Archive for March, 2019

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

 

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

In this series, the author will work to educate you on how you CAN take your proprietary product out to market. While there are many confusing words associated with proprietary products; such as trade secrets, non-disclosure agreements, trademarking, and many more, the author will break down the meanings and how many of them are in place to protect you and your product.

You may be thinking: why should I go to all this trouble? My product has been the same for years or decades without problems. How will this save me money? How will I know my product won’t change? This seems like a waste of time. Why would I rock the boat or ruin my current relationship with my incumbent?

While the process of procurement of proprietary products or items can be a long process, it does have multiple benefits. It identifies if you, or your current manufacturer, are making your product in the most cost effective way, using the best ingredients or materials to make the product, using the most cost effective and/or green packaging materials, and it opens the possibility for growth of your product.

Over the next few months, this author will provide examples of proprietary products being taken through the steps of procurement, covering the concerns that arose in the process, and how clients were successful in protecting their product and name in the process and obtaining savings and education along the way.

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.

 

Baseball Season and eProcurement

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

 

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

Any SafeSourcing customer know we measure eProcurement success using baseball terminology. It’s a fun way to monitor the level of savings achieved as our customers watch their online Request for Quote (RFQ) Events. Today’s blog post is the first in a series in which we will take a deep dive into the different levels of savings and highlight some of recent wins in each.

SafeSourcing tracks these savings levels in real time as our customers watch their live RFQ Event via an easy-to-understand baseball diamond.

  • Single– savings over 5%, but less than 10%
  • Double– savings over 10%, but less than 15%
  • Triple – savings over 15%, but less than 20%
  • Home Run – savings over 20%, but less than 25%
  • Grand Slam – savings over 25%

The typical SafeSourcing RFQ Events results in a Home Run as our average savings is 24.8% across all customers and categories. While the average savings is a Home Run, our actual results vary widely depending on the category. In the coming installments in this series, recent wins at each savings level will be highlighted. Our customers know that, while Home Runs and Grand Slams are incredible, it’s just as important to get a base hit as we work through all of their spend categories over time.

In the next installment in this series, we will highlight examples of how even a Single is impactful and worthwhile. We’ll discuss when you might expect a Single and why you should actually try for them just as you would a Grand Slam.

Contact SafeSourcing if you’re interested in learning more about how RFQ Events can help your company advance the bases and achieve savings.

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

 

College Admission Scandals, Grounded Planes, and Political Convictions

Friday, March 15th, 2019

 

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

When we hear big news stories, it seems to be all the talk for the next few days or weeks. Once that initial buzz wears down, life seems to go back to normal until the next story comes crashing through.

So, what do these news stories have in common and how do they affect us? I think any kind of scandal, especially political or involving the integrity of the education system, has further reaching effects than many of us realize. It is left to be determined what effects those will be in the long run. While we know the latest education scam has been exposed, how many kids missed out on chances at those schools? Planes have been grounded, but how many lives could’ve been saved if it were done earlier? Since we have seen recent convictions in the political arena, how many policies were affected and what kind of propaganda has yet to been discovered?

While SafeSourcing can’t help with your college admissions, we can help your business save money, which can be used to help send a kid to college. SafeSourcing may not have the power to remove corruption from politics, but we can help your organization find a vendor that better aligns with what you are hoping to achieve. SafeSourcing can’t go back and ground planes before tragedy, but we can help your organization source its travel needs, including planes, trains, automobiles, and everything in between.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working Like It’s 1999 Can Still Help You in Business

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

 

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

Starting a business in 1999 is a lot different than starting and running a business in 2019. In 1999, Google was just launching and people searching for businesses relied on the Yellow Pages. Social media hadn’t been thought of and the iPhone wouldn’t be invented for another decade. Heck, the first millennials were just entering kindergarten!

Looking back twenty years, Rhonda Abrams, a columnist for USA Today, reflected on some of the resolutions she made in 1999 and how they are still relevant today.

  1. Keep Learning. Attend trade shows, read journals, attend seminars. Your brain is your most important asset.
  2. Keep Priorities Straight. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Make a list of a few items that make a difference in succeeding and failing both in business, as well as your personal life.
  3. Keep in Contact With Former Clients. Find a way to communicate with both current and past customers at least two or three times a year. Former clients are a great asset.
  4. Use Technology Better. Perhaps moving your contact list from paper to digital files.
  5. Know When to Not Use Technology. Every day find time to turn off technology and interact with people and get in touch with yourself.
  6. Throw Stuff Out. Get rid of old files. Transfer stuff off your computer and put it on a zip drive.
  7. Back up Data. Today files can be moved to the cloud and backed up automatically.
  8. Reflect. Stop and think what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and how you are saying it. This is so important in our busy lives. Take a breath, pause and reflect.

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.

References …………………………………………….

Rhonda Abrams, USAToday, 1/10/2019

 

 

Five (5) Vendor Evaluation Criteria

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

 

Today’s post is   from our SafeSourcing Archives.

It’s easy to imagine that procurement managers look at cost alone in evaluating potential vendors.  At SafeSourcing, however, we have worked with procurement managers in fortune 500 companies and small business all over the world, and we understand there are innumerable variables to be considered with any purchasing project. Today we’ll boil down those considerations into our top 5. While these aren’t exhaustive, they should get you the majority of the way to a complete evaluation:

Net Price: Not only is price of the product important, we must take into account tax, freight, rebates, even installation and maintenance in some cases. We must take into account the total cost of ownership, which will vary depending on the use the product gets in servicing your particular business model.

Location: The obvious consideration here is whether or not the vendor in question even services or ships to your area from their’s. If so, what does it cost to get the good or service to you? What are the freight or travel rates? Is the vendor licensed in your area?

Capacity: What is the production rate and MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)? Some categories will have growing seasons or other production considerations that will require a buyer to contract capacity within certain seasons; and, of course, the production run capabilities will have to scale with the size of your typical orders.

Lead Time: How much time will it take between your first order, and delivery? Some products need to setup manufacturing equipment for a specific run, others may have full harvest seasons committed and will need 6 months before they can plant, harvest and pack their crops.

Risk: What variable commodity prices are your product dependent on? Does the vendor you are considering have pricing subject to currency exchange rates? How do they handle fluctuations? Are there any changes in the regional regulations, tariffs or licensers that could disrupt the flow of product? For international organizations these concerns multiply for every country involved in the production of the good being sourced.

What other considerations do you have when evaluating a vendor? Please leave a comment or for more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

How do commodities influence market pricing?

Friday, March 8th, 2019

 

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

So are you a buyer, a category manager, a commodities trader or a little bit of each? Be careful because commodities make your job of buying tricky.

As an example, Oil is the most widely watched commodity. This is because the price of oil changes daily which has a great effect on other goods and services that are produced around the world. As such commodities have an impact on supply and demand of almost all products.

Let’s take a look at a fairly simple example. As a buyer you are planning to buy Windshield Washer Fluid, Anti Freeze products or both. Consumers buy these products at Grocery Stores, Auto Parts Stores, General Merchandise Stores, Convenience Stores and Drug Stores and on line at Amazon. There are many global suppliers for these products whether they are private label in nature or mixes for use at service stations. The products can be near shored and off shored. The commodity markets that drive pricing in these items are actually quite a few such as the methanol market, ethylene glycol market and resin indexes that effect packaging. If that were not enough, the product is also influenced by the price of oil because of its impact on the logistical component or how the products get to market. This can be a combination of ocean bound freight and land freight both of which are impacted by the price of fuel as well as issues like availability of drivers. The packaging of these products is also influenced by another commodity which is the pulp market that drives pricing for corrugated and other paper based packaging.

So, it’s a pretty simple product and you just got a good price for. The question is did you really? You better go back and take a look at the fine print. You might want to look for things like escalator language and contract termination language. These and other similar tactics can result in higher prices.

Your best bet however might be to find someone that knows what they are doing in the procurement solution provider space.

If you think that’s complicated, how many products do you think are influenced by the price of corn, maize or its genetic modifications? The answer is 100’s including non edible products like glue for packaging. As such the influence may be actually in the 1000’s. How do you keep up with the changes in this commodity? One way would to discuss it with a company that sources categories dozens of times every year when you may source it once every few years which is also a mistake. SafeSourcing Inc. is that type of company that annually saves our customers in excess of 24% across all expense, cost of goods and capital spend areas.

For more information, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Project Manager in order to learn more.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The components of information

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archive. Please Enjoy!

Communication is a funny thing. We communicate day in and day out, most of the time successfully, but it’s easy to think of examples where our message has not be received as intended, or we just weren’t able to pick up what someone else was trying to communicate to us. Much of the time, we find that the fundamental issue in miscommunication is that the message giver and the message receiver have different understandings of the concepts being traded back and forth. For example, one person’s idea of “love” looks completely different from someone raised in a family that expressed love in a totally different way. Another simple example could be if you’re sent to the grocery store with instructions to get “apples”. In your mind, when you hear the word “apple” you have a picture of a Honey Crisp apple, but the person who sent the request has an image in their mind of green Granny Smith apples. All communication is based on templates stored in our minds, on hard drives, on documents, etc. And if we don’t understand what information IS, we’re bound to make mistakes in how we trade it with others in our professional lives.

Information, generally speaking, is a representation of other objects stored within a physical medium. All information is stored in physical objects, such as hard drives, CD’s, brain cells, etc. The higher fidelity of information is stored, the more accurately it represents the object of its focus. For instance, a picture of a widget in low definition, and vague description in a specifications sheet, won’t represent that widget as well as a high definition picture, with several pages of precise descriptors. Similarly, a cell phone recording of a symphony won’t represent the event as well as an IMAX recording would. But the IMAX data will be potentially thousands of times larger, because it takes larger physical space, to record information at higher fidelity. This is because the more possibilities your information CAN’T represent, the more detailed it has to be and the more likely it can only represent what you intend it to.

In the Information Theory context, entropy can be defined as the delta of change from order, to disorder/randomness. Information entropy is the average information of all possible outcomes. In other words, information is most precise, when it disqualifies EVERY possibility other than the very specific one it is trying to represent. If the information you are sending could mean any one of a dozen things, you are bound to have some unavoidable margin of error in communicating to your audience. The tricky thing though, is there’s a tradeoff.

The greater fidelity the information is, more precise your communication will be. However, this increases the size of the information content, making it more difficult to manage, decode, or asses. The tradeoff is that the more precise the information, the more difficult to use. How this translates into procurement specifically, is that there will always be some margin of ambiguity in any specifications document. However, that doesn’t mean an RFP can’t be flexible enough to meet a buyer’s needs. Here are a few ways procurement professionals can make sure their documentation avoids falling into some of the common communication pitfalls inherent to the transfer of information:

  •  Identify the most important attributes, and focus your specifications on those. For instance, perhaps the business goal of the purchase doesn’t depend at all on color, or pack size, or the availability of support staff. Keep the more detailed information limited to the important attributes.
  • Add flexibility to your bid for consideration of equivalent products. Sometimes being too specific means that a vendor who may have a superior product to offer, isn’t able to propose his alternative if a specification calls for an exact match to a lesser product.
  • Ask yourself “would something I wouldn’t want qualify under the specifications I’m creating?” Remember, information should guide your audience to a specific concept, and disqualify all other possible concepts, as much as is possible without overburdening your audience.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

Multi vs. Single Stream Recycling

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives. Please Enjoy!

Not long ago, if you wanted to participate in recycling programs, you had to have several different bins in your home that separated glass, plastic, and paper. But increasingly we see bins in public businesses that simply say “recycling”, and have a single roll-away blue container accompany our regular trash cans. In a nutshell, the old system I described is called “multi-stream” recycling, and the second system is known as “single-stream” or “mixed” recycling.

The advantage of single-stream is that it allows users to fill a single recycling container with almost any kind of recyclable material. This in turn makes it easier to participate in recycling programs, because it doesn’t require any pre-sorting by the person disposing of the material. This ease of use dramatically increases the amount of material that is actually recycled (usage triples on average), whereas there was a lot less participation in recycling programs when consumer had to do their own sorting. There are some limitations however.

There are actually a lot of materials you cannot recycle in the typical single-stream recycling program. Most of these banned materials have their own recycling program, such as electronics recycling centers, composting centers, etc. Users must prevent these materials from going into their recycling:

  •  Food waste
  • Grass, leaves, or any kind of yard clippings
  • Styrofoam of any kind
  • T-shirt bags (plastic grocery bags) or any kind of plastic film
  • Medical or hygienic waste of any sort
  • Electronics or batteries

There are two reasons for this:

  1. Perhaps the most important reason, is that the above materials contaminate the materials that are meant to be recycled. No facility will ever be able to separate materials down to 100% purity. When there is glass or food in the bales of cardboard that are collected to be recycled, it lowers the quality of the product, therefore lowering its reusability. If material is contaminated badly enough, it just goes to a landfill anyway, making the effort to recycle it pointless. Furthermore, having food, battery acid or medical waste be a part of the recycled material used later to hold someone’s meal may have unknown health consequences.
  2. The sorting facility can become damaged by inappropriate use of materials. A nail stuck in a sheet of cardboard for instance, can ruin the very expensive machinery meant to break down the material into paper fibers.
  3. Most facilities sort recyclable materials they receive both mechanically, and by hand. Food, medical waste, and electronics can be hazardous to handle. At the very least, be considerate of those that have to sort through your recycling, and don’t expose them to waste that could be dangerous to their health.

The bottom line is that recycling hasn’t advanced to the point that we can dispose of it the same way we would anything we typically throw away. There is still some degree of sorting we have to do. Without this, if a large enough percentage of users inappropriately recycled, it could cause the whole enterprise to become too expensive to maintain, or too contaminated to reuse. However, with the simple rules of what to exclude listed above, we can maintain and even increase the 33% of waste that we recycle in the United States.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

Fact vs Rhetoric

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives. Please enjoy.

Rhetoric:

  •  The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.

Though we have a basic definition of rhetoric, we need to break it down a little further to understand how it’s used. The end goal of rhetoric is persuasion, to get others to come around to your way of thinking. Rhetorical appeals are most commonly known to manifest themselves in three modes of persuasion:

  •  Logos: The appeal to logic, a means of persuading an audience through reason (though this can use fallacious logic, and not necessarily validreasoning).
  • Pathos: The appeal to emotion and imagination, a means of convincing an audience by eliciting an emotional response.
  • Ethos: The appeal to the ethics or credibility of the party doing the persuading (though again this is a mode/tool of persuasion, but credibility can be built using well-told lies also).

Now that we have a basic understanding of rhetoric, you may already be able to think of both how useful and dangerous it can be. To a degree, it could be said that we never stop using rhetoric. Statements like “in my opinion” are used almost ubiquitously, but could be said to be using rhetoric to give the appearance of humility in order to elicit a softer response than you might receive if you started your claim with “I’m right about this, so here’s how it is…”

On the other hand, leading someone’s thinking with anything other than fact, is to lead them to a conclusion that may not fully align with reality, and that always has the potential for disaster. For example, if you need to motivate someone to action and use “guilt” as an appeal to emotion to accomplish this, your audience may recognize your attempt at manipulation, see use as untrustworthy and illogical (undermining Logos and Pathos), and be motivated in the opposite direction you intended.

Another example would be to persuade someone to think the way you do using credibility, rather than fact. You could pull out a long list of examples where you did well in a certain capacity or point to your college degrees on the wall, but at the end of the day, if you’re operating with a mindset of “how can I get someone to do this” instead of critically evaluating the facts with all parties, you aren’t working with the right criteria for success.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

Could YOUR Company be saving more money?

Friday, March 1st, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

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

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

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

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.