Archive for the ‘Business Sourcing’ Category

Watching the RFQ – Part I

Monday, September 21st, 2020

 

Todays post is from Dave Wenig, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing Inc.

In this post, which will be the first of several, we’re going to take a close look at the online Request for Quote (RFQ) from a different perspective. Rather than focus on measuring the value delivered as savings, let’s examine when that value is created and consider the vendor behaviors that went into that moment. If you need a primer on what an RFQ is, click here.

I honestly don’t know how many of these I’ve watched live over the years, but I suspect the number is in the thousands. Having done that, I’ve picked up on some trends. More recently, SafeSourcing introduced our Graphical View which has brought some of the trends I’ve noticed into focus visually.

Let’s start at the beginning of an RFQ. For years, I have said that many vendors will sit on the sidelines and wait a while before entering their bids. Many other vendors will begin with a higher price to start with. Others choose to start with a very low starting price and try to put their best foot forward. I respect all bidding strategies and it’s important that each vendor has a plan in place when they start. It’s all part of the RFQ process. In the image below, you’ll see a recent RFQ for receipt paper event that illustrates this starting point and the various strategies that the vendors are using in the first 5 or so minutes of an RFQ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this example, we can clearly see each of these vendor strategies beginning to play out. Each of the participating vendors were trained by SafeSourcing and knew in advance that this RFQ was scheduled to last 20 minutes plus extensions. As a result, most of them went with a strategy that allowded them to start with somewhat higher price than where they intended to begin. The vendor in green decided to enter in very aggressively low pricing from the start which set them apart. More on that later.

Consider these strategies and what you might take away from watching this unfold. As SafeSourcing’s customer, you would eventually wind up doing business with at least one of these vendors. How would it be helpful to know how they went about arriving at their final price? Does the vendor’s pricing strategy and behavior impact the way you will continue to work with them beyond the RFQ?

In the next installment, we’ll take a close look at the middle of the RFQ and then we’ll move on to the end of the RFQ and see how it all played out.

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

 

 

 

Are you Utilizing the Zoom Application Shortcuts?

Friday, September 18th, 2020

 

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

With a lot of people spending more time working from home, you might have been introduced to the world of video conferencing.  There a lot of apps that you can use for video conferencing and one of the most popular right now is Zoom. If you spend a lot of time using the Zoom application, you could save some time and be more efficient by learning some of the built in shortcuts.  The keyboard shortcuts are used by clicking a combination of the keyboard keys.  Two things that you probably do most often while using zoom can be done by using the shortcuts “Alt+V” and “Alt+A”.  These two shortcuts allow you to start/stop the video and to mute/unmute the audio. Besides these two shortcuts there are many more shortcuts available for use.  For example, using “F6” will allow you to navigate among the zoom popup windows and “Ctrl+Alt+Shift” will move focus to Zoom’s meeting controls.  Memorizing the available keyboard shortcuts will make you more efficient because you don’t have to remove your hands from the keyboard to use the mouse.  Below are some other shortcuts that can be used.

Meeting Shortcuts:

➢ Alt+F1 – Switch to Active speaker view in video meeting

➢ Alt+F2 – Switch to gallery video view in video meeting

➢ PageUp – View previous 25 video stream in gallery view

➢ PageDown – View next 25 video stream in gallery view

➢ Alt+F4 – Close the current window

➢ Alt+M – Mute/unmute audio for everyone except host

➢ Alt+S – Launch share screen window and stop screen share

➢ Alt+T: Pause or resume screen share

➢ Alt+R: Start/stop local recording

➢ Alt+Shift+R: Gain remote control

➢ Alt+Shift+G: Stop remote control

➢ Alt+C: Start/stop cloud recording

➢ Alt+P: Pause or resume recording

➢ Alt+I: Open invite window

➢ Alt+N: Switch camera

➢ Alt+F: Enter or exit full screen

➢ Alt+H: Display/hide in-meeting chat panel

➢ Alt+U:Display/hide participants panel

➢ Alt+Y: Raise/lower hand

➢ Ctrl+2: Read active speaker name

➢ Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H: Show/hide floating meeting controls

Interested in learning how SafeSourcing can help your company run more efficiently?  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.

 

 

 

Project Skills

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

 

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

Have you ever wanted to know how to do a specific task? As an example, maybe you want to change the faucet in your kitchen sink, but do not have the knowledge or experience to do it. You could try guessing at how to do it, but the results may not be the best. You could ask friends, but perhaps none of them have done this either. Or you could look to the internet for instructions, guides, tools lists, and how-to videos.

The latter is what many of us do when faced with small tasks that we do not have prior experience in. If you want to pick up a new skill or begin some kind of project, you likely will look into it before you begin. This will help you in a number of ways.

First, researching a new project can give you an idea of the timeline. Will this project take an hour, two days, or three weeks? Knowing how long you will need can help you better prepare, like knitting. For instance, you can better prepare by knowing that a hat can be knitted in a few hours or that a sweater will likely take days.

Second, you may find out that you do not have all the tools you need. With many home repair projects, there may be large, specialized tools needed to complete all or a portion of a task, like needing a posthole digger to put in a fence. Often these specialized or high priced tools can be leased or rented to you for a fairly low price from your local home improvement store.

Third, you may research your project and find out you will need certain skills. Watching videos and reading explanations can help you understand what is needed and help you work to gain the skills needed. For instance, you may want to build a table, but may need to freshen up on your fractions and math skills before you begin cutting your wood.

There are some projects that, even after doing your research, you find that you will still need help. For example, you may need to hire an electrician to move your wall outlet across the room. Here, the risk of injury or damage is high and is likely better left to a professional. This is where SafeSourcing comes in. While we are not electricians, we are experts in our field and can help you or your organization in your procurement or supply needs. We have not only the tools needed to get the project completed with the best results, but also the experience to help you get through it on the appropriate timeline.

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

 

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.

The SafeSourcing Collaborative Aggregation Philosophy: 

Friday, September 11th, 2020

 

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

 

The SafeSourcing Inc Collaborative Aggregation Philosophy supports the thought that disparate buying groups can on occasion work together successfully as a loosely coupled purchasing organization in order to combine volumes for better pricing consideration by suppliers. Often the specifications for these events need to be very similar in nature such as office supplies or other similar categories. Separate shipping charges and other terms and conditions may apply to each participant. Participants must support single supplier award in order to ensure the success of collaborative aggregation events to ensure that suppliers honor their prices.

We have recently seen a lot of activity in this area with dramatic savings for spends of all different sizes. Some categories have even achieved savings of over 50%. We mapped these savings and are seeing some retailers with as few as 20 stores paying less than some very large customers who ran these categories during the last two years.

The markets are ripe! Maybe its time to contact SafeSourcing and inquire about our Risk Free Trial  Program.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Do you know what types of software delivery models are available to you?

Friday, September 4th, 2020

 

Today’s post originally from 2015 is from our SafeSourcing Archives and still relevant today!

If you’re not very imbedded with what’s going on in software development today, you have heard terms like “Software as a Service”, or “Open source” thrown around, but may not know much about what they may mean. And if you are having to make decisions for your company about the kind of software tools you use, you may find yourself needing some basic understanding of the different models for deployment that are available. Many of these models have similar components to them, but may not have the same full structure. As such, it can get a little confusing, but will be important to know the differences so that you know what to look for if for example you don’t need hosted service, but do need support, though not unlimited licenses, etc.

  1.  Software licensing model: A company creates the software, and sells to customers for a one-time fee. It is essentially the customer’s responsibility to manage all aspects of the software as needed, for which all costs are borne by the buyer.
  2. Outsourcing model: Here you may purchase a software solution for a one-time fee, but also outsource support and development, rather than take on the responsibility in-house. This can be advantageous for cost savings, but brings with it many of the same risks and obstacles the come with doing multinational business.
  3. Hybrid Model: In this model, the buyer purchases the software upfront, but then the seller is paid regularly for ongoing service. So if a buyer wants to own the software, but doesn’t have the datacenter to host the software, this model may be a good solution.
  4. SaaS (Software as a Service) Model: A subscription based model, in which a buyer pays for both access to the software, and hosting performed by the seller’s resources. This model has been leapfrogging all other models because it allows segmentation of specialty, where someone with a great idea but no software expertise, can pay those with the technical skills to support businesses that never would be able to get off the ground otherwise. According to Gartner, “The traditional deployment model for on-premises software is expected to significantly shrink from 34 percent today to 18 percent by 2017”[1], and there are more and more options becoming available as SaaS providers continue to multiply.
  5. Open source model: In this case, the software is free (usually online) for the taking, but often unfinished, and unsupported. Many large and widely deployed products had their start as an open source project; however turning the software into a commercially viable product can still be very expensive to develop.

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[1] “Gartner Survey Reveals That SaaS Deployments Are Now …” 2014. 15 Nov. 2015 <http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2923217>

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.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

 

eRFX Strategies for Success Part VI the  Request For Quote  

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

 

 

 

Today is the final edition of this VI part post from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. You can download each link or just download my Whitepaper by the same title. If you follow these guidelines, you are on your way to controlling the cost of any category you take to market.

In  parts one, two, three items 1-4 and four items 5-8  and five RFQ Part I of II we have discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Quote (RFQ) Part II of II Details, Missing Pieces and Communication

Details, Details, Details. In the RFQ, send an invitation to potential suppliers containing a detailed list or description of all relevant parameters of the intended purchase, such as:

  • Personnel skills, training level or competencies
  • Part descriptions/specifications or numbers
  • Quantities/Volumes
  • Description or drawings
  • Quality levels
  • Delivery requirements
  • Term of contract
  • Terms and conditions
  • Other value-added requirements or terms
  • Draft contract

An RFQ event can have many suppliers participating in your project. They will all be actively participating during the RFQ in a preset timeframe, which is usually 20 minutes, but can be adjusted when the line item count grows over 25 items.  Within the 20 minutes, suppliers can lower their bid pricing an unlimited amount of times. Like sealed bidding, suppliers cannot see one another’s pricing. Suppliers see whether or not their quote is the low quote through the use of a low quote indicator when they achieve that milestone by fishing for it. Suppliers may also see their ranking at a predetermined point in the RFQ process if the strategic decision to use that feature has been made.

Missing Pieces. An easy way to establish specifications and develop base pricing is from the RFP responses submitted earlier.  Many times, a list of suppliers is established that has already been educated on entering pricing through an online sourcing or bidding tool. The RFQ gives the supplier the opportunity within the live RFQ to view whether or not if they have any low quotes and to “sharpen their pencils” in order to lower their pricing if they wish to do so. From this RFQ, an award of business based on the results can be made.

Training and Communication. Suppliers should be trained as to how to use the eProcurement system, how to place their bids, how to look for the low quote indicator, and also be communicated with relative to questions, pricing, and products and services you are looking for. The overall goal is to drive the best overall value, so suppliers should have an opportunity to enter notes during the RFQ. This additional information often offers additional hidden savings opportunity, i.e. if 1,000 cases are purchased rather than 900 cases, additional discounts, or other value-added services such as freight waived for the first 6 months of a 1-year contract if awarded the business. These additional notes can provide and overall benefit, rather than just a low-price win.

Returning to our original RFI example of a company owning a building they intend to repurpose as a Distribution Center, the process began as an RFI in order to understand what was needed so it could be followed by an RFP in order to collect further detailed information and base pricing. These two steps were then followed by an RFQ to compress the pricing from suppliers who participated in the RFP and were invited to this final stage.  In this last stage running the line items as a complete list of materials rather than an item by item list, total cost of freight, total installation pricing- which could include teardown pricing which could also be listed as its own line item can have great value and provide the opportunity for the suppliers to keep their focus where it is needed rather than on 100’s of individual line items submitted during the RFP. The four items mentioned here represent the largest spend items of the proposal and have the opportunity to lower pricing by 20% or greater from the original RFP pricing.

Determining what stage of the eRFX process to begin with and how to assemble those pieces can be a difficult puzzle to put together especially if a procurement team is already engaged in a myriad of other daily activities. A good Strategic Sourcing solution provider can help put these pieces together in a way that requires less of your company’s time and resources.

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

eRFX Strategies for Success Part V the  Request For Quote  

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

 

Today’s post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

In  parts one, two, three items 1-4 and four items 5-8 we have discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Quote (RFQ)

A Request for Quote is typically used to solicit price and price related details such as freight, that meet minimum quality specifications for a specific quantity of specific goods and/or services. “RFQs are usually not advertised publicly, and are used commonly for (1) standard, off-the-shelf items, (2) items built to known specifications, (3) items required in small quantities, or (4) items whose purchase price falls below sealed-bidding threshold. Suppliers respond to an RFQ with firm quotations, and generally the lowest-priced quotation is awarded the contract.” 4

Though the above historically represented the industry standard as to what an RFQ was, it is important to expand on each of the points and understand the pieces from a historical and practical standpoint.  With online eProcurement tools suppliers have an indication of where they stand and an opportunity to adjust their pricing should they choose. In standard practice this is done by phone calls or e-mails and one at time. As such it is very time consuming and does show some savings, but not nearly the rate of success online tools have historically provided.

Standard, Off-the-Shelf Items. This is a standard misconception of procurement departments everywhere.  The fact is that virtually any product or service can be taken through the eRFX process.  Strategic Sourcing solutions providers with extensive global supplier databases can invite a number of new suppliers to participate in the bidding process on whatever items or service may be required.  Many will have some level of experience in successfully participating in eRFX events in a variety of functional areas within the organization such as HR, Marketing, Construction, and IT to name a few.

Items Built to Known Specifications. While this is a valid concern, it is also the biggest reason why projects are never taken out to bid; not having specifications or having the time to assemble them.  Working with 3rd party procurement solution providers companies are more able to cover all their needs, taking into consideration all of the moving parts that affect these items. Such as freight, fuel surcharges, additional fees, and hourly rates.  Results can be achieved that are comprehensive enough to allow strong decisions once the project has been completed.

Items Required in Small Quantities. Another misconception about RFQs are the quantities of items that can be sourced and duration of time for which those quantities are needed.  There should be no limits at all, including number of items to have the suppliers bid on. With that established, however, there are always unique strategies to every RFQ so that the host company can end up with the most complete set of information while allowing suppliers to focus on those areas that need the most attention.  This is part of the service that needs time to be considered as sourcing projects are strategized and developed.

Items Whose Purchase Price Falls Below Sealed-Bidding Thresholds. The recommended approach for pricing within the RFQ should be analyzed based on the historical spend, also taking into account any price indexes that can affect future pricing increases. Using historical spends and any additional information available, a max quote is often established that the suppliers must meet prior to participation. Setting a price decrement is also strongly recommended, and often plays a key role in the strategy as to how you would like to have the suppliers act, giving them the flexibility to make price adjustments they are comfortable with while driving savings as part of the process.

Understanding the differences between historical RFQ strategies and changes that are resulting in stronger results is the beginning of assembling the right strategy for your project.  Strategies that have proven successful in the past generally have similar features in common and drive the two most important aspects of every project, valuable results, and supplier participation.

Check Back tomorrow for our final post of this series the RFQ Details, Missing Pieces and Communication.

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

 

eRFX Strategies for Success Part III the reason for an RFP Items 1-4

Monday, August 31st, 2020

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

In  parts one and two we have discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document used in sealed or electronic bid procurement procedures through which a purchaser advises the potential suppliers of (1) statement and scope of work, (2) specifications, (3) schedules or timelines, (4) contract type, (5) data requirements, (6) terms and conditions, (7) description of goods and/or services to be procured, and (8) instructions for preparation of technical, management, and/or cost proposals.  As an example, government RFPs are publicly advertised and suppliers respond with a detailed proposal, not with only a price quotation. They provide clearly quoted specifications for negotiations after sealed proposals are opened, and the award of contract may not necessarily go to the lowest bidder.2

Breaking down each of these 8 pieces of information will help to form an  understanding as to whether there is enough detail to move straight to an RFP,  thus skipping the Request for Information altogether.

  1. Scope of Work: This refers to all of the elements that should be included in the proposal for the project and is generally specific to each customer along with the data and metrics provided to shape it. Simply, this is the definition of the needs and expectations for the work needing to be completed.
  2. Specifications: “An exact statement of the particular needs to be satisfied, or essential characteristics that a customer requires (in a good, material, method, process, service, system, or work) and which a vendor must deliver. Specifications are written usually in a manner that enables both parties (and/or an independent certifier) to measure the degree of conformance. They are, however, not the same as control limits (which allow fluctuations within a range), and conformance to them does not necessarily mean quality (which is a predictable degree of dependability and uniformity).”3 Generally, specifications will be broken into either performance or technical specifications that define the types of goods or services needed from the vendor community. Developing strong specifications ensures proposals containing exactly what is needed. As a result, vendors will know not to over bid or under bid.
  3. Schedules or Timelines: This is the time frame of the expectation of when the RFP is sent to the vendors, when questions (about the specifications or the RFP process) are due from the vendors, when the vendors can expect the questions with answers to be returned, and when the RFP is due to be completed.
  4. Contract Type: This defines to the vendor if the contract is a spot buy, a one year, two year, or longer contract. There may also be additional special contractual requirements added within this area.

Tune back in tomorrow when we will explore the Request for Proposal or RFP items 5-8.

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

eRFX Strategies for Success Part II the reason for an RFI

Friday, August 28th, 2020

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

In yesterday’s post we discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Information (RFI)

A Request for Information (RFI) is a request made typically during the project planning phase where a buyer cannot clearly identify product requirements, specifications, and purchase options. RFIs clearly indicate that award of a contract will not automatically follow.1

An example for use of an RFI would be if a company acquired a used warehouse that needed to be turned into a distribution center. The facility has some racking installed but needs more.  There has not been a defined idea of what layout will be needed to improve the warehouse for DC use, nor what types of rack are needed, how much material is needed, nor how long it will take to install the racking. The existing racking is in adequate shape, but it is unknown whether it is safe, placed appropriately, outdated, or even needed in any way. A situation like this is often a good time to rely on experts to provide feedback as to these needs.  The best practice would be to get a minimum of 3 sets of data submissions, but I would recommend getting 4 to 6 submissions from your request for information from racking manufactures, distributors, and/or installers.

The higher supplier count, in an area where you have no knowledge, provides the necessary data to begin to make more informed decisions.  With at least 3 submissions it becomes clearer if there are major differences between suppliers and how they operate.  Lead time, outsourcing, and geographical coverage are all very important pieces of information to gather from the suppliers at this stage of a sourcing project.

The application of an RFI can be used on new goods for use, re-sale, packaging design, any and all services, software, hardware, equipment of any kind, actually it is limitless as to what you can utilize an RFI for in business.

Tune back in tomorrow when we will explore the Request for Proposal or RFP?

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.