Archive for the ‘E-procurement Tools’ Category

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.

Share This Post

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.

Share This Post

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.

Share This Post

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  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.

Share This Post

If it ain’t broke……

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015


Today’s post is our SafeSourcing archive.

While eProcurement technologies aren’t new, it is surprising how new of a concept they can be to some very large companies.  As with any new technology and process, the perception of the change that must come as a result can be a bit skewed.  Good solutions will dictate how much change is necessary by evaluating how well things are working today.

In today’s blog, we will be looking a few situations and where new eProcurement strategies can fit to leverage what you are currently doing today.

Improving what works – Companies don’t get big by having broken processes in every aspect of their business, so it stands to reason that there will be many good ways of procuring goods and services that they are using today.  If, for example, there is a process in place for purchasing equipment for every regional office that works, what may be needed is a process that helps bring in some additional vendors, products and services to evaluate and then to provide the means by which the best value can be achieved for an award.  As indicated below, there will be processes that need more help, so for the ones that don’t, focus on broadening the selection pool and getting the best value so that decision can be realized as soon as possible.

Managing what works – There are always spend categories where things are generally working, just in 100 different ways across all offices.  When you have 50 different locations all using different vendors, tools and processes a good first move can be to let the locations continue business as usual but bring in a vendor to help manage what all 50 locations are doing, monitoring the activity and controlling the expenses and savings.  A good eProcurememt solution will assist with getting the vendor pool to select from to handle the management realizing value immediately by assuring things run smootghly.

Consolidating what works – Sometimes organizations need more than someone to manage what they are currently doing; they need consolidation of those vendors in a way that leaves their processes in tact but begins to leverage the value that comes with more volume and smaller numbers of vendors to have to manage relationships with.  The important thing in projects like these is to understand the current landscape so that in consolidating what works, “what works” doesn’t get lost in the process.  This can be achieved with internal polls of the locations and external polls to the current vendors supporting the business today.  Once this information is captured the plan for consolidation becomes much clearer.

For more information about how we can assist with sourcing your needs without changing what works for your company, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Here are Five Basic Tips for Writing a Strategic Online Survey!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015


Todays post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

Creating an effective, quality written Online Survey that produces the detailed information you require from respondents can be a challenge. In this post, we’ll review 5 quick tips for writing a Strategic Online Survey.

  1. Create a naming convention for the survey and write a brief summarizing introduction. A Survey name and a brief introduction are great ways to give your respondents some detailed background and a frame of reference.
  2. Write a summarizing, brief survey.  Begin with an outline of details as to what is important to know for the project.  Formulate a question only when the answer will provide data you can use and need.
  3. Think ahead as to how the analysis of the information will look, as in what your end game will look like.  This should impact how you format your questions. Statistical reporting may not be able to be performed if your questions to not adhere to the results framework you have pre planned.
  4. Attempt to use closed-ended questions. Limit the number of open-ended questions as these provide and opportunity to the respondent to get off track. Respondents usually have a better understanding of closed-ended questions because they are more straightforward and offer responses they can choose from.   An excessive number of open-ended questions can frustrate the respondent and affect the quality of the answers they may provide.
  5. Craft a well-written pertinent subject line for the invitation email you plan on sending with the survey in order to capture your respondents’ attention.

Although these five simple steps are enough to get you started in the right direction reaching out to professionals like SafeSourcing about their SafeSurvey™   tool for additional guidance will guarantee the results you are looking for. A well-written online survey has much higher completion rates and is an effective method for gathering disparate data from differing sources in a format that us usable.

If you’d like to learn more about the Safesourcings SafeSurvey™ please contact a SafeSourcing Project Manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Share This Post

Tools Your Team Needs

Thursday, December 18th, 2014


Today’s post is by Troy Lowe, Director of Development at SafeSourcing.

I recently bought a used house that needed a little TLC.  Most of the work is just cosmetic, like painting and hanging fixtures, such as blinds, curtains, and light fixtures.  These are not difficult tasks but can be a little time consuming.  It can be even more time consuming if you are not using the right tool for the job.  I own a really nice cordless drill/driver and have always used one for driving fasteners into various surfaces.  But what I discovered this weekend changed my mind.  A relative of mine was over and saw my frustration when trying to hang a bracket on the wall.  The screw would go in about three quarters of the way and then the Phillips bit would spin and start to strip the screw.  This happened even after drilling a pilot hole first.  She recommended that I use a tool that she recently purchased.  She went home and brought back a cordless impact driver.  I sure am glad that she was there to make such a great suggestion.  This tool worked like a champ!  The difference between the drill and the impact driver is that when the driver feels resistance it starts a hammering action which keeps the bit from slipping and drives the fastener into the surface.  Using the impact driver easily cut the amount time by 30% compared to the other jobs using the cordless drill.  This is definitely a tool I will invest in.

Benefits of an impact driver

•  Cordless
•  Provides higher torque but in rapid bursts
•  Designed to drive screws and fasteners
•  Does not have to be held tightly to provide the torque
•  Small and Light weight
•  Quick Release Chuck

At SafeSourcing, we can gather all the necessary information for your company and help you decide what tools fit your needs.  If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Here’s some useful information that your IT Team May Need

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


Today’s post is by Troy Lowe, Director of Development at SafeSourcing.

If it’s been a while since you updated your site, you may want to consider giving it a new look and feel.  There are plenty of things that you can easily do to improve your site, from updating content to making small visual enhancements.  Here are few things that you should keep in mind when creating your site.

Simplify Your Navigation:  Having more options available to your visitors can make your site seem clunky and confusing.  Go through all of your menu options and see which ones can be grouped together and place them under one heading that can accessed by a dropdown menu.  This will give a much cleaner look and feel to the site and make navigation easier for the visitors.

Add or Improve Content to Increase traffic:  One way to do this is to make sure that you are creating good headlines.  The headlines will be the first thing that your visitors will see.  They should draw your reader’s attention and make them want to continue reading.  Keep your website fresh by posting your articles frequently.  This will keep your site more inviting to frequent visitors.

Company Logo:  Make sure that you have a professional looking logo and that it is located in the top left corner of your site.  This is the first place that a visitor usually looks when they view sites.  Create a link for the image that will allow the user to easily return to your home page.

Contact Information:  This is one of the most important items on your site.  Make your contact information easy to find.  Include your address, phone number, email address, and hours of business.  Everyone communicates in different ways, so give them options when it comes to connecting with your business.

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business improve your website, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments!


Share This Post

Tools Your Business Needs

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe; Director of Development at SafeSourcing

As the popularity of smart phones has grown over the past few years, people are spending more and more time online.  With all of this traffic, wouldn’t it be nice to know what is being said about your company or the services you provide?

There are several online tools designed to help you do exactly that.  These tools are monitoring programs that alert you via email when there are hits on the keywords that you pre-define.  The results that you get back can be such things as web pages, blog posts, news stories, or anything else that is posted online.  The results are sent to you as links in an email that take you right to the discussion.  That makes it a fast and effective way to keep on top of what people are saying about your organization and your offerings.  The alerts are flexible and, depending on your schedule, they can be setup to notify you as they happen, once a day, or even once a week.

As well as keeping you informed about your business, you can also use the tools for other things, like keeping track of what your competition and customers are doing and keeping track of trends and stories in your related industry.  If you have any searches that you conduct on a regular basis, use these tools to automate that process for you.

Below are a few of the Web Monitoring Tools available.

Google Alerts:
Talkwalker Alerts:

For more information on sourcing tools and services like these, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post

Tools Your IT Team Needs!

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Today’s post is by Troy Lowe, Director of Development at SafeSourcing. 

Cloud based solutions are great because they allow you to organize all of your projects in one place.  There is no need to invest in expensive hardware or software and all updates are performed in the cloud, freeing up your employees to focus on what’s important within your organization. Once your account is setup, the infrastructure is in place to start working within minutes.

All of your data and source code are stored in the cloud, which makes it accessible anytime, anywhere.  This makes it flexible for your employees to work no matter where they are located.

Security is a big issue within organizations and cloud based solutions. These solutions have security measures to help protect your code and data.  In some cases, all communication between your computer and the service takes place over an encrypted HTTPS connection.

Things to keep in mind when you pick your solution:

  • How much does the solution cost?
  • How many users can access the solution?
  • How much are additional licenses?
  • How much storage is available?
  • Are there any hidden fees?

If you would like more information on how SafeSourcing can help your business get started with a cloud offering, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service representative.  We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.

Share This Post