Archive for the ‘B2b Supply Chain’ Category

Am I really married to my procurement job?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

 

Today’s post is from our archives at SafeSourcing Inc.

My boss always asks me if this is just a job for me or a career that I am committed to.

It was not until I had successfully walked down the aisle and had the perspective of hindsight that I really understood how the disciplines we practice every day at SafeSourcing on behalf of our customers helped to guide the success we achieved in our wedding.

I can tell you that there is nothing more stressful than planning a wedding, especially when it’s your own, and as I’m sure is the case for most young couples, on a limited budget. There are so many things that need to be done for a wedding that you start to lose sight of the big picture. I will give everyone a new pros tip, visit as many catering companies as you can because the free food defiantly helps with the stress!

I’ll bold and italicize some of the steps we followed that correlated directly to my job (err) career.

During the process I figured out that the best way to organize (Strategy) our efforts was to create a lifesaver General Ledger (detail,detail,detail…) that would let me to track everything that we were buying (strategy) for our wedding. My wife and I listed everything (specifications) that we needed to have and started filling in the blanks (research) from there. Key to my success was this organization, and it helped me trim out high price quotes from the equation and pick the best price along with our best impressions (other services) from every vendor we interviewed (double check the data) Better yet, we came in under budget (results).

OMG, it may be subliminal but maybe I am really married to my procurement job.

At SafeSourcing, we have a process that will get everyone’s quotes all in a view that you can easily compare the prices and additional deliverables for purchase. Our reports are easy to follow and assist companies in making their best decision. The vendors in our SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database are already prequalified to receive your business. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday is really a story of a supply chain found and developed!

Friday, November 27th, 2020

 

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

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend from SafeSourcing

One hundred and two pilgrims and crew arrived in Massachusetts after a 3,000 mile trip from England on the Mayflower. It is safe to say that as a result of that distance there was no existing supply chain to leverage, so one had to be developed and quickly. This began with basic hunting and gathering and later included trading with the areas indigenous peoples known as the Wampanoag’s for corn, seed and foraging and planting techniques.

The Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate today really stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621. Since the pilgrims had only arrived on November 21st of 1620 they had really not been there long enough to develop a fully reliable and renewable supply source. They had however established collaborative relationships with the local Wampanoag people who became regular trading partners and who helped them celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest.

The most detailed description of the “First Thanksgiving” comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:”Our harvest  being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.

The fowl referred to above certainly could have included a wide range of fowl that was plentiful in the area such as wild turkey, pheasant, goose, duck, and partridge and unfortunately by today’s standards even eagles.

The pilgrims probably didn’t have pies or much of anything sweet at the harvest feast because they did not yet have ovens. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the first Thanksgiving, the supply had probably run out.

Their meals also included many different types of meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the staples of today’s Thanksgiving, didn’t really play a large part in the feast. Other items that may have been on the menu certainly included sea food such as clams and lobster, Indian corn, wild fruits and nuts, meats such as venison and seal and certain dry herbs and spices.

The Thanksgiving meal that has today become a national holiday is a symbol of supply chain cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

What is the Government Procurement Agreement or GPA?

Friday, November 20th, 2020

 

 

Today’s post is by Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

The GPA is a plurilateral agreement within the framework of the WTO, meaning that not all WTO members are parties to the Agreement. At present, the Agreement has 20 parties comprising 48 WTO members. 36 WTO members/observers participate in the GPA Committee as observers. Out of these, 12 members are in the process of acceding to the Agreement.

The fundamental aim of the GPA is to mutually open government procurement markets among its parties. As a result of several rounds of negotiations, the GPA parties have opened procurement activities worth an estimated US$ 1.7 trillion annually to international competition (i.e. to suppliers from GPA parties offering goods, services, or construction services).

The GPA is composed mainly of two parts: the text of the Agreement and parties’ market access schedules of commitments.

There has been some discussion that the current administration would like to pull out of this agreement even though the Is was a founding member.  In an article by Doug Palmer  for Politico and reported on MSN News titled Senators urge Trump not to withdraw from Government Procurement Agreement as there is a belief that it will allow both China and Russia to fill the void created by the US no longer participating.

Please visit SafeSourcing in order to keep up with content the evolution of changes and other educational content that impact procurement professionals and knowledge workers.

References……………………………………………………………………………………

  1. https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/gproc_e/gp_gpa_e.htm
  2. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/senators-urge-trump-not-to-withdraw-from-government-procurement-agreement/ar-BB1bb2zv?ocid=msedgdhp

 

Best Practices to ensure that you have a sufficient supplier community for your eRFX process.

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

 

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

Suppliers can be broken into multiple categories such as Manufacturers, Wholesalers, Distributors, jobbers etc.  SafeSourcing maintains a robust database called the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database that consists of greater than 427,000 global suppliers. While this is our primary research facility for identifying suppliers that participate in our eRFX events, we also use other sources such as the Thomas Register, Alibaba, and a variety of Search Engine tools.

While it would be ideal for manufacturers, growers etc. to be the primary participant in an RFP or RFQ, for the most part these companies determine how and to whom they want to take their products to market. In many cases, Manufacturers refuse to go to market directly and often direct us to use their distributors. Quite often they will recommend a couple of distributors because distributors typically have value added services that they want to provide and may bid the base products differently even if they are receiving similar volume discounts. In some cases, there may only be a couple of manufacturers of a particular product. An example in the C-store space is spill bucket liners and drain plugs where historically there were only two manufacturers.

Once we have compiled and reviewed a list of suppliers internally for a category, we review it with our customers who may from time to time have the name of a supplier we are not aware of. Although that is rare. Upon approval from our customers we then send invitations out to the suppliers and await acceptance over a pre-determined period. After that time has expired, SafeSourcing will reach out to all suppliers whether they have accepted or not and encourage all suppliers to participate. We are well practiced at this methodology and do not accept no as an answer. Our team regularly goes through training as to handling objections from suppliers to convince them to participate.

Historically the average number of suppliers participating in eRFX events has been between 5 and 7. That is over many years with categories like hotels or temporary labor that included 100’s of participants. We quite often will have to invite more than the 5-7 average to get that many to accept. Ultimately it is up to the suppliers if they want to bid on our customers business.

Obviously, the number of suppliers we end up inviting, convincing to participate, training, answering questions and hosting increases SafeSourcing’s workload as the numbers grow. As such we have always charged a second event when the number of actual participants reaches 10 or exceeds twenty-line items.

While one may think that the larger the number of participants involved, the better the results will be, that is not actually the case. The spill bucket and drain plug category mentioned above, we have achieved 19.7 percent savings with just two participants and have hosted events with just one participant. Suppliers do not know how many others are bidding in any given event and that is part of the process for them not to know.

While customers may challenge participation from time to time, rest assured that SafeSourcing is continually driving to get as many participants involved as possible.

If you’d like to learn more about working with SafeSourcing, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services associate. Make sure to ask about our risk free trial program.

 

Collaborative Buyer Organizations, Share Groups and Consortiums are evolving in order to compete with mega retailers.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

 

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

These business structures have been around for a long time. Many have evolved to use cutting edge e-negotiation and eProcurement tools. Their retailer members are also benefiting from their use of these tools in order to reduce their net landed costs in many different ways.

These types of organization can go by many different names such as wholesaler, collective buyer, consortium, cooperative, share groups and more. They all have one thing in common. They consolidate purchasing volumes for a wide array of groups that may have very similar business structures, but for the savvy consortium can also be wildly different.

In the retail vertical, companies may actually belong to several different buying groups because their primary group does not offer expertise in a certain area.

Consortiums are also evolving and beginning to focus mixed markets where it makes sense. In general consortiums tend to be vertically focused such as a drug industry consortium with the members generally representing the drug industry only. However some consortiums are beginning to market them selves outside of their vertical to retailers or other companies who want to take advantage of learned expertise that the consortium possesses in the categories that are common across more than their own vertical and offer increased volumes. An example might be drug stores sourcing very similar products that health care organizations like hospitals source. Although this may seem like a stretch fro most, it is now very common within retail for non vertical specific players to work together.

Today’s advanced e-negotiation or e-procurement tools make it much easier to accomplish collective buying and aggregating outside of a consortiums initial area of expertise. Large and small retailers alike now have the capability of viewing a much broader universe of suppliers and other companies while also coordinating and participating in collaborative events from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Suppliers now have an opportunity to earn business they could never compete for in the past.

Retailers should ask their collective buyers how they plan to make the use of these types of tools and what they have to offer in terms of introductions to other companies for increased volume.

If you’d like to learn more about our risk free trial or how SafeSourcing may be of service to you, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Representative.

Let’s play supplier poker if you dare!

Monday, September 14th, 2020

 

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

Let’s play supplier poker! Then we’ll find out how good your current supplier data is.

If this were a real poker game, I’d raise our big supplier data versus your existing supplier data.

Locating, managing and updating supplier information that companies choose to do business with has never been more difficult. How many companies that you used to do business with 4-5 years ago are no longer in business? How many new companies have taken their place? I already know the answer you are going to give me. It’s I don’t know.

We keep hearing about big data. With new regulatory requirements emerging daily, economies failing, the supply chain shrinking in some places and expanding in others,  changing  safety factors and  environmental factors ( think LEEDS), detailed supplier information and traceability are but a few of the issues that require regular maintenance in order to mitigate a company’s risk.

Solution Providers like SafeSourcing that provide supplier databases (SafeSourceIt™) that are part of automating the procurement process, need to step up and make sure that their data support these changes on a regular basis to the greatest extent possible by providing tools that interacts with both regulatory agencies and suppliers to insure consumer safety and environmental impact as more new sources of supply and new products enter the supply chain on a daily basis.

Actions that solution providers can take should include but are not limited to:

1. Monitor daily alert data as to product recalls and safety warnings.
2. Trace warnings back to the original source of supply automatically and maintain history.
3. Require that suppliers meet certain safety certifications in order to participate in their database.
4. Require that suppliers meet required environmental certifications or programs in order to participate in their database
5. Provide a regular purge of suppliers that do not comply with necessary standards.
6. Validate the entire database regularly for companies no longer in business
7. Adhere to a strict RFI process for new suppliers requesting participation in their database.
8. Provide a rating system for suppliers that are offered to companies as new sources of supply.
9. Monitor regulatory agencies such as ISO for new standards and include them as further requirements in supplier databases.
10.Conduct on going category research for evolving sources of supply.
11.Compare your best customers GL to your database for additions deletions.

Ask your solution provider what their process is to grow manage and maintain their supplier database for your benefit.

If you’d like more information on the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database of over 427,000 cleansed global sources of supply, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What happens when your supplier forgets that you are the customer?

Friday, July 24th, 2020

 

Today’s is from our archives at  SafeSourcing.

After contract negotiation, sometimes a vendor will forget who the customer is. This can be detrimental if it occurs in the quality of their perishable products.

When it comes to the quality of perishable products sold, it is important to have a quality check in place.  This is important when it pertains to perishable foods that don’t meet minimum standards and agreed upon expiration dates.  Without a quality check in place, there will be an opportunity with spoilage which will result in additional shrink then originally budgeted.

Two of the most effected categories in retail grocery are produce and dairy.  Fresh produce is a minimum requirement or your customer.  Typically produce is one of the first products you see when you enter a retail grocery store.  It has to look great.  The relationship you have with your vendor is important.  Sometime vendors try to implement a standard reduction for spoilage credits which is the same across all stores regardless of their actual spoilage.  This standard helps some stores and hurts others.  In the world of retail grocery, every penny counts and it is important that all credits are accounted for properly by store location. With dairy, you are only getting 7 days to sell your products due to sell dates; therefore, you set yourself up for spoilage.  Vendors should be held to giving you at least 14 days to sell the product before spoilage.

It is important to not allow your suppliers dictate to your company’s product expiration dates.  Regardless of the price set during negotiation and contract time, there was an agreement with the supplier that they would supply you quality products.  They need to be held to that agreement.

SafeSourcing does the due diligence to ensure all proper terms and specifications are included in the documents to set minimum standards and expectations.   These documents serve to remind suppliers of the quality and service expectation agreed upon at negotiation and contract time.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you with insuring fresh perishable products, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments!

 

Supply Chain Safety Net

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020

 

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

During this trying time of COVID-19, organizations are battling uncertainty right now with demand fluctuations, production changes, and security of supply. In an earlier blog, I discussed the importance of innovation and there is no greater time than now to be innovative.

Innovation is often viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. [1] Currently, there are some supplies that are in greater demand due to the need to meet the requirements that we are facing today. Solutions to meet these needs are coming from a multitude of sources and the world’s supply chain is being stretched to the limit. The National Association of Manufacturers was tapped to seek suppliers to provide or produce large-scale quantities within 2 weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SafeSourcing was able to successfully source label products for a client, in the midst of this crisis. The label suppliers were ready and able to come through with significant savings over 35%. Organizations are learning a valuable lesson, which is to have a plan and stay ready. In order to get through this situation today and to be ready for the future we need more effective practices, products, and processes. Increased services, technologies, and business models that are readily available to markets, governments and society.

This calls for better financial management, cost control and less organizational waste. Many organizations are beginning to re-evaluate their purchasing processes, and identify new types of e-procurement tools that will meet their needs. Find out what SafeSourcing can do for you.

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…………………………………………………………………….

[1] Maranville, S. (1992). “Entrepreneurship in the Business Curriculum”. Journal of Education for Business. 68: 27–31.

 

COVID-19! Banks and Governments are too big to execute!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

 

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

Have you applied for your loans from any of the Government/SBA programs that are intended to help small business and their employees during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

If you have, you probably have the same tales of woe as 100% of other small business that have done the same thing. Hey, we will invest whatever time it takes in order to protect our associates and our businesses.

At SafeSourcing Inc. small though we are, we have applied for the following relief programs.

  1. The Paycheck Protection Plan through Bank of America and supported through the SBA.
  2. We have applied for the Federal Reserve backed program through the SBA sponsored AZ-00065-Arizona COVID-19 disaster loan program.
  3. We have also applied for the small $10K Disaster Fund Grant through the SBA.

Personally, I have waited on an open phone line to the SBA where I was caller # 964 and waited it out in order to be told they can not give me an update. I also have a loan application number and they have no way to look it up. I have also waited on the phone for 2 hours with my Banks data collection company Itralinks. In that process, I started as caller # 177, waited until I was number one, pressed start and became caller # 176. I waited again and at the same time became caller # 175. Not only can’t they handle the volume, their application has zero instructions for the user. If we did not own a document management system at SafeSourcing, I never would have figured this out.

I believe that President Trump said that we can’t make the cure worse than the disease when referring to COVID-19. In the same light, we can’t make the small business solutions proposed by the government increase the level of pain small business are suffering. The question now is how many small businesses have failed already because they had to wait to long for the Band-Aid cure that these programs are to begin with. I’m guessing the numbers are in the millions.

It’s time that someone moved beyond sound bite answers and got their act together.

We look forward to your experience and comments.

 

Knowing Who Your Suppliers Are – Onsite Visits – Part II of II

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

 

Yesterday we posted  about the importance of onsite visits with your suppliers, how to prepare, what to look for, and the value of performing these visits.  This week we will be taking a look at some of the additional things that you need to think about when visiting a supplier in another country.

Visits to international sites will need to encompass the same types of information gathering as a domestic one such as reviewing the cleanliness of the facilities, observing production, logistic and storage processes, but there 3 important areas that must be considered in addition to these that may determine the success or failure of the visit.

Language – Assuming you are visiting a supplier that is not located in a predominantly English-speaking country, the capability to communicate onsite is an important one that should be addressed well in advance of the visit.  Many times the supplier will have staff that is fluent in more than language and can act as an interpreter, however procuring your own interpreter is also a suggestion and possibility. Also, some basic considerations of your own communication style would be to speak more slowly than usual and pause in between sentences to be understood more easily.

Culture – This is an important area to prepare for because in some countries seemingly minor things can create a tense atmosphere.  Determining whether to bow and the details surrounding when and how, if the country shakes hands when they greet and which hand they shake with are all important items in some countries and should be learned prior to your visit.  On the other hand, it is equally important to note the things that are normally unaccepted behaviors in the U.S. which many times are not viewed the same way in other countries.  Americans would generally never answer a phone call in a meeting or show up to an appointment late, but in other countries these behaviors are far less important and frequently occur during the course of doing business.

Capturing the details – Visits to international suppliers generally come with a price tag that is not insignificant to your company, so capturing as much data as possible is important on these visits.  Wherever you go during your visit take a notepad and camera with you to record what you see and hear while on the visit.  Many manufacturers will allow you to take occasional pictures as long as you ask in advance and have it cleared.  Some may not allow it and others may allow it as long as no employees are included in the pictures.  Capturing these details will be very useful to you and your team in the future and can potentially save trips for other employees in the future.

Onsite visits to your suppliers are incredibly valuable and important to your organization and are a terrific tool for knowing who your suppliers are and how they do business.  They are also important forums to gather details necessary for later contract negotiations.

If you are interested in locating potential new sources of supply, please contact SafeSourcing.  The SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database contains 457,000 globally.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.