operate as if Amazon doesn’t exist.

Known as the “Amazon effect”, more and more people have become online shoppers which has rapidly changed the retail landscape. This increase for e-commerce businesses comes at the expense of brick-and-mortar retail stores, with the most recent victims Toys R Us, and Sears closing its doors. Some stores are adapting by providing an electronic retail option or E-tailing, with online shopping portals which allow online ordering and a pick-up option at a nearby retail store.  E-tailing helps traditional brick-and-mortar stores reach more consumers worldwide and increase sales.

Another adaptation has been the surge of pop-up retailing.  Pop-up stores are temporary retail locations that offer a unique experience to the customer with minimal overhead to the retailer. Pop-up store customers have the chance to touch, try on, and demo products in person before having to make a purchase. The retailer gets an opportunity to interact with customers face-to-face which allows them to address potential concerns on the spot. Best Buy, J. Crew and Nordstrom have all recently ventured into the world of pop-ups.

Reinventing how we do business in this quickly evolving economy is the key to survival.  Staying relevant can be the difference between staying alive or becoming the next casualty of e-commerce.

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.



It’s About Time​

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018


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

As we wrap up another year of providing eProcurement services to our customers, it’s a good time to consider what categories you’ll be sourcing in the new year. In an effective eProcurement program, every spend category should be considered at the appropriate time. But how do you know when it’s time to source a category?

One of the first considerations is contract timing. Unfortunately, many organizations today don’t have good controls in place to monitor contract terms. In some cases, the contracts are even missing because they were not saved in a central repository.

That’s where a contract management tool comes in. SafeSourcing’s contract management tool, called SafeContract™,  is a great way to manage contracts and avoid the issues caused by losing track of your contract terms, or even entire contracts.

SafeContract™ is an online contract repository that stores, tracks, and monitors your contracts. SafeContract™ puts you in control of your contract and notifies the user when it’s time to consider a category for eProcurement based on contract termination. For example, if the contract requires 30-day written notice before termination, a user might set a 60 or 90 day reminder so that they remember to take action. With SafeContract™ as your contract management tool, you’ll know when it’s time to consider sourcing a category. Not only will you know when to source your categories, you’ll also avoid missing deadlines for automatic renewals and other unfavorable outcomes.

Please Contact SafeSourcing if you’re interested in learning more about our contract management tool or any of our full suite of Procure to Pay tools.






When is the Best Time to Procure?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018


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

When is the best time to procure? This is a question we get often and the answer varies. For many different goods and services, particular times of the year are best to take to market. For example, services like air conditioning repair often yield greater savings if they are taken to market during the winter or spring. This is generally because it can guarantee a provider a certain amount of work and they can budget their time ahead of time. If you seek pricing for air conditioning repair in the heat of the summer, providers may already be booked and may charge much higher rates than normal.

Another factor to consider when determining the best time to procure is market conditions. These can vary month to month, but paying attention to any recent news or trends in the market can delay the timing of your procurement event. For example, if you are seeking maple syrup and there have recently been any devastating natural disasters in Canada or the northeast US, you may want to delay your procurement efforts until the product is more readily available and more competitive pricing can be obtained.

These are just two different factors that can affect the timing of your procurement efforts. There are many other things that could expedite or delay them further, like contract expirations, anticipated tariffs, etc. While we often get questions regarding the best time to procure, we can always give one piece of advice– talk to your procurement partner to plan the best timing for your procurement needs well beforehand. They can help you with all the factors that go into running a successful procurement project.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in 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.




Recycling Crisis

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018



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

It is the time of year when holiday packages will be arriving on people’s doorsteps across the country; however gift boxes this year might not become recycled gift boxes next year. Recycling is now a crisis in the US.  China, America’s go-to nation for processing recyclables into boxes, is now requiring the cleanest, purist loads. This decision has left recyclers without a market causing recyclables to pile up and prices to fall. Waste Management, the trash hauling giant, reported it has become more expensive to recycle glass, plastic and paper. UPS reports that they will deliver 800 million packages this holiday season, an increase from 762 million in 2017. FedEx will add another 400 million, if they match last year’s total.

After years of conditioning Americans to throw all of their reusable containers and papers into a recycle bin, cities across the US are charging higher collection fees, as well as eliminating certain items they will not pick up. Nearly 35% of the nation’s waste is diverted to recycling from the solid waste stream. That accounts for millions of tons of material that can be repurposed, saving energy and time rather than making product from scratch. Mixed paper was worth $85 to $95 a ton to recyclers a year ago. Today the price has dropped to $6.50 to $8.50. Lesser-quality plastics were worth $45 a ton. Now it costs $35 to get it recycled. Cardboard prices fallen too.

There are about 100 Waste Management recycling processing facilities in the US. The cost of processing recyclables was $85 a ton, now sorted loads only bring in $65 a ton. Instead of receiving a check for recyclables, some cities are being asked to pay to have them removed.

Waste Management reported that 25% of recycled material is contaminated. Junk such as dead batteries, hoses, broken lawn furniture, plastic grocery bags, greased-stained pizza boxes, are some of the items that should not be put into recycle bins.

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








Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 5 of 5: Service

Thursday, December 6th, 2018


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archive!

Strategic sourcing companies each have their own unique offering whether that is based on a price model, category focus, supplier database or some other defining trait, but the overall goal is to help their customers source products and services easier, smarter and with an end result that creates more value than the customer could achieve on its own. Over the past four days we will be looking at some of features and characteristics you should be looking at when evaluating a new or existing sourcing partner. Today we will close out the series by focusing on the one trait that should be examined closer than any of the other five; Service.

Having great data, tools, reporting, or technology will only be as good as the team helping you to run new projects and your partner should be as strong, if not stronger in their customer service offering than anything else they do. Today we will look at a few of the specific areas you should be looking at when evaluating your current or a new strategic sourcing partner.

Experienced – Sourcing experience across dozens of category is not something that every strategic sourcing has. There is a reason why some sourcing partners focus on travel, energy, and logistics only for their customers. Experience in sourcing events from both a consumer, sourcing partner, and supplier side is a big key to understanding the perspective of all the parties involved. This experience helps with the management of the suppliers as well as that of the customer to keep the projects moving and details and communication delivered. Well rounded strategic sourcing companies will have had sourcing experience in IT related products and services, software, warehouse materials and equipment, construction related goods and services, temporary services, For Resell goods, transportation and logistics, commodity goods, and normal indirect spend items to name a few.
Supplier management – The most difficult task in running a sourcing project, outside of collecting the data necessary to run the event, is managing the suppliers during the process. Management begins as soon as suppliers are contacted to participate in the event. Your strategic sourcing partner should be able to assist you with fielding all questions from suppliers, speaking to suppliers on your behalf to get them engaged in the process, handling objections they may have about the process, and training them on how to follow the process and tools with live support. Once a sourcing project begins, your strategic sourcing partner should manage the process and all communications so that your team can be allowed to focus on the important things they will do later. Support should continue through the entire process all the way until the project completes and suppliers have submitted everything requested.

Post event support – In some cases once the sourcing event is completed, handling and communication of the suppliers selected for award goes back to the customer. In many other cases, the sourcing event (RFI, RFP, RFQ) is just the beginning of the evaluation process. Many times samples will need to coordinated, presentations scheduled with the selection committee, scorecards and evaluation materials developed and distributed to the internal decision makers as well as agendas to the suppliers. These are all ways that good strategic sourcing partners stay involved and take the load of the sourcing process off of the customer. Many times the suppliers are used to the customer service member they have been dealing with and having that same person take them all the way through the process is a big advantage to the process going smoothly.

Many things should be looked at when evaluating a strategic sourcing partner and depending on the structure of your department, some characteristics will be more important than others but all should be considered at some point. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with sourcing 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.

Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 4 of 5: Tools

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018


Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

This week we have been looking at the different characteristics strategic sourcing companies and solutions have that should be evaluated when making a decision as to what is most important to your company. At the beginning of the week we looked at technology, data and reporting capabilities and the different aspects of each and the importance they could play in sourcing projects. Today we will look at the different types of tools strategic sourcing companies can sometimes offer that can make your job as a procurement professional event easier.

Information Gathering – In Tuesday’s blog we discussed the importance of a good supplier database and template library foundation to beginning a sourcing project. This addresses the external data but does not always help explain the internal spend data and specifications especially when the category is a new one to your company. Being able to send electronic surveys to resources within your company in a way that requires very little effort can save a procurement team hours of time in legwork but, more importantly, can ensure that the picture of your spend you are painting for potential suppliers is accurate. Being able to understand who in your company is buying something, what they are buying, how much they historically purchased, how much they expect to purchase and whether they like the current product and supplier are all details which will shape a very successful event and can be easily collected with an online survey tool.

RFx – The concept of moving from Request to Information to Request for Proposal to Request for Quote/Tender is not a foreign one in the procurement industry and virtually every strategic sourcing company offers some type of tool or service to support this flow. Where the differentiator begins to come in is how seamless the flow from one step to another is. Do suppliers need to learn multiple tools? Is it online? Are details from step automatically moved over into the preparation and documentation of the next step? Each step of the RFx process is unique but has common threads that tie each together. Good RFx solutions will tie these threads together in a way that reduces the time it takes run from beginning to end and the amount of repetitive tasks required of the suppliers with each step.

Result Management – The information is gathered, the project is complete and the results are better than you could have expected. The problem is that without the tools to put those results into effect, they become worthless. Being able to manage the results of your sourcing events is considered by many to be more important than the results themselves and can take several different forms. Top begin with is a catalog/ordering/purchase order system that will allow your company to place the orders they need at the new pricing you have negotiated. Implementing a catalog system can also prevent rogue spending from unapproved suppliers based on past history. Another useful solution is a contract management tool to track your contracts and important details and dates, ensuring that the contract will not roll over into a situation that costs you even more money than you saved. Managing both aspects of a new deal are critical to maintaining your project’s success.

Having covered the technical, data and tool aspects of strategic sourcing partners and tools, tomorrow we will conclude with the most important piece of the puzzle which is the service your strategic sourcing partners can offer you that can save your team hundreds of hours and provide experience where you may have none. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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.

Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 3 of 5: Reporting and Audit Trails

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018


Today’s post is our  SafeSourcing Archives.

Strategic sourcing companies each have their own unique offering whether that is based on a price model, category focus, supplier database or some other defining trait, but the overall goal is to help their customers source products and services easier, smarter and with an end result that creates more value than the customer could achieve on its own. This week we have looked at the importance of data and technology when making a decision on a strategic sourcing partner and today we will be looking at the reporting and audit trail capabilities and how they fit into the mix of successful events. The best supplier research and technology will not be useful without the view of results in a way to make meaningful decisions.

Strong base reports – Every eSourcing solution has a standard set of reporting that they provide their customers when an event is complete. There are certain aspects of this report package which should be present in order to review the most basic details of an outcome. Supplier activity should be captured in a way that timestamps every quote entered in the system and who entered it. This is also part of the audit package described below. Any online notes should be reported on as well as the supplemental documentation many suppliers provide. The final outcome in a detailed and summary view should be provided as well as copies of all of the documents that were involved in the sourcing process. Basic award scenarios and supplier performance during the process should also be included in a standard spreadsheet or executive summary style report.

Capable of additional analysis – As important as the base set of reports you get from event are, the capability of your strategic sourcing partner to be able to provide additional analysis is just as important. There will be times when special circumstances surrounding the event need to be considered, or the way an incumbent factors into an award decision must be reviewed. Your sourcing partner’s ability to provide scorecards, provide additional award scenario details or break down situations where a primary and secondary supplier need to be awarded by location are all realistic and important ways that they can help save your team dozens of hours and allow them to do the other things they need to do for your company.

Audit Packages – There are usually not many times when a company will need an audit trail of what happened during a sourcing project but typically when they do it is of critical importance. So when evaluating technologies or partners make sure they can provide a package that includes copies of all documents and electronic versions of communications that went to any potential supplier. They should be able to provide time stamped documents of all notes and quotes entered into the system as well as who entered them for the supplier. All verbal communication and questions submitted by a supplier to the customer should be captured in a central place that either be accessed by the customer or by the administrators for reporting purposes. This package should be easily available and contain the trail of all communication with the suppliers.

Tomorrow we will look at some of the sourcing tools that are available and being used by many companies. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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 and appreciate your comments.