Archive for August, 2012

As a buyer do you consider FSC Certification when buying your paper products!

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

If you don’t you should!

At this point you might be asking what is FSC and why should I care? FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council and there are a couple of types of important certifications that they offer. The first is the Forest Management Certification which is aimed at forest managers and owners, and the other is Chain of Custody Certification which is aimed at manufacturers, processors and commodity traders of forest based products.

The certifications mentioned above establish and outline the best practices management and national standards of forests in many countries.

The question as to why one should care is because this is a great way to support your company’s Corporate Social Repsonsibilty (CSR) initiatives and triple bottom line (TBL) accounting from an environmental perspective. The question a buyer might ask is; why should we buy wood based products from countries that do not support FSC standards or its certifications? And tangentially manufacturers that don’t either.

As you develop your sourcing strategies, consider solution providers that ask these types of questions and support these types of certifications in their supplier research and databases. It’s a socially responsible ting to do and a way to pay your straegies forward by doing business with suppliers that support the programs and strategies that you do.

If you like to learn more about the SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database and our list of supplier certifications, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

What does ISO mean to you and your company? Making order of Chaos Part V of V!

Friday, August 24th, 2012

This post is written by Heather Powell   Account Manager for SafeSourcing.

ISO  9000 is a standard created to make the attainment of quality, consistent products easier by providing specific steps for development of an organization’s quality management system. This quality management system is meant to monitor the progress of a product or service as it goes through each stage of production, from development to testing to assembly to customer feedback.

One cornerstone of ISO 9000 is continual improvement. No company should ever be satisfied with the conditions of a process at the given moment; they should always be looking for ways to make these processes more efficient and effective. ISO 9000 was written with the business world’s insatiable desire for excellence in mind. This is why continual improvement is a requirement of the standard – to inspire progress and the pursuit of perfection.

ISO 9000 is an internationally recognized standard, and that may seem daunting for some smaller businesses. How are they going to implement the same standard adopted by multi-national corporations? Quite easily, actually. ISO 9000 is a flexible standard that lays down requirements for an organization to follow, but allows the organization to fulfill these requirements any way they choose. This increases ISO 9000′s scope of effectiveness, allowing a wide range of companies to create quality management systems that match their needs.

ISO 9000 is seen in every sector of the business world, and its success is a testament to its worth. With a focus on customer satisfaction, products and services improve and flourish under ISO 9000′s quality management system. With a combination of continual improvement and corrective actions – tenets of ISO 9000 – a business will create processes that run smoothly and efficiently.

Is there another ISO methods? Yes!

There are many reasons to become certified to the Business Continuity Management standard, ISO 22301 and they all amount to the same thing – it gives you a competitive advantage.

Certification helps you to demonstrate to your stakeholders that your business is run effectively and that it will continue to do so in the event of a disruption. The process of achieving and maintaining the Business Continuity Management (BCM) certification also helps ensure that you are continually improving and refining your BCM activities. The regular assessment process will also improve staff responsibility, commitment and motivation.

Certification improves overall performance, removes uncertainty and widens market opportunities. It will prove to your customers that you can be trusted to deliver. Certification to ISO 22301 creates an opportunity to reduce the burdens of internal and external audits from your key customers.

Despite all these internal reasons, the reason for many companies will be that a major customer requires some evidence of competent BCM performance. 

If this is your reason then don’t panic; BCM isn’t as complicated or as difficult as you might think.  Also you don’t have to be an expert in any of the other management systems such as ISO 9001 (Quality management systems) or ISO 14001 (Environmental management systems) – the BCM system can be implemented alone.

However because it follows the simple Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle of other management systems if you are already a user of ISO 9001 and/or ISO 14001 then getting started with the BCM system will be very familiar to you.1

Resource: 1

If you’d like to learn more about the process required to improve your procurement departments procure to pay process, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

ISO is Organization! Making order of out of Chaos Part IV of V.

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

This post is written by Heather Powell Account Manager for SafeSourcing

Scott Sherrill ,“What is ISO 9001 certification? We just got a big customer and they require it, but no one else does. We are getting big enough that we’re getting into standards territory, which I know we should embrace, but there’s so much work involved. Is this an important one?”  

Andrea Herran, “ISO is important if it’s important for your clients (now and future). You can make ISO as simple or complicated as you want. I have seen two companies go through the process – one was a job shop so it was more complicated and the other made its own products so once it was set up, it was just a matter of maintenance. Don’t just look at this for today but what it means to your business in the future.”

Yesterday we explained the importance of ISO 9000, and today we want to give you the 8 principals that will benefit your company.

1. A Customer Focus

The customer is the primary focus of a business. By understanding and responding to the needs of customers, an organization can correctly targeting key demographics and therefore increase revenue by delivering the products and services that the customer is looking for. With knowledge of customer needs, resources can be allocated appropriately and efficiently. Most importantly, a business’s dedication will be recognized by the customer, creating customer loyalty. And customer loyalty is return business.

2. Good Leadership

A team of good leaders will establish unity and direction quickly in a business environment. Their goal is to motivate everyone working on the project, and successful leaders will minimize miscommunication within and between departments. Their role is intimately intertwined with the next ISO 9000 principle.

3. Involvement of people

Including everyone on a business team is critical to its success. Involvement of substance will lead to a personal investment in a project and in turn create motivated, committed workers. These people will tend towards innovation and creativity, and utilize their full abilities to complete a project. If people have a vested interest in performance, they will be eager to participate in the continual improvement that ISO 9000 facilitates.

4. Process approach to quality management

The best results are achieved when activities and resources are managed together. This process approach to quality management can lower costs through the effective use of resources, personnel, and time. If a process is controlled as a whole, management can focus on goals that are important to the big picture, and prioritize objectives to maximize effectiveness.

5. Management system approach

Combining management groups may seem like a dangerous clash of titans, but if done correctly can result in an efficient and effective management system. If leaders are dedicated to the goals of an organization, they will aid each other to achieve improved productivity. Some results include integration and alignment of key processes. Additionally, interested parties will recognize the consistency, effectiveness, and efficiency that come with a management system. Both suppliers and customers will gain confidence in a business’s abilities.

6. Continual Improvement

The importance of this principle is paramount, and should a permanent objective of every organization. Through increased performance, a company can increase profits and gain an advantage over competitors. If a whole business is dedicated to continual improvement, improvement activities will be aligned, leading to faster and more efficient development.

Ready for improvement and change, businesses will have the flexibility to react quickly to new opportunities.

7. Factual approach to decision making

Effective decisions are based on the analysis and interpretation of information and data. By making informed decisions, an organization will be more likely to make the right decision. As companies make this a habit, they will be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of past decisions. This will put confidence in current and future decisions.

8. Supplier relationships

It is important to establish a mutually beneficial supplier relationship; such a relationship creates value for both parties. A supplier that recognizes a mutually beneficial relationship will be quick to react when a business needs to respond to customer needs or market changes. Through close contact and interaction with a supplier, both organizations will be able to optimize resources and costs.
Tomorrow we will discuss what ISO 9000 will mean to you and your company.

If you’d like to learn more about the process required to improve your procurement departments procure to pay process, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Audit?? No worries!! Making order of Chaos Part III of V

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

This post is written by Heather Powell  Account Manager for SafeSourcing.

 Do you fear the word “audit”?  Never fear ISO 9000 is HERE!

Yesterday we explained what ISO, the ISO standards, and a little bit about ISO 9000. Today we will explain why it is important.  The importance of ISO 9000 is the importance of quality. Many companies offer products and services, but it is those companies who put out the best products and services efficiently that succeed. With ISO 9000, an organization can identify the root of the problem, and therefore find a solution. By improving efficiency, profit can be maximized.

As a broad range of companies implement the ISO 9000 standards, a supply chain with integrity is created. Each company that participates in the process of developing, manufacturing, and marketing a product knows that it is part of internationally known, reliable system.

Not only do businesses recognize the importance of the ISO 9000, but also the customer realizes the importance of quality. And because the consumer is most important to a company, ISO 9000 makes the customer its focus.

ISO 9000 is the standard for a quality management system that closely resembles many other management systems. These other systems, based on health, safety, the environment, and business continuity, can be integrated into an overarching business management system. Benefits of this system include aligned interests, reduced costs, and improved efficiency. With one of these systems in place, it is easier to implement any of the others; many documents required for a different standard are already prepared, and personnel are already accustomed to the audit process. Using multiple standards will not only increase the efficiency of an organization, but increase the integrity of its operations.

A good foundation builds a good business, and ISO 9000 is a good foundation for small businesses that want to expand their market. By introducing a quality management system like ISO 9000 to a small business, the quality of processes will increase and costs due to inefficiency will decrease. In addition, a small business will be able to advertise their use of the internationally recognized ISO 9000. This may create business opportunities that were not available before an objectively verified quality management system was in place.

Having management systems in place, such as ISO 9000, will also help when selling a business. The integrity and value of a small business will be apparent with well-documented processes and proof of quality. ISO 9000 will ensure the reputation of your business in any situation.

Tomorrow we will explain the 7 principals of ISO 9000.

If you’d like to learn more about the process required to improve your procurement departments procure to pay process, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Making order of Chaos Part II of V

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

This post is written by Heather Powell  Account Manager for SafeSourcing.

 Do you fear the word “audit”?

Do you know where all the annual invoices are for one supplier from 68 locations?

There are ways to organize your business that can not only help you through the trials of an audit, the tribulations of a co-worker taking a day off, but also finding those invoices you need. Some are easier than others, and some are harder than others to implement. However, taking the time to organize your business now will help you in the future.

What is ISO? ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards give state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. Developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade. 1

ISO develops International Standards. A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.

ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade.

Quality is something every company strives for and is often times very difficult to achieve. Complications concerning efficiency and quality present themselves every day in business, whether an important document cannot be found or a consumer finds a product not up to their expectations. How can a company increase the quality of its products and services? The answer is ISO 9000.

As standards go, ISO 9000 is one of the most widely recognized in the world. ISO 9000 is a quality management standard that presents guidelines intended to increase business efficiency and customer satisfaction. The goal of ISO 9000 is to embed a quality management system within an organization, increasing productivity, reducing unnecessary costs, and ensuring quality of processes and products.

ISO 9001:2008 is applicable to businesses and organizations from every sector. The process oriented approach makes the standard applicable to service organizations as well. Its general guidelines allow for the flexibility needed for today’s diverse business world.

Tomorrow we’ll explain why ISO 9000 is so important to your company.

If you’d like to learn more about the process required to improve your procurement departments procure to pay process, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Making Order out of Chaos? Part I of V “The FIVE S’s”.

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Today’s post is written by Heather Powell a SafeSourcing Account Manager.

Business processes that drive quality are important within every area of a company, and probably none more important than the procurement organization. The amount of detail that a buyer or category manager touches on a daily basis relative to a company’s finances, products and services requires careful planning and process control supported by constant open communication.

If you were to take tomorrow off, would your co-worker know where your work is? Would they know where you have started and stopped in a project?

Where do you start an organization process? With the 5 S’s!

What are the 5 S’s? Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain

How can these 5 words help you?

1.) Sort through the workplace to remove items, such as papers and machinery, which are not needed. Review then remove any applications or processes that are time-wasting, such as complex software or a redundant printing machine. Keep the information, processes, software, machinery and items that are needed in the workstation.

2.) Set the workstation is order by putting in place proper storage systems. Place larger and heavier items on the floor and fix cabinets and storage bins to store smaller items. Ask for professional help from an IT specialist or a vendor to create simpler online documentation and information storage systems. Label the storage spaces, such as cabinets, for easier identification and retrieval of information and items.

3.) Shine the workplace by regularly cleaning workstations even before they become too dirty. Assign housekeeping responsibilities by creating a log in which each person undertakes a task, which will contribute to keeping the workplace clean. Set up simple channels of communication by creating notice boards or using stick-ons to organize tasks.

4.) Standardize the changes made by creating policies and best practices guidelines. Include employees in the workplace when brainstorming and write down the specific steps that will be undertaken to sort out what is needed, and how to effectively store items and information, and how to keep the place clean. Post these guidelines on a notice board that can be seen by everyone.

5.) Sustain the new culture of orderliness and organization. Reward those who contribute significantly to the best practices established and those who develop new ways of applying the methodology.

These 5 steps are the first step to getting your organization organized. Please look for tomorrow’s blog on how to further organize your company.

If you’d like to learn more about the process required to improve your procurement departments procure to pay process, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Do you think you understand the elements of an effective e-Procurement Program?

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Critical components for the buyer include but certainly are not limited to the following:

1.   A comprehensive database that is developed maintained and continually updated by the e-procurement service provider.
2.   Scope and accuracy of information that goes well beyond that of a simple on-line directory.
     a. Global and local sources of supply
     b. Detailed Vendor Information (capabilities, financials, history, safety  and environment information)
     c. Historical procurement details
     d. Industry Alerts
3.   A sophisticated software application program that provides extensive functionality:
     a. Allows for quick and easy access to information.
     b. Provides detailed information based on the buyer’s defined parameters  and queries, similar to that found in the opening pages of a comprehensive RFI.
     c. Allows for the easy retrieval of information that includes a substantial number of records.
     d. Classifies the results according to the parameters defined
     e. Communicates the information clearly in an uncluttered format
     f. Directs the application to carry out the required e-procurement action steps.
     g. Results in a summary presentation to the buyer that provides the best price scenarios that maintain the required level of quality and service.
4.   Software alone is insufficient. Those responsible for purchasing/spending need training, guidance and support.

The above definition is a part of a document that was developed by one of our customers after they had used our tools and experienced our services in order to define the process to their investors.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can use these tools to reduce costs and much more, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Is your freight company trying to pass on a base rate increase?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Today’s post is from Ryan Melowic Director of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

With freight being such a large factor in your cost of doing business, any price increase can be painful.  Maybe it’s time for a challenge by executing Reverse Auctions to drive down these costs.   With SafeSourcing experience in this category, we can help your company control costs associated with this category. 

When any company indicates they need to offset their rising costs because of rising tariffs and other costs but also are reporting a  significant profit increase for the last year, it may be time to consider challenging them.  In today’s market, businesses need to be smart and well informed with their expenses.  Just because you have had a long relationship with a vendor doesn’t mean they necessarily have your best interests in mind.  It’s always important to research and shop the market in order to make sure that your current vendor is being held accountable.

SafeSourcing has tools that hold suppliers accountable for their business practices while also helping to save you money and improve quality.  Our Database of over 427,000 potential suppliers can help identify new sources of supply willing to bid for your business..  In addition, our RFI and RFP tools are used to qualify those suppliers to key buying criteria you have indicated as important factors in how you wish to conduct business.  Whether combined as an entire strategy or standalone these tools can collect and insure that you receive the best price for the items and services you purchase.  The tools mentioned above are available to our customers with no IT cost because our solution is offered as a cloud based SaaS where you buy what you need.

SafeSourcing would like to help your control your company’s freight and other costs.

Please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative to learn more.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Safer Food Standards

Monday, August 13th, 2012

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

At the turn of the century the world was bombarded with a slew of recalls and deaths relating to the unsafe treatment of food products being widely shipped and consumed.  Because of this many new processes, organizations and certifications were born to begin to help putting the things in place to protect the public.   One of these new groups, The Consumer Foods Forum, a collection of global CEOs, was established to begin to regain the trust that had been lost by consumers by building safer supply chains.

From this group came the Global Food Safety Initiative, the purpose of which was meant to development standards that would consolidate the many different processes being currently used into a standard which could easily be applied to audits worldwide.

Today’s blog is going to look at this foundation and the audit processes that have been developed and what it means to businesses.

Globally Supported – Founded from a group of global CEOs it is no surprise that there has been a global adoption of this initiative.  8 of 25 top global retailers including Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Kraft, TESCO, Danone, Ahold, Ecolab, Wal-Mart are involved.  This level of adoption means that the standards being set here are strong and likely to be maintained for many years to come.

Defined Role Levels – Part of any strong initiative, organization or process is to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for everyone involved.  The current flow of roles which includes: Audit Scheme Owners; Accreditation Bodies; Certification Bodies; Manufacturers; Retailers has a detailed description for each groups responsibilities to the process defined along with where each falls in the audit process.  This helps to create an efficient process where each entity knows exactly what is expected of them.  The last two; Manufacturers and Suppliers are described in more detail below.

Manufacturers – For those of you who are food manufacturers there are a number of good things that will come with a global adoption of the GFSI standards.  Having a clearly defined set of certification standards enables a company to ensure that each of their facilities is following the same processes.  This leads to a reduced number of total audits, clarity of food safety requirements, and reducing the overall time and resource investment in food quality and safety levels by having processes to follow all of the time rather than before periodic audits.

Retailers – Retailers and consumers are the biggest benefactors of initiatives like GFSI.  With the manufacturers and distributors being held to standards that will raise the confidence of those involved in the sale and purchase of these items.  Retailers will be able to expect improved production standards from processors, they can expect an increase in the quality of information on food safety schemes and they will be able to help exchange ideas, best practices and knowledge on a safer supply chain practices.

For more information about GFSI or how the initiative will affect your business, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Are you wining your supply chain battles?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

It could be said that much of today’s thought relative to supply chain management is rooted in the history of human expansion. In fact there are many examples of how expansion which many times happened or was planned in conjunction with the conquest of others was either successful or failed based on the ability to keep supplies flowing to the expansionists or armies associated with them. If you are a growing retailer with your own expansion plans some careful thought as to your supply chain and the necessary contingencies may be your most important activity

According to Wikipedia in military science, maintaining one’s supply lines while disrupting those of the enemy is a crucial—some would say the most crucial—element of military strategy, since an armed force without resources and transportation is defenseless.

Obviously this takes us back to our opening question; are you winning the supply chain battle? What would you do today if one or more of your current suppliers were to go out of business or enter bankruptcy (a real possibility)? Have you made plans as to how your company would replace the goods or services provided by these suppliers?

An example that might resonate happened during 2009 during an H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak in the United States. Drug store chains during that time  became the first stop for much of the population in search surgical masks or other anti bacterial supplies. Many retailers ran out of stock and many suppliers were unable to meet the increased demand. Most retailers were not sure where else to turn for additional supply based on the increased demand. The trickle down effect of this could have gone on an on well beyond the impact of surgical masks or anti bacterial product shortages.
Is winning the supply chain battle important? You bet it is! Do you have the right tools in place? Where would you look for additional sources of supply? Where would your customers look if you don’t solve that problem?

If you’d like help answering this question, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.