Archive for the ‘E-procurement’ Category

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

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

 

Today’s post is our archives at  SafeSourcing

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

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

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

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

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

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

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

 

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

According to www.businessdictionary.com, a Request For Information is a “request made typically during the project planning phase where a buyer cannot clearly identify product requirements, specifications, and purchase options. RFIs clearly indicate that award of a contract will not automatically follow.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Price is a potential benefit but not the only benefit of enegotiations.

Friday, June 26th, 2020

 

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

With billions at stake in retail purchasing, it is imperative for buyers, category managers and others with purchasing responsibility should remember that there can be more benefit to contracts than just price alone. Any retail procurement is actually a purchase with purpose to ensure customer safety, satisfaction and a myriad of other issues.

Consider the obstacles to purchasing with purpose. The world market is too large and overwhelming for a procurement knowledge worker to know if products are safe, secure or socially responsible. Often when a purchaser seeks to buy accordingly, they find that the price of certainty is too high. They opt for a less expensive, less trustworthy option. This may mean accidentally endangering customers, alienating some customers who expect a certain level of quality, or even inviting legal or public relations problems. Retailers simply lack the time in order to determine purchasing with purpose for thousands and thousands of products and services.

That’s why SafeSourcing offers a secure, intelligent e-procurement suite of tools under the SafeSourceIt™ banner that are delivered as a “White Glove Service” that do  much of the work for retailers procurement professionals. Additionally, the SafeSourceIt™ Global Retail Supplier Database uses unique certification standards plus well-known standards such as Fair Trade, Green Seal, ECO-LOGO, GFSI, SQF, and, for meat products, Certified Humane Raised/Hand-Fed to vet is vendors before they are invited to participate in any eRFX sourcing event such as an RFI, RFP or RFQ  which are also  called a reverse auctions.

With the standards already in place, procurement is a matter of matching demand with supply. SafeSourcing sets up eRFX events such as auctions in as little as minutes and even finds purchasing partners to increase bulk buying power.

With over 500,000 suppliers being vetted during the bidding process, cost is still one of the final factors when filling the retailer’s procurement needs. Yet each purchase is a purchase with purpose. Goods are safe, secure and support companies social responsibility programs.

Reducing the cost of safe, secure, socially responsible goods cannot be accomplished by one purchaser alone. If retailers want to match quality products to the best prices, they should look to SafeSourcing for efficient and fast e-procurement which can also be performed as Procurement as a Service.

For more information on this topic, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

Managing Tail Spend

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

 

 

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

Along the same lines as my recent post about Procurement as a Service (PaaS), I thought I would focus on tail spend. Here again, the concept of managing tail spend isn’t new, but it has also been receiving more attention recently. I would argue tail spend is finally getting the attention it deserves.

I’ve often thought that tail spend is undervalued. I suspect the term tail spend gives the impression that the spend in the tail is insignificant. The reality is that the tail can be awfully long and represents a much larger percentage of overall spend than one might think.

To me, the ability to manage tail spend is essential. SafeSourcing’s approach to tail spend management starts with our SafeSpendAnalysis™ service to identify the categories and subcategories in which the spend can be found. Until you have gone through this process, it is easy to underestimate just how much purchasing is taking place on an annual basis that should be considered the tail. One-off purchases, rogue purchasing, and categories with many vendors providing the same thing are just a few of the common culprits. It’s all too easy for this type of spend to fly under the radar when an organization lacks a proper procurement policy and the ability to proactively manage against that policy.

Again, to SafeSourcing, the concept of managing this type of spend is nothing new. With our SaaS model and our tools and capabilities, we have been targeting tail spend for management and cost reduction since we started. Where others have marketing around this tail spend management, SafeSourcing has experience.

It’s really great to see the recent interest in tail spend and in controlling costs in general. Expense management is so critically important right now. The best strategy a company can have is one that considered their entire spend to be within the scope of their expense management initiatives and that includes the tail.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Grocery Bills on the Rise

Friday, June 19th, 2020

 

 

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

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

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

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

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk

Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

References…..……………………………………..

Joe Flint, WSJ, 6/10/2020

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Back

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

 

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

Many places and businesses are beginning to reopen after closures from the Covid-19 pandemic. From retailers and salons, to gyms and daycares, many people are planning on getting back, but what does that really mean? The concern over the virus is still present, so in order to even open doors, numerous precautions must be taken.

First, employees must be given masks. There has and still is a shortage of masks that effectively protect people from the virus. There must be enough masks for every employee, which means any business will need to have a supply already. Right now, you can use your procurement partner for help in sourcing the masks you will need to get your business on its way to reopening.

Next, the places where employees are working must be cleaned, thoroughly and often. This means common areas must be disinfected. This likely means a hefty supply of sanitizer and cleaners will be needed and must be available before reopening. Again, your procurement partner can help you source the supplies you need and help find the right supplier for your needs.

Finally, getting back to work will require social distancing. For many, this is especially difficult. For example, restaurants will need to move tables apart, often 6 feet or more, which can reduce the number of tables that can fit in a dining area. This can reduce the number of people seated at a time and can greatly reduce the amount of business. Other businesses will have to make other adjustments, like separating cubicles, reorganizing stores to make aisles wider, and reducing the number of employees in the business at one time. Some businesses may bypass the social distancing altogether and have their employees continue working from home indefinitely.

While it may take some preparation and getting used to, businesses will reopen and things will get back to regular routines. This is where you may rely on others to get through this. A procurement partner, like SafeSourcing, can help your organization find the suppliers of supplies you will need to get things back up and running. They are ready to help and have the experience you might need during difficult times like this.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help your procurement efforts, or on our Risk

Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

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

Friday, May 15th, 2020

 

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

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

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

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

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

We’re here to help!

Optimism and Procurement

Friday, April 17th, 2020

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Managing Change While Managing Costs

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

 

 

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

For our customers, we are primarily focused on delivering cost savings. Generally, in eProcurement, we aim to provide an apples-to-apples comparison so that our customers can make an award decision relatively easily based on the results of an online RFx Event. We do that very well and average over 24% savings. Sometimes, however, our customer is looking to reduce their category costs while also making changes to what it is that they are purchasing.

The good news is that the goals of reducing costs and making a change are not mutually exclusive. While every situation will be different, here is how one customer of ours recently accomplished both goals. The customer, a retailer, knew that they would be phasing out certain plastic products that use regularly. They have a significant annual spend in this category currently. Their goal was to discontinue the use of plastic and switch to alternative products that are more environmentally friendly including biodegradable and reusable options. Because they had carefully planned this change, we were able to develop a plan to work together to manage the change effectively while still taking full advantage of eProcurement tools to reduce costs along the way. Below is a quick summary of how we did this.

  1. Reduce the cost of the current plastic products using a live Request for Quote (RFQ)so they are not overpaying for the remainder of their orders. This generated a substantial savings.
  2. Develop a Request for Proposal (RFP)to attain a better understanding of the specifications, capabilities, and pricing for the alternative products.
  3. Review the RFP results and establish the specifications for the alternative products that would ultimately replace the plastic products.
  4. Host an RFQ to compress the pricing for the alternative products
  5. Test samples for the alternatives, make a decision, and coordinate the roll out of the new products to coincide with the timeline of phasing out the plastic products.

The most important part of this process was the planning. SafeSourcing and the customer coordinated the process and took the steps above in accordance with that plan. In contrast, when we see customers attempt to manage change through the eProcurement process without a plan, we tend to see results that are less impressive. They will likely have savings, and they will likely make a change, but they will not strike the ideal balance between the two.

If you’re interested in learning more about our contract management tool or any of our full suite of Procure to Pay tools,  please contact SafeSourcing