Archive for the ‘Strategic Sourcing’ Category

Concepts of Creative Problem Solving!

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

Have you ever faced a business problem that you just couldn’t find an answer to? Or have you thought something isn’t working as well as it should but you were unable to think of a better alternative? Here are two concepts to help you get past your creative barriers:

1.  Assume you can’t do things the way you currently do.Take a goal or core competency of your business, and figure out how you would accomplish this goal if the only way you COULDN’T do it, is the way it’s being done now. You may find your ideas taking you places that were obvious but never brought up before, simply because of your bias toward the familiar. If you can’t think of new activities you CAN do, assume what you’re doing NOW is off the table, which then opens up everything else for you to consider as a possible solution.

2.  Expand the Realm of Possibility Through New Associations.Look into how other systems solve similar problems.  I often find it helpful to think of data communication in terms of signal path from my audio engineering days. There have been buildings whose ventilation problems were solved mimicking termite mounds, adhesives inspired by anemone, virtual workspaces inspired by physical workspaces, etc. Many experts agree that the cross pollination of traditionally unrelated ideas is the greatest single reason why Silicon Valley has been such a successful hub of innovation. Simply surrounding yourself with new informational inputs will get your brain to access new physical areas that allow more transparent interconnection between concepts.

At SafeSourcing we deal with an enormously wide range of procurement projects. Sometimes concepts we originated in waste removal help us streamline projects for shipping, or we’ll learn something about Hotel Stays that give us insight into Janitorial Services. There really is no limit to the variety of ways our experience can help you find solutions for your procurement needs.

How do you push past your own problem solving “writers block”? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Thanks.

Fail Quickly!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

Those of us who are too afraid to fail, inherently play things safe. Those of us who play it safe, don’t set “unachievable” goals.  Those of us who don’t set “unachievable” goals, don’t rethink our mental models of what is possible for achieving success.

Of course, no one will say failure doesn’t hurt. However, it doesn’t have to be crippling, if we approach it correctly. In weightlifting we have to allow the uncomfortable microscopic tears in our muscle fibers to occur before those cells can rebuild bigger and stronger. In our personal lives, it we have to be challenged and tested, and shown where our blind spots are before our character can be improved. In business, sometimes we need to surpass our own expectations of what is possible, and test that with both success and failure, before we will know what we or our organization is truly capable of.

Nathan, my second youngest brother, is more of a risk taker than I am, and I suspect there’s a lot I could learn from him. He’s traveled extensively, goes sky diving, purposely seeks out random strangers in public to sit and have lunch with, and generally is always trying new things that I’d rather not.  But he has a method about it; If the only reason he doesn’t want to take a risk is apathy, he takes it anyway. However, if the risk is so great that failure would be unrecoverable, he doesn’t go through with it. He has a lower and upper threshold for the risks he takes, so that he’s never too inactive, but also never betting more that he can afford to lose.

The point of failing quickly is not to take on gargantuan risks. In other words, we don’t go out and bet the farm just to prove a point. There are foolish ways of taking on excessive risk of course.

The point of failing quickly is to expand our self-imposed limitations of what is possible within the proving grounds of activity that we can quickly recover from should the experiment be a failure.

Please contact SafeSourcing if you’d like to discuss how this strategy can help your sourcing projects.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

If you are not sourcing your services with eProcurement tools you are missing the boat!

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

 

Today’s post is by Ron Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing

Professional services represent one of the fastest growing procurement areas for thousands of companies. The reason for this growth includes reductions in staff, efficiencies through outsourcing non-core competencies such as IT, and cost reductions for service on demand versus full time internal resources.

SafeSourcing has completed hundreds of professional services sourcing events resulting in the following overall statistics:

Number of Service Providers Invited:  5 to 9
Average Suppliers Participating:  6
Project Timeframe:  < 30 Days
Average Savings:  24%

Here is a list of 25 of the more popular services sourced using our eprocurement tools!

1. Employee Automobile Reimbursement Plan
2. Accounts Payable Recovery
3. Event Planning Services by Location
4. Armored Cars Services
5. Audio Conferencing
6. B2B Payment Solutions
7. Background Screening Services
8. Customer Satisfaction Program Provider
9. Customer Satisfaction Program Provider
10. Customer Statement
11. Disaster Response (Emergency Cleanup)
12. Event Services
13. Facilities Asset Management
14. Temp Labor
15. Jet Charters
16. Legal Services
17. Managed Print Services
18. Payroll Services
19. Recycling
20.Waste Management Services
21.Lawn Care Services
22.Snow Removal Services
23.Environmental Services
24.Construction Services (General Contractor)
25.Logistics

If you’d like to learn more about how to reduce your current costs for services or get a savings estimate on a specific services category, please reach out to a SafeSourcing Customer Services Associate.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Redefining heroics

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

Dale Carnegie advised us in 1934 that we should be Hearty in our approbation, and lavish in our praise. And we are, of the people who save the baby from the burning building, divert tragedy, or run ultra-marathons. These individuals do deserve our admiration to an extent, but we need to be careful not to overemphasize the more visible accomplishments to the extent that we de-incentivize the small wins.

If management is pushing productivity through an organization, leadership is pulling from in front. But leadership doesn’t have to be 1 man or woman pulling an entire organization up the mountain. It takes a chain of linked individuals, each pulling everyone forward in great and small things to create success across an organization. However, the culture of the optimal organization is not to point to the top rungs and say be THAT guy, because we don’t need 2 CEO’s, we need people who take ownership and create value in every position of the company. But how many times have we had people go above and beyond in the small things that had a profound impact on our personal or professional life and never given them the praise they deserved? Or worse, how has it effected you when someone only gives marginal or poor effort, because the tasks they’re working on aren’t praised in their organization no matter how well they are done?

When we make leadership into something bigger than ourselves, we give ourselves an excuse to not take responsibility for the profound ways our actions affect other people. We all have had experiences where someone’s small act has had a profound impact in our lives, for good or bad. Don’t forget to praise their investment in you or your organization, or learn from their mistakes.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team in being a savings hero for your ortanization, 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.

Better Business Outcomes

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

 

Today’s post is from Alex Borbely, Vice President of Sales 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 keener prices and 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 relatively new 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

 

 

 

 

How to tell when you need to simplify your processes

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

 

Today’s post is our archives at SafeSourcing

Finding the right balance of complexity in your processes is a tough thing to juggle for businesses large and small. I’ve worked in companies where you literally had to read through and comply with hundred page manuals for every email sent, phone call made, or lunch break taken. On the other end of the spectrum, were companies who had so little structure that no one had any idea what standard procedures were, roles were not identified, and whether or not you were performing well was determined more by the owner’s mood than any objective metric.

The problem is similar to the dilemma of Emergent vs. Deliberate strategy[1]. Each side of the argument carries its own merits; highly process oriented organizations are usually highly efficient, and low risk. The tradeoff however, is that adaptability and innovation suffers. The more flexible and open ended your process, and the more you give your team the authority to deviate from those processes, the more they are able to deal with crisis, unexpected changes, or to innovate in order to meet the needs of the business. So how do we determine if our organization is leaning too far in one direction?

A basic rule of thumb is:

If the cost of your process > the value of the process, you may need to re-balance.

This of course, requires that you have a correct understanding of the cost of all your processes.

Many businesses have a hard time wrapping their heads around the true process capacity of their workforce. Typically this results from not having an up to date or objective measurement of all processes rate of finite resource consumption. Do you have an accurate listing of every activity performed by each member of your team? Have you found averages for all costs of each of these activities, in time, money, and materials? Most likely each of your team positions specializes in a certain activity, and will be aware of activities associated with executing that position that no one else is. Performing this evaluation will identify your process capacity “budget” if you will. And of course, all things that consume finite resources must have a budget of that resource.

Once you have a clear and objective picture of your activity costs, you can evaluate the costs and value inherent in your processes. Do you have redundant processes that only add marginally increased value? Do you have processes so narrow in scope that a large number of activities get bypassed? Do you have activities whose execution is so sensitive that a miss-step would shut down your business? You may need to add processes or capabilities that eliminate these risks (For more on that topic, see my blog “Mistake-proofing your business”).

In summary:

  1. Objectively measure your organization’s process capacity
  2. Evaluate the cost to benefit balance of your processes
  3. Appropriately budget your process capacity to maximize overall value/decrease risk

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.

[1] “Balancing Deliberate vs. Emergent Strategy: SafeSourcing …” 2015. 15 Dec. 2015 <http://blog.safesourcing.com/2015/06/01/balancing-deliberate-vs-emergent-strategy/>

Super-chickens are bad leaders

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

In 2013, William Muir published a study on the social behavior of chickens[1] and measuring their productivity based on how the groups were configured. They thought that if they bred selecting for all the most productive chickens, putting those chickens into one group should only scale up that productivity into one “super-chicken” flock. To their surprise, they found that the “average” chicken flocks repeatedly out-produced the super-chicken flocks, because the latter group had pecked many of the other birds to death. The parallels in experiences between human and chicken team-building became immediately obvious, and so MIT started experimenting to try to understand how collective intelligence works, and can be optimized in humans[2].

Experiments were performed where individuals of varying intelligence profiles were put together in groups, and given an assortment of problems to solve as a group. What the researchers found was that individual intelligence or productivity was not the leading indicator of team success. The three traits associated with the best group performance were:

  • High ability to read other people’s emotions
  • Giving everyone a chance to talk, and
  • High number of women in the group

What they found with the groups of “super-stars” was that while intelligent/productive individuals may do well solving problems on their own, if they don’t have the social intelligence to interact with others well they will only bring the group performance down. This should be obvious for anyone who has had to work with team members that may look good on paper or to external management, but then internal to the group, is a terrible leader. Intelligence and raw talent are great attributes, but putting together the high-producers that don’t play nice with others can end up creating a team that pecks itself to death. There are online tests that measure your ability to read people’s facial expressions[3], and some experimental tests for measuring a team’s collective intelligence. But at the moment, the most effective and inexpensive test is seeing how teams perform together, and of course simply asking the team who they would follow, and who they feel “pecked” by. For all the experimental procedures with chickens confirming what we already intuitively know about human nature, it’s usually pretty easy to spot who inspires cooperation, and who inspires in-fighting just by asking around.

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.

 

[1] Grandin, Temple, and Mark J Deesing. Genetics and the behavior of domestic animals. Temple Grandin & Mark J Deesing. Academic press, 2013.

[2] “Measuring Collective Intelligence – MIT Center for Collective …” 2014. 15 Feb. 2016 <http://cci.mit.edu/mciresearchpage.html>

[3] “Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test – Question Writer Tracker.” 2013. 15 Feb. 2016 <https://www.questionwritertracker.com/quiz/61/Z4MK3TKB.html>

Information about Cyber Security Part II

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

 

 

Today’s post is by Ashley Riviello, Account Manager at SafeSourcing, Inc.

To recap fairly quickly with some key points from my blog last month, I stressed the importance of cyber security. We probably hear something or read something about breaches happening every day. In this blog, I would like to focus on the three main principles of cyber security: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Before I explain each principle, understanding the role of cyber security is very important. Per Transunion, anything that relies on the internet for communication, or is connected to a computer, or other smart device can be affected by a breach in security. This includes, but is not limited to, government databases like social security numbers, educational systems like grades and reports cards and transportation systems like traffic control and airplane navigation systems. Any of these can be hacked or breached.

Again the three main principles behind cyber security: confidentiality, integrity and availability. Per Transunion here are their explanations for all three:

  • Confidentiality involves any information that is sensitive and should only be shared with a limited number of people. If your credit card information, for example, was shared with a few criminals, your credit rating and your reputation could suffer very quickly.
  • Integrity involves keeping information from being altered. When malware hits a hospital’s computer systems, it can scramble patient records, lab results and can prevent staff from accessing a patient’s allergy or drug information.
  • Availability involves ensuring those who rely on accurate information are able to access it. Availability is often related to integrity, but can also involve things like a cyber attack preventing people from accessing specific computers, or from accessing the internet.

Here are some tips to help protect you from hackers, viruses and malware:

  • If you receive an email that you do not recognize, do not open it. Certain links can cause your computer to be infected with a virus.
  • When you receive warnings on your computer that are unfamiliar to you, do not click on these. They are known as scareware. They also can cause your computer to become infected with a virus. These can be sent through email or can be pop ups on in your browser windows.
  • Always make sure you have the most updated antivirus and anti-malware.
  • Never give out any personal information to anyone that you do not know or websites that are unfamiliar to you. People can use it to hack your personal information and steal your bank info or any other personal info that you have.

I hope this at least helps one person be more aware of the information you put out there. Here at SafeSourcing, we take this very seriously and never give out any data or personal information with any of our clients or vendors that we work with on a daily basis.

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. We have an entire team ready to assist you today.

 

 

 

How do you know if your Waste Management Programs are effective?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

 

Todays post is from our SafeSourcing Archives

On an old post that still has merit,  we presented a series of blogs about the Four R’s of Waste Management; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rebuy, which went through the basics of each and how your company can take steps to becoming greener.  Today we will be focusing on how to measure the results of your programs for both accounting and PR purposes.

Tons of waste diverted from the landfill – By reusing and recycling products within your organization you are contributing to the reduction of tons of waste which is sent to landfills.  Your recycling partners many times can help track this metric with you.

Amount of disposal costs saved – Every company pays for the disposal of waste.  The less waste produced by your company the less frequently your waste disposal company has to pick up that waste which means lower costs for your company and an accounting bottom-line expense reduction.

Amount of purchase costs saved – Companies that focus on reusing and rebuying product can save millions of dollars when they do not have to purchase new products from vendors.  This is an important metric many companies use to measure the effectiveness of their programs.

Value of materials donated – In some cases the value generated by your waste management programs will be in the manner of credits that directly affect the company’s taxable income.  This is another key measurement factor especially in the recycling focused programs.

Revenues earned – Many programs lead to products that can be sold off to 3rd parties as used inventory.  Revenues earned is a metric with high visibility and importance to many companies’ executive level.

Jobs created or retained – In an economy where the country’s unemployment rate has been a much-watched indicator, many companies have integrated the number of jobs added or saved due to waste management programs into their corporate reporting.  Many times this metric is tied closely with revenues earned.

Families/individuals/organizations assisted – By donating or recycling products, businesses have the capability to help thousands of schools, families and other organizations with products they would have normally thrown away.  This applies frequently to technical products that the company may have outgrown but that still have useful lives.

These are just a few of KPI’s or metrics that you might use in order to report how effective your Four R programs are doing, both internally and externally.  For more information on the Four R’s  or companies that can help you with processes or programs relating to the Four R’s, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

Happy New Year 2019. This year’s strategic sourcing plan should already be in place

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

 

What specific short term tactics will you deploy that support your plan and drive immediate and measureable results.

One example of the above might be to augment the manual processes that many  sourcing professionals use today in order to find new sources of supply interested in bidding for their business rather than continuing to live with the same small, known group of suppliers they have used for years. Historically this has been a very time consuming practice that results in few if any new sources of supply. This represents a great opportunity to deploy a tactic that can have an immediate impact for an organization without the need for the implementation of a complete new sourcing strategy.

There is a specific process to follow that will encourage new sources of supply to want to bid for a companies business beyond just being invited. Simply having your buyer assigned the task of picking up the phone and calling new sources of supply will not result in new suppliers agreeing to bid for your business. There are specific objections to overcome and questions to answer that require a specific skill set.  This is a perfect opportunity for Software as a Service providers that offer supplier research. Skilled providers in this area can provide companies with as many as a half dozen or more willing new sources of supply in as little as thirty minutes  that may in fact reside within a companies existing marketing  area.

Sourcing tactics can be isolated procurement related actions or events that take advantage of opportunities offered by the gaps within strategic plans such as lack of new sources of supply mentioned above.  So our tactic here would be to find additional sources of supply that we can invite to compete for a companies business in a variety of categories. The fact is that additional sources of supply competing for a companies business results in compressed pricing and often better quality products.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.