Archive for the ‘Business Sourcing’ Category

Fall is falling – You should already be deep into your procurement planning for 2020!

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from the archives at SafeSourcing.

Procurement professionals our success is dependent on how well we are continuing to think forward to the coming months so that we are prepared when the business is ready to go out and make spend decisions.  This usually can’t be done in just a few weeks, it requires looking months in advance at new projects, new spends and existing contracts and reviews of the market for the best offering.

Typically this type of planning involves sitting down with your department heads to understand what their budgets, spends, and plans for the business are in the future so that you can get ahead of what is coming.

With fall just beginning and the holiday season right around the corner, now is the time to begin scheduling those sessions with the departments and looking at the contracts that are due to expire in the first and second quarter in 2020.  Coordinating these meetings can take time and the larger your company, the more lead time you are likely to need to get on the appropriate peoples’ schedules.

Waiting until after the first of the year to do this when budgets have officially been set may be too late to get this done, as people are generally coming back from the holidays and catching up on the other items that have been awaiting their attention.  It can be the end of January or early February before you get your meetings scheduled which will likely mean you will lose an opportunity to help them source some items in the first quarter.

Get your meetings scheduled by the end of November at the latest.  Using a three step approach like the one followed by SafeSourcing Managers, look for those departments which have a higher number of easy, high opportunity categories.  This includes spends with fast approaching contract deadlines.  Also look at those departments that have more complex projects but with high dollar spends followed by the departments involving the most complex spends but with high opportunity.  This last group can generally take more time to gather information and strategize so make sure you include time with these departments to get ahead of the projects.

Going through the projects these departments have planned for 2020 is a great exercise in understanding how the procurement department can help them select the right products and services for your company providing better overall value.

For more information on scheduling your internal department head planning sessions or for templates you can use during those sessions to help collect the data you need, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

CIO Applications Magazine Honors SafeSourcing

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

 

SafeSourcing Inc., a leading eProcurement company offering a complete Procure to Pay suite of applications, has been recognized as one of the World‘s top auction application companies by CIO magazine.

CIO magazine has listed SafeSourcing, Inc. as one of the top ten auction platforms in its recent magazine edition. The article recognizes SafeSourcing as being a one-stop e-procurement and sourcing center, striking a balance of quality, affordability, product, and service.

“A strategic sourcing firm, SafeSourcing is at the forefront of offering a full suite of procure-to-pay tools under the SafeSourceIt™ banner which helps in reducing costs and improving efficiency” ~CIO magazine

CIO sat down with SafeSourcing CEO, Ronald D. Southard, to discuss the company’s value proposition, solutions, customer base, and future plans. In addition, the featured article elaborates on how SafeSourcing plays a role in e-procurement and how it accelerates efficiency and innovation.

SafeSourcing, Inc. provides cost effective tools under the SafeSourceIt™ product family that allows companies to dramatically reduce cost of goods, capital spending, and expenses in a timely manner while also reinforcing environmental and product safety programs. Focus is placed on a company’s entire spend for all products and services.

SafeSourcing’s early stage client engagement is specifically focused on cost reduction through the use of a white glove service based  on a detailed six step process using the SafeSourceIt™ e-RFX application suite.

Please visit www.safesourcing.com in order to  learn more.

 

Nested if/then Statements for Everyday Use

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

Most problems don’t have solutions as simple as yes or no, such as “if A, then ‘yes’. If B, then ‘no’”. Solutions are more often evaluated through multiple sets of dependencies, such as “if A+B is greater than C, then find the average of X-Z”. Of course these statements aren’t intuitive, so if we don’t understand how to use them formally in logic equations or computer code, we are much less likely to get them right in real life situations. So here’s a crash course in Excel “IF” statements:

The basic description of the “IF” function is “If something is True, then do something, otherwise do something else”. To see it in action, start with typing “=IF” in an Excel cell of your choice. You’ll see Excel suggest the full formula as “=IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])”. Each of those statements within the parentheses is a variable that does something specific, and they have to be separated by a comma so that Excel knows when you are entering a new variable. Here is how each variable behaves within the function:

  • “logical_test”: This means there must be an active function. Let’s go with an example of “A1>B1”.
  • “value_if_true”: Whatever value you include in this variable, will populate the cell you’re programing the formula for, if the “logical_test” variable is true. Such as if A1 = 2, and B1 = 1.
  • “value_if_false”: Whatever value is in the false variable, will be populated if “logical_test” is untrue. Such as if A1 = 1 and B1 = 2.

So if we insert some example variables into the formula like so: “IF(2>1, “Yes”, “No”)

This function would insert a “Yes” into the cell being programmed, and is one of the more simple ways to use the function. However, you can swap any of the aforementioned variables for other formulas as well. This is called “nesting”.

For example, you could write a formula like this: “=IF(K5<K6,”YES”,IF((COUNT(H7:H10>2)),”HIGH”,”LOW”))

Let’s describe what this function is doing in sentence form, with a context of evaluating vendor proposals: If Vendor 1’s cost is lower than Vendor 2’s cost, enter “YES” into the cell, if Vendor 1 is not lower than Vendor 2, then if the number of DC’s the new vendor carries is greater than 2, enter “HIGH” into the cell, otherwise enter “LOW” into the cell. This tells me either to select Vendor 1, or to evaluate several other dependencies to make a final decision.

This level of specificity is not normal in everyday speech, but is absolutely critical in procurement. If you have a vendor proposing an agreement, a full evaluation of the value proposition can’t be based on just one variable. Practicing this and other logic functions in Excel and other tools is an excellent way to hone your ability to evaluate complex procurement problems.

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.

Can you hear me now?

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

 

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

Cellphones and smartphones have become such an integral part of our daily routine. Most people wake up roll over and grab their phone, whether to check social media or the news, our first waking moments are spent on screen. This continues throughout the day into the office. A survey has found that most employees spend roughly 56 minutes a day on their phones. While managers surveyed assumed their employees were looking at social media, many employees said they were actually reading and responding to personal emails. In addition, 58 percent of workers reported using their cell phones to visit websites that were blocked or banned by their employer.

Because of the constant use, employers are constantly developing and changing policies that address usage at work. Most employers do not think about a cell phone policy in the workplace until they realize they have a problem. Regardless of popularity, it is an absolute necessity to use a call phone policy once it reaches this tipping point. While this does not need to be an extremely detailed or no-phone policy, employers should consider incorporating their own unique policy based on the nature of the business, i.e. security, safety, or other companies of a confidential nature. There’s nothing wrong with laying out a policy clearly states to your employees how you’d like them to use their cell phones during work hours. Perhaps limiting phone calls to emergency-only is a reasonable solution. You could ask employees to keep their phones in desk drawers on vibrate. If you’re in a setting that involves heavy interaction with the public (like retail or service), you could ask employees to keep their phones in their lockers.

SafeSourcing has helped many clients put together cellphone use policies, as well as sourcing employer-provided cell phone plans. We can help you by structuring cell phone plans, as well as incorporating usage policies customized to your needs. Contact a SafeSourcing representative to help today!

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact SafeSourcing  we have an entire team waiting to assist you today.

Citation:

https://fortune.com/2017/07/25/cell-phone-lost-productivity/#targetText=The%20average%20worker%20spends%20a,work%20for%20non%2Dwork%20activity.

The Holidays Are Coming​

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

 

 

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

There is no denying that there is a period of time that lasts from mid-October through sometime around the Super Bowl. This is certainly not a new phenomenon. Over the years, I have taken to considering this period of time as a season all of its own. In this way, the “holiday season” falls outside of the normal bounds of seasons. While most seasons can be characterized by the weather, the holiday season is best characterized by its negative impact on productivity. There are clear reminders that the season is upon us. There are more candies in the aisles. There are costumes everywhere, and there is a pumpkin spice version of nearly anything readily available. If you intend to deliver positive results during this season, read on for some words of warning and advice.

What is the impact of the holiday season on productivity and how can we take steps to mitigate that impact? In the US, as the holiday season reaches its peak around Thanksgiving, we’ll start to feel the full weight of the season. One of the positive aspects of this time of year is that many people make the time to visit with their families and loved ones. This is great, but often requires travel time spent away from one’s responsibilities, including procurement. While you are likely well aware of your own travel plans and how to make sure that they don’t have a negative effect on your responsibilities at work, it’s more difficult to account for the travel plans of your colleagues and vendors. This is an unknown and will leave you open to unforeseen delays if left unchecked. All of this very often means that while we have the best intentions to remain productive and accomplish the projects that we have planned, we often fall short of achieving the results we desired in the holiday season.

So, how do we avoid this failure? Just like any other challenge, we have taken a huge step toward a solution by identifying that we are facing a challenge in the first place. In this case, open communication and an increased focus on teamwork will help us prepare for and reduce the effect of the holiday season on our goals. If you are in a position where you will require assistance or cooperation from others during this time, it is best to be upfront about your requirements. When working internally, have frank conversations with your colleagues about your own planned out of office time. If your colleagues aren’t offering their own such plans in response, consider how best to ask them to draw out any potential obstacles that you will need to overcome. When working with vendor partners, be explicit about project timelines and milestones. Beginning this process early will achieve the best results by setting expectations and providing ample time for the vendor to react appropriately.

At SafeSourcing, Inc., we remain incredibly focused on our customers’ needs during this time of year. Having seen the pitfalls that come with the season, we’re here as a guide to ensure that you achieve your procurement goals.

Ugly Produce

Friday, October 18th, 2019

 

 

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

I was recently quite surprised to find out that there is an “Ugly Produce” movement which was originally started as a way to combat the massive problem of food waste. It has now become a big business and start-ups have sprung up selling less than perfect fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away due to imperfections in their appearance. One California farmer states, “Ten million tons of unharvested food is lost each year. If we used all of the food that is produced in this country, we could end world hunger. It’s not a supply issue, it’s a distribution issue.” There are debates about whether this is disingenuous given the complexity of the nation’s food system. Critics are saying this is not the answer, but farmers say it is the way of the future.

This produce is being packaged and sold to customers at a fraction of the cost. One company, Imperfect Produce, is a service that delivers seasonal, cosmetically imperfect produce for affordable prices. They and similar companies such as, Misfits Market and Hungry Harvest market themselves as solutions against food waste. The company defines “imperfect” in several ways: cosmetic damage, surplus or excess inventory, undervalued or lack of demand, or doesn’t meet a strict specification from the buyer, usually in the way it’s harvested or packaged.

USDA guidelines separate produce into grades based on size and color, so “imperfectly” good vegetables that don’t make it to store shelves, due only to irregularities in appearance, end up going to waste. Some of this produce does get distributed to food banks and soup kitchens, but the costs to ship is sometimes more expensive than the actual product. A significant portion of the country’s produce is grown in California, so the majority of Imperfect’s fruits and vegetables come from there. They work with over 200 growers nationwide and source most of its produce (78%) from family farms or cooperatives.

About one-fifth of produce is trashed simply because it’s unattractive. And while food waste experts have said tossing perfectly edible produce is a global issue, Americans are particularly bad offenders. Some 60 million tons, or $160 billion worth, of fruits and vegetables gets thrown away in the United States every year, and the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American family of four throws out an annual $1,600 worth of produce.

Almost half of all produce harvested in the United States is never eaten. Fruits and vegetables go unpicked in fields or get thrown away at the store, simply because they don’t look good. I’m not sure when we started the habit of throwing out edible food that isn’t the most attractive, but there are definitely too many people going hungry in this world to just overlook the possibility of supplying where there is a demand.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business efforts, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

References:

  1. https://www.imperfectfoods.com/
  2. https://www.misfitsmarket.com/
  3. https://www.hungryharvest.net/
  4. https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/vegetables

 

 

Can recessions represent opportunity Part II of II?

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

Please view Part I  of this post to understand this subject matter in its entirety.

Recession brings destruction, and with that opportunity, within the gaps created by those business changes. Many other firms have simply pulled back, and have less aggressive marketing, and are less aggressively pursuing new opportunities, new customers, and new products. Others have been effective in centralizing purchasing, locking in supplier commitment, and transforming their internal purchasing culture. All the above scenarios create opportunity savings for the suppliers.

But how do the purchasers take advantage of the changing business landscape?

A more aggressive survival of the fittest environment means the incumbent suppliers are more apt to make concessions in order to keep your business, making the market more competitive. That is, more competitive for your business. Furthermore, more suppliers are focusing on converting to leaner product management, meaning lowering inventories and overhead. The most difficult aspect of taking advantage of this is sifting through the overwhelming number of suppliers, and creating an environment that breaks down the pricing informational barriers, in order to promote competition for your business. How do you take advantage of this competitiveness in a way that’s safe, effective, and manageable?

That’s what we do. We do the research, the legwork, and bring the competitive environment to bear in a way that is risk free to the supplier, but high reward to the businesses that establish the purchasing relationship.

If you think your business could benefit from our managed sourcing solutions, contact a  SafeSourcing customer services representative and we’d be happy to discuss your strategic options.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Can recessions represent opportunity Part I of II ?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archive.

Do you know what FedEx, Hewlett-Packard, Disney, Hyatt, MTV, and CNN all have in common? They were all started during periods of economic recession.
Uncertainty in the business landscape can fuel tremendous opportunity. How many corporations are trying to scale down excess inventory and are willing to sell at drastic discount to do it? How many dislocated and highly skilled professionals are willing to accept historically low salaries to find reliable work? How many consumers have drastically changed their purchasing behaviors?

To the adaptive go the spoils?

That last scenario is the one that frightens retail businesses the most.

After all, who wants to abandon their core business and cash cows? That’s a scary proposition, when traditionally most firms would prefer low risk/low reward stability over higher risk innovative adaptability (Consumers have the same career mindset, as you’ll see below). However, as our highly dynamic economic and technological environment has repetitively proven, no one can afford not to adapt if they want to survive. Some corporations and new startups have discovered that trying to convince consumers to spend the way they used to (and can no longer afford to) is a losing game, and that the real opportunity is to discover and acquire a share of the new ways consumers are spending. For instance, Target has rebranded itself as a discount designer product store. For others though, it may be more prudent to create spin-off discount brands to serve that market, but keep that brand insulated from your premium brand to prevent any negative ass
ociations of discount retail from your primary brand. Opportunity is not exclusive to consumer spending though, it exists also in the new ways consumers are seeking revenue.

Counterintuitive to what most of us might think about recession-era job seekers, is that there has been a shift in emphasis away from the pursuit of higher pay for potential job seekers.

Due to the insecurity the population is feeling however, it should come as no surprise that security is the consistent priority, replacing pay scale as the most sought after characteristic of employment. A 2010 poll by the Associated Press showed 64% of workers under 25 years of age are unhappy with their jobs, and less than half of all Americans are happy with their jobs. What does this mean to employers? There exists opportunity in recruiting talent, and they are looking more for stability than they are looking for large salaries. Of course, savings in production are being pursued just as fervently as savings in acquisition, but everyone can benefit from these savings all along the supply chain.

Please check back tomorrow to read part II of Michaels informative post.

If you’d like more information about SafeSourcing, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Thinking Outside of the Box Part II of II

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

 

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

Thinking Outside of the Box Part I of II

Monday, October 7th, 2019

 

Do you think outside the box?

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

The statement “Think outside the box” has become a highly used business term, cliché even, but do you know what it means, where it came from, and how you can obtain this skill?

The origin of the common phrase has been debated, but popular beliefs narrow its origin down to two possibilities. The first origin is that all of us are metaphorically in a box; we are closed off from new possibilities and use only what we know (what is inside the box) to solve our everyday problems. Thus, thinking outside the box is to find solutions that wouldn’t normally be thought of. A second theory of the phrase’s origin stems from a puzzle. In this puzzle there are nine dots in three rows of three, making a square. The object of the puzzle is to connect all the dots using only four straight lines without lifting your pen or tracing over a line. To answer this puzzle you must think outside the box, and the answer requires the lines be drawn outside of the square box shape.

So, what constitutes thinking outside the box in a real world situation? General definitions use the phrase for someone who thinks creatively, in a new way, or brings fresh ideas into play. A person who can do this can bring new perspective to problems, new and existing. The idea is that when most others fail to solve a problem, an out of the box thinker can provide ideas outside the realm of what was previously thought, shedding light on a solution that may have otherwise been left in the dark.

If you have a problem in your business and seek out-of-the-box thinking, SafeSourcing may be able to shed new light on your problem. As procurement partners, we strive to find the best solution to fit your needs.

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.