Archive for March, 2021

Freight Tendering 101

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

 

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

This author has been in and around the freight business for years. Actually for 40 years. Just like the unrelated movie, I have seen it all. Planes, trains and automobiles (trucks really) to be sure but also ocean bound freight. The ships and planes get bigger, but at the end of the day the same issue exists. How do companies get their products to where they need to be efficiently and at a cost that is acceptable in order to satisfy customer demand?

This is not necessarily about your internal optimization models; it is more about the data that feeds your internal optimization models. That is of course if you even have one. The basis for collecting that information is not all of the math calculations and pivot tables; it really is the following types of data.

• Lane data in distance for your delivery model such as Plant to DC.
• Volume discount data from carriers
• Lane rate per mile
• Fuel Surcharge rate
• Human resources rates for loading and unloading (Lumpers in the US)
• 3PL storage rates
• Load balancing charges for LTL versus FL

There may be other data that is required for your individual model, but the above will cover most of what you need to come up with a well rounded format that freight companies can easily bid on.

Relative to who should be bidding; this authors recommendation conducting a three step process that includes a detailed RFI, followed by a detailed RFP and then ultimately the RFQ data compression piece or a reverse auction.

• RFI  – Incumbent and other participants selected from a quality sourcing  database
• RFP – Participants include a reduced number from the RFI process
• RFQ – Includes all RFP participants unless otherwise indicated by the host.

The terms and conditions of the reverse auction or RFQ can cover the balance of information needed by providers that relates to quality, certifications, payment terms, safety, insurance etc.

If you want to get control of your freight costs, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The Supplier Selection Process

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

 

Today’s post is from our archives at SafeSourcing.

In brief, here are few steps to selecting  the proper suppliers   in order to provide the best goods or services at the best prices and in the right time frame and location for your specific business needs. This process is broken down to a few select categories to assist you in doing so. While there are certainly others, this will get you off to a good start.

Price – A key consideration for choosing suppliers is affordability. Competitively priced suppliers are usually the most attractive option. Affordability does not always represent the best value for money. If the quality of your supplier’s product is subpar, you may incur additional costs for returns and replacements, and risk losing business. If you decide to pass poor quality on to your customers, you risk damaging your business reputation.

Reliability – Reliable suppliers deliver the right goods or services on time. Large suppliers are generally more reliable because they have enough resources and systems in place to make sure they can still deliver if the unplanned happens, which it usually does.

Stability – You will want experienced suppliers with a proven track record. Stability is important, especially if you are entering into a long-term contract with a supplier or they are the only supplier of a particular item critical to your business.

Location – Consider location when selecting suppliers. Dealing with distant suppliers might mean longer delivery times and extra freight costs. When lead time is the most critical, a local supplier might be a better option. I recommend investigating freight policies of distant suppliers. Bulk orders, for instance, might get you free shipping or you might be able to combine different orders to reduce costs.

In addition, your might  also want to consider financial strength, existing user references, specific industry certifications and programs that support your companies social responsibility initiatives.

SafeSourcing would like to assist you with your supplier selection process.  Our SafeSourceIt™  Global Supplier Database already contains much of this  information. In order to learn more as to how we can help you with your specific procurement needs or about our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

 

 

 

What’s important to you in the development of your negotiation strategy?

Monday, March 29th, 2021

 

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

What is your procurement organizations overall procurement strategy? All to often, when this author asks this question, the response I  get is  that deer in the headlights look that says to me there either is not one in place or the person I’m asking the question of has know idea how to answer the question. If there is no procurement strategy, there certainly is no supportive negotiation strategy because how companies negotiate should support their overall procurement strategy or at least it should.

The cause for the above is quite often that there is no formal procurement organization in place to begin with or the function is lost within a supply chain organization, logistics organization or finance organization. And sometimes it is even located in operations and as a result spread all over the place depending on the size of the company.

It’s a good bet that  if there is no well defined procurement organizational structure within a company that there are many maverick negotiations going on and that many of the associates conducting these negotiations are not skilled at doing so and don’t  have any advanced tools other than spreadsheets, email and telephony to conduct the negotiations with.

The result of the above is a lack of collaboration and well thought out aggregation, maverick buying, expired and or ever greened contracts and much higher than needed cost structures.

So before you can negotiate effectively you will have to go back to the drawing board and develop a procurement strategy. Once that’s in place negotiation best practices can follow.

If you’d like to learn how to do this quickly with executive office support and begin reducing costs in the current accounting period, please contact a customer services representative at SafeSourcing.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What Procurement KPI’s are on your dashboard?

Friday, March 26th, 2021

 

Todays post is by Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

At a minimum the following data fields; start date, event date, award date, letter of intent date, contract date, initial delivery date, total low company quotes, total all low quotes, award of business quotes are the basis for e-procurement KPI’s that will help to measure how your procurement department is performing and progressing over time and where opportunity for additional savings exist.

Wit the above data you can measure the following daily by department and associate assigned to that project. You should be able to actually click on any of the KPI’s to drill down for further analysis and causal data.

1. Opportunity lost cost results
2. Timeline analysis of a project launch to event, letter of intent and contract
3. Low quote company versus all low quotes or missed savings
4. Average days to complete event
5. Average days to complete award
6. Average days to complete LOI
7. Analysis of supplier count and line item count versus where savings were maximized.
8. Number of events occurring above and below average.
9. Average or mean performance by KPI
10. Deviation or the best and worst events by KPI

If you had these KPI’s on your desktop of mobile dashboard, how much easier would it be for you to manage your business? If you don’t have this data please contact a SafeSourcing?Customer Services Account Manager to find out just how easy it is to retrieve.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

How important are your product specifications!

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

 

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

Here is an all to often typical conversation with procurement solution providers. Be careful to make sure this does not happen to you.

Customer to and e-procurement provider: I need to order some bulk shipping boxes or containers.

Uninformed e-procurement provider: No problem we have specifications on a variety of these products, I’ll get something for you to review my friend.

Customer: No problem we just need to see a sample.

Uninformed e-procurement provider: Consider it done, you are so important to us.

A week later the customer follows up to ask when the sample will be here.

Uninformed e-procurement provider: They said they are waiting for a flatbed to deliver it.

Customer: Why do they need a flatbed!

Uninformed e-procurement provider: To deliver it.

Customer: Send me a copy of the specification:

Uninformed e-procurement provider: Sure can do my friend. I’ll  actually send you a picture.

SafeSourcing Moral: It’s important that you understand what you are asking for, it’s even more important that your e-procurement provider understands what you are asking for.

If you don’t want your specifications screwed up, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager. Be careful out there.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The success of E-procurement solutions requires officer level sponsorship and support!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

 

This is more true today than it ever has been, yet does not!

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

The role of e- procurement solutions continues to become more strategic each year. Driving cost out of goods and services is one of the most important above the line initiatives any company can undertake. But make sure you don’t forget the expense or indirect spend area.

In order to successfully implement an enterprise wide e-procurement initiative, executive management must provide sponsorship and visibly promote these projects within their organizations. Executive sponsorship is required by the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Procurement Officer or Chief Logistics Officer. The potential impact to earnings regardless of Industry is so significant with a properly deployed e-procurement program that officer level executives require visibility based on the potential impact to stockholders and stakeholders alike. In fact Sarbanes-Oxley section 404 requires the following of companies:

1. Demonstrate reasonable & consistent governance & compliance monitoring.
2. Assure proper use of tools that have been placed into practice.
3. Employ proper reporting & management oversight.

Implementing e-procurement solutions has the potential to offer significant earnings changes.

Once executive management has sponsored these initiatives, some form of accountability must be implemented to ensure maximum participation in order fully realize organization wide savings opportunities. Scorecards may be a good way to begin. Scorecards report on KPI’s that indicate a teams or a company’s effectiveness. Examples might be awarded savings vs. low quote savings by team and by individual. This could lead to understanding lost savings opportunities or relationship management issues that provide risk.

A company’s successful transition to e-procurement requires a transition from a cumbersome paper RFX processes to one that focuses on using the speed and efficiency of an electronic forum.  Successful change management professionals focused on sustainability realize that this shift must be a combination of the use of not only the latest software advances, but also reengineering of internal processes in order to drive sustainable results.

If you’d like to learn more about how SafeSourcing can help you improve your financial results, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

In One Year

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021

 

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

It was this time last year that widespread lockdowns began at the rising rate of coronavirus infections. It is hard to believe a whole year has passed. It is also hard to believe it has been only a year, because so much has happened. Instead of going into the details about the bizarre, incredible, and unbelievable things that have happened in the last twelve months, this blog will go into detail about all the things that can be done in the next twelve months.

There are lots of things that can be done in a year, so the following list is of things that people have been able to accomplish in one year. While these things are extraordinary, they can be inspiration for yourself or just ideas for potential goals.

  1. Read one book every day: This is something quite extraordinary, not just because of the time needed to accomplish, but because one could grow weary and physically tired of reading so much. This was not the case for Nina Sankovitch, who was able to do this partly in remembrance of her sister who had died of cancer. While we may not all be able to accomplish this, we can still challenge ourselves and read more. Whether you prefer memoirs, historical fiction, or mystery, there are many books out there that can take you away any day or every day.
  2. Plant a forest: This may be a tricky one because many of us probably do not have the space to plant an entire forest. However, when an entire country comes together and every person plants one tree, hundreds of millions of trees can be planted. This is exactly what happened in Ethiopia in 2019. Millions of people participated and 353 million new trees were planted in a single day! Perhaps this is inspiration for you to plant a new sapling in your garden this spring.
  3. Run the country: This doesn’t mean you could become president in such a short amount of time, but rather that you can physically run the distance of the continental United States in this amount of time. While many of us would need to train and prepare, one individual was able to accomplish this feat in far less than one year. In fact, Louis Michael Figueroa ran from New Brunswick, NJ to San Francisco in 60 days at the age of 16 as part of a promise made to a friend battling cancer. He is actually part of the inspiration for the character Forrest Gump. Perhaps this can help motivate you to go the extra distance in your life.
  4. Reduce expenses: This is probably something we all strive to do, but sometimes do not exactly know how. While cutting coupons and shopping around helps, how do you cut expenses in your business? This is where SafeSourcing can reduce the costs of your goods without reducing quality, and it can happen in far less than a year. By using a procurement partner like SafeSourcing, you can cut expenses in several categories that you are likely overspending and have a much better financial outlook this time next year.

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

 

 

Retailers, Are You Considering Installing Self-Checkout Lanes?

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

 

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

I remember when grocery stores started adding self-checkout lanes in their stores.  It seemed odd that you would go through a line and have to scan and bag your own groceries when there are employees there to do that for you.  At first I thought why would I pay the same price for my groceries and do all the work myself.  But as time went on, I came to find these lanes to be very convenient especially when only purchasing a few items.  Now with the pandemic a lot more places are looking to add this same convenience to their stores as well.  For example, I was at Costco the other day and they now have kiosks set up at their food-courts so that you can order and pay for your food.  When they began testing these, their original purpose was reducing and eliminating long food court lines.  But because of the pandemic they ramped up the release of the kiosks to avoid crowding and human interaction.  This is no surprise given that recent surveys have shown that over 80 percent of shoppers prefer to shop in stores that offer touchless or self-checkout options.

If you are interested in adding self-checkout to your stores below are some advantages for adding them.

  • Improve customer experience
  • Less employee support
  • Faster and more efficient
  • Can increase store space
  • Shorter Queue’s
  • Frees up time for employees
  • Reduced HR costs

Today’s solutions are varied, If you need help finding your self-checkout solutions for your company, feel free to contact SafeSourcing, you won’t pay as much.   We can gather all the necessary information for you and help you decide which company meets your needs.    If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help you, can help you,  please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Upset the Apple Cart

Friday, March 19th, 2021

 

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

The foodservice industry plays an integral part of our nourishment, our culture, and our economy.  This connection has been highlighted during our current battle with a pandemic. Foodservice is challenging in normal times, and when you upset the proverbial apple cart with the added challenge of supply chain interruptions caused by national and international demands and market increases due to trade restrictions, the entire industry is forced to make some critical decisions.

In order for the foodservice industry to provide the apples, they also have to include the cost of the cart, because the packaging of our food is a necessary consideration, especially since we immediately pivoted to a contactless environment. Instead of the cart, it is the paper and the plastic containers in which we receive our take-out orders, as well as our grocery supplies that has gone through the roof.  Whether the food is coming from the field or the factory, domestic or import, it has to be placed in a container in order to travel to your table.

Our three major trade partners are China, Mexico, and Canada, and imports decreased about 20 percent during the second quarter of 2020. Wisconsin is best known for being a dairy state but they are the biggest manufacturer of paper in the United States and sell more paper, employ more people, and have more paper mills than any other state. Paper mills were already struggling prior to the onset of the pandemic due to decline in print media, but most mills were not equipped or it was too expensive to retool for transition to food paper production, and have had to shut down production. Food wrapping paper is a significant chunk of business for Wisconsin paper manufacturers and converters, ranging from paper sleeves between slices of cheese or deli meat, to grease-resistant papers, baking papers and more.

From medical supplies to food packaging, plastics are essential in the effort to stop the spread of corona virus. Plastics have become more and more vital to help keep our families healthy and our food protected, both in the medical and the food industry.  Plastics materials and plastics are in high demand and some of the top sources of plastics imports, such as China and Vietnam have imposed temporary trade restrictions. This has also created a strain on demand from our domestic plastic manufacturers.

Increased demand and fewer resources have led to the climbing cost of safely doing business. In retail, margin management is key to profit retention and category management has become increasingly difficult in these times.  Let SafeSourcing assist you with lowering your cost for the apple as well as the cart.

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 RepresentativeWe have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

Getting Savings Through the Learning Curve

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

 

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

Learning is a topic that has no shortage of sayings and idioms, and common phrases that refer to it. To name a few…

  1. “You learn something new every day”
  2. You can “learn the hard way”
  3. You can “learn from your mistakes”
  4. And, of course, you may experience a “learning curve”

The list could go on, but the point is that learning is a fact of life. In eProcurement, you will likely find plenty of opportunity to learn, but there are a few things that you can do as you get started to make sure you learn quickly and that you’re able to enjoy the benefits of your eProcurement process even as you’re learning. Here are a few thoughts on the matter so that you can learn from the experience of others.

The first one  I’ll share is that it is absolutely possible to learn as you go with eProcurement. In fact, the best way to learn how the process works and what works best for you is to select some categories to start with and to begin sourcing. With SafeSourcing, we help our customers get off and running very easily because of our full-service SaaS model. That eliminates many of the typical barriers to entry that would prevent a new user from experiencing how eProcurement works and from getting the immediate value created when we reduce costs in those early categories.

Secondarily, I would note that you don’t need to learn anything the hard way. For customers willing to embrace eProcurement and are willing to be open minded in their learning, SafeSourcing can offer much guidance. From experience, the more closely you are willing to work with us and communicate regularly, the better your learning experience will be. We’d rather help you learn from the mistakes of other than your own and we’re going to guide you around the types of challenges and pitfalls that exist.

Like any subject, learning in eProcurement is an entirely subjective experience. From our perspective as the eProcurement provider, we can make learning a very easy process, but everyone learns their own way. No matter your learning style, just know that we’re here to make sure that you succeed.

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.