Archive for the ‘E-procurement Solutions’ Category

It really is a CRITICALLY GOOD time to look at your supplier contracts.

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

 

 

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

It appears it would be counter intuitive for senior management to ask procurement professionals to explore all contracts in the current environment. There is so much uncertainty relative to the economy, COVID-19, and related internal and external adjustments as well as an upcoming election that may change how we look at everything.

With all of that said, public companies are going to have to continue to report earnings while they plan for an uncertain future. Small businesses while not having to report are equally as focused on keeping the doors open. While the numbers vary as they seem to with everything today, approximately 100,000 businesses have failed forever. Many more will over the next 6 -12 months. Depending on the source you use, nearly 17 million Americans are unemployed. So much to focus on, how to cope?

While the statistics are daunting, all these businesses were buying products and services from the supply chain. As such, it is not surprising that the supply chain companies have lost sales/revenue and are very eager to find new business. They are looking at their existing customers to lock in business, new verticals with similar characteristics to their existing customers to cannibalize from and their existing markets to offer unsolicited proposals at great initial pricing. I am sure there is not a senior leader that has not been told of unsolicited offers for current expense categories at drastic improvements in pricing. So, the market is ripe, but it will not stay that way forever. And here is a caution; Do not accept those initial offers. There is still better pricing available.

At SafeSourcing, we have not laid off anyone since the 1st of the year and have dramatically reduced our expenses on everything. One example is our phone service where we reduced costs by 45.3%. Another is our insurance policies where we reduced costs by 13%. There are many others with significant savings as well.

I have often used the following as a tongue in cheek response to the question I have heard thousands of times. Why should we focus on expense reduction with SafeSourcing? My response is, do you have a dollar bill? Even in todays world most folks do. I ask the questioner to take it out of their purse or wallet while I am taking a $10 bill out of mine. I offer to trade one for one. While many already see my point, no one has ever turned down the exchange. A 10X return? Why would you not do it. Both bills are the same size, color, and government backed. It is the same specification right? So, an easy decision. I then add that when you use SafeSourcing, our ROI is quite often much higher. Your time commitment is minimal, and you receive and equal or better specification or service or both at a lower price! So, Why Not?

The times are hard, headcount may be down, and you have so much to focus on! Let SafeSourcing help you reduce your costs on everything from capital, costs of sales/goods and expense. Your numbers will look better now and in the future and you will not have to use headcount as your best cost management tool. Our average customer savings over the last 18 months are in excess of 24%. Yours could be too!

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.

 

 

 

 

During a Pandemic like COVID-19, Is there benefit to a large retail supplier database?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

 

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

Maybe you’re looking for KN95 face masks, gloves or other medical safety equipment. Do you know all of the off shore suppliers and how to contact them? We do!

Maybe your current supplier can’t handle your volume any more because of the Pandemic! Where do you look.

Once you are armed with a robust Global Supplier Database such as  SafeSourcing’s  SafeSourceIt™ Global Supplier Database  and it’s easy to use query tool.

If you need assistance, just contact us at 1-888-261-9070 or  marketing@safesourcing.com.

We’re here to help!

Are You Still Printing And Filing Documents in Filing Cabinets?

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

 

Today’s post is from our archives at  SafeSourcing Inc

paperstacks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose I am “old school” to have paper in hand and make my edits in red pen, then make my revisions to the electronic document, and save those edits in our document management system. Now I have a hard copy in a filing cabinet that, more than likely, no one will ever see and eventually be shredded.

We are a Green company, and I am becoming more cognizant of that by limiting what I print, and save more trees. By utilizing the document management system, the original drafts, as well as all of the edited copies are saved, anyone from our company, at any point and time, can visit those documents and follow the train of thought from beginning to end. It saves time and paper to have those documents accessible.

From our website: www.safesourcing.com

SafeDocument™

SafeDocument™ is a document repository that allows companies to collaborate on documents through an online tool that is a cloud-based SaaS offering available through simple internet access. This tool Provides document sharing and collaboration options where users can organize, edit, protect, and track their documents.

SafeDocument™ includes safety features and controls that enable users to safely share large files across their organization, including the ability to save and recall multiple versions of a document and a notification system that alerts users when changes to the document have occurred.

Implementing SafeDocument™ provides companies with a cost-effective alternative to enterprise content management solutions that is safe and easy to use.

To learn more about SafeDocument™ SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your document management procedures 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.

 

Sourcing with RFIs, RFPs, RFQs and Surveys – Part 5 of 5

Friday, July 10th, 2020

 

 

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

This past week we have covered a lot of ground in defining the different methods of gathering internal and external details needed to help make important procurement decisions.  Today we will wrap the discussion up by tying those processes into the final piece of the puzzle of gathering competitive pricing.

The Request For Quote, RFQ, process is usually one of, if not the last process, that occurs before a company begins contract negotiations with a vendor.  It can take many forms from online bid submission, to blind paper bids to more recent technology eRFQ process referred to as a “Reverse Auction”.  The goal of this phase no matter how the information is collected is the same; procure the most competitive prices on a specific spend so that a contract can be negotiated and finalized.

Many times the RFP process will double as an RFQ where the details about a company and their capability to deliver the items or services you need are combined with a collection of specific pricing information as it relates to the project.  When this occurs vendors are encouraged to submit their best pricing but that pricing alone will not determine the award of business and will not be their best price!

Even if the RFQ portion is included in the RFP, many companies will take a handful of vendors or a “short list” and allow them the opportunity to be more competitive in their pricing ( which is why, when you ask for best and final it never is), especially when vendors are so similar in what they are offering in every other way.  This gives vendors the opportunity to differentiate themselves in the process in a way they may not be able to do in the way of experience or in the goods they are bidding on alone.

RFQs can often be run with no additional information gathering at all.  For instance if you have purchased 100,000 plastic bags for the past 25 years, you know the breakdown goes to these 4 locations and you have all the specifications defined, it is appropriate and even beneficial for savings to go straight into an RFQ.  This event allows companies to stand out in an area they have control over in order to get your business.  In this case, going straight to an RFQ makes perfect sense and in order to begin realizing those prices as quickly as possible it should be the move every company proceeds with.

The other nice thing about RFQs is that they can provide a small channel to gather information from the vendors that would help clarify any other value they might be able to offer.  This is useful for situations where price is the most important criteria but you want to provide the possibility that vendors may be able to give you additional services or terms that would allow them to distinguish themselves in ways they may not be able to do in price alone.

At the end of an RFQ you will have details about the suppliers and their capabilities either from historical spends or through an RFI/RFP process and you will have all of their pricing needed to make a decision as to who the best supplier for your company will be, taking you to the “endpoint” of the process which is contract negotiation and finalization.

During this 5 part post, we have covered several different processes in procuring products or services, but it all boils down to this: you have a beginning point which is the need for something and you have the end point which is the signed contract defining how that need will be fulfilled.  In between is the place where the type of information you have and the type of information you need must be evaluated so that the journey from beginning to end is as smooth and organized for your company as possible.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with sourcing these goods and services, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s series and look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Sourcing with RFIs, RFPs, RFQs and Surveys – Part 4 of 5

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

 

 

Today’s post is from our archives at  SafeSourcing.

During the last week we have been focusing on the gathering of external information in order to make the proper procurement decisions.  Today we will be looking into when it is necessary to gather internal information before reaching out to the suppliers even happens.

Looking back at our previous posts in Part I, Part II  and Part III there were some basic questions that needed to be asked before every sourcing project.

  • Do you know who you vendors are for a specific item or service across your company and do you know how much you spend with each?
  • Do you have current contract or agreement details?
  • Are your divisions, regions or offices pleased with the quality of product and service they get currently?
  • Are there other companies out there that parts of your business would like to include but don’t currently today?

The answers to these questions will dictate whether or not you know enough about the sourcing project you are about to begin to proceed with a Request For Information/Proposal.  Before any communication goes to the external supplier community it is critical to have an understanding of what your company is doing today and where the potential holes are in the procurement processes for these goods or services.

Proceeding with an internal survey involves a number of factors to consider.

  • What tool will I use to collect the information from the company and does that tool allow for submission of the survey without requiring login information?
  • Who will handle the survey process including the initial communication, gathering and return of the collection of responses? (Many times your 3rd party sourcing partner will provide this service for you)
  • Who do I want to collect information from?  (Many times this will be dependent on how your company is divided, ie Districts, States, Divisions, Territories)
  • What information do I need to collect in order to move forward intelligently with an RFI/RFP?

The keys to internal surveys are to make them as succinct as possible and to make sure you include everyone you need input from.  The first way to derail a sourcing project is to find out 2 weeks into it that someone’s input was not collected and sends the project back to the beginning.

Another very important key for internal surveys is to attach a manageable but small window for answering.  More often than not, the more time you provide respondents to answer the worse your response rate is and the more delays you introduce.  Tight timeframes usually lead to respondents taking the time right then to answer as soon as they get the invitation to participate.

In the end the goal of the internal survey is to have the information needed to begin speaking with suppliers.  To refer back to a phrase used in Monday’s blog, internal surveys are conducted in order to “know what you don’t know.”

Tomorrow we will wrap up this series by discussing how all of this information ties into the formal detailed price gathering or Request For Quote.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with sourcing these goods and services, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Sourcing with RFIs, RFPs, RFQs and Surveys – Part 3 of 5

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

 

Today’s post is our archives at  SafeSourcing

Thursday July 2nd’s post began to uncover the search for information needed to make important sourcing decisions by highlighting the Request For Information (RFI) process.  Today we take a look at the Request For Proposal (RFP) process, how it compares to an RFI and when you need one.  Let’s begin by looking at how the two processes are different.

Project details – Typically you will not have all of the details necessary to provide the suppliers on what it is you are going to do in an RFI.  With an RFP it is necessary to have those details and be able to effectively communicate to the suppliers what the sourcing project is going to look like, complete with the quality and amount of product or service you need and if necessary to what regions of the country/world this project applies.  It takes much more time to prepare an effective RFP than it does for an RFI because you need to supply as much information about what you want as the suppliers do in answering.

Pricing – As touched on above, there is a much more focused request for pricing details in an RFP than in an RFI.  RFIs ask general questions about fees and how a supplier charges for their products or services while an RFP requires specific pricing as it relates to their project.  (i.e. An RFI would ask “What types of fees are associated with buying your product?” an RFP would ask “What are the fees associated with buying 25,000 of your product with these specifications and having it delivered in 3 groups to 5 regions throughout the U.S.?”)

Next steps – The other major way the two differ is in the expected next steps.  With an RFI a customer is looking to gather basic information about companies in order to determine the handful they wish to proceed with seriously considering.  Conversely, in an RFP the goal is to collect much more detailed information about the supplier and their capability to deliver as well as enough project specific pricing and product or service details to allow you to proceed immediately into negotiating a contract.  In some cases there will be a short list of vendors invited to compete further on pricing or present their offering to the customer before the final contract is completed.

Going back to July 1st’s post , in an RFI “we don’t know what we don’t know” and we gather accordingly.  In an RFP, “we KNOW what we don’t know” and that process is the time to collect it from your selected vendors.
Tomorrow we will focus on internal information gathering in the form of surveys, when to use them and what to expect from them.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with sourcing these goods and services, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Sourcing with RFIs, RFPs, RFQs and Surveys – Part 2 of 5

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

 

Today’s continuing 5 part repost is from our archives at  SafeSourcing.

According to www.businessdictionary.com, a Request For Information 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.”

RFIs are generally externally facing and have a sole purpose of gathering enough information about a company, their experience and details about their products or services to create a list of suppliers you want to pursue, each of whom has a legitimate chance to be awarded the business.  As mentioned above, this is rarely a final step before the “award of business.”

During an RFI you want to understand who a company is, how long they have been in business, who their customers are, what industries they service and specialize in, how many employees they have dedicated to the business you are looking to award them, as well as details about what they are offering for a good or service.

This stage of the information gathering process would be equivalent to that first trip shopping for a new car; where you let the salesperson know up front “We are just starting to look and gather information.  This is not a decision making day as we have other dealerships to visit before we narrow it down.”  The reason for this is twofold.  First you are doing the suppliers the courtesy of not investing too much time in a process where 30-40% won’t make a short list for round two.  Secondly, it saves time in the initial evaluation of the responses as RFIs generally involve 15-20 (or more) companies.

Looking back at the basic questions from yesterday’s blog, let’s see how they fit within the definition of an RFI.   If the answer to “Is this something you have purchased before?” is “No” and you are looking for a service or the specification for the product is not well defined, an RFI should absolutely be standard practice.

Also, if the answer to “Are there additional features or services you are not currently purchasing that you would like to gather information on from suppliers? “ is “Yes” then investing in the RFI process will save you an incredible amount of time later when you get closer to deciding who you want to gather quotes from.   Going back to “you don’t know what you don’t know”, new services generally fall into the “don’t know” bucket and RFIs can help with that to a large extent.

The object of an RFI is to gather enough information about the project so that you can provide the vendor community enough data to give accurate details and pricing for their involvement in a more focused next step which is usually a Request For Proposal (RFP).

Tomorrow we will cover RFPs, how are they are different than RFIs and when you should use them.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with this process, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Sourcing with RFIs, RFPs, RFQs and Surveys – Part 1 of 5

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

 

Today’s post is  the 1st in a 5 part series that is always good to re-share from our Archives at SafeSourcing.

Information rules the world and the sourcing world is no exception.  It is often said “you only know what you know and you don’t know what you don’t know.”  This may seem like a simple concept but it is amazing how often it gets ignored and decisions get made without people having all the facts they need to properly make those decisions.

In this week’s series, we will be exploring how simple information gathering techniques can help make better million dollar decisions and we will finally answer the reoccurring question “What really is the difference between an RFI and RFP and an RFQ and when should I use them?” Before we do that let’s focus on determining what, if any of these things, is needed to make the right purchasing decisions.

When faced with an upcoming purchasing decision there are several factors that need to be determined to know which direction to take should you need to gather additional internal or external information.

  1. Is this something you have purchased before?
  2. If this is not a new purchase, do you have current copies of contracts or agreements for these items or services?
  3. Is it clear who is providing this product or service across your entire company?  (In many cases, the larger the company the hazier the answer to this question becomes.)
  4. Are the current suppliers national companies or is there a mix of regional vendors included?
  5. Is it clear within your organization how much is being spent and is that information broken down by region, state, division or some other fashion?
  6. Are you pleased with the performance and quality of the item(s) or service(s) your incumbent supplies?
  7. Are there additional features or services you are not currently purchasing that you would like to gather information on from suppliers?

These are the basic questions that need to be asked before determining if more information needs to be collected.  In the end all of these questions lead to this, “Do I have what I need to supply information to potential vendors and then properly and fairly evaluate their responses in order to make a purchasing decision?”

Later this week we will dissect the different methods of information gathering as it relates to the questions above, explaining the purpose and expected result of each in order for you to determine, project by project, which will serve you best.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can assist your company with this process, please contact a Customer Service Representative for more information.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Grocery Bills on the Rise

Friday, June 19th, 2020

 

 

Today’s blog is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Lead at SafeSourcing.

The Coronavirus has led to the fastest rise in food prices in more than four decades. Supermarkets are restoring promotions and value food packs are being designed by food makers. Because of the increased costs for labor and transportation, it is likely higher prices will remain the norm for a while. Companies are buying equipment to keep customers safe and configuring the store layout to keep customers socially distanced. All of these measures result in more trickle down costs to the consumer. Prices rose 2.6% in April from a month earlier, according to the Labor Department, the biggest monthly increase since 1974.

“Mondelez International Inc. said it is considering smaller packages of some products like it’s Oreos and other snacks that cost less overall. Campbell Soup Co. said it might add more family-size packs that will cost less per ounce.”1

It is expected that food, as a percentage of disposable income, will rise this year for the first time in decades. Many people are still out of work, or their hours have been cut, lowering their monthly income. The jump of meat and poultry has propelled the increase in food cost. The pandemic has disrupted food plants because of shutdowns. Meat prices rose 15% the end of May from a year prior. Some consumers have switched to generic brands and discount stores in order to save money. Some people are opting to cut back on meat, or are going meatless.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help 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…..……………………………………..

Joe Flint, WSJ, 6/10/2020

 

 

 

 

 

Optimism and Procurement

Friday, April 17th, 2020

 

 

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

With so much going on right now, many people are scared or concerned with what will happen and what things will be like when this is all over. While we may not yet know what, if anything will change, there are some areas that have already been affected. In fact, there is at least one particular area that has actually improved.

Many years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a family to only own one car or even no cars. Now, that has changed a lot. Many Americans each have their own car and it has been a necessity for people to get where they need to, whether it is work, school, or shopping. With the current virus situation people are no longer driving to work as often and most schools are closed. This has greatly reduced the number of vehicles on the road.

There are a few silver linings here. With fewer people driving, there have been fewer accidents. This means there are less people being injured or dying in vehicle accidents. Because there are fewer accidents, insurance companies haven’t had to pay out as much money for repairs and medical expenses. In fact, there have been several car insurance companies that have begun refunding premiums because they have paid out so much less.

With fewer drivers on the road, another silver lining is less traffic and this can greatly help truck drivers and other aspects of logistics. Fewer cars mean more room for truck drivers, fewer distractions, and again, fewer accidents that can cause delays. This can mean transportation of goods is quicker and more efficient.

Another silver lining is a decrease in pollution. With fewer cars, there are fewer emissions from exhaust. In addition, truck drivers’ ability to drive with fewer delays, means they are also emitting less. Even more than the reduction of exhaust fumes, with fewer vehicles, there is fast less gas and diesel consumption. This means production can slow down, which can additionally help reduce pollution.

While we wait to get through this and for life to return to normal, we can know that there have been some silver linings to this dark cloud of a virus.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your supply chain of sourcing needs, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.