Archive for April, 2012

Sourcing Significant Spends!

Monday, April 30th, 2012

As your organization begins to realize savings across varying categories, you will find that you are able to achieve savings on even some of your smallest spend categories. One of the benefits of having an eProcurement partner in place can be that you can work with them to consider more spend categories where you may not have had the time and resources available to analyze these smaller spend categories.

The risk that your organization must be aware of is that sourcing too many small spend categories and not enough of your larger spend categories will create a huge opportunity cost. As an example, a company that might be enjoying an average eProcurement savings of about 20% over all categories should see any category not sourced using the eProcurement format as one in which they are leaving potential savings on the table.

As the champion of your eProcurement program, take a step back and review the categories being sourced. If you find that the amount of spend running through the program is low compared to your overall budget or expenses, then you are most likely underutilizing your eProcurement partner.

This author would challenge you to engage your strategic sourcing partner to fully capture potential savings. Once you are more fully utilizing eProcurement techniques, you will quickly find real dollar savings on categories that might otherwise have been untouched.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

I never saw a MAD COW!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

This post is not intended to poke fun or suggest that this is not a serious issue, it is to use a well known poem form the past to hi-lite the serious nature of this issue.

The poem Purple Cow has been attributed to many authors over the years and also rephrased by many, coming to represent something that is not normal. And having mad cow disease in our food chain is definitely not desired or normal.

So here is my derivation of the original by Gelett Burgess in 1895.

Mad Cow

I never saw a mad cow
I hope I never see one,
But I can tell you this right now:
I’d rather see than eat one.

Ah yes, I wrote “The Mad Cow”
I’m Sorry now I wrote it
But I can tell you Anyhow
It could kill you if you ate it!

To our friends at the FDA, please solve this issue ASAP and insure  industry buyers and their consumers that they do not have to worry about this type of contamination in our food chain.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments

Influential People Affect Change Part II

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing. 

In today’s Part II of this  blog post we will continue looking at some of the ways you can begin to affect positive changes in your company’s sourcing strategy that don’t necessarily require an army of new employees or unlimited budget to do.

Policies – Soliciting executive support is one of the first steps to take to create sourcing change.  With it, the processes and partnerships and change you hope to create will have the backing that will help carry it through, especially in areas (and there will be some) where that change won’t be welcome.   This is sometimes difficult to get at first and may require some small measurable victories to help get the backing you need, but to affect big change this will be necessary.

Processes – Once you have determined you have the desire to improve your company’s purchasing effectiveness, you will need to perform an assessment of where you are today and where you would like to be.  An important part of getting to where you want to be is to make sure you have standard methods for understanding and approaching new sourcing projects.  This does not mean every project will be the same but making sure no steps are missed in the process of examining those categories is important.  Determining if an RFI should be run, or internal survey conducted, or if the category should be completely re-examined are things that should be reviewed at this time.

Partners – In today’s world there are few organizations that have the wherewithal to grow big changes internally.  It is a commonly accepted practice to enlist the aide of third party partners with the staff, resources and expertise to help with the changes you need to make.  These partners can have various levels of involvement, from simply providing eProcurement tools for you to use to full-blown consulting arrangements that will examine all of your company’s spend.  The level of involvement you look for will depend on your budget, the type of help you need and the amount of support you are getting from the executive level.  Getting some quick results to show the company can go a long way to creating greater more permanent change in your organization and outside partners are a great way to do this.

For more information about how you can begin to create positive changes in your company’s sourcing processes, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Influential People Affect Change Part I!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Today’s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

As I sat on a plane this weekend reading about Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World a common thread connected the majority of them in some way; most became influential by being an “ambassador of change.”

Equally common was the change that each ushered in came at a cost, be it money invested, time invested, people and resources invested or simply the desire and passion invested to see change occur for the better.

It made me think about our industry and how many professionals consider, or for that matter, even want to become “ambassadors of change” for their company.  Obviously millions of dollars or 100 new employees can go a long way to creating this change but how realistic is that for any of you?  I would venture to say, not very realistic.

So short of an army of new procurement professionals and an unlimited budget how can you achieve change?  The answer lies above in simply having the desire and knowing that change in some cases can take time and will require patience.  Over the next few days we will looking at some ways to begin to affect change in your organization.

For more information about how you can begin to create positive changes in your company’s sourcing processes, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Who is responsible for educating our supply chain associates?

Friday, April 13th, 2012

So it’s up to you; would you like it to be your fault or a reflection of your well planned educational planning.

Someone told a long time ago that you don’t learn in college, you learn how to learn. I’m not sure I completely agree with that statement, but understand the sentiment. There are any numbers of statistics out there that support the fact that retention drops immediately upon completing a learning experience. Many have been conducted on the amount of learning that erodes for students over the summer or how much they remember from an actual class as soon as the leave the learning experience. The learning experience could be a particular class, program, major or minor area of study. The fact is much like muscle, if you don’t use it you lose it.

So, who is responsible when someone comes to your company to insure that their employment is a continual learning experience? The answer is YOU and that includes the entire management team. First and foremost the company needs to have an education plan in place, and that is not just on the job training or the next MSFT class. Each department has to have a supporting plan in place that relates specifically to the mission of their individual department or area of expertise such as procurement.

Part of our strategy prior to launching SafeSourcing beyond just offering world class e-procurement tools was to offer an educational site for procurement professions that included a blog, a wiki and a professional social community where they could share their experience. We actually have our associates use these tools. We never source a category for a company that we do not conduct team research on first. That is even if we have an internal subject matter expert. We then hold associates accountable to providing an internal white paper relative to the subject. All associates are also accountable to producing one blog monthly relative to the supply chain. From these learning activities associate are also required to provide original content for our sourcing wiki and propose threaded conversations within our Sourcebook. Bottom line, if you live it, you learn it.

We all come from diverse educational and experiential backgrounds. That does not mean that we can not find and experience passion within a new area of expertise such as procurement. The thing is, most associates will not do it by themselves.

If you want good results, create an educational plan for your associates that foster a passionate learning environment within the daily practice of their job.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What certifications should freight carriers (by land or by air) have in order to get your goods into Canada or from Canada into the United States?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

When you hire or contract a freight carrier to ship a package or even a truck load of goods into another country, do you ask what certifications the truck line has? Do you understand what each certification means?

Here is a brief list of certifications that many freight companies have. If you do not see a certification on this list and a carrier says they have one, always research the certification and how it pertains to your particular freight crossing a countries boarder.

C-TPATCustoms-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a cooperative endeavor between the trade community and U.S. Customs Service to develop, enhance, and maintain effective security processes throughout the global supply chain, and effectively manage USA border security.

C-TPAT recognizes that Customs can provide the highest level of security only through close cooperation with the ultimate owners of the supply chain — importers, carriers, brokers, warehouse operators, air consolidators /OTIs /NVOCCs and manufacturers.   Through this initiative, Customs is asking businesses to ensure the integrity of their security practices and communicate their security guidelines to their business partners within the supply chain.

Definition Source:

F.A.S.T:  Free and Secure Trade

 FAST is the acronym for “Free and Secure Trade.” It is a bilateral initiative between the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico that gives partnering importers expedited release at national borders when transportation is by truck. It is for qualifying commercial shipments through risk-management principles, supply-chain security, industry partnerships and advanced targeting.

Definition Source:

 PIP: Partners in Protection

 The Partner in Protection (PIP) Certification, the supply chain security program of the Canada Border Services Agency, was initially established in 1995 as a program focused on Customs’ compliance. It has since transformed to actively deal with supply chain security as its main objective.

 Obtaining a PIP Certification requires an organization to complete a security profile for their main operations as well as security profiles for all subsidiary and/or affiliates and supply chain business partners. The completed security profile must clearly demonstrate that all security requirements have been met. CBSA then works with the organization to conduct site visits, review the security profiles, and offer suggestions to correct areas that received high risk assessments.

Definition Source:  

IATA: International Air Transport Association

 IATA (International Air Transport Association) was founded in Havana, Cuba, in April 1945. It is the prime vehicle for inter-airline cooperation in promoting safe, reliable, secure and economical air services – for the benefit of the world’s consumers. The international scheduled air transport industry is now more than 100 times larger than it was in 1945. Few industries can match the dynamism of that growth, which would have been much less spectacular without the standards, practices and procedures developed within IATA.

Definition Source:  

CIFFA:  Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association

 The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association was founded September 1948 in Montreal by a small group of freight forwarders who saw a need to create an industry association to meet the professional demands of its members.

 CIFFA Mission Statement: Our mission is to represent and support members of the Canadian international freight forwarding industry in providing the highest level of quality and professional services to their clients.

Definition Source:

DG: Dangerous Goods Certification

 Dangerous Goods: Articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to health, safety or property when transported by air and which are classified according to the U.S. DOT and IATA/ICAO List of Dangerous Goods.

 Hazmat Certification, DG Certification, DG Certified, Hazmat Certified etc. all refer to the concept that someone, some entity is conferring approval on an individual or company that they are authorized to ship hazmat in commerce.—Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation in this area.—In the US, only the employer can certify employees. The DOT does not certify anyone; never has.

Definition Source:

While these are just a few of the common certifications, it is always in your best interest to ask what other certifications the freight company or freight forwarder have to get your goods safely from point A to point B without incident, safely, and within country of destination and origin standards. 

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Are you considering all of the options you have when it comes to updating your fleet graphics? Part II of II.

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Today?s post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

Picking up where I left off yesterday, here are some of the factors that are required when planning an eProcurement event to source fleet graphics.?

The Changes ? It may seem like the most obvious point to consider so let?s begin with the changes themselves.? These can be extensive and include a change in company name as well as graphics or they can be simple such as slightly adjusting a font or color scheme.? Either way, having the Marketing department onboard and intimately involved in this project will be critical.? All artwork and specification changes will begin with an approval here so it is critical to keep them in the loop and understand their timelines.

The Canvas ? Once you have an understanding of where the Marketing team is in their timeline you can begin working on the next most important piece which is your canvas; or the trucks, tankers, or vehicles that will be receiving these changes.? Two things become critical at this stage; developing the rollout plan and defining the sizes and shapes of the items to be rebranded.? In many cases the rollout will occur over time with new trucks starting first and trucks that can be acid-washed or polished easily to be prepared for the new graphics, but this will need to begin to be laid out as the project begins.? Having detailed specifications of the vehicles and pictures, where possible, will also be an important first step for your vendors to provide you with their pricing and proposals.

The Peel Affect ? Mother Nature can wreak havoc on many things that are designed to live their lives outside, and in no more applicable place does that apply than in the vehicles businesses use every day.? Rain, snow, cold, heat, high speeds are all things that affect the wear and tear and the quality and the coloring of the graphics you put on those vehicles.? While it will be important to collect details surrounding the expected fading that will occur it is also an important time to explore options for the graphics itself.? Vehicle graphics have historically but cut out as close the shape of the logo or image as possible but this can create a ?peeling? affect that is undesirable.? As a result some companies have gone to printing on a clear background that fits the shape of the door, tank, trailer exactly and only the graphics show through with no intricate cutting involved.? This slightly increases material costs but drastically reduces the peel affect and is a method that should be considered when laying out this project.

Manufacturer VS Installer ? Inevitably once the details surrounding the manufacturing of the new graphics is decided, determining how those graphics will be installed onto the vehicles to get the longest life will also need to be factored in.? Ideally this would take place concurrently with the manufacturing as many of the manufacturers will also provide the service for installation.? Breaking these two services apart, however, will allow you to look at suppliers who can only handle one piece as well as those who can handle both.? This will allow for the opportunity to select the best possible value combination for your company for your new graphics.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Are you considering all of the options you have when it comes to updating your fleet graphics? Part I of II.

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Today?s??part one of a two part post is by Mark Davis; Sr. Vice President of Operations and CTO at SafeSourcing.

One of the common new trends in the business world today to help refresh a company?s image and approach to doing business with the rest of the world is to rebrand the company.? In cases where the brand is not as well known and popular as to lose value with a change such as this, it can mean a boost in positive energy not only externally with the customer base but internally with your staff.

As part of undertaking a project like this there are many things which will be affected, from letterhead and business cards, to invoices, to uniforms, to signage.? Past blogs have talked about a few of these items but today we will focus on the things to consider specifically when rebranding requires a refresh of the graphics in your truck fleet.

Check back tomorrow for Part II of?? ?Are you considering all of the options you have when it comes to updating your fleet graphics? where we will discuss the specifics of a complex event of this nature.?

Until then, if you are interested in information about sourcing other complex categories, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Unsafe Working Condtions!

Friday, April 6th, 2012

SafeSourcing in our best efforts to provide safe sourcing solutions makes sure that we continue to update our internal certifications. The following is probably something?our internal?ISO and OSHA auditors would have a probelm with.

How often do these types of situations happen on your retail properties? I’ll bet more often than you know.

We look forward to and appreciate?your comments

Where can consumers and businesses find consolidated safety and recall information on products of all types?

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Check out the title of this ?BPA? post from November of 2008!

A site this author uses quite regularly is which is a site that was driven by the Consumer Products Safety Act of 2008 called This site provided all sorts of information and reports relative to products and product recalls that consumers and business can use. It also allows one to enter information that they would like to share relative to product safety concerns they have encountered.

It?s interesting that my BPA post was from 2008 as was the act that created a need for this database and that we continue to not have an adequate answer in the United State relative to BPA.

My recommendation. If you don?t like it, write your congress person and get out and vote.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.