Archive for the ‘Procurement Auctioning’ Category

This is Part II of an III part post series titled “Technology Drives E.Procurement Acceptance” focuses on Getting Started!

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Getting Started

First and foremost in getting the e-procurement process right is to select a solution provider or partner that knows what they are doing and is willing to work closely with you during the early part of the process. The e-procurement plan for each company will be somewhat different in order to meet the specific needs of the company. There is however a general order to things that will provide the best opportunity for success.

To realize the most benefit from your e-procurement process, you will need to:
• Develop your strategy
• Complete a detailed discovery
• Learn to understand how to set up your procurement events, even if handled by your provider.
• Use a provider with a high quality process and an extensive database for sourcing suppliers
• Clearly communicate how events will be run or executed to all involved parties • Review the process for sustainability and adjust as necessary
As mentioned earlier, it is incumbent upon your e-procurement solutions provider to be able to assist you in completing these tasks in a reasonable period of time. You should be checking the background of the team and the leadership that will be assisting you to ensure their understanding of your industry such as operations, technology, procurement, warehouse management, logistics, transportation, loss prevention, store management and other functional areas of your business that will be sourcing products and services. It is all about detail because knowledgeable attention to detail will improve quality, reduce costs and ensure the success of your company’s new e-procurement process.

Please join us for part III of this post series on Monday titled Reasons to Use E-Procurement.

To download the entire article please use the following  link.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Safesourcing Inc. completes a successful year two.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

It hardly seems possible that we launched our company two years ago. At the time there were indicators for those paying attention of trouble in the global economy but know one had any idea just how bad it was going to get. In hindsight what a time to launch a company. When customers and business partners asked me why, my response was if you are doing what you believe in and the results you promise are true, then there really is no bad time to launch a business.

Our promise has been the same from day one, to reduce the cost of goods and services regardless of a company?s size or the size of the category being sourced. And, while doing so improve quality, safety and environmental focus. Today, two years later our customers will attest to the fact that we have held true to that promise.

Following is a short list of accomplishments that we are very proud of.

1.?Over 700 educational blog posts relative to e-procurement issues of importance.
2.?Over 1500 useful procurement related wiki terms and definitions.
3.?Added an average of more than one new customer for every month in business.
4.?Grew our supplier data base to greater than 380,000 retail suppliers
5.?Sourced 100?s of categories from commodities to finished goods and services.
6.?Sourced categories as small as $5K with savings > 30%.
7.?Sourced categories as high as $80M.
8.?Never held an e-negotiation event that did not result in savings.
9.?Conducted every process in e-procurement including RFI, RFP and RFQ.
10.?Installed our product in Asia in a multi lingual implementation.
11.?Averaged over 24% savings over two years.
12.?Developed a unique process for sourcing small spends for the retail mid market.
13.?Grew our database to over a terabyte of data.
14.?Helped companies source with environmental and social consciousness
15.?Today released SafeContract? a fully featured hosted Contract Management System.

To our customers thank you for your support. We endeavor to earn your business every day. To our business partners thank you for your guidance during a tough economic period. To the retail industry our goal is to be your best vehicle for reducing costs and improving earnings with an increased focus on corporate social responsibility.

Thank You.

How should companies decide what products and services can go through the e- negotiation process?

Monday, April 19th, 2010

There really is no reason to shy away from taking any product or service to reverse auction as part of your overall e-negotiation strategy to compress pricing.

There are however some simple questions companies can ask themselves when considering any product, service, or category for consideration in the e-negotiation process. Several but not all of those questions would certainly include the following three.

1. How many suppliers are available and willing to bid on your business?

It?s obvious your company is already aware of your incumbent suppliers. The more important question is what other suppliers are available and how can you find them.
Several will exist within you own geographical area that you are not even aware of. Many others may be located across the country that are also very interested in earning your business.

2. Does your company have the complete detailed product specifications for this product or service readily available or are you familiar with a source from which you can get them easily?

Are your products specifications kept in some form of central repository or are they in the mind of your buyer? This is the single largest obstacle to successful e-negotiation events.

3. How much of the product or service are you willing to commit to buy over what period of time?

What period of time are you buying for? Is there an opportunity to contract for a longer period of time in order to raise volumes? Is there an opportunity to aggregate dissimilar products in order to increase the e-auction size?

If you are well prepared, there are suppliers willing to bid for your business that offer quality equal to or better than what you are presently receiving for your products and services at a better price and with better service. That?s win-win-win.

We always look forward to and appreciate your comments

Why do we hear that reverse auctions are not as successful the 2nd time around?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

As we discuss this further, one area of commonality they frequently discuss is a lack of new suppliers. Another is the price being too high for the same event that has already been built and will result in lower savings the 2nd and 3rd time around.

A simple focal point to begin a discussion of this issue is the lack of availability or the related benefit of a large retail specific supplier database. However unless we discuss how? retail companies should use this type of data when available is just as important if there is a true desire in growing their percent of spend with e-negotiation tools?

There is a proper way to insure the sustainability of your e-negotiation events going forward. Following these guidelines will also encourage senior management to consider placing more spend under the control of e-negotiation tools and specifically reverse auction tools. Armed with a robust retail supplier database and related tools:

1.?Conduct a detailed category discovery
???? a.?Learn all there is to learn about the way a company conducts their?? business.
???? b.?Walk distribution centers and warehouses
???? c.?Walk an array of stores and understand all formats of the enterprise.
???? d.?Compile a list of all corporate categories
2.?Rank categories by
???? a.?Total spend
???? b.?Importance
???? c.?Sourcing frequency
???? d.?Quality objectives
???? e.?Look for aggregation opportunities.
3.?Conduct supplier discovery
???? a.?Rank suppliers
??????? i.?Size
??????? ii.?Experience
??????? iii.?References
??????? iv.?Environmental certifications
??????? v.?Safety Certifications
4.?With? the above in hand; develop a three year game plan
???? a.?Identify suppliers for each event over the three years
???? b.?Develop savings targets by category
???? c.?Develop a three year time line for all categories
5.?Role Play internally? the first year for a test category
???? a.?Ask the following questions
???????? i.?How will you award the business
???????? ii.?Review alternate scenarios
???????? iii.?Review savings by scenario
???????? iv.?Determine which suppliers will be invited back
???????? v.?Determine what new suppliers from your database search will be invited to participate next year

Now ask your e-procurement solutions provider to demonstrate their capability in this area

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retailers, how many of your e-procurement contracts contain evergreen language?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

In this case your supplier wins because your contract contains evergreen language. Some retailer?s think this is a good thing and it could be. Paired with other language that might identify escalator or de-escalator language that protects both the supplier and the buyer against abnormal commodity increases this could be win-win. The bigger issue is who is responsible for monitoring the dates and how will you be alerted if the adjustments don?t take place?

This begs the question; just what are are evergreen clauses within a contract and what do you need to do to be careful with them.

According to Black?s Law Dictionary an Evergreen contract is a contract that renews itself from one term to the next in the absence of contrary notice by one of the parties.

The potential problem with an ?evergreen? clause in your contract is that this type of contract automatically renews at the end of the contract term, unless one of the parties notifies the other party that it does not want to renew the contract.? This notice normally must be given within a specified time period such as 60 to 90 days prior to the end of the current contract term. This takes us back to who is going to monitor this time frame and alert you to the fact that something is required?

A significant step in conducting quality e-negotiation events is to understand the contracts you are wishing to negotiate.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Retail e-procurement savings. How many times have we heard we can do it better ourselves?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

And for those very large retail companies that have very expensive internal tools that were sold to you by the largest players in the space. Ask yourself why your event savings are much less than those reported by companies who have outsourced this functionality? If you want to drive the greatest possible savings across the broadest range of categories in the shortest amount of time; and have a sustainable process moving forward keep reading..

The question one needs to ask is; what type of event services does my e-procurement provider offer? If your company is deciding to try self service, which is to be 100% self-sufficient, you need to know if your provider offers readily available classroom education that can be conducted on-site in order to train your team in all the nuances of event support. These skills are the foundation that allows e-procurement providers to support large volumes of events in a full service mode, which drive greater savings over the long term. Knowledge transfer in this area is one thing; the passion, skill and headcount to carry out these practices on a day by day basis are what drive results.

Typically event services falls into two broad categories:

1. Event management
2. Event monitoring and support.

Event management provides end to end e-sourcing support that begins with a companies overall strategy and ends with the actual execution of the e-procurement event. This is a true cross category effort that includes a rather lengthy list of services that may include buyer training, supplier selection, category discovery, supplier communication, the strategy for taking a category to market, training and overall supplier expectation management.

Event monitoring and support is actually the tactical implementation of the over all e-procurement event management process. This may include all communications with suppliers on the day of an event including making sure they have access to the system, get logged in properly, don?t have problems placing quotes, monitoring supplier and buyer system communications techniques during an event such as notes and texting and being available post event for questions as needed.

These services are normally provided by people behind the scenes with a very specific skill set. If you plan to do self service it would be very wise to make sure you have them covered at the same quality level.

As always, we look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What type of category savings can you expect from the use of E-RFX tools?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

There are probably at least a dozen websites that speak to category savings. Each discusses different numbers. The reason the answer depends on who you ask is that to begin with every company defines categories differently. A simple example might be something like bottled water. Is bottled water really a category or is it a sub category of beverages which is a sub category of grocery. The first question that requires an answer is?Are you looking for true category savings or are you looking for specific product savings?? A follow on question might be; Are you asking for actual realized savings or are you asking for savings that are reflected at the end of an E-RFX event? If you are asking for true realized savings, there are a multitude issues that need to be discussed.? If the successful supplier is your incumbent, then the savings may actually be closer to those viewed during the E-RFX event; however, reality indicates that a large number of incumbents do not end up with the low quote.? If the supplier is not the incumbent, there are actually quite a few elements that result in realized savings that have to be considered.? By in large, they can be included in a catchall phrase referred to as switching costs. To begin with the supplier that you plan to award your business to may not be an authorized vendor in your data base. As such, the IT department and or the finance department are needed to add them to your database. A new contract may also be required with a company that you have not done business with before which requires the involvement of your legal department and may, in fact, add delays to the process that requires you to order additional product from your existing supplier at potentially higher prices than awarded during the E-RFX event.? If products are being delivered to a distribution center, slotting requirements are needed and pick lists require updating in order for the product to be available when ordered by individual store locations.

Now, let?s go back to the actual E-RFX event for a minute. At the end of the E-RFX event when business was awarded were the savings the same as displayed during the event? Did the E-RFX event just provide you with high level savings made up of all low quotes; or, if business was awarded to multiple suppliers ,were savings calculated in that manner?? Were funds, if included in the winning bid, included in the savings and treated the same way that your company treats them from an accounting perspective? Is shipping included in the final price and was it included in the price from your previous contract?? Are pre-event historical savings a result of how companies awarded business; or are you being quoted a historical average of all low quotes run through a system even though business was not actually awarded that way and savings may not have been realized?

So, what can you expect for category savings in an E-RFX event? The answer is it depends. It is however critical that you make sure you are working with a provider that knows what they are talking about.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What consitutes a complex e-negotiation event or reverse auction.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Definitions are often tied to the concept of a set of parts or elements which have relationships among them differentiated from relationships with other elements outside the relational regime.

So how does one define a complex e-negotiation event? On the surface it may be an event with a large number of line items within a particular product set such as generic drugs in the retail space or raw materials used to manufacture components that require special handling, shipping and standards adherence.

This author would suggest that any event including multiple line items each with different specifications, order quantities, delivery locations, multiple suppliers not bidding on each line item, a split award of business and the size of the spend qualifies as a complex event. Adding to the complexity may be the overall strategy required when sourcing the right mix of suppliers to compress pricing properly and drive early and consistent bid activity…

The above example would qualify as organized complexity where there is a non-random, or correlated, interaction between most of the parts. In order to support? complex events, your supplier needs to have an understanding of the specific market place and practices and processes in place that allow these activities t bring complex events to market? in the shortest period of time. Generally this should occur within less than two weeks from event notification to event completion.

In a two part post from October of 2008, this author tried to define the relative complexity of the retail environment and its potential impact on the use of e-procurement tools. Specifically we identified the following areas of interlocking complexity.

1.?Supply Chain complexity.
2.?Rate of change in the global supply chain.
3.?Long term inherited supplier relationships.
4.?Lack of retail procurement staff.
5.?Lack of time.
6.?Multiple sources of supply.
7.?Limited view of new sources of supply.
8.?Confusion as to who?s the customer and who?s the supplier

Being comfortable that your solution provider understands your market place and has a well defined process for hosting Complex e-negotiation events insures that they are not difficult to host.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

Creating a sustainable e-procurement or reverse auction program is based on more than just savings.

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Primary success in e-procurement programs such as reverse auctions of which there are many types is in many cases measured by cost reductions. That?s because within a budget period they drop directly to a company?s bottom line plus or minus some switching costs. On more than one occasion I have heard; ?did we hit a home run?? Less emphasis seems to be placed on cost avoidance in an up market and creating a sustainable process. This often results in less spend be assigned to these very effective tools then should be.

In order to ensure that results are sustainable; the strategies for all targeted e-procurement categories require consistent deployment across all departments throughout the host company. This is accomplished by utilizing a well planned repeatable process for category selection and discovery, supplier selection, and a solid strategy that is well understood by all buyers and category managers for negotiation and the award of business process.

Supplier selection and management is a critical stage that requires the understanding and participation of all sourcing professionals within an organization. One small mistake by anyone within the procurement or supply chain organization could negatively impact the potential results of an e-procurement event. Historical long term relationships that drive behind the scene comments like; ?don?t worry we?ll be fine? to a long term supplier may drive inappropriate bid behavior and lack of ongoing credibility with your program. Not to mention the potential legal implications.

If you are not having the results you would like to or have less than twenty percent your total corporate spend assigned to e-procurement tool?s that are offered in the form of? Software as a Service or cloud computing, ask your provider why?

We appreciate and look forward to your comments

SafeSourcing Website experiences significant traffic growth.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

During the last ninety day period the SafeSourcing website has experienced significant growth globally. According to a number of rating services including Alexa and Google Analytics our website has had visitors from thirty seven (37) countries. Our reach which is a percentage measure of global internet users has grown 130%. Our traffic rank has increased 168% and our page views have increased 150%.

This growth places us amongst the top websites in the procurement space. Spend Matters and Sourcing Innovation continue to be the ranking leaders in our space. Both are required daily reading for this author.

We are very proud of our growth as it indicates that SafeSourcing is providing valuable content to regular visitors as well as registered members. We are also enjoying a good mix of both returning and new users. In reviewing these data the entire website is being explored on a regular basis including the following areas.

1. Sourcebook our professional social network for procurement professionals.
2. The SafeSourcing Wiki
3. The SafeSourcing daily Blog
4. SafeSourcing environment and safety alerts
5. SafeSourcing specifications template library
6. The SafeSourceIt? Supplier Database
7. The SafeSourcing Query tool
8. SafeSourcing Product Information Sheets
9. SafeSourcing White Papers
10. SafeSourcing Press Releases.

Thank you to those of you that have allowed us to achieve this growth.

As always, we look forward to and appreciate your comments.