Archive for August, 2021

Fail Quickly!

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

Those of us who are too afraid to fail, inherently play things safe. Those of us who play it safe, don’t set “unachievable” goals.  Those of us who don’t set “unachievable” goals, don’t rethink our mental models of what is possible for achieving success.

Of course, no one will say failure doesn’t hurt. However, it doesn’t have to be crippling, if we approach it correctly. In weightlifting we have to allow the uncomfortable microscopic tears in our muscle fibers to occur before those cells can rebuild bigger and stronger. In our personal lives, it we have to be challenged and tested, and shown where our blind spots are before our character can be improved. In business, sometimes we need to surpass our own expectations of what is possible, and test that with both success and failure, before we will know what we or our organization is truly capable of.

Nathan, my second youngest brother, is more of a risk taker than I am, and I suspect there’s a lot I could learn from him. He’s traveled extensively, goes sky diving, purposely seeks out random strangers in public to sit and have lunch with, and generally is always trying new things that I’d rather not.  But he has a method about it; If the only reason he doesn’t want to take a risk is apathy, he takes it anyway. However, if the risk is so great that failure would be unrecoverable, he doesn’t go through with it. He has a lower and upper threshold for the risks he takes, so that he’s never too inactive, but also never betting more that he can afford to lose.

The point of failing quickly is not to take on gargantuan risks. In other words, we don’t go out and bet the farm just to prove a point. There are foolish ways of taking on excessive risk of course.

The point of failing quickly is to expand our self-imposed limitations of what is possible within the proving grounds of activity that we can quickly recover from should the experiment be a failure.

Please contact SafeSourcing if you’d like to discuss how this strategy can help your sourcing projects.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Are your prices going up too much and to frequently from your Manufacturer?

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

 

Today’s question is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

What is a fair price increase? What type of margin should your Manufacturer be making? These are tough but fair questions that you should be asking of them every day. So, maybe in some cases it’s time to consider other than single source of supply opportunities. Maybe in other cases it’s time to consider multiple Manufacturers in order to meet your service level requirements. What language can you add to your contracts that ensures that your prices don’t rise? What indices should you be leveraging in order to mitigate in contract price increases?

If you’re interested in keeping your costs in line with reality or maybe even getting better pricing and service, contact SafeSourcing because we have done this many times for many companies in many industries.

 

Are your prices going up to much from your Wholesaler?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

 

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

What is a fair price increase? What type of margin should your vendor make? These are tough but fair questions. So, maybe in some cases it’s time to consider other than single source opportunities. Maybe in other cases its time to consider multiple suppliers. Do you have a fair pricing policy? Does your Supplier have one? Competing for your business is a good thing, its how the world works.

If your interested in getting your cost back in line with reality, contact SafeSourcing because we have done this many times for many companies.

Winter Parking Lot Maintenance

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

 

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

It’s hard to believe but winter is just around the corner and with it comes the harsh conditions that can deteriorate your parking lot and driveways.  All of the harsh conditions such as rain, snow, ice and the chemical used to melt these conditions can take a toll on a poorly maintained area.  Make sure to keep the area clean.  This means removing any materials such as leaves, planting materials, rocks and gravel.  These types of materials can hold in moisture and may help cause early corrosion.  If there are any areas that contain chemicals such as oil, gas, or other liquids, make sure and use the proper cleaner to remove the stains.  Leaving these types of petroleum stains can damage the area even if they are seal coated.  Once the seal coating is damaged, water may be able to seep in through small cracks which will weaken the area and allow larger cracks to form.  If you do find that you already have small cracks while cleaning, then repair the cracks before further damage occurs.  Not repairing cracks will eventually lead to the development of pot holes which will be lead to more costly problems.  Once cleaned and repaired make sure that it is seal coated.  This should be done about every two to three years to help protect the asphalt from surface water, sun and harsh chemicals.  Below are some tips for keeping your parking lot well maintained.

➢ Routinely Inspect

➢ Keep it Clean

➢ Keep it Sealed

➢ Remove all Chemical Stains

➢ Look for Bad Drainage Areas

➢ Fill Cracks and Pot Holes

If you need help finding a licensed maintenance company to maintain your parking lot, feel free to contact SafeSourcing.   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, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

Sunscreen Recall

Thursday, August 19th, 2021

 

 

 Today’s blog is by Gayl Southard, for SafeSourcing.

For years the general public has been advised to use sunscreen when out at the beach or while enjoying outside activities in order to prevent skin damage.  Recently, Neutrogena and Aveeno have voluntarily recalled their sunscreen products that contain benzene (a cancer-causing ingredient).   According to the National Cancer Institute, exposure to benzene can lead to leukemia and other blood disorders.  CVS Health stopped selling two of their after-sun care products due to suspected toxins. The majority of sunscreens have no problems; however, the following products have voluntarily been recalled:

Neutrogena Beach Defense (aerosol)

Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport (aerosol)

Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense (aerosol)

Aveeno Protect and Refresh (aerosol)

What in Benzene?  Benzene is a natural compound of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke and ranks in the top 20 chemicals used for production of lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, pesticides, as well as plastic, resins and nylon and synthetic fibers according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It is a colorless or light-yellow liquid with a sweet odor.  It is flammable and floats on water.

It is suspected that benzene was a contaminant that made its way into the sunscreen product during manufacturing.  Or it could be a byproduct of the process of making chemicals that companies use to formulate personal care products and sunscreens.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk

Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service RepresentativeWe have an entire team ready to assist you today.

References

Sandra LaMotte, CNN, 7/17/2021

 

Where to cut back on spending?  

Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

 

 

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

If you haven’t noticed the price of just about everything has been going up over the past year or so.  Just recently another key inflation index rose significantly as the supply and demand mismatch continues.  The Producer Price Index, an economic measurement of the average change in prices that domestic producers of goods receive for their products in a given country, rose almost 8 percent over the last 12 months.  With everything going up, it is time to start thinking about where and how you can save money.  One way to do this is to cut down on your grocery budget.  According to researchers, the average household family of four is spending over 900 dollars a month.  That comes out to almost 11,000 dollars a year.  There are many ways to cut spending on groceries.  One way is to price compare before you shop by comparing prices using grocery store apps.  You can use the apps to browse their weekly ads and to download digital coupons.  When you go through the checkout and use you reward card the coupons are automatically taken off when the items are purchased.  Below are some other tips to help you save money during these trying times.

  • Get rid of Debt
  • Buy Generic
  • Use Coupons and Cash Back Apps
  • Buy in Bulk
  • Shop Online
  • Get rid of Cable Television
  • Cancel automatic subscription services you’re not using
  • Reduce Energy Costs
  • Pack your Lunch
  • Make your own Coffee
  • Set up your Bank accounts to automatically transfer money from Checking to Savings

Interested in learning how SafeSourcing can help your company run more efficiently?  If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service RepresentativeWe have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

What Do You Source?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

 

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

If your company hasn’t ever sourced products or if you have and just aren’t sure where to begin, you are not alone. With all the number of things each organization buys throughout the year, it can be a challenge to determine where to begin and what to source first. Determining what services or items you source first can depend a lot on different circumstances, such as time of year or even current market conditions.

The time of year you look for goods and services will affect the results of your procurement efforts. When you are considering sourcing snow removal services, you will likely have the results if you source during the warmer months of the year instead of the winter or fall. This is because the need for those services are at their peak during the winter months and vendors may charge higher prices for the same services because they may be low on time. Sourcing ahead of time lets you and the service provider better prepare for the upcoming season so that headcounts, equipment, and schedules can accommodate the need.

Another significant factor in the timing of your procurement efforts is current market conditions. While market conditions are not something we can predict or control, there can be some speculation. For instance, if resin prices increase in the market, the prices for plastics will likely rise. It can be beneficial to source your plastic goods during that point and simply lock in prices to help offset the price increases. If market prices decrease from there, you can implement language into your supplier agreements to reevaluate prices monthly or quarterly to adjust to those market conditions.

If you are simply unsure what products you should begin sourcing, a procurement partner, like SafeSourcing, can assist your team. Whether you already have a procurement team in place or no procurement team, SafeSourcing can assist your business or organization from start to finish so your sourcing projects are successful. In fact, SafeSourcing even offers a risk free offer where we guarantee the success of our procurement efforts for your organization.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk

Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service RepresentativeWe have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

 

Could YOUR Company be saving more money?

Friday, August 13th, 2021

 

Today’s post is 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.

The components of information

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

 

 

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.

Thinking Outside of the Box Part II of II

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

 

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

Since being an out of the box thinker is such a desired asset, how does an in-the-box thinker get out? There are a plethora of ideas about how one can begin this or whether or not it is even possible.

One way to begin thinking outside the box is to approach a problem like a child would. Break aspects of the problem down into ideas that a small child could understand and imagine how that child would respond to the situation. This allows you to break things down into their simplest form, and often when things are simplified, resolutions become clear.

Another way to begin thinking outside the box is to question everything. It’s been said before that to be a scientist, you must question everything. The same holds true when trying to find a new solution to an old problem. Questioning everything allows you to start from scratch and begin the process of resolution all over. Question why the problem exists, what all of the possible actions could be, and why some actions were favored over others.

A third way to begin thinking outside the box is to stop thinking things out and just try. Trial and error has proven countless times to be beneficial when solving a problem. Sometimes, we may eliminate a possible solution before ever trying it because we assume it won’t work. Just trying anyway can sometimes produce results, even if they aren’t what we expect. For example, there have been at least a few medicines that were intended for one use, only to have side effects that are more beneficial than expected, like a migraine medicine’s ability to be marketed as a high0end beauty item.

Although there are a number of different theoretical ways to train yourself to think outside the box, some say that out of the box thinking cannot be learned, that one either has it or doesn’t. Ironically, that type of thinking could be described as in-the-box. Despite those that believe this, approaching a problem in a new way can at least provide a better understanding of the task at hand. Once a problem is more fully understood, then the more likely a positive outcome will result.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you think outside of the box, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today