Archive for the ‘E-procurement Tools’ Category

Could You Get More Procurement Savings?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

 

 Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Director of Sales, North America at SafeSourcing.

Many of the organizations we speak with believe they handle their purchasing reasonably well, either with their existing internal processes or without any eProcurement tools at all. These companies may even realize savings as they negotiate with their vendors. That’s said; very few of these organizations are doing as well as they should, given the wide availability of eProcurement solutions and/or the ease of use available with full-service SaaS options.

Here are my top 5 signs that your organization is not maximizing the savings potential by using only a traditional procurement process.

  1. You only seek quotes from 2-3 vendors.Historically, our data suggests that having 6-8 suppliers quoting drives the highest possible savings.
  2. You haven’t competitively bid a category in the last 3 years.It is at this point that we find a category should be sourced, including non-incumbent vendors,to ensure you are still receiving the best market prices.
  3. You don’t have easy access to your existing contracts.If you don’t already, you should implement a contract management tool. Too often, we see organizations unsure of contract terms and key dates falling victim to unfavorable auto-renewals.
  4. You do not have a set of specifications for the category.This is both common and fixable and places the incumbent vendor in a place of perpetual power in negotiations.
  5. You’re not using eProcurement.As well as your organization does when negotiating, we see significant increases in savings, often 10-20% more, when our clients use their eProcurement tools effectively. One client recently admitted that they would never have asked for the prices or discounts that we deliver for them. Each of the four preceding signs is also an indicator that you’re not using eProcurement. In fact, by implementing a strategic eProcurement program, you’ll likely resolve one through four organically.

Do you see any of these signs in your organization? If so, take steps to correct and you’ll see immediate, measurable results.  For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

 

 

Where is the best place for retailers to spend their effort to improve profitability?

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

 

Todays post is a oldie but goody by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

Obviously all retail companies would like to focus on all three areas and there are even sub sections of these top line areas that we could spell out as needing attention. The challenge is where to deploy already taxed resources?

It does not require an accountant to figure this out. If we assume that COGS or cost of goods and services is about 75% of top line revenue that would result in a simple gross margin of 25%. Based on a number of industry reports we are also safe using a shrink number of 3% of top line revenue.

This author is aware that there area a few companies with shrink below 1% and cost of goods below 75% which means there are also companies with gross margin better than 25%. The obvious question is; are these companies that solution providers want to target for profit improvement sales? Probably not.

So let’s look at an example of shrink improvement with data analysis tools and process improvement tools versus cost compression with SaaS e-procurement tools. Let’s assume we have a company that does top line sales of $1B. Using a shrink number of 3% shrink would be $30M annually. If you were able to reduce shrink by a third in one year, profit improvement would be $10M. If this were a supermarket company with a 1% bottom line or $10M, improvement could be as much as 100%.

Now let’s take a look at reduction in cost. If we assume the same company has COGS of 75% or $750M and that we were only going to address 20% of that number or $150 and only reduce those costs by 20% which is slightly above industry averages the net profit improvement would be $30M or 300% improvement in year over year net profit. If we were only able to achieve 10% savings which is well below industry averages, net profit would improve by 150%.

I’ll leave the gross margin example for you to figure out. In the above case it is clear that attacking COGS has an impact on the bottom line of up to 3 to 1 versus addressing shrink with your already taxed resources.

If you are interested in an immediate impact to your bottom line, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retail Contract Leakage. Where does it come from and how can we stop it?

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

 

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

How does your organization  now ensure that the award of business is implemented or delivered as awarded so that you indeed receive all of your savings?

This is probably the most difficult part of the entire procurement lifecycle. The first part is to understand your data and where it is kept, that includes understanding what constitutes contract leakage so that you know what you are looking at. Once you have the data needs to be looked at on a regular basis in order to insure leakage is not occurring. This should be at least monthly depending on contract language. Most contract management systems have alerts that can be triggered as frequently as required.

The following list although not all inclusive speaks too many of areas in which contract leakage can occur. This happens in all companies large and small. If you are aware of them, capture them and report on them there is a good possibility of controlling them.

1. Buying without a contract.

2. Expensing something outside of a contract

3. Having multiple contracts in place:

4. Executing a new agreement when one is already in place

5. Paying a price different from the contract

6. Delivery variances

7. Quality specifications variances

8. Making payments at a prices different from the contract

9. Scope creep

10. Invoice discrepancies

11. Missed volume discounts

12. Insurance discrepancies

13. Shipping discrepancies

14. Expired contracts resulting in price uplift

15. Evergreening

16. Overtime Violations

17. Material discrepancies

18. Sub Contractor discrepancies

Don’t  have your team work hard to drive benefits with your procurement solutions and then lose much of what you have gained to contract leakage. Ask your e-procurement solutions provider how they can help or save yourself a lot of time or please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Enjoying the Benefits of eProcurement

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing.

First, the good news. You’ve successfully completed an eProcurement event and you have a very significant opportunity to realize the savings generated by that effort.

The question many ask at this point is; now what do I do?

  1.  Review the results in detail: Following a successful eProcurement Request for Quote (RFQ) event, you should take the time to fully review the results of the RFQ. Of course, you’ll want to take a close look at the pricing entered during the process, but there is much more involved. You will also review any notes that the participating suppliers entered to accompany their quotes. Perhaps you’re also interested in understanding how and when suppliers entered their quotes. What was the activity level and what can you learn from the bid activity? As a result of any SafeSourceIt™ RFQ, you’ll have all of this information and more at your fingertips.
  2. Lean on your partner: Often, even after reviewing the results, the best path might still be unclear. For example, perhaps you now have several potential suppliers who could meet your needs and are offering their products at roughly the same price. How do you choose between them? One way to make this decision easier is to confer with your eProcurement partner. While they may not be in the position to make the award decision for you, they might have insight as to what other factors you might take into consideration. Is this a category for which samples are commonly tested? What recommendations does your partner have relative to that sampling process? Did any vendor go above and beyond and offer up additional benefits such as more favorable payment terms or a rebate program? Your partner has experience reviewing the results of an RFQ. Ask their advice.
  3. Keep negotiating: The RFQ is not the end of the negotiations, it’s just another step. At the conclusion of an RFQ, you may deem a supplier to be the best overall value, even if that supplier is not the lowest cost provider. Internal pressures to reduce costs might make awarding to the supplier with the higher cost difficult. In this stage of your review, it may be appropriate to negotiate for further cost alignment with this supplier to achieve a final agreement that is beneficial to both buyer and seller.
  4. Make your decision: Stay with incumbent or try something new? Change is difficult. You may have had a long relationship with your incumbent supplier which had been perceived as a good working relationship. Over time, that supplier may have taken on duties that are outside of the scope of your agreements. Ultimately, as you review the results of your RFQ, this choice will be yours to make. You’ll consider the value of the long term relationship and the value of the known entity against the potential represented by an eager new supplier. Weighing heavily on that decision will be the potential savings. If the new supplier’s cost is 5, 10, or 15% lower than the cost of your incumbent, you’ll have to consider the monetary value you would associate with being able to maintain your current source of supply.

Dave Wenig is a North American Director of Sales at SafeSourcing. Dave or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing would be happy to discuss how SafeSourcing can help you attain and quickly realize savings. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

 

Tools used to make Olympic athletes more efficient.

Friday, August 26th, 2016

 

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

People watch the Olympics for different reasons. Some watch for patriotism, others watch to root for their favorite athletes, and others are just driven by the athletic competition.  One of the things that I find fascinating about watching the Olympics is seeing the different tools used to help athletes perform at higher levels.

At the last Olympics everyone watching kept asking, what is the weird tape the athletes are wearing? This method of taping is called the Kinesio Taping Method and is designed to help the body’s natural healing process for muscles and joints without restricting the athlete’s range of motion.  In this year’s games, if you’ve been watching Michael Phelps, you may have noticed the purple circles on his body.  This is a result of a method called cupping, an ancient Chinese healing practice that is used to loosen muscles, increases blood flow and helps relieve muscle pain and stiffness.  This method is used by athletes to help reduce the amount of soreness they receive from competing.

For the swimmers, Speedo continues to innovate new swimsuits that are worn by some of the US swimmers. The Speedo Fastskin LZR Racer was developed using NASA’s wind tunnel testing facilities and became popular during the 2008 Olympics.  The suit was designed to compress the body in certain areas and help the swimmers stay higher in the water to reduce resistance.  Below are some other tools that are being used to help the athletes for the 2016 Olympics.

  • Hykso Punch-Tracking Sensors
  • Solos Smart Eyewear
  • Nike’s Zoom Superfly Elite Track Shoes
  • Oakley’s Green Fade Sunglasses
  • Omega Underwater Lap Counters
  • Archery Electronic Scoring System

Interested in learning how SafeSourcing can help your company run more efficiently? Like to try a risk free trial?  Please don’t hesitate to contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. Our team is ready and available to assist you!

Enterprise Software RFPs

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

We’ve discussed the differences between the RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, and Surveys many time and also touched on why they were different as well as when you would use one.  What we said then was that you typically want to run one of these events when you have an idea about the basic functionality of a product you need but are not sure who can provide it and what else it is they can bring that you didn’t think of.

In many cases, the road to procuring enterprise software will require one of these tools due, in part, to the fact that software can change so quickly, but also because typical decision factors like price play a much smaller role to the features and functionality of the software.

In preparing to make a major software purchase a Request for Information or Proposal can be a great first step.  Here are some things to keep in mind about the solution and the company when preparing for one.

Flexibility – One of the keys in the process of evaluating software solutions and the companies that create them is to gather information about the flexibility of the product.  A focus on how configurable the system is and how well a solution can be fitted with your company’s needs and appearance is an important part to building a good software RFP/RFI.

Reputation – A company’s reputation for delivery used to go a long way in the business world but in the wake of a tougher economy price has begun to gain ground.  In the arena of software, it is still one of the most important factors to evaluate when selecting a software partner.  Building a relationship with companies known for under promising and over delivering on a consistent and referenceable level can be a huge factor in protecting a million dollar investment.

Pricing model – The key here is not in the actual price but how the company prices that is important.  Your company’s needs will dictate the pricing model that benefits your company whether for the enterprise; per seat or per user.  How a software provider prices and what they charge you for are HUGE factors in determining if they are suited for you and your company. The more information you can gather at the RFP/RFI stage as possible is very important.

Support – There is no more important product to verify good support on than software.  As upgrades occur, employees get promoted or leave the company, new employees need training, or issues arise, the level of support a company will commit to is critical to the confidence you can place in them.  On top of this, the more mission critical the functionality the software is to support is for your company, the more important the level of support becomes.  Any software RFP/RFI you create should have a detailed section to determine what level of support you can expect from each vendor.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can provide RFIs/RFPs that help you focus on these important factors, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

What is an RFI, RFP, or RFQ Part I of VI?

Friday, May 13th, 2016

 

Today’s post is by Heather Powell, Customer Services Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

The world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of e-procurement when it comes to the requirement for information, a proposal, or a quote.  In this series of blogs I hope to simplify for you readers the differences between the three requests, what your expectations are when receiving the requests back, and how to make a sound business decision with what has been presented back to you.

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

An example for a use of a RFI: You now are the proud owner of a used warehouse that you want to turn into a distribution center. It has some racking but you need more racking.  However, you have no idea what the best layout will be needed, what types of rack you need, how much materials are needed, or how long it will take to install the racking. The existing racking looks in ok shape but you don’t know if it is safe, placed appropriately, outdated, or even needed. You will need to rely on experts to give you this information.  The best practice is to get at minimum 2, but recommended to get 3 to 6, requests for information from racking manufactures, distributor, and/or installers.

You may ask, why so many?  In an area where you have no knowledge, knowledge is power. How will you know between 2 suppliers that one will not overbid the materials and under bid the labor, but the other supplier will underbid the materials and overbid the labor? How do you know that the materials are the same? Does the weight vary? Did they include the weight?  It is very hard to make a sound business decision based on these two requests for information. Having a pool of bids can help you see if there are major differences between them all. Having an average will direct you to what you really need.

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

Follow me onto the next blog where I  endeavor to explain  a request for proposal (RFP) and how you can tie a RFI and an RFP into one collective project.

SafeSourcing can help you with your needs in creating, running, and reporting on an RFI for any item, project, or industry need. We can do this all electronically in your set timeline, and report it back to you in an easy and understandable package where you will be able to see the apples-to-apples comparison.

For more information as to 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.

So, you’re not using e-Procurement tools because of your team’s objections

Friday, October 30th, 2015

 

The following are the objections we hear all of the time after we have presented to a prospect that has not been exposed to e-procurement tools in the past.

1. I already get the best cost.
2. We’ve done business with this supplier for years.
3. I don’t have product specifications.
4. I don’t have time for this.
5. Switching costs will be too high.
6. I can’t insure the same quality.
7. We need to adhere to certain standards.

Now please review the dozen benefits below and realize that while you are trying to answer these objections that your competition is reducing their cost by as much as 20% across the board.

1. They would continue to source high quality products.
2. They would continue to have great supplier relationships.
3. They would free up time to do other tasks.
4. They would improve their company’s net earnings by up to 100%.
5. They would support our fragile environment.
6. They would support global food and product safety initiatives.
7. They would have a larger audience of piers to converse with daily.
8. They would have a single source of information about their profession.
9. They would be instantly alerted to product recalls.
10. They would support a traceable supply chain.
11. They would have an endless source of new suppliers to review easily.
12. They would have product specifications at their finger tips.

There are any number of additional benefits to retailers and other companies when using Strategic Sourcing tools such as reverse auctions, online RFI’s and RFP’s. Not the least of which is that if a retailer were seriously to assign just twenty percent of their above the gross margin line spend to these types of tools, they could increase their net earnings by up to 100%.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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.

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.