Archive for the ‘Sourcing Strategy’ Category

REMINDER! CIO Applications Magazine Honors SafeSourcing

Friday, March 13th, 2020

 

SafeSourcing Inc., a leading eProcurement company offering a complete Procure to Pay suite of applications, has been recognized as one of the World‘s top auction application companies by CIO magazine.

CIO magazine has listed SafeSourcing, Inc. as one of the top ten auction platforms in its recent magazine edition. The article recognizes SafeSourcing as being a one-stop e-procurement and sourcing center, striking a balance of quality, affordability, product, and service.

“A strategic sourcing firm, SafeSourcing is at the forefront of offering a full suite of procure-to-pay tools under the SafeSourceIt™ banner which helps in reducing costs and improving efficiency” ~CIO magazine

CIO sat down with SafeSourcing CEO, Ronald D. Southard, to discuss the company’s value proposition, solutions, customer base, and future plans. In addition, the featured article elaborates on how SafeSourcing plays a role in e-procurement and how it accelerates efficiency and innovation.

SafeSourcing, Inc. provides cost effective tools under the SafeSourceIt™ product family that allows companies to dramatically reduce cost of goods, capital spending, and expenses in a timely manner while also reinforcing environmental and product safety programs. Focus is placed on a company’s entire spend for all products and services.

SafeSourcing’s early stage client engagement is specifically focused on cost reduction through the use of a white glove service based  on a detailed six step process using the SafeSourceIt™ e-RFX application suite.

Please visit www.safesourcing.com in order to  learn more.

 

Looking Back Helps you look forward

Monday, March 9th, 2020

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

I believe it’s important to take a look in the rear-view mirror once in a while. To evaluate where you started, what it took to get further, your method for navigating, or things you wished you had done differently. Over the course of 6 years at Safe-Sourcing I have learned a lot, and think it’s worth sharing what I want to keep doing in the form of professional habits. However, the most valuable lessons might be just identifying how I want to grow, and what I want to do better:

Professional Habits:

Taking notes: Just do it. Maybe you want to appear as though you didn’t need to be told something to do it, or you just don’t like writing things down. Researchers have determined that we only retain about 11% of what we read or hear on average, and that isn’t nearly enough when you are having a fairly detailed conversation upon which the success or failure of your project may be determined. So do yourself a favor: Take notes for everything, and save them in a format that works best with your workflow (Laptop document, email, cellphone app, hand written, etc.) and check them off as you implement them.

Correlation: In procurement and inventory control, this means having unique identifiers that link 2 or more variables together. For example, how would your GPS app navigate you to the right location if there were multiple buildings with the exact same address in your city? A lot of people would get to the wrong place. Unique identifiers are a lot like addresses; they lead to a unique product or spec, so that there is no room for ambiguity in identifying exactly what you are looking for. Committing to a specification of a product because it “looks like” the specification of another is relying on luck to get the right product to fit your needs, and it will eventually end up biting you. Relying on exact matching of unique identifiers will make sure that what you want, and what you get, end up being the same thing.

Changing/Adapting: This requires a consistent willingness to reinvent one’s-self, and the humility to assume we always have new things we can learn. Sometimes this means taking notes, implementing a new policy off of those notes, and changing the way we do something going forward without having to check that its getting done right. This could also mean not adhering to static job descriptions and titles, so that when we see a need arise, we find a solution and create a path forward regardless of if the waters have been charted yet or not.

Things I want to do better:

Training “Sessions” vs ad-hoc feedback: Not everyone can turn on a dime, especially when they’re deep in the weeds. How would you find a dime in weeds anyway?? When I’ve seen new policies not get implemented quickly enough with my team (or even myself), I know it’s because I need to undo/redirect old habits. Every day we come across opportunities for improvement, but sometimes that opportunity is buried in an email from your boss 23 emails down a chain of long emails. A more formal training session has worked much better in many cases I’ve seen, and is something I would like to use in the future to develop my teams.

Reward, and provide opportunities to practice: Related to training, I really do think practice is necessary to change a previously habitualized work policy. It can be as simple as having the team do mock phone calls, draft document templates, or create faux financial calculations. But actually going through the motions of a new procedure helps re-wire the muscle memory, and memory ques, that people often need to happen in order to change habits. Furthermore, in highly dynamic businesses, I need to reward and recognize those that put forth the effort to adapt and learn quickly. The better my team is at this, the easier it makes my life as well.

Pass along the method, not just the order: Perhaps my biggest takeaway from looking back is that I want to empower my team to make the right decisions, not just teach them to take orders. This means I need to take more time to sit down with a team member, and review how to approach and analyze a problem. I would focus more on how to arrive at a conclusion, rather than just praise or criticize the result. This would be the counterpoint to the old-school means of changing activities by beating policy into the heads of employees. Policies are informed by objectives, and without understanding how to strategize to achieve those objectives, following policy will manifest as filling orders even when it doesn’t make sense to.

Likewise I need to ask well-worded questions to illicit a breakdown of how my mangers think about problems as learning opportunities for myself. I want to take a first-principles approach to both learning how and teaching how-to problem solve. As mentioned above, I believe humility is going to be a key ingredient to enacting this self-managing policy. However, I believe a lot of managers have an aversion to humility because it seems like such an antithesis to authority. I read an article recently by Dan Cable that I think summed up nicely why this is not the case:

“Humility and servant leadership do not imply that leaders have low self-esteem, or take on an attitude of servility. Instead, servant leadership emphasizes that the responsibility of a leader is to increase the ownership, autonomy, and responsibility of followers — to encourage them to think for themselves and try out their own ideas.”

Please leave a comment or for more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with your procurement 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.

Ambiguity is the enemy

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Today’s post is  from our archives at SafeSourcing.

Have you ever misinterpreted the meaning of someone’s written communication?

Of course you have, it happens to everyone. Why? Because it’s easy to make statements that contain multiple possible meanings. A large portion of the understanding we glean through verbal communication comes from body language, and word emphasis.

Take the following for example. We all hear written communication through whatever internal voicing’s we give the speaker. If I INTERPERATE the emphases of a word *denoted by asterisks* it completely changes the meaning of the phrase (the implied meaning in parentheses):

*I* don’t think he’s a liar (But somebody does)
I don’t *think* he’s a liar (But he could be)
I don’t think he’s a *liar* (But he’s probably something else equally terrible)
I *don’t* think he’s a liar (He’s definitely not a liar)

One way of testing the effectiveness of your communication is to ask yourself; How many different meanings could be extrapolated from my statement? Ideally your communication is so concise and exclusive to your meaning there’s only one possible interpretation. The same principle holds true for QUESTIONS; They should be formatted in such a way that they funnel all of the potential answers in the format that you are actually trying to receive back. Vague questions will receive vague answers.

Our RFI/RFP toolset, for instance, allows us to frame questions with as many constraints as necessary to receive answers with a high degree of relevance and usability. Not only do we format our wording to convey our meaning properly, we can force answers to be as close ended as a simple a Yes/No button, or as open ended as an essay answer.

Ask us how we can help your business ask the right questions, and narrow the possible meanings of your communications before you hit the send button!

We look forward to your comments.

Prickly Pear Cactus May Solve Plastic Problems

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

 

 

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

The prickly pear is sometimes used as a novelty ingredient in margaritas, or in jelly for Arizona tourists. The microscopic barbs on the paddles can be very painful if you brush up against this cactus. Researchers at a university in Mexico have developed a way to turn the pulp from the paddles into a biodegradable plastic. This could not have come at a better time as plastic pollution has reached epic proportions. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a floating mass of plastic) is now larger than Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico combined!

Plastic breaks down and eventually is consumed by marine life. An autopsy of a washed up whale in the Philippines revealed 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach. Humans also ingest roughly 50,000 microscopic pieces of plastic each year.

Prickly pear cactus paddles contain large amounts of sugars and gum, making them a good candidate to create “biopolymers”. Corn has been used for a long time in creating polymer products to make biodegradable spoons and cups. Corn, however, leaves a big carbon footprint when you consider the water, fertilizer, and energy used to grow and harvest it. The prickly pear cactus, however, requires very little water. More research has to be done in order to bring this to market.

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.

References………………………………………………………

John D’Anna, AZ Central, 7/9/2019

Don’t Close the Door on Negotiations

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

 

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

At SafeSourcing, we believe that any spend of any kind can be negotiated using our eProcurement RFx tools. That may seem pretty bold, but it’s true. We’ve negotiated everything from basic copy paper to private jet services, and all sorts of spend categories in between.

Along the way, we have encountered a certain objection from our customers that causes me to be concerned. From time to time, the customer will believe that they have selected a good or service that is unique and has no competition. They have selected the best of the best and there would be no point in trying to source an alternative or attempt to get a better price.

I appreciate that the product you have selected may be better than some of the alternatives. Or, just as importantly, you may perceive that the product you have selected may be the best. The same can be true of services. You might feel that your current vendor goes above and beyond the scope of their work to perform for you. That may be true, but there’s no reason why another vendor could not do the same.

What I recommend in these cases is to invite well-qualified competitors to participate in an RFx Event against the vendor that you prefer. Let them position their competitive product or service against the product or service that you like and let all of the vendors compete to offer the best price and overall value in a live format. Perhaps once the RFx Event has completed, you will still select the vendor of your choice. It is very likely that if you do, the pricing negotiated will be significantly lower than what you had previously been quoted.

In one recent case, a customer was absolutely set on purchasing a fleet of trucks from a particular manufacturer that was all to include a customized set of accessories and equipment. In the customer’s mind, there really was no other option. That said, they still agreed to keep an open mind and not close the door on a potential negotiation. This was very wise of them. As a result of allowing SafeSourcing to negotiate their truck pricing, the customer attained a 15% price reduction on top of the best pricing they had received from the manufacturer they preferred. Better still, they had options and an opportunity to get more savings from other vendors and they had all of the details they needed to decide if any of those options would work for them.

In that case, there were many ways for the customer to declare victory with a seven-digit savings figure. They never would have been able to attain that savings if they hadn’t kept an open mind and created the opportunity for the savings to occur. 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.

To Buy or Not to Buy

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

 

 

Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

Over the past year, there have been a number of home meal kit delivery services popping up in television and magazine ads. I never ventured to try any of them because, in my estimation, it would be costly and unnecessary. Recently, my interest was piqued once I noticed Home Chef meals on display in my local Kroger supermarket.

I’ve been grocery shopping and preparing meals, almost daily, for over 30 years, but here it was right within my grasp, so I picked up a couple of the dinner-for-two meal kits to try out. Since our kids are grown and off on their own this $16.99 option seemed to be worth sampling. All of the pre-measured ingredients were included in the kit along with an easy to follow recipe card. We both enjoyed the meals, so it did not disappoint.

My online search for additional meal options and details led to the discovery of over a dozen different meal delivery services which vary in level of preparation difficulty and specialization including classic, vegetarian, vegan, keto, gluten-free options. The most popular is Blue Apron which boasts recipes inspired by unique seasonal or hard to find ingredients. There is also Sun Basket, EveryPlate, Hello Fresh, Freshly, Dinnerly, Snap Kitchen, and Purple Carrot which specializes in plant-based dishes. Joining the party is Martha Stewart partnering with Berlin-based Marley Spoon, and of course Amazon owns a piece of the action with Amazon Fresh, since acquiring Whole Foods. Amazon meal kits are currently only available to members of Amazon Prime.

Preparation times range from 30 minutes to about 50 minutes, prep-to-plate. The prices generally range from $30 – $79 per week for three meals for two people. That is a huge savings for those who normally opt to eat out which can easily cost this much per meal for two.   For those who typically prepare meals at home, the savings is still apparent because it is less wasteful than purchasing ingredients in full count packaging which sometimes goes to waste if not used. Not to underestimate the time savings of not having to drive to the store and peruse the aisles searching for all of the ingredients which sometimes requires going to multiple locations. Time is money, especially if you have a busy schedule!

My final assessment is this is worth exploring as an alternative. The online reviews are mixed, but there are enough options to suit any preference, palate, or pocket. Most of the services are now offering new customer discounts for your initial order and no shipping charges. Changing or canceling orders seems to be a relatively easy process so there is no long-term commitment. Do your research before you buy, and as John Matarese says, “don’t waste your money.”

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business 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.

 

We look forward to your comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Bargain Shopping

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

 

 

 

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

If you are like many people today, when you shop, you try to find a good deal. For regular shoppers, we may even be able to tell you the best places to buy certain things. For example, milk is usually the least expensive at your local grocery stores while a car part may likely be cheapest finding online. Unfortunately, the only way to learn which places have the best prices is to check and check often. If one store typically has an item you need at a good price, it is important to regularly check other places because they could be having a sale or running a deal on that item. For instance, children’s shoes are something many parents buy pretty regularly. Typically someone may visit a few large retailers to see what they have and for what prices, but always being on the lookout can lead to finding a great deal you never expected.

This mode of bargain shopping – keeping an eye on the market and looking at multiple places – can also be applied to your organization. This is where SafeSourcing can help, too. If your business typically needs a lot of copy paper, it is a good idea to know what places you can buy from and obtain prices from those places. SafeSourcing can help, or in some cases take the lead, on finding the supplies or services your organization needs (especially finding which things most people are overpaying for), finding who can provide those things, obtaining pricing for those things, and presenting everything back to you quickly and clearly. This allows you to continue focusing on your business and can save a lot of money without exerting much time.

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.

 

2019 SafeSourcing Top 10 List

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

 

 

Todays post is from Dave Wenig, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Services at SafeSourcing Inc.

It’s the end of the year and that means many of your favorite entertainment and news sources are publishing their top 10 lists for the year. In that same spirit, I’ve pulled together a list of my Top 10 SafeSourcing moments in 2019. Let’s get right into the top 10.

10. SafeSourceIt™ Event View now features a graph view. Using this view, SafeSourcing customers have a powerful way to monitor their RFQ Events in real time at a high level that delivers valuable insights.

9. Bottled Water RFQ Events. SafeSourcing customers hosted many RFQ Events for bottled water savings between 16% and 23%. This represents an increase in category savings versus 2018.

8. Waste Removal continues its streak. Waste Removal has historically been a wildly successful category for SafeSourcing customer and that held true in 2019 with the average savings holding steady at about 35%.

7. Reruns won big. SafeSourcing customers that held rerun RFQs at the end of their contract terms beat expectations significantly. Typical expectations for rerun RFQs is about 50% of the savings from the initial RFQ Event.

6. Snow Removal and Landscaping. 2019 was a big year for customers hosting Snow Removal and Landscaping RFQ Events. Often overlooked as a competitive category, SafeSourcing’s customers saw between 16% and 42% savings. Wow.

5. Mobile Phones and Broadband were big. We noticed a huge increase in customers eager to explore their options for mobile service plans and broadband. Good for them, because each of them was very successful.

4. Flyer Distribution (Retailers). Nearly all of our larger retail customers throughout North America sourced their flyer distribution and uncovered savings. In some markets, customers often consider this impossible to source competitively and see it as a monopoly. We disagree and so do our customers who benefited from our assistance.

3. Incumbent margins. 2019 was a year full of focus on incumbent margins. We noticed a fantastic trend where incumbent vendors were awarded business after RFQs at a higher rate than is expected. This is a win for the incumbent who gets to keep their business at rates more in line with the market, and a win for the customer who gets the best pricing available and does not have to go through the process of changing vendors.

2. SafeSourcing in the Top 10. SafeSourcing was recognized as one of the world’s top auction application companies by CIO magazine. Link here.

1. Our customers and partners. We’re truly lucky to have some of the best customers and partners that any business could ask for. 2019 has been a fantastic year of working closely together with all of you. We’ve enjoyed the time spend and our visits and it has been our pleasure to work with you. If you’ve worked with us on a category named on this list, I’m sure you would agree on its inclusion. I look forward to working with all of our current customers and partners and can’t wait to make new connections in 2020. Thank you for an excellent 2019 and see you in 2020.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my picks for the Top 10 list. I’d be interested to hear what I missed and whether you agree with my ranking.

For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

 

 

How SafeSourcing Saved Christmas…

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

 

 

Today’s Christmas Eve post is from our  SafeSourcing, Inc Archives

As with most children being curious, my 7  year old niece and I were baking cookies last weekend when she said, “Aunt Heather, what do you do for a living? Mommy is a nurse and Daddy is a policeman. What do you do?”

Well, I said, thinking quickly of how to explain what a project manager does in the e-procurement world at SafeSourcing, “I help Santa with getting toys for presents and delivering them to all the children around the world.”
She said, “Aunt Heather, you’re silly! Santa has elves that make the presents, and Santa has reindeer help his pull the sleigh to deliver the presents!”

“Oh Alli, I have to tell you a secret, but you have to promise not to tell a soul what I tell you, ok?” She agrees.

Santa needs help lots and lots of help. Yes, his elves make the homemade toys, but toys like Furbies and Barbie’s have to be made somewhere else and delivered to the North Pole to be wrapped.

With big eyes, she says, “ooohhhh. That makes sense. Elves are mostly boys and boys don’t know anything about Barbies!”

So then I tell her, that Santa comes to me with his list of toys and how many he needs, and it is my job to make sure he buys them all much cheaper than what he can buy them for at the store. In fact, it is my job to make sure all the companies that make and sell the toys compete against each other to make sure Santa gets the best price for them.

“Wow!!” she said, you have an important job helping Santa!

I said yes, but that isn’t all I do for Santa. She said really??? I said, yes, I help him deliver the presents too. She said, how???

I said that Santa does use his sleigh and reindeer for most of the night, but the reindeer do get tired. So we help Santa by hiring a charter jet to cross the ocean with the presents and reindeer. Saving him money by having the airlines compete against each other to get lower pricing for Santa. This way the reindeer get to rest and Santa can get to the other side of the world much faster.

Also Santa pre-ships the presents to parts of the world to keep the weight down on the sleigh. So we help him with semi-trucks picking up the presents and taking them to all areas of the globe waiting for Santa to pick them up to deliver them to all the boys and girls. I explain to her that this is called transportation logistics. I told her that, like the people who make and sell toys, we ask the trucking companies to compete against each other lowering their prices for gas (fuel rates was too hard to explain to her), and mileage.

My, oh so smart niece, says, “Santa really has a big job to do in one night. He is so lucky he has you to help him!!”

So I ask her, do you understand what I do now?

She said,” yes, you help Santa buy toys and you help him fly across the ocean in an air plane, and you help him ship presents across the world to be picked up and delivered all in one night, AND you save him lots of money!”

So if SafeSourcing can help save Christmas, what can you do to help save you money in your business?

If you’d like to learn more about how SafeSourcing can help energize your self-service program, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Apple’s New Release

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

There is a new apple that was released on December 1st, and it’s not a tech device. The Cosmic Crisp apple, also known as WA 38, is a new apple bred by Washington State University horticulturist Bruce Barritt, with the backing of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. The Cosmic Crisp is a hybrid of the Honeycrisp and the Enterprise apple, which is supposed to be a large and very juicy, with a longer shelf life than the average apple. It is the first apple to be bred in Washington.

The first plantings for commercial use were in spring 2017 and are initially only available to Washington-based growers and will remain limited to them for ten years. The trees take three years to produce a crop, and the plan was to start with 300,000 trees, but growers requested 4 million. This led to a lottery to distribute the first trees and due to demand, have planted 12 million saplings in the first three years. These plants are licensed and limited by WSU which owns the Cosmic Crisp patent, known as WA 38, so authorized growers need a license to purchase the seedlings and have a to pay a royalty on sales of the apples.

Apples are a $2.5 billion a year business in Washington, which grows about 60% of the nation’s supply, or nearly 140 million boxes. The top varieties are Gala (23%), Red Delicious (20%) and Fuji (13%). My personal favorite is the Gala, and the Red Delicious has been losing its appeal for a long time (pun intended).

Twenty-two years from cross-pollination to launch, the Cosmic Crisp is backed by a massive consumer launch and a huge publicity campaign which has a $10.5 million marketing budget. By 2020, more than 2 million boxes will be available.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business 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.

We look forward to your comments.