Archive for August, 2019

The Oxford Comma and Proofreading

Friday, August 30th, 2019

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant and Director of HR at SafeSourcing

For many of us, our schooling has emphasized the importance of proofreading our written works. This is supposed to eliminate any grammatical and punctuation errors, remove redundant ideas, and help keep a message fluid and comprehensible. Outside of the classroom and into the business world, proofreading should be even more important, but is often rushed or not done at all. This oversight and missing errors in a written work can affect your business, and your pocket.

As some background, the Oxford comma is the last comma used to separate a list of items. While it is often acceptably omitted, omitting it can change the meaning of a sentence. The oxford comma is used in the sentence, “You see two dancers, President Kennedy, and Bob Hope.” Clearly, the meaning of this sentence is that you see two people plus two dancers, for a total of four people. The same sentence, without the Oxford comma, “You see two dancers, President Kennedy and Bob Hope,” implies that you see two dancers, one being President Kennedy, and one being Bob Hope.

The real-life effects of omitting the Oxford comma can have detrimental effects on business. For example, a recent article described how the lack of the Oxford comma left one company to pay millions of dollars in a lawsuit. As the New York Times reported, the lack of the Oxford comma in one of Oakhurst Dairy’s contracts forced the company to pay $10 million for overtime it wasn’t expecting to pay.

While this is just one example, this situation demonstrates why proofreading is more important than ever, especially in business. Simple typing errors, misspelled words, incorrect grammar, and unclear language can leave customers and clients wondering about the quality of a business. On the other hand, clear, well-written, and informative language can bring in customers and clients.

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

 

 

 

Fleet Management Services, what values do they offer?

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

How can companies benefit from using Fleet Management Services?

Fleet Service companies provide turnkey solutions for fleets.  Typically they provide solutions for Asset Management, Operating Cost Management and Risk Management.  Please see the details on services below.

Asset Management:

1. Title and Registration Services
2. Vehicle financing, acquisition, delivery
3. Used vehicle marketing
4. Violation Management

Operating Cost Management:

1. Fuel Expense Management
2. Telematics
3. Managed Fleet Maintenance
4. Vehicle expense management
5. Fleet management outsourcing

Risk Management:

1. Motor vehicle records and vehicle monitoring
2. Vehicle accident management
3. Safety Services

Fleet Service companies can help identify savings and improve fleet productivity.  In addition, they maximize your company’s fleet investment by benchmarking your fleet against the industry.  They also can recommend specific steps to improve fleet effectiveness.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your Purchasing Department evaluate Fleet Services 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

Overcoming Cognitive Dissonance in Purchasing

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

 

Today’s post is  from our Archives  at SafeSourcing

Cognitive Dissonance is the state of having a set of beliefs, attitudes, and ideas, and being faced with information that conflicts with those concepts. Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance theory holds that all people attempt to keep all of their beliefs, attitudes, and information in harmony. The problem that often comes up, however, is that we sometimes unconsciously suppress or modify correct information in order to avoid having that information conflict with what we already believe.

An example of this in purchasing would be when a procurement decision is made, and the project turns out badly. Often times the decision will be defended and even REPEATED, rather than the decision maker admitting fault. Why? Because most people automatically feel they need to defend their decisions in order to preserve what they believe about themselves. If you believe you are a great decision maker, you will look for information that supports that belief, and avoid information that conflicts with that belief. Here are a couple of ways to help avoid pitfalls on both sides of the purchase:

The Enthymeme

An Enthymeme is a truncated form of syllogism, where a premise or conclusion is left out of the argument. It is always easier to let someone convince themselves of something than it ever will be for you to, even if your audience’ belief is fallacious. When we pose a logical argument, but don’t explicitly state the conclusion, we allow our audience to extrapolate on their own instead of risking putting them on the defensive because we are demanding they believe what we are advocating. Example; “XYZ Company isn’t certified and the manufacturing process requires certification”. This type of statement can be much more effective than shooting straight for the conclusion “Don’t go with XYZ Company.”

The Ben Franklin Effect

When we do a favor for someone, we tend to justify our actions to ourselves that we did the favor BECAUSE we liked them. We naturally tend to avoid Cognitive Dissonance by changing other beliefs, in favor of holding onto beliefs we have about ourselves. Be on the lookout for people who would use this concept against you; how often have you heard a sales pitch that starts off by asking you for a small favor? It’s a commonly used tactic to use your beliefs against you in order to obtain something the sales-person wants.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team 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.

We look forward to your comments.

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

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

 

Todays post is a favorite from the SafeSourcing Archive

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

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

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

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

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What are my Internet connection options?

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

 

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

When looking for an Internet connection solution, there are several types of connections available. The most common are DSL, Cable and Fiber Optics.

DSL(Digital Subscriber Line) uses telephone cable to transmit data. When using DSL you have a dedicated connection that is not shared with others within your area. The speed is, however, affected by the distance between your location and the location of your Internet Service Provider(ISP). There are two types of DSL connections, asymmetric and symmetric. Asymmetric uses the phone line to connect to the internet and still allows you to use the same phone line to make phone calls. Because of this design, the upload speeds are slower than the download speeds. Symmetric also uses the phone line for the connection but uses both parts of the phone line for its connection. This allows for increased upload speeds, but the line cannot be used for incoming or outgoing phone communication.

Cable uses coax cable to transfer data. Cable is generally faster than DSL, but it is not dedicated so you are sharing bandwidth with others in your area. So there may be peak times during the day when the connection is slower because of the amount of usage within your area. Since most of the internet usage is used for downloading, cable is designed to give priority to downloading and upload speeds are much slower. If you are planning to upload a lot of data then you may want to consider DSL or Fiber for your solution.

Fiber Optics, which is the future for transmitting data, uses optical fibers to transfer data. Instead of using electricity and metal cables it uses light and glass to transmit the data. Because of this, it offers faster speeds because of its ability to move large amounts of data over great distances. Along with DSL, Fiber is a dedicated connection and not shared with others in your area so your speed will not be affected by other users. One downside to this technology is that is new and expensive to install so it may not be available in your area.

While much of this information is pretty basic, SafeSourcing can help with any of your more detailed network sourcing at rates well below what you might negotiate on your own.

If you would like some help finding the right Internet solution, we can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which one will meet 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.

 

 

The components of information

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

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.

Banning the Ban

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

 

 

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

It’s been almost a year since my previous blog, “Zero Waste Initiative”, in which I discussed the move by several retailers to begin phasing out their plastic bag use. Now, in addition to the global concerns about the impact of plastic on the oceans and ecosystems, there is a new plastic crisis regarding plastic’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

According to the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), in 2019 alone, the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere which is equal to the pollution from 189 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants. The CIEL report Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, states that if plastic production and use grow as currently planned, by 2050, these emissions could reach 2.75 billion metric tons of CO2e from plastic production and incineration.

In the “Micro-bead Free Waters Act of 2015” the federal government banned the sale and use of rinse-off cosmetics that contain plastic microbeads. Washington, D.C., has enacted a bag fee to incentivize consumers to bring reusable bags when shopping. California was the first state to ban the use of plastic. New York and hundreds of municipalities across the U.S. ban or fine the use of plastic in some way. In seventeen other states there are those who argue that it is illegal to ban plastic items and are enacting old policy to place a ban on the ban of plastics.

Matt Seaholm, Executive Director of the American Plastic Bags Associations (APBA) says that the ban on plastics hurts the smaller businesses making it more costly for them to comply. The APBA proactively promotes and leads numerous public policy initiatives that serve as the frontline defense against plastic bag bans and taxes nationwide. Without universal laws across the country for plastic use, retailers with stores in multiple jurisdictions would find it difficult to adhere to different processes in multiple locations. According to Seaholm, more energy is used to produce replacement paper or cloth bags and that a ban will do little to impact overall litter and waste.

National Geographic hosts a multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis, “Plastic or Planet” which is very informative on the environmental impact of plastic, and challenges the community to find ways to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in their lives.

Plastic has become such an entrenched part of our lives, it is nearly impossible for us to live 100% free of plastic. It will be a long slow process that will involve a global effort in order to come to a resolution.

SafeSourcing has sourced plastic bags, paper bags, and reusable bags for our clients. Find the product that works for you, but remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business 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.

We look forward to your comments.

References ……………………………………………………………………

  1. https://www.ciel.org/news/plasticandclimate/
  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/map-shows-the-complicated-landscape-of-plastic-bans/
  3. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/planetorplastic/

Baseball Season and eProcurement Part 5

Monday, August 19th, 2019

 

 

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

Welcome to today’s doubleheader. In this final post in the Baseball Season and eProcurement series, we’ll focus on the two most sought after outcomes of an online Request for Quote (RFQ) Event. In the previous posts in this series, we highlighted some examples of how SafeSourcing customers have achieved and enjoyed hitting singles, doubles, and triples in their RFQ Events. At SafeSourcing, a Home Run is achieved when a customer saves between 20% and 24.99% and a Grand Slam is when savings over 25% is achieved.

Home Runs are excellent. It’s a great achievement to save over 20% on a category. Very recently, one of our customers saved over 23% on their uniform purchases. They worked with SafeSourcing to identify the different types of garments that were required and invited several well qualified vendors to participate in the RFQ. This was good exercise for all parties. In the end, the incumbent vendor was able to retain their business through the process. The vendor participated actively and was the lowest company overall which makes the award of business decision very easy.

As great as a Home Run is, Grand Slams are even better. Any time you’re able to reduce costs for a category by over 25%, that’s very exciting. Grand Slams can also be an eye-opening experience for the customers. Certainly, nobody wants to find out that they have been overpaying by 25% or more for any length of time, but that is essentially what might come to mind when a customer achieves a Grand Slam. The reality is that there are a number of factors that go into why savings levels are often so high and this kind of savings shouldn’t be considered as a negative reflection of the capabilities of the buyer or business owner responsible for the spend. One of the strongest factors that leads to a Grand Slam is the use of the RFQ tool and process. Causing open competition leads to maximum savings. Further, when that competition includes a wider selection of potential vendors, the results are compounded. There are more factors too, but these two are very significant.

One clear example of a Grand Slam that supports these points is in the recent project that we completed for a customer covering their Employee Assistance Program. This project was run in two phases. The first phase was an RFP to validate that the potential vendors were able to provide services as required by the customer and to learn about how the services would be delivered. This was important because the customer already had a partner for these services, but they were not aware of alternative vendors or the capabilities they could offer. Once the RFP was completed, select participating vendors were then selected to be invited to participate in a live RFQ for the same project. This was a critical step. As a result of the process, the customer was able to identify several potential partners to choose from for their ultimate award of business. The lowest offering that was already qualified by the RFP offered a 56% savings. Other vendors also finished the RFQ with similar offers. For the customer, that represents a seven-figure cost reduction. That’s a Grand Slam, and they are very common.

At the end of this series, the hope is that we’ve reviewed enough opportunities and examples to illustrate the following point. Cost savings come in a wide variety of categories and amounts. The common thread between all of the examples is that they were valuable for the customer who benefits from the cost savings. Every organization can benefit from savings like what has been illustrated here. Take a moment and consider if you are achieving results like these yourself.

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

 

 

 

Procure and purchase Part II of II

Friday, August 16th, 2019

 

 

 

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

In part I of todays post we discussed our process. Today we discuss the purchasing process

The Purchasing Process

Purchasing is just part of the entire process. Think of it as the final piece to the puzzle. You have figured out what you want, who to get it from, what they will charge you, and now you just need to obtain that good or service. The simplified steps to that final piece can be seen below:

  • Purchase Order Acknowledgement
  • Advance Shipment Notice
  • Goods Receipt
  • Invoice Recording
  • 3-Way Match
  • Payment to Supplier

Often times companies will allow the General Manager or head of that location decide on where to go for what is needed. This can increase costs up to three times more than if the company combined its buying power. This can also be avoided by implementing the procurement methods explained above.

Because purchasing is part of the procurement process, both procurement and purchasing are often used interchangeably. In the business world, the practice of using similar terminology in either conversation or printed materials is routine, although it is often confusing and should be avoided.

Purchasing:

The activity of acquiring goods or services to accomplish the goals of an organization.

The major objectives of purchasing are to maintain the quality and value of a company’s products, minimize cash tied-up in inventory, maintain the flow of inputs to maintain the flow of outputs, and strengthen the organization’s competitive position.

Procurement:

The act of obtaining or buying goods and services. The process includes preparation and processing of a demand as well as the end receipt and approval of payment.

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.

Citation and References:

  • http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/purchasing.html
  • http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/procurement.html

 

 

Procure and purchase Part I of II

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

 

 

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

Procurement is the same thing as purchasing – right? While similar in some ways, the two are different parts of an entire process. I would like to help draw that line that separates the two. This process begins with finding the need and ending with the solution to that need, be it a good or service. There are quite a few steps in the “procurement process”, including selecting and vetting vendors, establishing terms and conditions, vendor and client communication, and finally implementation. Below you can see our standard procurement process.

Our Procurement Process:

Investigation

  • Client identifies a category they would like to take to market
  • Data gathered on current spend, vendors, contracts and policies
  • Subject Matter – Expert is assigned and project team is formed

Notification

  • Internal notice sent on expenditures under review (if needed)
  • Request for current vendors and additional information is made

Information Gathering

  • All internal feedback reviewed
  • New event specifications established

RFx Strategy & Setup

  • Communication
    • Incumbents notified of policy for spend, suppliers invited to participate in the event
    • Answer supplier questions, train suppliers and collect samples as required

Vendor Selection

  • Event is executed – results are analyzed, possible testing, information to Client News
  • Send supplier thank you and surveys
  • Select vendor to enter into a new contract

Implementation

  • Proposed contract details sent to selected vendor
  • Effective date established.

While this is a very simplified list, your company’s needs may be the determining factor of the procurement process. If you work for a big corporation, there may be more steps including Non- Disclosure Agreements, stronger qualifier questions for the intended vendors, and prolonged contract discussions. If your company is smaller, the process can often times be a lot quicker.

Check Back Tomorrow for Part II or II The Purchasing Process.

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.

Citation and References……………………………………………………………………………………

  • http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/purchasing.html
  • http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/procurement.html