Archive for the ‘E-procurement’ Category

On the Twelve Days of e-Procurement Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

 

Todays post is a holiday favorite by our CEO Ron Southard from our SafeSourcing Archives.

  1. On the first day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, a streamlined procurement process.
  2. On the second day of Christmas our e-service provider gave to us, more suppliers to source our goods from.
  3. On the third day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, pricing that works for smallest categories..
  4. On the fourth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, consistent and customized product specifications.
  5. On the fifth day of Christmas our e-procurement service supplier gave to us, more time for other priorities.
  6. On the sixth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, improved quality in our products.
  7. On the seventh day of Christmas our e-procurement service supplier gave to us, better supplier education.
  8. On the eighth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, a simple award of business process.
  9. On the ninth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, support for a better carbon footprint.
  10. On the tenth day of Christmas our e-procurement service supplier gave to us, total category e-procurement.
  11. On the eleventh day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, safer products for our customers and planet.
  12. On the twelfth day of Christmas our e-procurement service provider gave to us, a sustainable e-procurement process and improved corporate net earnings.

Now, ask yourself if all of these goals are accomplished on your company’s behalf by your present e-procurement service provider. If n0t, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager. Click CONTACT US!

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Continued best wishes for a Merry Christmas  the rest of the Happy Holiday Season.

You can procure anything, including Candy Canes Part I!

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Inc. Archives

What does it take to make a candy cane, package it, market it, and distribution? All of these involve procurement. Today, the candy cane makes up a significant amount of the $1.4 billion Christmas candy market. In fact, billions of candy canes are made and consumed each year.

First the history of the candy cane: from the HomeBoy Media Network!

The candy cane is a Christmas tradition that many hold dear but nobody really knows why. Let’s face it, the only things we really know about candy canes is that they taste good and that they are red and white.

Whether the story of the candy cane is a legend or if it is true is not certain, but this is how the story goes: About two hundred-thirty years ago at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, the children that went to church there were really loud and noisy. They often moved around and would not pay attention to the choirmaster.

This was especially difficult for the choirmaster when they were supposed to be sitting still for the long living Nativity ceremony. So to keep the children quiet, he gave them a long, white, sugar candy stick. He couldn’t give them chocolate or anything like that because the people at that church would think it was sacrilegious. So he gave them the stick and he bent it on the end to look like a cane. It was meant to look like a shepherd’s cane, and so it reminded the children of the shepherds at Jesus’ birth.

In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio put candy canes on his Christmas tree and soon others were doing the same. Sometime around 1900 candy canes came to look more like what we know them as today with the red stripes and peppermint flavoring.

Some people say the white color represents the purity of Jesus Christ and the red stripes are for the wounds he suffered. They also sometimes say that the peppermint flavoring represents the hyssop herb used for purifying and spoken of in the Bible. The shape also looks like the letter “J” for Jesus, not just a shepherd’s cane. It is possible that these things were added for religious symbols, but there is no evidence that is true.

Around 1920, a man in Georgia named Bob McCormack wanted to make candy canes for his family and friends. He later started mass-producing candy canes for his own business which he named Bob’s Candies. This is where many of our candy canes come from today.

Tomorrow we will discuss the raw materials needed to make candy canes.

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.

Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 5 of 5: Service

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

 

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, December 5th, 2018

 

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.

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

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

 

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.

Evaluating eProcurement Solutions – Part 2 of 5: Data Foundation

Friday, November 30th, 2018

 

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.

What Would You Do? ​

Monday, October 29th, 2018

 

 

Today’s post is by Dave Wenig, Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing Inc..

We all have choices to make when it comes to managing our responsibilities. In procurement, we face choices with every purchase. When we enter into a new agreement, we have choices. When we renew an agreement, we have choices.

In this post, I’ll focus in on just one major choice that procurement professionals face when it comes time to renew an agreement with a vendor. Clearly, a renewal offers the purchaser an opportunity to review the current agreement and decide whether or not they intent to continue working with the vendor. This is also an opportunity for the vendor to make changes to the agreement, very commonly in the form of price increases.

However, the question of whether to renew with the incumbent vendor or not is a bit premature. The better question is around how we want to evaluate the agreement to make that decision. SafeSourcing clients know that they have access to a powerful set of eProcurement tools that will help them attain the best pricing possible with the best terms. If your vendor knows that you have these eProcurement tools, it’s natural that they might attempt to persuade you not to use them.

Do you want to negotiate the agreement fully, including using your eProcurement tools, or do you want to accept the offer that the vendor made for renewal? This question becomes a bit more complicated if the vendor offers a discount if you were to renew without eProcurement. What would you do?

Let’s assume that your vendor offered you a renewal and agreed to reduce your pricing by 10% and hold that pricing for a year and left all the other terms the same. That’s a pretty good offer, right? Maybe. If they offered that in a non-competitive environment, then I’d bet that they have additional margin beyond the 10%. The reason I believe this is because we see this scenario play out time and again with our clients. The client tells the vendor that they are going to host an RFQ and the vendor says there is no need and offers better pricing to avoid the process. Our average savings are well over 24%. Before making a decision to accept the vendor’s offer, it makes sense to talk through what savings levels SafeSourcing expects in a particular category.

It would be very easy to renew and stay with your incumbent vendor. However, knowing that you might be overpaying by 10% or more should give you pause. We always recommend that we discuss the category details and consider whether an RFQ is the right choice to help you make this decision. We usually recommend running the RFQ after that discussion. Either way, our services are always risk free, so there is very little to lose. So, what would you do? Would you use the available eProcurement tools and negotiate the agreement fully?

We’re here to help you make the choice that’s best for you and your company. Let’s talk before you agree to a renewal.

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.  

 

Planning for Your Next Procurement Hire

Friday, September 7th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

As the landscape of the corporate world continues to change to adapt to changes in the economy, procurement departments are being asked to expand their areas of support throughout the organization.  This expansion will require that procurement staffs begin to look for specialized expertise to augment their current staff whether in the form of temporary, permanent or 3rd party help.

In today’s blog will be look at three areas of expertise that will be important to procurement staffs in the future.

IT – Historically, most companies have let their IT department’s research and negotiate their own hardware and software deals due to the level of expertise needed to understand the company requirements.  This process is beginning to shift as companies are looking to compress the pricing they receive after the RFP process has been narrowed down and the short list of vendors has been selected.  To do this requires staff or a 3rd party vendor who can help facilitate this process, speaking with the vendors at a technical level everyone understands.

Hired Services– Hired services are can be complex categories to understand within an organization and the larger the company the more complex the process to procure these services can be.  Many teams are looking for support help from the administrative and Human Resources departments to understand the scope and SOWs the company needs as well as looking to 3rd party vendors such as Managed Service Providers to help them with this process.

Transportation/Logistics – Very few spends within a large organization are as complex and as mission critical as the freight lanes they use.  Late product is unacceptable and can result in customers changing to the competition.  While they critical to the business they can also be very complex as the fuel prices fluctuate and as regulations, especially of the international variety, seem to change constantly.  Looking for new permanent or temporary staff that have a background in logistics can go a long way to helping your company put programs in place that are flexible enough to adjust with the market but protect you enough to budget the spend.
For assistance in filling some of these areas of expertise in your organization, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

Procurement after a Natural Disaster

Monday, August 13th, 2018

 

Today’s repost is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

To be prepared is to not forget!

During 2017 both hurricane Harvey and hurricane Irma  wreaked havoc in Texas and Florida, resulting in dozens of lives lost, and costs in damage to buildings alone are being estimated as between $100 and $400 billion dollars. But of course the cost isn’t limited to direct building damage as there will be costs in disruption to production activities, costs, and increased demand for goods. So what are some of the things procurement professionals should keep an eye out for post-natural disaster?

Crop losses: Orange crop losses are estimated at 10%, grapefruit at 20%, and could increase due to the greening disease Florida has been battling with that is exacerbated by moisture. Other crops of fruit, nuts, and melons are expected to be similarly affected.

Lumber: Even before the two hurricanes hit land, demand for plywood for boarding up windows increased. Now that the rebuilding efforts are underway, lumber is in greater demand than ever. Prices in Texas and Florida are expected to rise by 20%, partially due to a secondary cause of a recent 10% tax on Canadian soft wood imports.

Insurance: Currently the insurance industry is estimating they will be on the hook for about $300 billion in property and business loss claims, with losses in the $35-$70 billion dollar range. The re-insurance industry that further protects the financial health of the insurance agencies, is considering re-negotiating their rates to account for such monumental loses.

Energy: Total production of gasoline and natural gas is not expected to have been reduced by more than 1%. However, the disruption caused by the storms has had an interesting impact on demand as well, while hundreds of thousands of people are not driving back and forth or able to utilize the amount of energy they did on a normal basis. The outlook in the mid-term is a volatile and unpredictable market.

The bottom line is that for procurement professionals, a wide variety of industries have been thrown into turmoil, making it difficult to begin new initiatives or guarantee pricing for the short term. Furthermore, logistical concerns for moving product in and out of the affected areas will incur protracted lead times. This both presents challenges to sourcing new contracts, while also making it critical to lock down future agreements. Where commodities affected by natural disasters are concerned, everyone will be feeling the pinch. However, these challenges above make it more important than ever to lock-in favorable agreements more important than ever.

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

 

Avoiding common RFP mistakes

Monday, August 6th, 2018

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

I sometimes hear stories from suppliers that are downright outrageous; I’ve literally been told “the dog ate my RFP”, and “I didn’t read any of the documentation” on multi-million dollar projects by executive level professionals. I’ve worked with a supplier on multiple year projects who has been late on each one, and always because his “mother just passed away”. If you’ve worked with me before you know I can sometimes be a little bit pushy to make sure you understand the structure of the RFP at hand, but I assure you it’s only to make sure the process goes smoothly for you. But what causes people to overlook the details of a project? I would suggest that the root of the problem is something every human being is susceptible to: Assuming we already know everything we need to know.

When going into a new RFP or other procurement project, the first assumption should be that we don’t know the needs of the customer until we’ve taken the time to learn them. I’ve seen suppliers come into a project trying to force their agenda, or assume the details of an RFP rather than observing, learning, and understanding first and asking questions second. It will always be difficult to come to a mutually beneficial business partnership if you don’t even understand the initial request that is being made. A successful RFP provides some basic information and asks questions, allowing the supplier to respond explaining their position, including product/service details, quotes, constraints, etc. Not actively listening and learning causes us to talk past each other, and can cause a misalignment of value propositions.

Listening well is a skill so commonly lacking that it is one of the first things taught in relationship counseling, and shouldn’t be overlooked in our professional lives. Active listening is taught formally in the classroom or counseling session by having one person take turns speaking to another, with the listener repeating in his/her words what was heard. This is effective because it prevents us from falling into the destructive habit of thinking about what we want to say while we should be listening to what is being said. Research suggests we only have the mental bandwidth to process a maximum of 1.6 conversations at a time, and if you’re fully listening to your own thoughts about what you want to say, you’re only hearing 60% of what you should be observing1.

[1] “Too Much Noise – Steelcase.” 2015. 15 Jul. 2015 <http://www.steelcase.com/insights/articles/much-noise/>

We make every effort at our company to make sure you are aware of the details of any procurement project, and also encourage feedback during the process to ensure each project is a positive opportunity, allowing you to put your best foot forward.

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