Archive for May, 2019

Avoiding the fallacy of the single cause.

Friday, May 31st, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

Procurement projects will of course come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity. Rarely is any single facet of a project determined by only “top-down” variables. Any one part is more likely influenced by a three dimensional layout of different variables, all of which can determine the outcome of the greater whole. But how can all of these intricacies be accounted for, without complicating the project so greatly that it becomes unmanageable? Here are three tips for managing complexity:

  1.  Honestly identify complexity: Don’t close your eye’s to the reality of the project and pretend that it’s simpler than it really is. Admitting that  your value chain is non-linear is not conceding defeat, it’s setting you up for identifying your criteria for success (Be similarly honest with identifying your constraints/bottlenecks).
  2. Consolidate complexity early (accelerated vs delayed differentiation): In supply chains that start with homogenous parts, differentiation should come late in the chain, but the opposite is true for outputs that begin with high complexity. If you consolidate complexity by identifying requirements, scope, and expectations of variables that lead to the single end product, it will keep you from having to break out the constituent parts.
  3. Leverage the entire value proposition: Build into your project the ability to negotiate details based on the full value of the project. For example, make it clear that if a vendor wants to find loopholes that diminish the value of their original quote, that you will be awarding the vendor with the best overall value proposition, not the one who presents a polished picture and adds all manner of hidden fees.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with your procurement 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.

Keep on Trucking!!

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

 

 

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

Establishing a maintenance schedule is the best way to protect your fleet. An experienced company will help this system work well. In addition to drivers, the system ensures maintenance and repair companies handle each vehicle properly.

Here are five tips for fleet maintenance:

  1. Schedule Inspections

Vehicles break down for multiple reasons, anything from accidents to undiagnosed wear and tear can stop a vehicle dead in its tracks. Addressing the issues can be easily resolved with regular scheduled inspections. These inspections help detect problems before the problem strikes. Regular inspections may seem like a waste of time and resources, but they easily save money overall. One small problem can snowball and create more issues in a vehicle. This can lead to expensive repairs that could have been avoided during an inspection. Always go for brake and tire-tread inspections. Check the engine, filters, oil, fuel, lights, and wheel alignment. Remember to test and replace the battery if necessary.

  1. Perform Tune-Ups and Cleanups

Tune up your engine to make it more efficient. This will increase the engine’s lifespan and improve its fuel and oil use. Moreover, it will boost the engine’s performance and prevent stalling or “knocking”. Second, wash the vehicle to remove dust and other particles. This dirt can damage your paint and expose the vehicle’s body to the elements. As a result, rust will form and start eating away at the metal. Also, use high-quality wax on the vehicle body to protect it from the sun’s effects.

  1. Get a Maintenance Checklist

Have a maintenance checklist as part of your system to ensure you don’t miss anything. This list should include the fuel, steering, suspension, brake, and electrical systems. It should also check the engine, tires, vehicle body, and potential fluid leaks.

  1. Do Immediate Repairs

Stay in touch with drivers to get views on potential truck problems. They know their vehicles well and they’ll know when there’s an issue. The important thing is to ensure you do repairs as soon as possible. You can get a mobile truck repair and servicing company to check what’s wrong. They send their technicians to review and solve the vehicle issue you are having. These immediate repairs will prevent bigger problems from arising.

  1. Install Fleet Maintenance Software

Get updated fleet maintenance software for your business. You can input all the details about your vehicles, such as mileage and servicing dates. This ensures you have all the information on the health of your vehicles. The software provides reports that show you are complying with safety regulations. It allows you to set reminders of when a specific vehicle should go for servicing. Plus, it will also help you when making a budget for fleet management.

SafeSourcing can help keep you on the road. By working alongside your Fleet and Vehicle managers we can help build preventative maintenance schedules and help lower repairs and equipment costs. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact SafeSourcing  we have an entire team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

 

 

Loss Prevention

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is by Ashley Riviello, Account Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc.

In 2018, it was reported that U.S. retailers posted an annual loss of $35 billion dollars due to theft and errors. This includes internal theft, shoplifting and also errors such as inventory not being accounted for correctly. According to hubsopt.net there are 6 principles you should follow to minimize theft in your company.

  1. Prevention: Taking the necessary steps to prevent theft from happening. Dedicating resources, whether internally resourced, co-sourced or outsourced, brings the skill, knowledge and attention to the concepts of loss prevention and the continued progression of a loss prevention function. The creation of policies, procedures and processes geared toward the holistic approach to loss prevention provides the greatest long-term opportunities to prevent loss and increase company profitability.
  2. Awareness: Make sure you and your team are aware of how to prevent theft and steps to take to be more diligent. The key to awareness is to make certain that it focuses on all levels of associates; field management, store management and all associates. It must also be viewed as part of the overall business and not seen as something separate or only utilized by store personnel.
  3. Compliance: Maintaining compliance within retail locations is always best served through auditing the various operating procedures and policies. You need to make sure you hold people accountable and everyone is doing exactly what they need to. Having random audits keep everyone in line and hopefully less mistakes.
  4. Detection: The use of technology, coupled with generating awareness about the    technology, a retailer can create a level of deterrence against future thefts. Technology alone, however, is not a complete solution. Make sure once something is detected you take very quick action to fix it. The longer you wait the chances of bouncing back from the loss is minimal.
  5. Investigation: Involving the collection of evidence, interviewing of associates, or the overall process to find someone involved in theft. Although the term investigation is often used in this sense, it is not entirely accurate. An auditor conducting an operational audit is in fact conducting an investigation to determine compliance or adherence to policies and procedures.
  6. Resolution: The reactive aspect of a loss prevention program starts to become proactive once again. Establishing a process for resolution will help to answer the questions of how to prevent future losses. After a solution has been determined it is very important to see it through and make sure things get fixed for future problems.

Per hubspot.com, reviewing the six principles of Loss Prevention, it has become evident how each of them plays great importance in building and maintaining a solid loss prevention program. As individual principles, they each provide elements toward reducing shrinkage, margin loss and costs. Collectively working in tandem, they provide the key principles of a loss prevention program and a solid foundation against loss.

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:

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/31499/file-282948940-pdf/The_Six_Principles_of_Loss_Prevention.pdf

 

Don’t just say thanks to active military or veterans today. Do it every day!

Monday, May 27th, 2019

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Happy Memorial Day!

 

 

Memorial Day Observance

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of the Customer Focus Team & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

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The article below is sited from: http://www.cute-calendar.com/event/memorial-day/5719-usa.html

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 25 in 2015). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the Civil War), it was expanded after World War I.

Many people observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. local time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at National Cemeteries.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for poppies in the days leading up to Memorial Day; the poppy’s significance to Memorial Day is the result of the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields.”

In addition to remembrance, Memorial Day is also used as a time for picnics, barbecues, family gatherings, and sporting events. One of the longest-standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, an auto race which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911. The Coca-Cola 600 has been held later the same day since 1961. (From: Wikipedia, license: CCA-SA)

Whether you are observing Memorial Day by volunteering your time placing flags on the graves of soldiers, volunteering your time to spend with wounded soldiers, or are just spending family quality time together, we at SafeSourcing wish you a safe and memory making Memorial Day.

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

We look forward to your comments.

Procuring Your Proprietary Product- Part 3

Friday, May 24th, 2019

 

 

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

A proprietary process is like grandma’s secret lasagna recipe. Lots of people make lasagna, but nobody does it quite like grandma. In fact, you don’t even like other lasagnas; because grandma’s is so much better that it makes all the others seems cheap and terrible!

You might be currently selling grandma’s lasagna but want to expand your customer base, or you are looking to take the recipe to a manufacture to create your own private label lasagna to be sold by distributors. How do you protect your recipe? How do you maintain ownership of the recipe if you want others to mass produce it?

To be clear, there are a lot of confusing technical terms that need clarification of how to protect your recipe:

Patents: Patents protect new, useful, and non-obvious inventions (ideas!). An invention can be a device, a structure, process, machinery, etc. A patent for a composition of matter, including a food recipe, allows you as a small-business owner sole right to prepare your product for sale to consumers and profit from those sales for a period of years. A United States patent has strict filing requirements, and the approval process can take months to years to complete. You must describe the shape, look and ingredients that go into making your product in great detail. Your product must also meet the “nonobvious” requirement, meaning your recipe must not be easily discernible to a professional with food training or the everyday consumer. A patent for a recipe usually covers either mass market products or those designed to perform specific functions within existing products. In seeking your patent, you must decide how you intend to use your product in the market. For example, if you’re designing a product to increase the shelf-life of existing products, you must name that as your product’s purpose in your patent application. You probably won’t win patent approval if you have no intended use for your product or concrete business plan.1

An inventor’s patent will expire after 20 years, and in any case, require the inventor to publish every step of his or her creation. In essence, filing a patent for a recipe requires the chef to let the cat out of the bag.3

Trademarks: Trademarks protect source identifications, usually for brands, slogans, logos, or designs (sometimes even scents or colors). A trademark protection may extend perpetually.

A trademark allows you as a business owner to protect a word, design, symbol or phrase used in connection with your company’s proprietary products. Many companies large and small choose to trademark brand names for products and business logos to ensure each company’s products and business logos remain easily recognizable to consumers. This helps companies maintain brand recognition over time. You have the right to enforce your trademark in court by suing for damages if another company attempts to use your company’s product symbols or business logo.1

Copyrights: Copyrights protect original textual works and visual or artistic expressions.

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.2

Trade Secrets: Trade secrets protect valuable secret information like ideas that must be kept confidential. Others to whom they are disclosed to must also keep them confidential. Similar to trademarks, trade secret protection may extend perpetually.

Unlike trademarks, which protect recognizable designs, trade secrets protect information such as formulas, drawings, patterns, customer lists, programs, devices, methods, techniques or processes. A recipe may be either a “formula,” “method,” or “process” and can be legally protected as a trade secret so long as (1) the owner takes reasonable steps to keep the information secret, and (2) some independent economic value is derived from the information.4

How to Keep Your Trade Secret Top Secret?

Treating your signature product as a “trade secret” is the easiest and cheapest way to protect your culinary assets, unlike the legal hoops required in filing a patent or trademark.

  • Keep your recipe under lock and key. Make sure only your top team members are in your “circle of trust,” such as an executive chef or manager. Word of caution: not every recipe on your menu can be a trade secret, but only those that have a unique feature that sets it apart from competitors’ offerings, like the recipe behind Thomas’ English Muffins’ “nooks and crannies,” may be a trade secret.
  • Quantify the dollar value of your recipe. Keep track of the sales generated specifically by your signature product.
  • Make sure the keepers of the recipe actually know it’s a secret. Include a confidentiality agreement in your manager’s employment contract. Also, remind these employees regularly during training and at staff meetings of their legal duty to not disclose your restaurant’s signature recipes.4

In part four of this series, the author will provide the clarification of a confidentiality agreement and non-disclosure agreement. Meanwhile, SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your proprietary product 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.

References:

  1. https://smallbusiness.chron.com/recipe-patent-vs-trademark-20893.html
  2. https://lizerbramlaw.com/2015/04/07/copyright-protect-recipes/
  3. https://www.tuckerlaw.com/2018/03/19/secret-recipe-still-secret-protect-restaurants-signature-recipes/
  4. https://www.tuckerlaw.com/2018/03/19/secret-recipe-still-secret-protect-restaurants-signature-recipes/

 

 

Retail Seesaw

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

 

 

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

Retail sales for 2019 have been on an up and down swing from January to April. Sales rose by .2% in January and went down .2% in February, followed by a big 1.7% jump in March, and now a .2% drop in April. Economists are not sure how to gauge the mood of consumers this year, as if they have ever.

The retail industry has had to constantly reinvent itself to keep up with the ever evolving market. Brand loyalty is not enough to keep customers engaged, in our extra competitive ecommerce environment. Whether online or in-store, retailers need to find ways to up their game in order to attract customers’ attention.

Most millennials are seeking a more engaging experience rather than merely shopping for products. Companies will have to consider the image their brand conveys to the world, and work to create retail experiences that match consumers’ changing values and world views. Many shoppers will research consumer reviews before ever making a purchase.

When it comes to fulfillment, customers are looking to get their products fast and free. I can recall 30 years ago when Sears didn’t have the product available in the local store, I could opt to order it from the catalog and patiently wait for it to arrive…about three to four weeks later. These days consumers are used to being able to order an item and have it delivered within a day or two. This can be a deal breaker for some, so cutting down on shipping time is a major consideration.

BigCommerce’s 2018 Omni-Channel Retail Report found that only 11.8% of Gen-Z shops on Facebook, while nearly 25% of Baby Boomers shop on the social platform. Millennials, meanwhile, prefer to buy products they discover on Instagram and Snapchat. Convenience, price, and free shipping were the top 3 reasons U.S. consumers across all generations chose to buy an item at a branded online store. Brand reputation and loyalty rewards were close 4th and 5th reasons.

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.

References…………..

https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/retail-sales

https://www.stellarising.com/blog/consumer-trends-2018-brands-inside-the-glass-box

The 2019 Omni-Channel Retail Report: Generational Consumer Shopping Behavior Comes Into Focus

The Ability of the Market to Bring Buyers and Sellers Together in an Open Environment

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

 

Today’s blog is by Alex Borbely, Vice President of Sales at SafeSourcing, Inc.

Recent advances in electronics and internet technologies have had major impacts on supply chain management and on sourcing strategies and practices. One such development that has attracted the attention of many companies and gained popularity is the reverse auction, also referred to as on-line reverse bidding. Over the past few years, many companies in a variety of industries have started using reverse auctions. The list includes GE, Boeing, Sun Microsystems, HP, P&G, Dow Chemical, Staples, US Foods and many more.

In speaking recently with a CFO of a leading company in their vertical who believes in using reverse auction technology and has used this procurement method in past organizations that he was also the CFO, he stated “If you really believe in what you do with procurement and reverse bidding, which is more measurable directly to the P&L than any solution I have ever deployed, then reverse bidding is surely the best procurement strategy that a company can deploy. Not only in-direct spends but also capitol and direct spends. It can save jobs as well.” This CFO can effectively argued that nothing they (procurement departments) are working on can have a larger impact on their company and employees. Not new stores, not new branding or new products. Nothing.

The most obvious benefit from reverse auctions is in purchasing cost savings to the buyer. As any dollar saved in purchasing cost adds a dollar to the bottom line. Reduction of procurement costs has always been a high priority for top management. Reverse auctions/on-line bidding can have significant impact on reducing purchasing costs.

SafeSourcing eProcurement, particularly reverse auctions, are a relatively new way to increase your bottom-line using e-Procurement tools to enhance the spend process. Utilizing new technologies as mentioned will add profit dollars without selling one new customer buying your products or services. The savings are traditionally 10X your investment in e-Procurement tools. You’re just accepting a different way to solicit bids/pricing even with your incumbent vendors that you currently work with.

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

 

 

Baseball Season and eProcurement Part 3

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

 

 

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

This is the third entry in the Baseball Season and eProcurement series. In the previous posts in this series, we highlighted some examples of how SafeSourcing customers have achieved and enjoyed hitting a Single. At SafeSourcing a Single is achieved when a customer attains between 5% and 9.99% savings in their online Request for Quote (RFQ) Events.

Today’s blog post will similarly review some examples of when our customers have hit a Double. SafeSourcing defines a Double as between 10% and 14.99% savings. Hitting a Double is a very good outcome for any category. In future installments of this series, we’ll focus on Triples, Home Runs, and Grand Slams.

The first example we will review is for bottled water. One of SafeSourcing’s retail customers was due to source the bottled water that they sell in their stores. They had the impression that given the limited number of suppliers that they were aware of that could support their network of stores, that negotiating this category was not possible. While this category does only have a finite number of suppliers based on any given geography, there are plenty to be able to host a competitive RFQ Event. In this case, five suppliers quoted including their incumbent. Their incumbent is a large and well-known national brand. As a result of the competitive bidding process being paired with the vendors that SafeSourcing identified and brought into the live RFQ, the customer was able to achieve an impressive 13.84% savings. Best of all, this low quote savings came from their incumbent supplier which meant they would easily attain the savings beginning with their next shipments.

Our next example is from another retail customer that operates many pharmacy locations and sells a wide variety of items in their stores. One of the categories that we focused on with this customer was their propane tank exchange service. This has become a common category for RFQ as there are several suppliers that operate nationally and many more that operate regionally. The incumbent supplier is one of the largest national suppliers in this category. Again, SafeSourcing identified and brought in three additional suppliers that were qualified and capable of servicing this customer’s locations. The result was a 14.48% savings. It was nearly a Triple. Here again, the customer was able to lower the price substantially while retaining their current source of supply.

There are many results like these and there are interesting stories including great savings dollars behind each. In the next entry in this series, some examples of Triples will be shared.

If you’re interested in learning more about how RFQ Events can help your company advance the bases and achieve savings, please contact SafeSourcing.

Netflix’s New Audio Platform

Friday, May 17th, 2019

 

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

As a tech enthusiast I get excited when I hear technology news. I recently purchased a surround sound system for my family room that supports Dolby Atmos. For those of you who do not know what Dolby Atmos is, it’s basically an expansion of Dolby Digital 5.1 and 7.1 to include speakers that reside above which adds height to the sound. This technology allows for the sound to be played directly to certain speakers throughout the room. So, for example, when there is a scene of a plane flying overhead and to the left, the sound will start from behind you, then move overhead and then move to the left and fade away. When a scene contains rain, it will sound like the rain is coming from directly above. The reason I am bringing this up is because Netflix just announced earlier this month that they developed and launched high-quality audio. With this new technology they are able to improve the sound quality to “studio quality” audio that sounds closer to what the creators hear within the studio. This results in higher quality audio to all of their content without needing more bandwidth or buffering. If you are looking forward to utilizing this new platform you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • A Netflix Premium plan is required for the Dolby Atmos
  • Compatible Television or device such as Amazon Fire TV Cube
  • Sound System that supports 5.1/Dolby Atmos
  • Watch movies or shows with 5.1 or Dolby Atmnos support
  • Internet connection that supports 5 Mbps for HD and 25 Mbps for 4k/HDR

If you are interested in upgrading any of your electronic devices, 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.