Mistake-proofing your business!

July 26th, 2018

Strategies for preventing simple but destructive errors

 

Today’s post is our  SafeSourcing Archives

All human activities have a percentage of error. For example, out of all the email we send in a day some percentage will have a grammar error, for all the mouse clicks we make in a day some percentage will miss their targets. These “fat-finger” category mistakes are fairly benign, and would take quite a bit of corrective time and effort to reduce. Sure, we could spend an extra 10 hours a week slowing our clicks and typing down to a crawl to make sure they never miss their mark, but most businesses don’t have the spare time or patience to do so. However, when our processes have vulnerabilities built into them, where a stray click can create a lawsuit level problem, the “fat-finger” category of mistakes suddenly becomes a big deal.

Make no mistake, inadvertent minor errors WILL happen, and there’s nothing economically feasible you can do to eliminate them entirely. You CAN however, structure your processes and systems in a way that makes it difficult or impossible for small mistakes to have unforgivable consequences.

Identify your vulnerabilities: Evaluate your systems for what functions are business-critical. What processes, buttons or links have the highest risk associated with their execution? Which ones would buy something your business couldn’t afford, send messages you can’t take back, or delete records you can’t recover?

Create roadblocks: You know those pop-ups that annoy you so badly that say “are you sure?” after you’ve hit the “buy now” link? These intention-checking messages help you slow down your furious clicking, and can prevent execution of an erroneous command.

Improve bad layouts: Do your systems have dangerous buttons/links right next to innocuous links? Maybe your “print” button is next to your “fire everybody” button? Your “Decline award of business” button next to your “buy all” button? Your copy/paste command next to your “wipe database” command? There’s no good reason to build vulnerability into your system layout.

Sensitive Communications: Are you frequently sending sensitive information back and forth over email that you could be automating through a system with protections in place? One mistake and you could send proprietary information from steve@vendorA to steve@vendorB, and you have a breach of confidentiality on your hands. Take advantage of the data segmenting capabilities available in most modern systems.

Even your most talented team member will make a small mistake, and if it’s at the wrong place at the wrong time, or wrong link on the wrong system, it can have disastrous consequences. Don’t get rid of the talent, remove the unnecessary vulnerabilities in your systems, so that your people can focus on using their skills. Your company’s internal processes shouldn’t be its riskiest activity.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Benefits of Recycling

July 25th, 2018

The rise of self-service merchandising spawned the need for new packaging materials.

 

Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Account Manager at SafeSourcing Inc.

The rise of self-service merchandising spawned the need for new packaging materials to both protect and help sell products. Today, packaging comprises one-third of solid waste.  Out of every $10 spent buying things, $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away.  Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.

We currently have massive amounts of waste accumulating in landfills across this country.  The U.S. is the number one trash-producing country in the world, at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste. Studies of effective waste management options consistently indicate that prudent practices hold the greatest promise of lessening the need for new landfills and incinerators. These practices(the “3 Rs”): reduce consumption of disposable consumer products, particularly packaging materials; re-use materials wherever possible; and remake or recycle used items. Of these, recycling is a key component to reduce waste and increase environmental sustainability.

Many people simply do not feel comfortable about the huge volumes of garbage they tote to the curb each week. Much of our waste retains some value (energy, fibre, metal) and can be converted into recycled goods, instead of adding it to our landfills.  Some facts to think about as listed on Recycling Revolution website:

  • A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel. In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat and light 18,000,000 homes.
  • Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.
  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, and 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year.Most of them are thrown away.

Thousands of U.S. companies have saved millions of dollars through their voluntary recycling programs. Recycling benefits the environment and the economy.  Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls.  It also benefits the air and water by creating a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants.

It is imperative that we all find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, because every little bit helps!

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.

We look forward to your comments.

 

References———————————————————–

http://recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling

 

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eProcurement Planning

July 24th, 2018

Up front analysis drives increased results through prioritized focus.

 

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

In this post rerun, Dave discusses eProcurement Planning.

We often talk about how an organization can utilize various eProcurement solutions to drive savings and find safe, qualified sources of supply. We also commonly talk about the results of eProcurement efforts derived from the same. These are two incredibly important pillars of any organization’s eProcurement strategy and are certainly deserving of the attention paid to them. That said, there is another eProcurement strategy pillar on which I’ll elaborate. This pillar, often overlooked and infrequently discussed compared to its counterparts, is eProcurement planning.

eProcurement planning can be done in any number of ways either with an organization’s own internal resources, external consultants, or some mix of both. In the remainder of this post, I will discuss the approach which SafeSourcing recommends. We offer this approach as a spend analysis service called SafeSpendAnalysis™.

When we engage with an organization to deliver a SafeSpendAnalysis™, we are looking to analyze 100% of that organization’s spend for a 12-month period at minimum including all capital, cost of goods, and expense spending.

The SafeSpendAnalysis™ service compares your spend data to the SafeSourcing database. The spend data is run against our SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database of over 432,000 global suppliers to fully identify the companies within. Then that augmented spend data is compared to historical SafeSourceIt™ Events to identify appropriate supplier categories and subcategories. We then run that data set against the SafeSourceIt™ historical Events to establish potential savings based on category averages.

The output of SafeSpendAnalysis™ is a detailed presentation with an in-depth category analysis; recommendations, questions, and savings opportunities identified in several key areas such as high spend categories, high supplier count categories, and quick wins.

During the SafeSpendAnalysis™ review with the leadership team and the teams responsible for the various spend categories, SafeSourcing works with your organization to identify appropriate categories for which you will utilize eProcurement in the future. It is common for SafeSpendAnalysis™ to identify tens of millions of dollars in potential eProcurement savings and offers the deep insight required to prioritize resource planning for maximum impact in the minimum amount of time.

Dave Wenig is a Regional Sales Manager at SafeSourcing. Dave or any member of the experienced team at SafeSourcing would be happy to discuss how SafeSourcing can help you with SafeSpendAnalysis™. For more information, please contact SafeSourcing.

We look forward to your comments.

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Google search tools

July 23rd, 2018

Cut your research in half by learning these shortcuts...

 

Today’s post is from our  SafeSourcing Archives

Google’s search algorithms are notoriously complex and secretive. After all, if a savvy online company cracked the code to becoming the first result you see no matter what your search, they could stand to profit immensely. The ambiguity and complexity also makes it difficult to conduct research effectively and avoiding false-positives within your search results. What many users don’t know is that there are many shortcuts embedded into the search bar that allow you to get more specific with your results. We have passed through the many shortcuts available, and ranked the ones we think would be the most helpful to any procurement professional:

Search term format, followed by description:

    1. Word1 Word2: The default search parameter used by most users will search BOTH terms as separate terms. Therefore your search results won’t necessarily use the same word order, which may not return the correct results when using compound words or specific phrases.
    2. “Fourscore and seven years ago”: Using quotation marks will search the exact phrase entered in its exact order. This is best used for searching exact quotes, or product descriptions that must have an exact match.
    3. Star -Trek: Is your search result giving you too many false positives? If searching a word like Star is giving you too many results within a popular science fiction category that doesn’t belong in your scope, placing a “-” symbol before a second term will prevent the results from returning results containing that second term.
    4. Logistics site:www.safesourcing.com: Enter a search term, and then use “site:” to limit the search results to a specific domain. This can be helpful when looking for a specific product within a manufacturer’s website, but aren’t certain where to find it.
    5. Filetype:pdf: This shortcut allows you to search for files of a certain extension type. For instance, if looking for a sample specification, sometimes limiting your search to a pdf or word filetype will return the most relevant results.
    6. Fluid Milk Type VI 2008…2013: Placing three periods between two numerical terms will limit your results to between those numbers. For instance, if you are conducting historic market research for a commodity within a certain timeframe, this search will only return results containing numbers within the year range given. This can be useful if shopping for within a known price range as well.
    7. Related:www.cmegroup.com: When looking for similar suppliers or services, a “related:” search can be helpful for returning other sites of similar scope.

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.

 

 

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What is a Third Party Procurement Company?

July 20th, 2018

The quick answer? We are our client’s right-hand man in procurement.

 

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell, Manager of Major Accounts and Special Projects at  SafeSourcing Inc.

What is a Third Party Procurement Company? The quick answer? We are our client’s right-hand man in procurement.

When speaking to suppliers, on a daily basis, we are asked who are you, why are you working on behalf of so and so, and what does third party mean?

The name third party procurement company has a couple of other names that mean the same thing, but are just as confusing, PSP or Procurement Service Provider.

According to Procurement Service Provider:

A Procurement Service Provider, or PSP, is a third party organization or consultant which is used to supplement internal procurement departments. PSP’s have their own staffing which assist in a variety of tasks for their clients. These tasks include: strategic planning, implementing best practices, supplier rationalization, and supplier collaboration, strategic sourcing and negotiation.

“Enterprises utilizing PSP’s have been able to improve spending coverage, reduce costs for goods and services, employ industry best practices, leverage the latest procurement technologies, and streamline source-to-pay processes – all without taking on the risks and assets required to achieve such results.” Aberdeen Group Research Abstract: You Will Outsource Procurement: Here’s Why and How – October 16, 2002.

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.

We look forward to your comments.

 

 

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Nuclear Negotiation

July 19th, 2018

The state of nuclear weapons, and what we’ve learned about human nature (part 1 of 2)

 

Today’s repost is from our  SafeSourcing Archives.

How much blood, sweat, tears and treasure have you spent building your career, business, home, and family? If it’s true that all of it can be taken away from you and every other person on earth in the blink of an eye by a handful of people who control the world’s nuclear arsenal, what topic could be more important to understand the inner workings of?

Every time the presidential office changes leadership, there’s a lot of talk about their command of the nuclear arsenal. This typically accompanies rhetoric about World War II, and the end of the human species. “Enough nukes to destroy the surface of the earth 5 times over” is the line I’ve seen repeated many times. But is it true? Would a nuclear war necessarily escalate globally? Would it “just” set us back to the stone age, or literally eradicate the earth of all life? Who is in charge of these weapons, and what incentives have kept us from destroying ourselves for the 70+ years we’ve had them? I’m setting out to answer the most important questions about nukes by listing facts I deem important by two measures: How severe the effect on human beings could be, and 2. The number of lives it could affect. Then I will conclude with discussing the human factors at play, and how they affect our daily lives.

There are 9 countries that collectively maintain around 15,000 nukes(“Nuclear Arsenals | ICAN” 2017):

  • United States               6,800 warheads
  • Russia                           7,000 warheads
  • United Kingdom           215 warheads
  • France                             300 warheads
  • China                               260 warheads
  • India                                110–120 warheads
  • Pakistan                          120–130 warheads
  • Israel                                80 warheads
  • North Korea                 <10 warheads
  • Total                            14,900 warheads

There are also 23 nations that either don’t have nukes, that have treaties with nations who do, or that “host” nuclear weapons from other nations. This also means that if they were attacked with nuclear weapons, their partner nation would be under extreme pressure to respond to the aggressor in kind. Each of the nations that have dismantled parts of their nuclear arsenal (designated as “Inactive Reserve”) have these components in storage, and they could be reactivated/reconstructed. Data on these components is classified and difficult to find, but estimates are that there exist close to 20,000 additional warheads globally that could be readied for deployment in a matter of months.

  •  The authority to launch a nuclear strike rests largely with the 9 individuals that head their state: In the United states, the authority to launch a nuclear strike sits with the president, and no one has the authority to prevent it. Most of the 9 nuclear countries have a similar structure set up, and it has to be this way for the weapons to be effective: If country A knows it would take days for country B to decide whether or not to retaliate against an attack, then country A could nuke country B out of existence with impunity. For nuclear deterrence to work, nuclear countries have to believe they themselves will be attacked with nuclear weapons if they are to have reason not to attack each other. Time delays of more than mere minutes in a country’s ability to retaliate would eliminate the incentive of another nation not to attack. Because of the necessity of short timeframes, the world is always literally only minutes away from global nuclear war, should an event spark a nuclear attack from any of the 9 nations.

 

  •  Any one of the 9 aforementioned people has the power to kick-off a global nuclear war: The united states has treaties in effect preventing Japan from producing nukes, because we’ve promised to protect them militarily. In total, there are 67 countries the US is obligated to defend militarily if they are under threat (“Status of World Nuclear Forces” 2017a) that we know of, and the other nuclear powers have similar obligations. Therefore, if China nuked Japan, we’d be obligated to nuke China, which might provoke other nations, and we would have a global nuclear war on our hands within minutes.

 

Similar threats are of great concern where it involves terrorism. A terrorist with a “dirty nuke” could bomb a city, make it look like an attack from one of the 9 nuclear powers, who would retaliate with their own nukes, and global nuclear war would be inevitable.

  •  Nuclear weapons may be the only reason we haven’t had several more world wars: The period from 1945 to now has been dubbed “the long peace”, not because it’s been peaceful, but because it hasn’t seen world-war. Conventional war is complex, and “negatable” enough that it can be engaged in a way that one side may only incur minimal losses, while the other side incurs complete loss or surrender. When nuclear war was invented, it became clear quickly, that both sides of a two-sided war would both incur complete loss. Because of this fact, the nuclear powers have limited themselves to localized engagements and “proxy wars”. This is why there was a “cold” war with Russia, and why we’ve seen wars fought where large countries will arm smaller countries to fight for the larger countries interest, but the large countries will never directly engage each other. They all perform a complicated dance where they all know they are at war with each other, but take great pains to avoid admitting it or battling directly. And the reason for this is that they also know if they were to war overtly/directly with each other, it would lead to global nuclear war where no side would achieve what it wants. This concept in effect, means that it will only hold up for as long as the leaders of each of the 9 countries are all rational, capable of understanding the cost of direct war, and the incentives that force each other to either avoid or nuke each other.

 

  •  A global nuclear war might not completely eradicate all life on earth, nor the human species: One study concluded that a war where just 100 15-kiloton nuclear weapons were exploded on land would lead to decades of famine, radiation poisoning, increased UV radiation from ozone loss, and 1000 years of flux in average global temperatures before the earth returned to “normal”(Mills et al. 2014). 15-kilotons is the size of the nuclear weapon used on Hiroshima during World War II, and was of considerably smaller yields than “modern” nuclear weapons. The most powerful US nuclear bomb (the Mk-17) has a yield of 25 megatons, or about 1,666 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

 

The number is always changing, but the total nuclear megatonnage in play globally seems to be around 2200-megatons (Inc 2017), but that count varies from source to source.

What is to prevent a nuclear attack, or even accidental nuclear war from starting? What are the political forces at play and incentives driving the actions of the leaders of the 9 nuclear powers? We will explore this further in part 2.

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.

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Inc, Agence 3cinq. 2017. “Status of World Nuclear Forces | Nuclear Darkness & Nuclear Famine.” Accessed March 12. http://www.nucleardarkness.org/globalnucleararsenal/statusofworldnuclearforces/.

Lockie, Alex. 2017. “Democrats Introduce Bill to Curb Trump’s Ability to Launch a Nuclear Strike.” Business Insider. January 24. http://www.businessinsider.com/democrats-introduce-bill-to-curb-trumps-ability-to-launch-a-nuclear-strike-2017-1.

Mills, Michael J., Owen B. Toon, Julia Lee‐Taylor, and Alan Robock. 2014. “Multidecadal Global Cooling and Unprecedented Ozone Loss Following a Regional Nuclear Conflict.” Earth’s Future 2 (4). Wiley Periodicals, Inc.: 161–76.

 

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What Tools Do You Use?

July 18th, 2018

What makes a tool most useful?

 

Today’s blog is by Margaret Stewart, Manager of HR and Administration at SafeSourcing

We all use tools in our day to day lives, but how many tools we really use might surprise you. Smartphones may be one of the most used tools in many of our lives, giving us access to directions, weather, news, a camera, or just the ability to connect with others. So, what makes a tool useful and practical or not? Whether it is your vehicle, Google home or Alexa, or even your gym, we use tools to accomplish more in less time and to make things easier.

No matter what business you are in, tools likely play an essential role in your success. Construction crews may need bulldozers, hammers, nail guns, safety equipment and more while office workers may need computers, charts, projectors, telephones and more. There are tools that can help both these industries as well as many others – e-Procurement tools. So, what are some e-Procurement tools?

First, having an e-Procurement partner, like SafeSourcing, can function as a tool your organization can use. With ready and knowledgeable staff, they can take a spark of an idea from you and turn it into something real with savings the whole organization could benefit from.

In addition to people, another tool SafeSourcing offers is our library. SafeSourcing has a vast library that can be used to educate, research, and streamline your process. Our Wiki library is available to everyone and can help you understand many industry specific terms. Our electronic newsletter provides useful news and information that can provide a better understanding of what is happening in your industry as well as around the world. To streamline your processes, SafeSourcing also has a template library that can help you with specifications, terms and conditions, and any RFx goals you might have.

Even more than already mentioned, there are more tools available from SafeSourcing. SafeSourceIt can help you get the supplies or services you need at the best price and easily compare vendors all in one location. SafeSpendAnalysis can help you understand where your organization is spending its money and where it can potentially save the most. SafeDocument is a safe and reliable location to store all your organizations documents, and with version retention and access from anywhere it can provide what you need when you need it. SafeContract is another tool that allows you to safely store your contracts and provides alerts when a contract is nearing its expiration, allowing you to be more prepared.

All of these tools can be highly useful for any organization. All of them being easy to use and in one location make them that much more useful and practical, which is exactly what we seek from a tool.

For more information on SafeSourcing tools or helping 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.

 

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The Art of the Pilot ​

July 17th, 2018

Navigating a successful test of our eProcurement program!

 

 

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

At SafeSourcing, we typically start our engagement with a simple Pilot Program. The pilot is our trial offering for new clients who are interested in what SafeSourcing can do for them and are ready to test us out. When we engage with the client, we start with two relatively simple categories to use for our client’s first eProcurement events.

We select simple categories so that the client can focus on understanding the process and evaluating the results. We also recommend categories which we host fairly commonly. Another benefit for hosting simple and common categories is so that we can provide quick results. For example, some common pilot categories for retailers are copy paper, stretch wrap, plastic bags, and paper bags. There are more, or course, and that list would vary from industry to industry.

The SafeSourcing Pilot Program is a 30-day trial of SafeSourcing’s services. Because we are able to drive very quick results, 30 days is a sufficient amount of time to fully experience and evaluate the benefits of the process.

Another very important benefit of the SafeSourcing Pilot Program is our Cost-Neutral Guarantee. SafeSourcing guarantees the pilot will be successful and will drive savings. If our client does not get savings from the pilot, then they will not be responsible for our fees. This means that our new clients are only risking the time they spend working with us to prepare for their events.

With no risk and guaranteed savings, the SafeSourcing Pilot Program is a great way to try eProcurement within your organization. SafeSourcing’s clients are attaining incredible savings averaging over 24% in 2017. Start with your SafeSourcing Pilot Program soon and get started on your own. 

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

 

 

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How to insure the sustainability of e- RFX events for your customers.

July 13th, 2018

There is a proper way to insure the sustainability of your e-RFX events going forward.

 

Todays post is by Ronald D. Southard, CEO at SafeSourcing Inc.

If you follow these simple guidelines it will also encourage senior management to consider placing more of the companies spend under the umbrella of e-procurement tools and specifically reverse auction tools.

Once you are armed with a robust detail focused supplier database and related e-procurement tools:

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

I’m sure you can fill in a few more items prior to your launch, but the key is to have a plan and to write it down. Now you do.

If you’d like Safesourcing to conduct a cot neutral 2 day discovery session for your procurement team, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Services Account Manager.

We  look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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The Importance of Supplier Communities!

July 12th, 2018

Do you value your suppliers? Here’s why you should.

 

Today’s post is our  SafeSourcing Archives 

Suppliers offer a great value to sourcing events. Typically you can use the suppliers’ knowledge on their industry. Without having a knowledgeable supplier base, your sourcing events will not be successful.

By leveraging a Request for Proposal, a company can ask the vendors the best plan for their needs, thereby receiving a broad range of solutions to the problem. Much like technology, the supplier communities are constantly evolving, and typically if you run an RFQ in 2012, there will be major industry changes by 2015.

When you leverage the supplier community, you can find the best way to run an RFQ to match the industry. When you match the quoting process to the industry standard, you will receive apples to apples quotes.

SafeSourcing can help leverage the supplier community within any industry. 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.

 

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