Archive for the ‘Sourcing Strategy’ Category

Let’s play supplier poker if you dare!

Monday, September 14th, 2020

 

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

Let’s play supplier poker! Then we’ll find out how good your current supplier data is.

If this were a real poker game, I’d raise our big supplier data versus your existing supplier data.

Locating, managing and updating supplier information that companies choose to do business with has never been more difficult. How many companies that you used to do business with 4-5 years ago are no longer in business? How many new companies have taken their place? I already know the answer you are going to give me. It’s I don’t know.

We keep hearing about big data. With new regulatory requirements emerging daily, economies failing, the supply chain shrinking in some places and expanding in others,  changing  safety factors and  environmental factors ( think LEEDS), detailed supplier information and traceability are but a few of the issues that require regular maintenance in order to mitigate a company’s risk.

Solution Providers like SafeSourcing that provide supplier databases (SafeSourceIt™) that are part of automating the procurement process, need to step up and make sure that their data support these changes on a regular basis to the greatest extent possible by providing tools that interacts with both regulatory agencies and suppliers to insure consumer safety and environmental impact as more new sources of supply and new products enter the supply chain on a daily basis.

Actions that solution providers can take should include but are not limited to:

1. Monitor daily alert data as to product recalls and safety warnings.
2. Trace warnings back to the original source of supply automatically and maintain history.
3. Require that suppliers meet certain safety certifications in order to participate in their database.
4. Require that suppliers meet required environmental certifications or programs in order to participate in their database
5. Provide a regular purge of suppliers that do not comply with necessary standards.
6. Validate the entire database regularly for companies no longer in business
7. Adhere to a strict RFI process for new suppliers requesting participation in their database.
8. Provide a rating system for suppliers that are offered to companies as new sources of supply.
9. Monitor regulatory agencies such as ISO for new standards and include them as further requirements in supplier databases.
10.Conduct on going category research for evolving sources of supply.
11.Compare your best customers GL to your database for additions deletions.

Ask your solution provider what their process is to grow manage and maintain their supplier database for your benefit.

If you’d like more information on the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database of over 427,000 cleansed global sources of supply, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

The SafeSourcing Collaborative Aggregation Philosophy: 

Friday, September 11th, 2020

 

Today’s post is from Ron Southard CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

 

The SafeSourcing Inc Collaborative Aggregation Philosophy supports the thought that disparate buying groups can on occasion work together successfully as a loosely coupled purchasing organization in order to combine volumes for better pricing consideration by suppliers. Often the specifications for these events need to be very similar in nature such as office supplies or other similar categories. Separate shipping charges and other terms and conditions may apply to each participant. Participants must support single supplier award in order to ensure the success of collaborative aggregation events to ensure that suppliers honor their prices.

We have recently seen a lot of activity in this area with dramatic savings for spends of all different sizes. Some categories have even achieved savings of over 50%. We mapped these savings and are seeing some retailers with as few as 20 stores paying less than some very large customers who ran these categories during the last two years.

The markets are ripe! Maybe its time to contact SafeSourcing and inquire about our Risk Free Trial  Program.

We look forward to hearing from you!

eRFX Strategies for Success Part VI the  Request For Quote  

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

 

 

 

Today is the final edition of this VI part post from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. You can download each link or just download my Whitepaper by the same title. If you follow these guidelines, you are on your way to controlling the cost of any category you take to market.

In  parts one, two, three items 1-4 and four items 5-8  and five RFQ Part I of II we have discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Quote (RFQ) Part II of II Details, Missing Pieces and Communication

Details, Details, Details. In the RFQ, send an invitation to potential suppliers containing a detailed list or description of all relevant parameters of the intended purchase, such as:

  • Personnel skills, training level or competencies
  • Part descriptions/specifications or numbers
  • Quantities/Volumes
  • Description or drawings
  • Quality levels
  • Delivery requirements
  • Term of contract
  • Terms and conditions
  • Other value-added requirements or terms
  • Draft contract

An RFQ event can have many suppliers participating in your project. They will all be actively participating during the RFQ in a preset timeframe, which is usually 20 minutes, but can be adjusted when the line item count grows over 25 items.  Within the 20 minutes, suppliers can lower their bid pricing an unlimited amount of times. Like sealed bidding, suppliers cannot see one another’s pricing. Suppliers see whether or not their quote is the low quote through the use of a low quote indicator when they achieve that milestone by fishing for it. Suppliers may also see their ranking at a predetermined point in the RFQ process if the strategic decision to use that feature has been made.

Missing Pieces. An easy way to establish specifications and develop base pricing is from the RFP responses submitted earlier.  Many times, a list of suppliers is established that has already been educated on entering pricing through an online sourcing or bidding tool. The RFQ gives the supplier the opportunity within the live RFQ to view whether or not if they have any low quotes and to “sharpen their pencils” in order to lower their pricing if they wish to do so. From this RFQ, an award of business based on the results can be made.

Training and Communication. Suppliers should be trained as to how to use the eProcurement system, how to place their bids, how to look for the low quote indicator, and also be communicated with relative to questions, pricing, and products and services you are looking for. The overall goal is to drive the best overall value, so suppliers should have an opportunity to enter notes during the RFQ. This additional information often offers additional hidden savings opportunity, i.e. if 1,000 cases are purchased rather than 900 cases, additional discounts, or other value-added services such as freight waived for the first 6 months of a 1-year contract if awarded the business. These additional notes can provide and overall benefit, rather than just a low-price win.

Returning to our original RFI example of a company owning a building they intend to repurpose as a Distribution Center, the process began as an RFI in order to understand what was needed so it could be followed by an RFP in order to collect further detailed information and base pricing. These two steps were then followed by an RFQ to compress the pricing from suppliers who participated in the RFP and were invited to this final stage.  In this last stage running the line items as a complete list of materials rather than an item by item list, total cost of freight, total installation pricing- which could include teardown pricing which could also be listed as its own line item can have great value and provide the opportunity for the suppliers to keep their focus where it is needed rather than on 100’s of individual line items submitted during the RFP. The four items mentioned here represent the largest spend items of the proposal and have the opportunity to lower pricing by 20% or greater from the original RFP pricing.

Determining what stage of the eRFX process to begin with and how to assemble those pieces can be a difficult puzzle to put together especially if a procurement team is already engaged in a myriad of other daily activities. A good Strategic Sourcing solution provider can help put these pieces together in a way that requires less of your company’s time and resources.

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

eRFX Strategies for Success Part V the  Request For Quote  

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

 

Today’s post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

In  parts one, two, three items 1-4 and four items 5-8 we have discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Quote (RFQ)

A Request for Quote is typically used to solicit price and price related details such as freight, that meet minimum quality specifications for a specific quantity of specific goods and/or services. “RFQs are usually not advertised publicly, and are used commonly for (1) standard, off-the-shelf items, (2) items built to known specifications, (3) items required in small quantities, or (4) items whose purchase price falls below sealed-bidding threshold. Suppliers respond to an RFQ with firm quotations, and generally the lowest-priced quotation is awarded the contract.” 4

Though the above historically represented the industry standard as to what an RFQ was, it is important to expand on each of the points and understand the pieces from a historical and practical standpoint.  With online eProcurement tools suppliers have an indication of where they stand and an opportunity to adjust their pricing should they choose. In standard practice this is done by phone calls or e-mails and one at time. As such it is very time consuming and does show some savings, but not nearly the rate of success online tools have historically provided.

Standard, Off-the-Shelf Items. This is a standard misconception of procurement departments everywhere.  The fact is that virtually any product or service can be taken through the eRFX process.  Strategic Sourcing solutions providers with extensive global supplier databases can invite a number of new suppliers to participate in the bidding process on whatever items or service may be required.  Many will have some level of experience in successfully participating in eRFX events in a variety of functional areas within the organization such as HR, Marketing, Construction, and IT to name a few.

Items Built to Known Specifications. While this is a valid concern, it is also the biggest reason why projects are never taken out to bid; not having specifications or having the time to assemble them.  Working with 3rd party procurement solution providers companies are more able to cover all their needs, taking into consideration all of the moving parts that affect these items. Such as freight, fuel surcharges, additional fees, and hourly rates.  Results can be achieved that are comprehensive enough to allow strong decisions once the project has been completed.

Items Required in Small Quantities. Another misconception about RFQs are the quantities of items that can be sourced and duration of time for which those quantities are needed.  There should be no limits at all, including number of items to have the suppliers bid on. With that established, however, there are always unique strategies to every RFQ so that the host company can end up with the most complete set of information while allowing suppliers to focus on those areas that need the most attention.  This is part of the service that needs time to be considered as sourcing projects are strategized and developed.

Items Whose Purchase Price Falls Below Sealed-Bidding Thresholds. The recommended approach for pricing within the RFQ should be analyzed based on the historical spend, also taking into account any price indexes that can affect future pricing increases. Using historical spends and any additional information available, a max quote is often established that the suppliers must meet prior to participation. Setting a price decrement is also strongly recommended, and often plays a key role in the strategy as to how you would like to have the suppliers act, giving them the flexibility to make price adjustments they are comfortable with while driving savings as part of the process.

Understanding the differences between historical RFQ strategies and changes that are resulting in stronger results is the beginning of assembling the right strategy for your project.  Strategies that have proven successful in the past generally have similar features in common and drive the two most important aspects of every project, valuable results, and supplier participation.

Check Back tomorrow for our final post of this series the RFQ Details, Missing Pieces and Communication.

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

 

eRFX Strategies for Success Part III the reason for an RFP Items 1-4

Monday, August 31st, 2020

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

In  parts one and two we have discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document used in sealed or electronic bid procurement procedures through which a purchaser advises the potential suppliers of (1) statement and scope of work, (2) specifications, (3) schedules or timelines, (4) contract type, (5) data requirements, (6) terms and conditions, (7) description of goods and/or services to be procured, and (8) instructions for preparation of technical, management, and/or cost proposals.  As an example, government RFPs are publicly advertised and suppliers respond with a detailed proposal, not with only a price quotation. They provide clearly quoted specifications for negotiations after sealed proposals are opened, and the award of contract may not necessarily go to the lowest bidder.2

Breaking down each of these 8 pieces of information will help to form an  understanding as to whether there is enough detail to move straight to an RFP,  thus skipping the Request for Information altogether.

  1. Scope of Work: This refers to all of the elements that should be included in the proposal for the project and is generally specific to each customer along with the data and metrics provided to shape it. Simply, this is the definition of the needs and expectations for the work needing to be completed.
  2. Specifications: “An exact statement of the particular needs to be satisfied, or essential characteristics that a customer requires (in a good, material, method, process, service, system, or work) and which a vendor must deliver. Specifications are written usually in a manner that enables both parties (and/or an independent certifier) to measure the degree of conformance. They are, however, not the same as control limits (which allow fluctuations within a range), and conformance to them does not necessarily mean quality (which is a predictable degree of dependability and uniformity).”3 Generally, specifications will be broken into either performance or technical specifications that define the types of goods or services needed from the vendor community. Developing strong specifications ensures proposals containing exactly what is needed. As a result, vendors will know not to over bid or under bid.
  3. Schedules or Timelines: This is the time frame of the expectation of when the RFP is sent to the vendors, when questions (about the specifications or the RFP process) are due from the vendors, when the vendors can expect the questions with answers to be returned, and when the RFP is due to be completed.
  4. Contract Type: This defines to the vendor if the contract is a spot buy, a one year, two year, or longer contract. There may also be additional special contractual requirements added within this area.

Tune back in tomorrow when we will explore the Request for Proposal or RFP items 5-8.

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

eRFX Strategies for Success Part II the reason for an RFI

Friday, August 28th, 2020

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

In yesterday’s post we discussed  that the world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote and why this process when used properly even with newer tools is still the most effective results delivering procurement process available.

The Request for Information (RFI)

A Request for Information (RFI) 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.1

An example for use of an RFI would be if a company acquired a used warehouse that needed to be turned into a distribution center. The facility has some racking installed but needs more.  There has not been a defined idea of what layout will be needed to improve the warehouse for DC use, nor what types of rack are needed, how much material is needed, nor how long it will take to install the racking. The existing racking is in adequate shape, but it is unknown whether it is safe, placed appropriately, outdated, or even needed in any way. A situation like this is often a good time to rely on experts to provide feedback as to these needs.  The best practice would be to get a minimum of 3 sets of data submissions, but I would recommend getting 4 to 6 submissions from your request for information from racking manufactures, distributors, and/or installers.

The higher supplier count, in an area where you have no knowledge, provides the necessary data to begin to make more informed decisions.  With at least 3 submissions it becomes clearer if there are major differences between suppliers and how they operate.  Lead time, outsourcing, and geographical coverage are all very important pieces of information to gather from the suppliers at this stage of a sourcing project.

The application of an RFI can be used on new goods for use, re-sale, packaging design, any and all services, software, hardware, equipment of any kind, actually it is limitless as to what you can utilize an RFI for in business.

Tune back in tomorrow when we will explore the Request for Proposal or RFP?

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

 

eRFX Strategies for Success!

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

 

Todays post is from Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc. This post also includes input from the many talented teammates I work with every day and my Whitepaper by the same title.

Every sourcing project is different, from the data you start with to the results you hope to achieve and how to get there in a way that delivers great results and great participation. Knowing where to start and the path to travel is key to achieving both of these goals.

The world of procurement is continually changing, and this includes the world of eProcurement when it comes to the request for information, a proposal, or a quote.  The differences between the three requests, what expectations are when receiving the requests back, and how to make a sound business decision with what has been submitted are what separate each stage in giving procurement professionals the blueprint as to where to begin in the process.

While technology continues to evolve and have significant impact on the procurement space, is it bringing better results than the tried and true processes that have evolved but are seldom followed in their entirety. These processes have been in place for years. What are they, how to do them correctly and maximize your results, that is the real trick? If you cannot do them on your own, it may make sense to look to companies that can deliver them consistently in the form of white glove software as a service.

Tune back in tomorrow when we will explore the Request for Information or RFI?

If you’d like to learn more and can’t wait for the series conclusion, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services associate, they’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Thanks.

 

In Negotiations, Price Matching Barely Scratches the Surface

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

 

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

Every day, I talk with buyers of all sorts about their procurement processes. While I do get to hear some really interesting perspectives, I also get to hear some really old perspectives over and over again. One of the worst and oldest offenders is price matching.

It goes like this:

A buyer feels that the price she pays for her product or service is higher than it should be. So, she asks a competitor to provide her with a quote. She then takes that quote to her incumbent vendor and asks them to beat or match the price. It’s simple, and it is technically successful, because it delivered savings. I hear that this often generates 5-15% discounts. I’m not impressed by this.

What to do instead?

Testing the pricing in the market by asking for a quote is alright. So is asking your incumbent vendor to sharpen their pencil. But, it’s at this point that there is room for improvement. Any time your vendor signals that they are willing to offer a better rate like in the example above, they are tipping their hand. We now know that they are willing to reduce their margin to keep your business and that they do, in fact, have margin to reduce. It’s at this point, that we recommend applying a lever in the negotiation. An RFQ is a great lever because it creates an environment where the vendors are forced to compete live against each other for the lowest cost. Why have a vendor match a price and manually facilitate this slow type of back and forth? Let the vendors duke it out until they are done. Go grab some popcorn watch it happen. This will probably increase your savings by at least double.

Whatever you do, don’t settle for negotiating tactics that should have died with the dinosaurs. Modernize and use the tools at your disposal to win better.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It really is a CRITICALLY GOOD time to look at your supplier contracts.

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

 

 

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

It appears it would be counter intuitive for senior management to ask procurement professionals to explore all contracts in the current environment. There is so much uncertainty relative to the economy, COVID-19, and related internal and external adjustments as well as an upcoming election that may change how we look at everything.

With all of that said, public companies are going to have to continue to report earnings while they plan for an uncertain future. Small businesses while not having to report are equally as focused on keeping the doors open. While the numbers vary as they seem to with everything today, approximately 100,000 businesses have failed forever. Many more will over the next 6 -12 months. Depending on the source you use, nearly 17 million Americans are unemployed. So much to focus on, how to cope?

While the statistics are daunting, all these businesses were buying products and services from the supply chain. As such, it is not surprising that the supply chain companies have lost sales/revenue and are very eager to find new business. They are looking at their existing customers to lock in business, new verticals with similar characteristics to their existing customers to cannibalize from and their existing markets to offer unsolicited proposals at great initial pricing. I am sure there is not a senior leader that has not been told of unsolicited offers for current expense categories at drastic improvements in pricing. So, the market is ripe, but it will not stay that way forever. And here is a caution; Do not accept those initial offers. There is still better pricing available.

At SafeSourcing, we have not laid off anyone since the 1st of the year and have dramatically reduced our expenses on everything. One example is our phone service where we reduced costs by 45.3%. Another is our insurance policies where we reduced costs by 13%. There are many others with significant savings as well.

I have often used the following as a tongue in cheek response to the question I have heard thousands of times. Why should we focus on expense reduction with SafeSourcing? My response is, do you have a dollar bill? Even in todays world most folks do. I ask the questioner to take it out of their purse or wallet while I am taking a $10 bill out of mine. I offer to trade one for one. While many already see my point, no one has ever turned down the exchange. A 10X return? Why would you not do it. Both bills are the same size, color, and government backed. It is the same specification right? So, an easy decision. I then add that when you use SafeSourcing, our ROI is quite often much higher. Your time commitment is minimal, and you receive and equal or better specification or service or both at a lower price! So, Why Not?

The times are hard, headcount may be down, and you have so much to focus on! Let SafeSourcing help you reduce your costs on everything from capital, costs of sales/goods and expense. Your numbers will look better now and in the future and you will not have to use headcount as your best cost management tool. Our average customer savings over the last 18 months are in excess of 24%. Yours could be too!

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.

 

 

 

 

Better Business Outcomes

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

 

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

Over 30 million Americans don’t have access to modern broadband. The Federal Communications Commission announced that it would hold the biggest spectrum auction in U.S. history, aimed at bolstering 5G network deployment. The bidding will see roughly 3,400 megahertz across three spectrum bands auctioned off for commercial use. The auction is scheduled to start in December 2019 and may be the largest in the country’s history. The FCC also stated that there would be more auctions after this one. Three rounds of clock-phase bidding will be held each day at this stage in the auction. The clock auction format being with a “clock phase” that lets participants bid on generic blocks in each Partial Economic Area in successive bidding rounds, followed by an “assignment phase” that allows the winners of the generic blocks to bid for frequency-specific license assignments. Thirty-eight bidders qualified to participate in the auction.

In an auction, the activities are targeted towards researching/inviting suppliers and ensuring that any existing supplier has an opportunity to propose enhanced pricing or better terms. The auction is usually held via e-procurement and has a number of activities concluding with a short time period with dynamic bidding ensuring the pricing moves rapidly downwards. This type of auction provides any number of advantages including:

  • Suppliers are encouraged to bid low and provide good terms in order to win the contract.
  • The process is seen as a fair way of awarding government contracts as well as those from large monopolistic companies.
  • It is a low cost, much quicker method of finding new suppliers.
  • Negotiation costs are almost zero.

SafeSourcing eProcurement, particularly reverse auctions, is a sure way to increase your bottom-line and enhance the spend process. Utilizing new technologies will add profit dollars without selling one new customer buying your products or services. The savings are traditionally 10X your investment in e-Procurement tools. You’re just accepting a different way to silicate bids/pricing even with your incumbent vendors that you currently work with.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can help in your procurement efforts, or on our Risk Free trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative