Archive for the ‘E-procurement’ Category

When using e-procurement tools to source complex services make sure you have a well defined change of control process.

Friday, October 6th, 2017

 

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

Change happens. It can result from poorly designed specifications, terms and conditions, quoting instructions and other data related to a bid.

The normal process for managing these changes is a change of control process which governs how any changes to the services being provided as identified in the actual bid.

The change of control is normally managed as a request that communicates the requested changes to the services deliverables. Normally the change request will describe the following at a minimum.

1. The change
2. The reason for the change
3. The effect the change may have on the existing Statement of Work.
4. Impact on cost or savings

In most cases a project manager or the associate with responsibility for managing the program deliverables will be required to submit a written change request to the contracted or warded supplier.  The supplier will then develop and return the response to the contracting company.

The contracted supplier and the contracting company will then review the proposed change request and either approve it, modify it or reject it. When approved the contracting company as well as the contracted supplier must sign the change request in order to authorize the work as well as the implementation of the work and its potential impact on the existing project plan or project time line.

If you don’t want erosion inn your savings, make sure you spend the time to cover this process in your bid parameters.

Please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager in order to learn more

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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Procurement after a Natural Disaster

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

Both hurricane Harvey and hurricane Irma have wreaked havoc in Texas and Florida over the past several weeks, 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.

 

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Avoiding common RFP mistakes

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Michael Figueroa, Project Manager at SafeSourcing

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.

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“You Buy It, We Procure it”

Monday, July 31st, 2017

 

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

The above quote has recently become this author’s mantra. When working with current or new customers, I often ask what’s next in your pipeline or purchases. Too often I get a response similar to we don’t have anything coming up or we aren’t buying anything big today/this month/this year. A purchase doesn’t have to be considered big in the moment of ordering, but over time the expense adds up. For instance, copy paper is bought for almost every single office or location. While it might be a ream or case at time, added up might be in the thousands of dollars annually. Perhaps you own a fleet of vehicles and purchase tires multiple times a year. Without a pricing agreement in place to ensure the best possible pricing all year round, you are losing money.  Within each of these purchases, it might seem small or a onetime purchase, however, an annual spend or general ledger (GL) will show at the end of the year as a significant spend to the company.

SafeSourcing can work with your company to identify purchases and potential saving opportunities through our SafeSpend™ analysis. This presents your company with an overview of where not just the large purchases are, but where the small purchases are that add up to large purchases. This will give you the view into saving potential that SafeSourcing can offer with various sevices. Remember… “ If you buy it, we procure it”!

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

We look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

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Overcoming Declines

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Robert Rice, Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Defeating the decline is something most of us have had to deal with. It typically starts early in life. The girl you have been waiting all year to ask to the dance, says no. The time you asked your dad to co-sign on your first car, nope! Or the college you had your heart set on, “sorry to inform you but you were not selected”, blah blah blah. It’s a part of life and you will have to deal with declines constantly. But the key is HOW you will deal with the declines.

At SafeSourcing we offer an e-procurement tool that allows our clients to get better value without the hassle of hiring additional staff or devoting countless hours doing what we do in a fraction of the time. See, we deal with declines every day. In fact, we are sort of experts at it.

Declines are basically the starting point. Declines start a dialogue or a fact finding venture, where as an Account Manager, I can become better informed on the product or service I am selling. Through the engagement of the vendor, I am able to find out the real reason for “the decline” through direct questions or just being a good listener. In many cases, after speaking with the vendor regarding the decline, we both find out that they could still participate and bring value.

Some keys things to remember are:

  1.  When you receive a decline, IMMEDIATELY follow up with a phone call and find out why? There are definitely legitimate reasons a supplier cannot participate – logistics, they no longer provide that item; but before you hang up, ask, “Whom do you recommend?” More times than not, they will give you a company and a contact person.
  2. Ask good questions why the decline, “I can only bid on some of the items.” Great, we still want their participation. This can generate better savings for the items they are able to bid on.
  3. “We don’t do this this.” Great. What do you do? We might have another event they would be perfect for.

Basically, it is our job to make a decline into an opportunity, be it new leads, becoming better educated, or engaging the supplier and then finding a better event for them to join. Robert or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing would be happy to discuss how SafeSourcing can help you with your eProcurement planning. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

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Make Time for eProcurement

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

 

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

Reducing spend is important. It’s actually among the most important and impactful methods to improve your company’s bottom line. In most industries, you’ll be hard pressed to generate the same effect through any other means. New stores, new accounts, improved processes, and more all have merit. The fact is, reducing spend while maintaining quality can create a one-to-one savings to bottom line improvement opportunity. Where else are you getting results like that?

So, reducing spend is a top priority. But, is it the most urgent priority? Right now? Chances are you have something going on that cannot wait. Maybe you have a fire that needs to be put out before you can tackle the job of reducing the cost of the floor tile for your upcoming new stores. Maybe that’s a literal fire that needs to be put out. It happens.

At the end of the day though, we have to make time to focus on reducing our spend. One way to handle this is to improve efficiency by working with a partner, such as SafeSourcing, to increase the number of eProcurement projects that you complete in a given time period. Let somebody work on your behalf by delegating responsibly. Then, instead of one project per month, you can easily achieve three. Your input will still be required, but your time commitment will be greatly reduced.

So put out that fire and let us focus on the details so you can realize the savings. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

 

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Here is some Lasik for retail e-procurement professionals in order to create better focus.

Monday, July 17th, 2017

 

Here’s and old post that continues to have merit with a link to another resource from FitSmallBusiness.com

Very often this author gets the question as to where to start in the e-procurement process. Too often I read that one needs to do a detailed discovery. The question is of what and how to get to the right place the quickest. So here is some Lasik for you that will help you see a little more clearly.

Using another idiom, and with renewed focus we hope to make it possible to see the forest for the trees by not focusing on excessive detail that is not needed yet.

There are four areas where you should begin your search for an e-procurement starting point and they are pretty simple.

1. Gross Sales
2. Cost of Goods Sold
3. Gross Margin
4. EBITDA.

This is really to say that if you take a look at your top line or Gross Sales and your bottom line or EBITDA and they are out of whack relative to your plan or industry averages you need to look at the above the gross margin line or Cost of Goods Sold or below the gross margin line which is expense related items for as an e-procurement focal point..

As such a couple of terms whose definitions you should be aware of are as follows.

According to two separate sources, Wikipedia and FitSmallBusiness.com  Cost of Goods Sold or COGS is a financial accounting  term which includes the direct costs attributable to the production or procurement of the goods sold by a company. This amount  can include the materials cost used in creating the goods along with the direct labor costs used to produce the m. It excludes indirect expenses such as distribution costs and sales force costs. COGS appear on the income statement and can be deducted from revenue to calculate a company’s gross margin.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization or EBITDA which is an approximate measure of a company’s operating cash flow based on data from the company’s income statement. EBITDA is calculated by looking at earnings before the deduction of interest expenses, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Based on the above a lot is determined by who built you annual plan and how realistic it was to begin with.

Tomorrow we will review what underperforming these measure means and how it should point you in the direction as to where to begin your e-procurement focus.

We look forward to and appreciate you comments.

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Sourcing Corrugated Boxes

Friday, July 7th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Mike Figueroa, Assistant Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing

When companies are looking to save money, they often look in places that have the largest spend, but also the greatest fixed costs. Sometimes the most commonly used items represent the best opportunity to compress spend. In today’s case, we are going to look at Corrugated Boxes. Don’t be fooled though by this deceptively simple item. If you aren’t intimately familiar with what your company buys today, especially if you have multiple Distribution Centers, developing a new RFP can get complicated quickly. Here are a few specification considerations to understand about this category that might save you some frustration before you get too far into the project:

Dimensions (Inside or outside?): Sometimes your invoices will give you measurements different than what you would measure yourself simply because the invoice gives interior measurements and you are measuring the outside. Make sure you indicate whether your specified sizes are interior or exterior. Also make sure you are consolidating box sizes where you can. If DC1 uses the exact box DC2 uses with a 1/16th inch difference, is there a good reason? You might be able to save a lot of expense by getting your DC’s all on the same program with a limited variety of box types.

Grade: The most commonly used measurement of corrugate strength is the Edge Crush Test (ETC). For example, an ETC of 32 would mean a box could withstand a maximum load of 40 lbs. Suppliers would need to know this requirement in order to gauge how to construct the box in terms of its flute size, number of walls, etc.

Coatings: Your intended use will determine the type of coating requirement you will have. For instance, food safe boxes may require non-stick surface coating, and boxes with marketing information may be colored white with logo printing. But for basic usage to fulfill your supply chain and distribution needs, the unaltered brown standard color is the cheapest, and the term for it is “Kraft”.

Printing: A print design can be both functional, or marketing related. Meaning, you may need certain marks for optical machine box loading, barcodes for tracking, or simply logos for easy retail identification. Either way, you will likely want to provide detailed drawings and artwork along with dimensions, and precise color in order to end up with what you intended.

The Usual Suspects: All of the typical concerns within any given sourcing project still apply, such as:

  • Shipping terms: If delivered to multiple DC’s, you’ll probably want separate quotes per location. However, if you don’t need delivered pricing, obtaining FOB quotes can save you a lot of headaches.
  •  Volume: Unit of measure, lead time, delivery schedule, must be indicated, and under the correct annual multiplier.
  •  Current cost: Is it inclusive of any promotional allowances, taxes, freight, etc and are you asking for quotes to include all of the same factors for accurate comparison?
  • Always run through a sample process before approving a large production run. A mountain of useless boxes would ruin anyone’s day.

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.

 

 

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Is the Internet helping or hurting us?

Friday, June 30th, 2017

 

Todays’s Post is by Eli Razov, SafeSourcing  Account Manager.

The internet has to be one of the greatest tools of our time. Or is it? The invention of the internet has brought with it changes that have completely altered the way we do virtually everything. From the way we shop, to the way we conduct business. The world is at our fingertips. We need to simply type in what our heart desires and viola the answer appears; but is that helping us? Not too many years ago research reports for school, or gathering information about a potential client required a lot of leg work with just as much paper; but it involved the researcher. It made researcher learn more about what they we searching for. Today it is very simple to find the answer and just copy and paste it into a document . Some may believe this makes us lazy or removes our involvement all together. Some may also say that this is expanding our horizons and gives us the ability to learn more at a faster pace. But what is it doing for us? Is there a correct answer? Look at what we do here at Safesourcing. We help clients in many ways, mostly by helping save a lot in the procurement process. We use the internet and our vast database of companies, locally and internationally to find the right supplier and vendors for our clients. Whether it is helping find a service or a product, we can do it. Communication is a large part of it. From emails, to instant messages, or the VOIP phone services that most companies use, almost every aspect of communication is driven by the internet. Our online tool that we use to run our events depends on the internet to have a seamless successful campaign from start to finish. But that’s not all. We are constantly improving our website and online tools to keep up with the demands of an ever-changing digital age.

Coming from an age where the internet was just coming into play and seeing the changes it has made in almost every aspect of life, from ordering my coffee, to getting live directions to the nearest shoe store, I believe the internet has had a great impact on the advancement of humankind. Yes, there are downsides. Fake news is spreading like wildfire, seeing horrific images that may scar younger viewers, as well as the darker sides of the internet. But just like everything in life, with good there is always bad. It is all up to you, the user, how you weld your power so choose wisely and try to make the world a better place, even if it is just by helping each other by passing on uplifting words or helping to teach younger generations learn to cook.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Representative we have an entire team waiting to assist you today

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Old Glory – The Red, White and Blue.

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

 

Today’s post is by Gayl Southard, Administrative Consultant at SafeSourcing.

We have recently celebrated Memorial Day and Flag Day and the Fourth of July is coming up quickly. We certainly see a lot of Old Glory this time of year.   The following is just a little flag trivia:

  1.  Betsy Ross is credited with designing the flag, but there is almost no evidence to support this. The only evidence was from her own grandson in 1870, when he presented The Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia with affidavits from his own family members as evidence. Early journals from the Continental Congress claim Francis Hopkins deserves the credit.
  2. Karen Burke of Walmart’s Corporate Communications stated Walmart sold 115,000 flags on September 11, 2001 compared to 6,400 on the same day in 2000.
  3. A 17-year old student by the name of Robert G. Heft, designed the flag as it appears today. With the addition of Alaska and Hawaii as states, he designed the 50-star flag as a history project. He got a B- from his instructor that was later changed to an A when President Dwight D. Eisenhower chose Heft’s design.
  4. Six flags were planted on the moon during the Apollo missions. Only one flag fell. According to Buzz Aldrin, the one that fell was blown over by Apollo 11 liftoff from the moon’s surface.
  5. According to the US Department of State, the official colors are “old glory red” and “old glory blue.
  6. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday outside of Pennsylvania and New York. New York doesn’t observe Flag Day on the 14th, but rather the second Sunday in June.
  7. Richard Williams the animation director of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” said he modeled the rabbit’s colors after Old Glory (red overalls, white fur, blue tie). It looked like an American flag and subliminally everyone like it.
  8. There are federal regulations governing the handling and display of the flag (the U.S. Flag Code) in advertising or printing or anything intended for temporary use or display.
  9. Old Glory was a nickname for a particular U.S. flag. It was owned by a sea captain given to him by a woman in his home town of Salem, MA. He named it Old Glory after seeing it on his mast in 1831. The name became synonymous with the American flag.

For more information on SafeSourcing and how we can help you with your 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.

 

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