Archive for the ‘Strategic Sourcing’ Category

Retail spend management basics.

Monday, July 15th, 2019

 

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

No you do not!

A major step to trying to understand where to spend your effort when building an e-RFX attack plan is to understand the detail of your company’s P&L and how it can provide clues as to where you might have the most impact.

I meet with buyers or other e-procurement knowledge workers on a regular basis that want to know what categories are the best to select in the short term to prove the benefit of  e-negotiation tools. This quite honestly is not a bad approach for pilot selection as it creates an almost sure thing that results in a lot of excitement and the energy to move the process forward within a company.

Quite often before meeting with a new client, I will analyze their annual report and their summary and detailed P&L if available in order to get a good idea as to where the opportunities are hiding that can have an immediate impact. However in order to have long term viability as a way to conduct the business of buying, a more detailed analysis is required. Quite frankly before you can even begin to discuss vendor or supplier selection, management or evaluation this process is critical.

Key data required to prepare you for this analysis can consist of but is certainly not limited to the following. All of this data is readily available from a variety of industry sources. Quite often the data is a year old but you can bet it is better than anything else your customer may be using today.

1. Research and accumulate your specific Industry data
2. Analyze last years P&L
3. Compare your cost of goods with your Industries averages
4. Compare your gross margins with your Industry averages
5. Compare your net earnings with your industry averages
6. Conduct the same comparisons with selected retailers with whom you compete. Pretty easy if they are public.
7. Compare your departmental sales and margin results to those of your specific industry.
8. Look for department level anomalies.
9. Look for specific product anomalies within major and sub departments.
10.Select top categories that are below plan and outside industry average for cost of goods and margin.
11.Select top products that are underperforming to industry averages and plan

One example of the above might be to look at the grocery department sub category of pet care. Now drill down to the sub category of cat and dog products and a list of all accessories. Now look at what products are underperforming to the industry and plan. Continue your analysis with other underperforming categories.

In summary, did you need a spend cube to try and figure this out? No you did not. You needed someone that understands your industry and your P&L with some analytical common sense.

If you’d like to learn how these techniques can assist you, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services account manager.

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

Reverse Supply Chain Management or Reverse Logistics!

Friday, July 12th, 2019

 

Today’s re-post is from our SafeSourcing Archives.

We’ve spent years perfecting how to get “stuff” from in the dirt where we found it, make it more useful, and put it into consumers hands. This is called “logistics”. But now we’re faced with the task of figuring out how to do the opposite, without destroying the planet we got it from.

Enter Reverse Supply Chain Management (RSCM) or “Reverse Logistics as it’s sometimes called. The short definition of RSCM is to capture value from end of life products, and to take them backwards into the supply chain and/or reintroduce them into the biosphere/technosphere through a sustainable and profitable system. This can include activities such as reacquiring ownership of used products from the end user back to the manufacturer or reseller, transportation of used products for sorting, evaluation and designation of products for their most profitable use, remanufacturing or refurbishing, creating secondary markets for reclaimed products, recycling back to base components and responsible disposal.

One example of RSCM is the relatively new business of “Deconstruction”. In this process buildings are taken apart based upon material component value. These materials are either re-used in new construction, recycled into raw materials, or disposed of through environmentally sustainable means. Total annual building materials (C&D debris) disposed of in landfills in the US each year is not tracked by the EPA, but estimates range between 170 and 600 million tons disposed of in landfills currently, typically with only certain metals ever being collected and recycled from the debris. Organizations pioneering this field can be found at http://www.bignyc.org/, http://www.lifecyclebuilding.org/, and www.bmra.org.

Another example of businesses capturing value from RSCM is Dupont, which achieved zero-landfill status at one of their facilities that allowed them to realize $2.2 million in revenue in 2011 from the sale of waste by-products, and $400,000 in cost avoidance (http://www2.dupont.com/inclusive-innovations/en-us/gss/sustainability/employee-engagement/landfill.html). Similarly Subaru, GM, Honda, and Burt’s Bee’s have captured additional revenue or cost avoidance by repurposing waste through reverse logistical processes (http://www.greenmanufacturer.net/article/facilities/manufacturers-gone-zero-landfill).

The challenge is that reversing the supply chain for products that have been modified in an infinite number of ways over their usage life is exponentially more complex than taking virgin material to end consumer product. The premise to that problem however, should be that not engaging this process now while it’s optional, only makes what will certainly become a necessity more complex the longer it’s postponed, and presents a large opportunity cost every year potential new savings/revenue is not captured.

We at SafeSourcing have a knack for finding markets and cost avoidance opportunities that most don’t aren’t even aware exist. For more information on how we can help you with your procurement needs 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.

Sourcing Project Fingerprints

Friday, June 28th, 2019

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

The day we are born we all get a set of identifying marks that make us unique; our fingerprints.  Not one us have the same set of fingerprints and so they have become one of the things that identify who we are to the rest of the world.

In much the same way our physical fingerprints identify us, how we approach and handle tasks in our everyday lives have characteristics similar to our fingerprints that identify us as the ones involved with those tasks; how we write; how we speak; how we lead; how we organize; how we communicate.  Each of us puts “fingerprints” on our work that identify us as being involved with a project.  Let’s look at a few areas to help you determine what fingerprints you are leaving behind.

Research – Every sourcing project begins with the research.  Research includes understanding what you are buying, how much you are buying, who you are currently buying that product from and who else sells that product that you could buy it from.  The diligence you show in digging up the documents, emails, contracts, potential new vendors leaves your fingerprint on a project a major way.

Tool use – Tools range from pencil & paper to Excel spreadsheets to fullblown eSourcing solutions that intelligently help you organize the procurement process.  Knowing what tools you have at your disposal and how to use them can mark a project with your involvement.  Also, knowing when the tools you have aren’t sufficient is equally important.

Organization – Knowing all of the details does no good unless the organization of a project is done well.  Great procurement professionals can assess a project; determine who needs to be involved; determine what each phase of the project should be and who should be brought in to assist with each step of the process.  Knowing what to expect and organizing appropriately can be the difference between a successful project and one that fails to meet expectations.

Communication – Communication is tightly connected with organization.  Without effective communication among all parties involved in the organized project, including what the expectations of each member are, many projects fail before they ever begin.

Desire – The wild card to the fingerprint you leave on a project is desire.  Desire can originate from many different sources but the goal is always the same; completing a successful project in the time it was expected to happen.  Among each of the five components mentioned here, desire will mark projects as yours and will many times be the difference-maker in a project being completed correctly and in a timely manner.  When you strongly care about a project being successful, the majority of the time it will be.

For more information on SafeSourcing or how you can leave better fingerprints on your sourcing projects, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to your comments.

Freight Tendering 101

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

 

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

This author has been in and around the freight business for years. Actually for 40 years. Just like the unrelated movie, I have seen it all. Planes, trains and automobiles (trucks really) to be sure but also ocean bound freight. The ships and planes get bigger, but at the end of the day the same issue exists. How do companies get their products to where they need to be efficiently and at a cost that is acceptable in order to satisfy customer demand?

This is not necessarily about your internal optimization models; it is more about the data that feeds your internal optimization models. That is of course if you even have one. The basis for collecting that information is not all of the math calculations and pivot tables; it really is the following types of data.

• Lane data in distance for your delivery model such as Plant to DC.
• Volume discount data from carriers
• Lane rate per mile
• Fuel Surcharge rate
• Human resources rates for loading and unloading (Lumpers in the US)
• 3PL storage rates
• Load balancing charges for LTL versus FL

There may be other data that is required for your individual model, but the above will cover most of what you need to come up with a well rounded format that freight companies can easily bid on.

Relative to who should be bidding; this authors recommendation conducting a three step process that includes a detailed RFI, followed by a detailed RFP and then ultimately the RFQ data compression piece or a reverse auction.

• RFI  – Incumbent and other participants selected from a quality sourcing  database
• RFP – Participants include a reduced number from the RFI process
• RFQ – Includes all RFP participants unless otherwise indicated by the host.

The terms and conditions of the reverse auction or RFQ can cover the balance of information needed by providers that relates to quality, certifications, payment terms, safety, insurance etc.

If you want to get control of your freight costs, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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/>