Archive for the ‘Business Sourcing’ Category

College Admission Scandals, Grounded Planes, and Political Convictions

Friday, March 15th, 2019


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

When we hear big news stories, it seems to be all the talk for the next few days or weeks. Once that initial buzz wears down, life seems to go back to normal until the next story comes crashing through.

So, what do these news stories have in common and how do they affect us? I think any kind of scandal, especially political or involving the integrity of the education system, has further reaching effects than many of us realize. It is left to be determined what effects those will be in the long run. While we know the latest education scam has been exposed, how many kids missed out on chances at those schools? Planes have been grounded, but how many lives could’ve been saved if it were done earlier? Since we have seen recent convictions in the political arena, how many policies were affected and what kind of propaganda has yet to been discovered?

While SafeSourcing can’t help with your college admissions, we can help your business save money, which can be used to help send a kid to college. SafeSourcing may not have the power to remove corruption from politics, but we can help your organization find a vendor that better aligns with what you are hoping to achieve. SafeSourcing can’t go back and ground planes before tragedy, but we can help your organization source its travel needs, including planes, trains, automobiles, and everything in between.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in your procurement 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.











Working Like It’s 1999 Can Still Help You in Business

Thursday, March 14th, 2019


Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant at SafeSourcing, Inc.

Starting a business in 1999 is a lot different than starting and running a business in 2019. In 1999, Google was just launching and people searching for businesses relied on the Yellow Pages. Social media hadn’t been thought of and the iPhone wouldn’t be invented for another decade. Heck, the first millennials were just entering kindergarten!

Looking back twenty years, Rhonda Abrams, a columnist for USA Today, reflected on some of the resolutions she made in 1999 and how they are still relevant today.

  1. Keep Learning. Attend trade shows, read journals, attend seminars. Your brain is your most important asset.
  2. Keep Priorities Straight. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Make a list of a few items that make a difference in succeeding and failing both in business, as well as your personal life.
  3. Keep in Contact With Former Clients. Find a way to communicate with both current and past customers at least two or three times a year. Former clients are a great asset.
  4. Use Technology Better. Perhaps moving your contact list from paper to digital files.
  5. Know When to Not Use Technology. Every day find time to turn off technology and interact with people and get in touch with yourself.
  6. Throw Stuff Out. Get rid of old files. Transfer stuff off your computer and put it on a zip drive.
  7. Back up Data. Today files can be moved to the cloud and backed up automatically.
  8. Reflect. Stop and think what you’re doing, what you’re saying, and how you are saying it. This is so important in our busy lives. Take a breath, pause and reflect.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in your procurement 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 …………………………………………….

Rhonda Abrams, USAToday, 1/10/2019



Five (5) Vendor Evaluation Criteria

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019


Today’s post is   from our SafeSourcing Archives.

It’s easy to imagine that procurement managers look at cost alone in evaluating potential vendors.  At SafeSourcing, however, we have worked with procurement managers in fortune 500 companies and small business all over the world, and we understand there are innumerable variables to be considered with any purchasing project. Today we’ll boil down those considerations into our top 5. While these aren’t exhaustive, they should get you the majority of the way to a complete evaluation:

Net Price: Not only is price of the product important, we must take into account tax, freight, rebates, even installation and maintenance in some cases. We must take into account the total cost of ownership, which will vary depending on the use the product gets in servicing your particular business model.

Location: The obvious consideration here is whether or not the vendor in question even services or ships to your area from their’s. If so, what does it cost to get the good or service to you? What are the freight or travel rates? Is the vendor licensed in your area?

Capacity: What is the production rate and MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)? Some categories will have growing seasons or other production considerations that will require a buyer to contract capacity within certain seasons; and, of course, the production run capabilities will have to scale with the size of your typical orders.

Lead Time: How much time will it take between your first order, and delivery? Some products need to setup manufacturing equipment for a specific run, others may have full harvest seasons committed and will need 6 months before they can plant, harvest and pack their crops.

Risk: What variable commodity prices are your product dependent on? Does the vendor you are considering have pricing subject to currency exchange rates? How do they handle fluctuations? Are there any changes in the regional regulations, tariffs or licensers that could disrupt the flow of product? For international organizations these concerns multiply for every country involved in the production of the good being sourced.

What other considerations do you have when evaluating a vendor? Please leave a comment or 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.

How do commodities influence market pricing?

Friday, March 8th, 2019


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

So are you a buyer, a category manager, a commodities trader or a little bit of each? Be careful because commodities make your job of buying tricky.

As an example, Oil is the most widely watched commodity. This is because the price of oil changes daily which has a great effect on other goods and services that are produced around the world. As such commodities have an impact on supply and demand of almost all products.

Let’s take a look at a fairly simple example. As a buyer you are planning to buy Windshield Washer Fluid, Anti Freeze products or both. Consumers buy these products at Grocery Stores, Auto Parts Stores, General Merchandise Stores, Convenience Stores and Drug Stores and on line at Amazon. There are many global suppliers for these products whether they are private label in nature or mixes for use at service stations. The products can be near shored and off shored. The commodity markets that drive pricing in these items are actually quite a few such as the methanol market, ethylene glycol market and resin indexes that effect packaging. If that were not enough, the product is also influenced by the price of oil because of its impact on the logistical component or how the products get to market. This can be a combination of ocean bound freight and land freight both of which are impacted by the price of fuel as well as issues like availability of drivers. The packaging of these products is also influenced by another commodity which is the pulp market that drives pricing for corrugated and other paper based packaging.

So, it’s a pretty simple product and you just got a good price for. The question is did you really? You better go back and take a look at the fine print. You might want to look for things like escalator language and contract termination language. These and other similar tactics can result in higher prices.

Your best bet however might be to find someone that knows what they are doing in the procurement solution provider space.

If you think that’s complicated, how many products do you think are influenced by the price of corn, maize or its genetic modifications? The answer is 100’s including non edible products like glue for packaging. As such the influence may be actually in the 1000’s. How do you keep up with the changes in this commodity? One way would to discuss it with a company that sources categories dozens of times every year when you may source it once every few years which is also a mistake. SafeSourcing Inc. is that type of company that annually saves our customers in excess of 24% across all expense, cost of goods and capital spend areas.

For more information, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Project Manager in order to learn more.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The components of information

Thursday, March 7th, 2019


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archive. Please Enjoy!

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.


Thursday, February 28th, 2019


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives

Although we’d like to think that the decisions we make are deliberated by well thought-out reasoning and “common sense”, the truth is we aren’t even aware of most of what goes on in the brain during the decision making process. Much of what we think is a decision is actually a lot of conditioning by our society, culture, parents, schooling, job training, etc. Unfortunately, no one understands this better than marketing strategists, whose aim is to have the decision made for you before you even aware what you are deliberating about.

“Pre-suasion” is a term coined by Robert Cialdini, who wrote a book in 2016 by the same name, and is a well-known author and researcher in marketing and persuasion strategy. The focus of the term is the timing of your attempt to persuade, because the battle for decisions in your favor are often won and lost long before any actual pitch is made. Here are a few ways in which pre-suasion can be used, either in your favor or against it:

Ask questions that get your audience to think about a positive attribute of your proposal. For example, during an interview, ask “what wasy it about my resume that made you want to see me?”. This brings focus onto the attributes that attracted your audience in the first place, and sets you in a more positive frame of reference.

We give relevance to what grabs our attention most recentlyMost and recently being the key words here, this concept eludes to the fact that if something impacts us greatly, and a short time ago, it is likely to heavily influence our decision. A recent car crash for instance, will often change how much driving someone will freely choose to do, even though the safety statistics haven’t actually changed.

Change what someone thinks about, not what they think. For Example, direct someone’s memory to an association with something terrible to have them avoid a decision of similar association. Are you hoping your spouse will pick the white car? Talk about things they love that evoke the thought of white: White snow, the wedding dress, bright white smiles, white piano keys, etc.

Discuss a number that will make the number you will actually pitch seem favorable. Also known as “Anchoring”, this concept takes advantage of the way in which human beings tend to rely heavily on the first piece of information received (the anchor), and compare it to future acquired information. This is why you see sale signs all the time stating the price “was” $XX.XX, because you would feel better about buying something if you believe you’re getting it at a discount.

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.

Vendor and Professional Relationships

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019


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

Are you in a healthy relationship? When working with co-workers, vendors, counterparts, and other business professionals, we tend to put on the professional mask. Sometimes that mask requires us to stand firm on decisions and sometimes become aggressive; but when does that aggression goes too far, it becomes a toxic aggressive emotion. Often in the office setting, stress levels are rather high and are sometimes easily irritated by timelines, lack of involvement with other people, not meeting margins, and the list goes on. We tend to see this situation quite often when a client has worked with a vendor for years and has a rather strong relationship. We must question that just because you have worked with them for years and may be buddies, are they really giving you the “best deal”? We must remember no matter how healthy or great that relationship may be those vendors still need to put food on their plates and somewhere up that ladder, someone is pressing down on them to get better margins. So how do you handle this when you want a better price? Do you call your friend and ask for the best price and hope they are doing exactly that? Or, are you reaching out to other vendors behind their back and hoping you can come across a better deal. Well what do you do if you happen to find a better price? Do you tell your buddy incumbent that you got a better offer and you would like them to match, or do you end the relationship and just move on to the next best thing? During all of this searching and dealing are you upsetting your incumbent? Are they really your friend if they are upset that you are looking for a better price? These are things you must understand. In order for you to be successful, you must worry about your job not the feelings of someone else. This does not mean you must become a callous, aggressive individual, but you must understand you must do what is needed to be successful.

Our tools and professionals at SafeSourcing have years of experience dealing with this exact scenario. By using our online tools we show vendors if they have the lowest price or not and take the guess work out of the equations. So contact us and let SafeSourcing help you with your relationship.

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.


Procurement of Potato Salad Part Three: Mayonnaise

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019


Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of Major Accounts and Special Projects at SafeSourcing Inc.

Want to start a family feud quickly? Tell your Aunt or Grandmother you made your potato salad with mayonnaise, Miracle Whip®, or sour cream! Traditionalists will say that their potato salad is only made with mayonnaise, while others will say their choice of potato salad creaminess is open to whatever pleases the palate.

Manufactures of potato salad want the best of both worlds and many are choosing proprietary blends of mayonnaise to meet the traditionalists’ tastes, but also provide new tastes options to the foodie groups. Small companies can make their own creaminess and control the amounts of sugar, salt, vinegar, dairy, and oils that go into their special recipes, but how to manufacture control in what goes into their product to keep it the same time after time? How do they know the manufactures of the mayonnaise are meeting their client’s needs? Are the manufactures of potato salad getting the best pricing for their purchase of mayonnaise?

Custom or proprietary blends of mayonnaise or really anything can be taken out for bid. The key is knowing exactly what is in your proprietary item and what the ratios are. If you have a contract agreement in place that you own the proprietary blend made for you by a manufacturer, you need to have this in your possession for several reasons—what happens if the manufacturer has a natural disaster or fire? What happens if they are shut down due to a salmonella or e-coli issue? And what if you want to test the market place for pricing and capabilities?

Is now the time to review your mayonnaise purchases? Look your contract over and see when it expires (ed) or do you have an out clause? Be prepared to take your time to do this right. You want to ensure you have the proper suppliers who can handle your volume needs and manufacture custom items. You will want to know exactly what the market rates are for oils and eggs as these will directly affect your pricing expectations and longevity of the contract. You will also want to allow time for the manufactures to make your mayonnaise or product or allow equivalent blends for sampling. Some suppliers will do this at no charge; others will expect a minimum order purchase to be able to provide your custom product as they need to schedule the time to put your product in a small quantity into their production line.

While the family feuds will probably always occur over what makes the best potato salad, do not allow a manufacturer make you feel as if you have no options to replace your mayonnaise provider. This is your product and you have the right to get the best product at the best price.

SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program for RFPs and RFQs, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

This author hopes that you found this series fun and educational. While I enjoy the traditional mayonnaise potato salad with a touch of yellow mustard, my favorite has become the new red skin potato salad with a bacon, chive, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese. There are many manufactures of this combination but I truly enjoy making my own and playing with this recipe by adding more bacon/different smoked bacons, chive or dill, and various cheeses.

We look forward to your comments.


Sourcing Loss Prevention Categories

Friday, February 8th, 2019


Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

What are some of the ways to actively use sourcing tools to help reduce your company’s loss?”

What ever state the world economy is in, is no longer  newsflash material for anyone.  As governments and businesses actively pursue the steps to improve results, issues within business, especially in retail, that were once concerns are now becoming major problems as they battle theft and loss both internally and externally.

In the course of dealing with “loss” head-on, many companies are looking to improvement their infrastructure, processes and coverage by researching companies that specialize in providing goods and services to help reduce loss.  Today we will be covering a few areas that sourcing departments or 3rd party sourcing partners can help you so that you know what is out there and to help make the best decision for your company to procure.

Enterprise Software – There are many companies that provide enterprise software for gathering and monitoring the data that flows through your business every day.  Hundreds of successful RFPs are run every year to gather the information necessary to compare these companies and offer you valuable insight into the solution that is best for you.  Make sure you have all of the facts to be able to compare the companies evenly.

Video Equipment – With literally hundreds of video manufacturers on the market offering DVRs, cameras and the software that goes with them, not to mention new technology that leverages IP devices and video analytics to intelligently monitor the video, it is a perfect time to review the current video condition of your company.  Begin to gather the details and competitive pricing from these vendors to upgrade or improve your company’s current video infrastructure.

Consulting Services – While enterprise loss analysis software and video capabilities are important for many companies, not all companies have the staff to monitor and deal with what is being provided out of these systems.  Due to this issue, many consulting companies have appeared with terrific loss prevention experience to help you use your tools to reduce your loss, whether that is reviewing exception based reports, video or handling the interviews of potential theft activity in your company.

Alarms & Safes – Alarms and safes are terrific categories to be looking at due to the fact that with so many companies selling them, there is a terrific common ground from which a company can evaluate the pricing from multiple companies easily.  Because the field can be so competitive on pricing it is also a good time for customers to get additional “value-add” from vendors that are offering more services in order to get the alarm or safe business.

Security Companies – Security and doo/fire alarm monitoring companies have been in existence for years and many offer similar services.  Now is a good time to look at your existing supplier and see what else they are doing that is new that you might be able to leverage.  While doing this process it is probably a good idea to take a look at some new companies and see if they are offering anything that may help your company reduce either your loss or your costs.

Whatever your Loss Prevention need is, the global environment is quickly demanding that companies begin to pay more attention to the amount of money and product they are losing and look for ways to reduce that loss and the above categories and suggested steps in examining what is right for your company are just a few of hundreds.  For assistance in sourcing these categories for your business, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

Understanding the Relationship Between Procurement and Marketing

Thursday, February 7th, 2019


Todays post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

The relationship between a retailer’s Marketing and Procurement Departments has been one struggling to maintain cohesiveness in many companies for quite some time.

While the Marketing team is continually trying to find creative and cutting-edge ways to increase sales within a retail organization, Procurement is constantly looking for ways in which to not only reduce costs, but find the best fit of suppliers with their company.

In many cases, marketing will expend a good deal of effort to find vendors to work with them on projects that when turned over to the procurement team can’t even be considered because their price is too high.  In the end this costs the company money, creates continued division between departments, and causes unnecessary lost time and sales.

Studies and reports have shown, and we at SafeSourcing agree, that the involvement of the Procurement department, even at the most basic level, into marketing projects can reap huge benefits as both departments work toward finding partners in their suppliers to achieve both their marketing and procurement objectives.

Retailers whose Marketing departments can leverage the database of the Procurement department’s suppliers will find a positive effect on their spend while achieving the ROI they are looking for on their campaigns and will create a better team environment within the company to achieve like-minded goals.

For more information about how the SafeSourcing database of known suppliers can help your company’s marketing and procurement departments work together to achieve these goals, please contact a Customer Service representative today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.