Archive for the ‘E-procurement Solutions’ Category

To Procure or Not to Procure

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Executive Assistant at SafeSourcing.

Have you ever considered implementing procurement solutions  into your business? Find out the pros and cons before you decide.

The smartest way to make a big decision about your business or organization is to do the research and know the ins and outs of what you are getting into beforehand. Often times, big decisions on how you spend your money come with other side effects, both good and bad.

The idea of whether or not to implement procurement into your business’ processes has been a common theme for much debate and numerous articles. Many of these debates and articles say much of the same thing as they are important aspects to consider. This blog will highlight some of the stronger points on both sides of the debate so you can know better make a decision for your business.

Cost – Typically with procurement efforts, a business or organization will reduce their costs of the services and supplies they are already getting, often significantly, without sacrificing any amount of quality. However, the best way to realize those savings is to use an e-procurement provider, which does cost the business some amount of money, but those are typically small compared to the savings achieved.

Technology – Modern procurement efforts are most efficiently realized through the use of technology, like reverse online auctions. This technology can make things both easier and harder in different ways. More suppliers can participate from any location, diversifying options and enlarging competitive bidding. However, preparing businesses to use electronic systems can be time consuming and always runs the risk of human error.

Service – This is one area that often requires finesse. Negotiations, technical assistance, reporting, training, and management of accounts all fall under customer services and ineffective teams can jeopardize relationships with suppliers, possibly affecting any savings found during the procurement efforts. On the other hand, an experienced customer service team can help strengthen relationships with suppliers and even see increased savings.

Although there are many other pros and cons to implementing procurement, the above areas tend to appear in most conversations on the topic. If you decide to integrate procurement into your organization, SafeSourcing can assist you the entire way. Complete with experienced customer services, modern technologies, and a risk free trial offer, SafeSourcing can exceed your needs.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help you realize the benefits of procurement, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

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Why should you use a Procurement Service Provider?

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

 

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of the Customer Focus Team & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

Can you spend hours of time devoted to researching qualified and certified suppliers? Can you devote time to learning about the product and services your company need to buy? How do you know the product is apples to apples? Are the services providers licensed and bonded? How about obtaining multiple bids for your product?

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From the website Procurement Service Providers:

At most organizations, it is very expensive and difficult to maintain domain expertise in every category of spend. Using a PSP avoids the burdens of procurement infrastructure for non-strategic categories. A Procurement Service Provider can provide a rapid analysis of an organization’s spend and implement changes, negotiate with suppliers, and use proven industry best practices. A good PSP will become an extension of the organization’s existing procurement resources, in a non-obtrusive fashion.

In a recent article titled “Strategic Sourcing in the Mid-Market Benchmark: The Echo Boom in Supply Management”, the Aberdeen Research Group wrote about potential new approaches of Mid-Market company’s sourcing initiatives due to findings showing that they currently have mostly fragmented or limited sourcing efforts. Specifically, to remain competitive, Mid-Market companies should have “Increased reliance on third-party consultants to help define strategic sourcing process and train internal employees on commodity costing models, sourcing automation tactics, and category and supply market assessments.”

Additional research shows:

“…research of enterprises that have outsourced management of specific procurement processes and/or specific categories of spending have been able to achieve material cost reductions that average between 10% and 25%. In some cases, material cost reductions topped 30%.”         Aberdeen Group Research Abstract: You Will Outsource Procurement: Here’s Why and How – October 16, 2002

What SafeSourcing, Inc. states:

SafeSourcing works with finance and procurement department professionals in order to analyze their entire companies spend data to detect opportunities for cost reduction, supply chain awareness and performance improvement, as well as product and service quality improvement. Our ROI is historically greater than 10X and measureable within a company’s current fiscal accounting period.

Want to try us out risk free? 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.

 

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Looking for a new Procurement Service Provider? Look no further!

Friday, December 4th, 2015

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Director of the Customer Focus Team & Project Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

SafeSourcing, Inc. is here for you, where we focus on YOU and YOUR needs, and not just sell you a tool, we provide you exceptional service!

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About us:

Just in time, an innovative alternative has arrived. SafeSourcing is loaded with efficient and comprehensive tools and programs that turn the procurement process into a highly productive endeavor. SafeSourcing® is, literally, a one-stop shopping center.

At SafeSourcing, we focus on safety and security. All our vendors are part of a high quality supplier database with many associated tables that support security and safety in the supply chain. SafeSourcing’s suppliers are also checked for their support of socially responsible initiatives including their eco-friendly practices.

To that end, our SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database of over 427,000 global suppliers contains over twenty-five unique certification standards that are supported by our best practice initiatives such as GFSI, ISO 22000, Green Seal, ECO-LOGO, Fair Trade, SQF and Certified Humane Raised & Hand-Fed.

The SafeSourcing objective is to help buyers save considerably on costs. History shows that in selected categories, buyers have saved as much as 30-40%. Auction events can literally be set up in minutes, creating a significant efficiency improvement over traditional offerings. Studies have shown that a 5% saving in procurement costs translates into an effective increase in sales growth of 30%.

“As our technology advances, new companies are given the tools to do business in a better, smarter, more streamlined and cost effective way. SafeSourcing is one of those companies and delivering these advances to the procurement community is why we are here.” Ron Southard, CEO, SafeSourcing.

SafeSourcing is committed to proactively supporting safety and environmental standards in the global supply chain. We donate a portion of our net profits to retail education, green and safety initiatives.

Are you interest in learning more about SafeSourcing and how we can help your company? SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

 

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Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 5 of 5: Service

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archive!

Strategic sourcing companies each have their own unique offering whether that is based on a price model, category focus, supplier database or some other defining trait, but the overall goal is to help their customers source products and services easier, smarter and with an end result that creates more value than the customer could achieve on its own. Over the past four days we will be looking at some of features and characteristics you should be looking at when evaluating a new or existing sourcing partner. Today we will close out the series by focusing on the one trait that should be examined closer than any of the other five; Service.

Having great data, tools, reporting, or technology will only be as good as the team helping you to run new projects and your partner should be as strong, if not stronger in their customer service offering than anything else they do. Today we will look at a few of the specific areas you should be looking at when evaluating your current or a new strategic sourcing partner.

Experienced – Sourcing experience across dozens of category is not something that every strategic sourcing has. There is a reason why some sourcing partners focus on travel, energy, and logistics only for their customers. Experience in sourcing events from both a consumer, sourcing partner, and supplier side is a big key to understanding the perspective of all the parties involved. This experience helps with the management of the suppliers as well as that of the customer to keep the projects moving and details and communication delivered. Well rounded strategic sourcing companies will have had sourcing experience in IT related products and services, software, warehouse materials and equipment, construction related goods and services, temporary services, For Resell goods, transportation and logistics, commodity goods, and normal indirect spend items to name a few.
Supplier management – The most difficult task in running a sourcing project, outside of collecting the data necessary to run the event, is managing the suppliers during the process. Management begins as soon as suppliers are contacted to participate in the event. Your strategic sourcing partner should be able to assist you with fielding all questions from suppliers, speaking to suppliers on your behalf to get them engaged in the process, handling objections they may have about the process, and training them on how to follow the process and tools with live support. Once a sourcing project begins, your strategic sourcing partner should manage the process and all communications so that your team can be allowed to focus on the important things they will do later. Support should continue through the entire process all the way until the project completes and suppliers have submitted everything requested.

Post event support – In some cases once the sourcing event is completed, handling and communication of the suppliers selected for award goes back to the customer. In many other cases, the sourcing event (RFI, RFP, RFQ) is just the beginning of the evaluation process. Many times samples will need to coordinated, presentations scheduled with the selection committee, scorecards and evaluation materials developed and distributed to the internal decision makers as well as agendas to the suppliers. These are all ways that good strategic sourcing partners stay involved and take the load of the sourcing process off of the customer. Many times the suppliers are used to the customer service member they have been dealing with and having that same person take them all the way through the process is a big advantage to the process going smoothly.

Many things should be looked at when evaluating a strategic sourcing partner and depending on the structure of your department, some characteristics will be more important than others but all should be considered at some point. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with sourcing projects 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.

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Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 4 of 5: Tools

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

This week we have been looking at the different characteristics strategic sourcing companies and solutions have that should be evaluated when making a decision as to what is most important to your company. At the beginning of the week we looked at technology, data and reporting capabilities and the different aspects of each and the importance they could play in sourcing projects. Today we will look at the different types of tools strategic sourcing companies can sometimes offer that can make your job as a procurement professional event easier.

Information Gathering – In Tuesday’s blog we discussed the importance of a good supplier database and template library foundation to beginning a sourcing project. This addresses the external data but does not always help explain the internal spend data and specifications especially when the category is a new one to your company. Being able to send electronic surveys to resources within your company in a way that requires very little effort can save a procurement team hours of time in legwork but, more importantly, can ensure that the picture of your spend you are painting for potential suppliers is accurate. Being able to understand who in your company is buying something, what they are buying, how much they historically purchased, how much they expect to purchase and whether they like the current product and supplier are all details which will shape a very successful event and can be easily collected with an online survey tool.

RFx – The concept of moving from Request to Information to Request for Proposal to Request for Quote/Tender is not a foreign one in the procurement industry and virtually every strategic sourcing company offers some type of tool or service to support this flow. Where the differentiator begins to come in is how seamless the flow from one step to another is. Do suppliers need to learn multiple tools? Is it online? Are details from step automatically moved over into the preparation and documentation of the next step? Each step of the RFx process is unique but has common threads that tie each together. Good RFx solutions will tie these threads together in a way that reduces the time it takes run from beginning to end and the amount of repetitive tasks required of the suppliers with each step.

Result Management – The information is gathered, the project is complete and the results are better than you could have expected. The problem is that without the tools to put those results into effect, they become worthless. Being able to manage the results of your sourcing events is considered by many to be more important than the results themselves and can take several different forms. Top begin with is a catalog/ordering/purchase order system that will allow your company to place the orders they need at the new pricing you have negotiated. Implementing a catalog system can also prevent rogue spending from unapproved suppliers based on past history. Another useful solution is a contract management tool to track your contracts and important details and dates, ensuring that the contract will not roll over into a situation that costs you even more money than you saved. Managing both aspects of a new deal are critical to maintaining your project’s success.

Having covered the technical, data and tool aspects of strategic sourcing partners and tools, tomorrow we will conclude with the most important piece of the puzzle which is the service your strategic sourcing partners can offer you that can save your team hundreds of hours and provide experience where you may have none. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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.

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Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 3 of 5: Reporting and Audit Trails

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

 

Today’s post is our  SafeSourcing Archives.

Strategic sourcing companies each have their own unique offering whether that is based on a price model, category focus, supplier database or some other defining trait, but the overall goal is to help their customers source products and services easier, smarter and with an end result that creates more value than the customer could achieve on its own. This week we have looked at the importance of data and technology when making a decision on a strategic sourcing partner and today we will be looking at the reporting and audit trail capabilities and how they fit into the mix of successful events. The best supplier research and technology will not be useful without the view of results in a way to make meaningful decisions.

Strong base reports – Every eSourcing solution has a standard set of reporting that they provide their customers when an event is complete. There are certain aspects of this report package which should be present in order to review the most basic details of an outcome. Supplier activity should be captured in a way that timestamps every quote entered in the system and who entered it. This is also part of the audit package described below. Any online notes should be reported on as well as the supplemental documentation many suppliers provide. The final outcome in a detailed and summary view should be provided as well as copies of all of the documents that were involved in the sourcing process. Basic award scenarios and supplier performance during the process should also be included in a standard spreadsheet or executive summary style report.

Capable of additional analysis – As important as the base set of reports you get from event are, the capability of your strategic sourcing partner to be able to provide additional analysis is just as important. There will be times when special circumstances surrounding the event need to be considered, or the way an incumbent factors into an award decision must be reviewed. Your sourcing partner’s ability to provide scorecards, provide additional award scenario details or break down situations where a primary and secondary supplier need to be awarded by location are all realistic and important ways that they can help save your team dozens of hours and allow them to do the other things they need to do for your company.

Audit Packages – There are usually not many times when a company will need an audit trail of what happened during a sourcing project but typically when they do it is of critical importance. So when evaluating technologies or partners make sure they can provide a package that includes copies of all documents and electronic versions of communications that went to any potential supplier. They should be able to provide time stamped documents of all notes and quotes entered into the system as well as who entered them for the supplier. All verbal communication and questions submitted by a supplier to the customer should be captured in a central place that either be accessed by the customer or by the administrators for reporting purposes. This package should be easily available and contain the trail of all communication with the suppliers.

Tomorrow we will look at some of the sourcing tools that are available and being used by many companies. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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.

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Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 2 of 5: Data Foundation

Friday, September 4th, 2015

 

Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Blog Archives

We have begun looking at some of features and characteristics that are important when evaluating a new or existing sourcing partner this week beginning yesterday with technology. While not all characteristics we will cover will carry the same weight from company to company, they are all important factors for consideration when selecting a strategic sourcing partner or solution. In today’s segment we will be looking at the data that supplies the backbone for the projects you work on with your sourcing partner.

Global coverage – While there are obvious advantages from working with National, regional and local providers, it is important to be able to look at other global sources of supply. Having the options gives leverage to be able to make decisions as it relates to primary and secondary sources of goods and services. This is especially true for global companies who need to source goods and services local to their international offices. Working with a supplier that has a global supplier database is important to be able to develop a view that looks at all options of origin.

Feeding itself – Data by itself is useful, but data that gets smarter and fresher be leveraging the fruits of its labor is the key to running a better sourcing organization. For most companies the limited view they have of the supplier community goes only as far as their own experience or research. When you work with a third party strategic sourcing partner and/or tool, you are getting the benefit of experience that company has had with those suppliers, products and services. If a supplier has been great to work with, you should be getting the advantage of knowing that from your sourcing partner or tool. Likewise, if a supplier has not done well with delivering after an award of business, access to that information should be available as well. As thousands of sourcing projects complete each year the data you are looking at should be leveraging that information as much as possible.

More than the basics – Along the same lines as “feeding itself” your data should be more than just the basics about who a supplier is, where they are from and how big they are. Strong supplier databases should provide the level of detail on par with a mini-RFI before a project ever begins. This data should include who their biggest competitors are, what new products or releases they have completed in the last 2 years, who they are doing business with and where their core strengths lie. This should also apply to categories and having access to template libraries with starting documents for RFIs, RFPs, and online bidding specifications.

Data is still the key to succeeding in the business world. The more information you can get to help make informed decisions before projects begin, the quicker your projects and results can be put into effect and realized by your financial department. Tomorrow we will take a look at the points to consider from an audit perspective and how your eSourcing solution should be helping to provide you the trail of communication during a sourcing event. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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.

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Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 1 of 5: Technology

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

 

Today’s  is from our SafeSourcing Blog Archives.

Strategic sourcing companies each have their own unique offering whether that is based on a price model, category focus, supplier database or some other defining trait, but the overall goal is to help their customers source products and services easier, smarter and with an end result that creates more value than the customer could achieve on its own. Over the next five days we will be looking at some of features and characteristics you should be looking at when evaluating a new or existing sourcing partner. Not all of the characteristics will carry the same weight for all companies but each should be an area you examine when evaluating who to partner with.

Browser and Mobile Device-ready – We live in a world where the expectation, not the exception, is that business related tools and solutions will be available in some form to users wherever they are. Whether the solution is a true cloud based Software-as-a-Service model or not, customers expect to have some level of functionality and access to data from their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Part of ensuring this is possible is the amount of development resources that are dedicated to testing new versions of the major web browsers on the market as well as providing a mobile ready interface if not a native iPhone or Android application that can be downloaded and secured.

3rd Party Data integration – Strategic sourcing companies deal with a lot of data much of which they house in their own internal system and make available for analysis and reporting. Many times, however, information will need to then make its way to a Contract Management system, PO system or catalog system that is being used already. In the perfect world, you would select a strategic sourcing partner that had all three of these modules as well as others where the integration was already completed and data flow seamless. Since this is not possible for many companies, the ability for their eProcurement partner to provide data feeds to their existing systems is very important and valuable piece to evaluate when looking at strategic sourcing partners.

Reduced IT involvement – IT departments by and large are one of the busiest departments in most companies. Their projects are scheduled in many cases, months ahead of time so that effective planning can be put together to ensure the project’s success. When this is coupled with the fact that technology is moving so fast and both software and equipment are advancing than most IT departments can keep up, it is understandable that getting a new project on their schedule can be difficult and many projects can stall for as much as a year if they require a high degree of IT involvement. That is one of the reasons why hosted cloud based solutions are gaining more popularity because the involvement from IT is reduced and the capital cost of equipment is reduced as well. IT involvement in the deployment of an eProcurement solution is something that should be considered carefully and balanced against other implementation timelines.

With a world that changes daily from technological perspective, it is important to understand the foundation of the solutions you plan to use to ensure that those tools and the technology they are designed around will continue to provide you with the best in class solutions moving into the future. Tomorrow we will look at the libraries and databases from which your sourcing events will be based on. For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you 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.

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Do you know how a price index plays into e-procurement best practices?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

 

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

From a simplistic perspective an index is a system used to make finding information easier. There are any numbers of indexes or indices available to help procurement knowledge workers insure they are sourcing products at the best possible pricing. The key word here is price as what we will be discussing are specifically price indices.

According to Wikipedia a price index (plural: “price indices” or “price indexes”) is a normalized average (typically a weighted average) of prices for a given class of goods or services in a given region, during a given interval of time. It is a statistic designed to help to compare how these prices, taken as a whole, differ between time periods or geographical locations.

Price indices have several potential uses. For particularly broad indices, the index can be said to measure the economy’s price level or a cost of living. More narrow price indices can help producers with business plans and pricing. Sometimes, they can be useful in helping to guide investment.

Normally an index reflects the current and historical price of a variety of commodities ranging from metals to grain. A common index used in sourcing petroleum products is OPIS or the Oil Price Information Service which you can learn more about by visiting www.opisnet.com.  However in order to drive the best possible fuel pricing there are other dependencies such as whether you are doing spot buys or bulk purchases and these strategies will determine what specific index you would want to review as well as it’s relation to other product information sources such as Platts or the Gulf Coast spot assessments.  This will put you in a better position to determine how to bid the product and also earn a discount relative to the lowest common denominator.

All other commodities have similar sourcing issues dependant on what the highest cost item is in their product makeup. An example here might be the cost of grain in the feeding of cattle or poultry.

Ask you solution provider to explain these tools to you and to recommend how you might use them toward the best outcome.

If you’d like more information, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Time Management and Procurement

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

 

Today’s post is by Alyson Usserman, Project Manager at SafeSourcing.

Does your procurement team seem like they never have time?

I would argue that working in procurement is one of the busiest careers. Between management of internal projects, working with suppliers on an individual basis, and working with customers, it is easy to forget tasks that are not considered a high priority.

Tools that SafeSourcing uses to manage time effectively:

1. Outlook Calendar- Typically my entire day is planned on my calendar, with reminders set.
2. Task List- Organized by priority first thing in the morning.
3. Checking things off- When you complete a task, make sure you mark it complete.

If your procurement team still seems extremely busy, you may want to consider partnering with a 3rd Party Procurement firm, such as SafeSourcing. Effective time management leads to successful events, and those results lead to savings. Time Management is huge when it comes to managing successful events.

For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

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