Archive for September, 2012

New Colors!

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Today’s post is from Michael Figueroa an Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Here’s a quick and telling experiment for you to try: Close your eyes, and imagine a NEW color. Not a new shade or combination of an existing color, invent in your mind a completely new (primary) color. Have you invented your new color yet?

Most likely, you did not succeed. Why do you think that is? Here’s the part most people don’t like to hear: Human beings are NOT creative, in the sense of being able to create new ideas from nothing. ALL creativity originates with INPUT.

For example, no one was ever capable of writing music before hearing notes. No one could ever design a building without being able to observe shapes. We can’t write a novel without having observed bits and pieces of the concepts written about. We can’t imagine the flavor of a spice without ever having tasted it. Everything we “create” is just a piecing together of inputs/information we have collected through our 5 senses.

This concept has profound and far reaching implications for our creativity and innovation efforts! One of which is that We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t assume that if we think about something long enough, we’ll spontaneously generate new information. Yet we treat our businesses this way all the time. Innovation initiatives encourage employees to sit in their gray, sterile cubes all day and come up with something brilliant. We assume we know the best answer because we thought about it for a while, instead of because we researched and experimented with it. We surround ourselves with people who think like us, instead of learning from a diversity of thought.

What we should be asking ourselves, is “am I and my organization receiving the inputs we need to be innovative”? There are many strategies for obtaining and utilizing your inputs toward innovative ends, we’ll cover some of those in future posts. But if there are aspects to the products and services you use where you “don’t know what you don’t know”, give us a call at SafeSourcing, and let’s discuss how our research and knowledge base can help your organization innovate its procurement strategy.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

A new study links BPA to obesity in kids! What a shame!

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

As you all know, I have been a critic of how slowly the FDA has responded to the many concerns raised about BPA or Bisphenol A.

In an article by Genevra Pittman for Reuters Health on Tue Sep 18, 2012  titled Study links BPA, obesity in kids indicates that kids and teens that had higher levels of the chemical bisphenol A in their urine were more likely to be overweight or obese, in a new nationally-representative U.S. study.

In one of my recent posts titled A day late and a dollar short! The FDA announces no more BPA in Baby Bottles on July 19th of this year, I was critical of how long the government takes to make decisions  that other countries have made more quickly. This is a perfect example of newer findings that continue to support the fact that the FDA should have acted faster regardless of whether or not more study continues to be required to support the study.

This issue should also raise a red flag for procurement knowledge workers that buying products for their customers includes much more than just sourcing the finished goods. As an example when sourcing private label products, the formulary for over the counter pain relief is important, but so is the formulary that goes into the packing. How often do your buyers and category managers focus on that?

If you want to make sure that the products you buy for resale are as safe as possible, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

From your sourcing weather man! Monitoring the Cold from Afar

Monday, September 17th, 2012

A weather man is just a prognosticator or forecaster, ours is better than most. Please read on.

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

For many companies the process of controlling and maintaining the working condition of the refrigeration in their facilities is a constant challenge.  For companies whose sites are spread out, this can become even more of a challenge due to a collection of different repair & maintenance companies as well as different processes for managing your equipment.

Today we will be looking at some of the advantages companies are realizing by allowing their refrigeration R&M partners to remotely monitor their systems.

Real Time Monitoring – One of the biggest advantages of a Remote Refrigeration Monitoring solution is the fact that conditions can be monitored and analyzed in real time.  Opening and closing of doors, energy use levels, and temperature levels can all be tracked and monitored for unusual trends.  By having availability to data real time it makes it easier to see when an issue is beginning before it  becomes a problem or before a normally scheduled maintenance visit can catch it, saving a company tens of thousands of potential dollars.

Mobile Monitoring/Alerts – As with all technology, the need to provide a mobile solution is becoming a key.  Many of the Remote Monitoring companies now provide their customers with the capability to receive voice, text or email alerts to their mobile devices any time the system detects a problem with the company’s refrigeration and freezer systems.  The combination of real time monitoring mentioned above and mobile alerts can prevent a major problem from occurring well in advance.  With many solutions, the capability of being alerted is also paired with Smart Device apps that can allow a user to open a R&M request immediately from wherever they are.

Historical Data – Data, data, data.  The best decisions made by any company are the ones based on large amounts of valuable data.  The more you know about what has, is and will happen with a project the easier it will be to determine how things have historically happened and what needs to change to improve that performance.  One of the big advantages of refrigeration and freezer monitoring systems is that they can track so many data points every minute of every day from all over an organization.  Armed with this level of information, decisions like which equipment may need replacing becomes much clearer as historical temperature trends can be compared against electricity usage and other captured points.

These types of features are why many companies have adopted remote monitoring solutions.  For assistance in finding the partners who can give you proposals and value propositions for deploying these type of solutions, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Private Label the story continues.

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Here is an old post from a couple of years ago that continues the theme of the last two days titled What type of savings should we see when we source Private Label items Part I and Part II.  The information is a little more basic but does supply some reinforcement for the last two posts and links to where you can learn more. Enjoy!

If you already have a private label program maybe it’s time to grow your offering or increase your mix of private label products.

According to Wikipedia Private Label goods and services are available in a wide range of industries from food to cosmetics.

Historically these products or store brands were positioned as low cost alternatives to major national and international brands. Today if you read the labeling many of the products are virtually identical and in some cases companies are positioning their brands as better or premium to the large brands.

A great source if education is The Private Label Manufacturer’s Association or PLMA. Their website is PLMA sponsors an annual show which this year is being held in Chicago the 14th-16th of November. This show is full of great workshops as well as manufacturers that would be glad to compete for you business.

According to GfK Roper, 57% of all shoppers now say that they purchase store brands which represents a 21% increase from ten years ago and an impressive 38% growth rate.

E-procurement tools typically assigned to the e-RFX suite are an ideal way to source these products and will help to drive your costs even lower. Start with an RFI to select the companies or manufacturers you are interested in partnering with and then invite the best few to bid for your business.

Contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative in order to learn how we can help you optimize your Private Label program.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Changing with the Times Part 2 of 2

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

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

In yesterday’s blog we took a look at some emerging trends and what they may mean to your business and how you adapt to those changes.

Social Networks – For many people who saw the beginnings of Myspace and Facebook they likely chalked it up to a new fad that, like so many other technologies, would eventually fade away.  Much like the people that thought the same thing about Rock and Roll music, it is safe to say that Social Networking is here to stay.  It’s undeniable power and influence is shown in no better way than in the recent Facebook IPO which raised $16 billion for a free service whose only real revenue comes from ads that run within its framework.  Being able to advantage of focused demographic and geographic segments gives businesses the opportunity to focus their marketing like never before to a group that is as captive as any other they could reach.

Paper Free – You get the emails from the companies you deal with every day about going paperless for your accounts and you should not expect that to end any time soon.  The social responsibility in being more Green is one thing, the sheer cost of companies continuing to deal in paper for customer statements, purchase orders, invoices, newsletters and other external and internal communications is forcing companies to evaluate their strategies for how they communicate with their employees, customers and partners.    A major part of these strategies is how to eliminate the cost of paper and mailing.

Consumer Diversification – If you were to look back at the advertising in the 1950s you would have seen a very limited view of messages geared to groups outside of Caucasians.   At the time this represented such a huge percent of the population that it didn’t matter that other groups of people were more or less ignored in the message.  In today’s age and in a strong trend of growth, marketing and advertising executives are begin to realize that their messages need to change and adapt to reach more of the population with a more diversified message.  Businesses are following suite as they begin to adapt their branding and product mix to fit a wider range of cultures many times offering communication in more than just English.

Expanding Sales Channels – Throughout the past two days we have discussed two of the new channels companies are using to expand their sales strategy; Social Media and Mobile Technology.  As the population and the continued splintering of where they invest their time continues over the next 10 years, companies will need to expand from the traditional sales channels in order to continue increase top line revenue.   Many mid and small companies are looking more at Group Purchasing Organizations to help them stay competitive in costs with their larger competitors.  Other companies are realizing the added benefits of joining organizations and getting certifications in areas that help them become better companies. 

For assistance in finding the partners to assist with developing strategies in these areas within your organization, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Changing with the Times Part 1 of 2

Monday, September 10th, 2012

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

A recent article in the L.A. Times chronicled the latest casualties of the supermarket industry as SUPERVALU announced it was closing 26 stores in California.  The article focuses on the changes in the industry and how those companies that fail to adapt to new trends and changes in the landscape are suffering.  Click HERE to read the full article.

It was a valid point and it will the focus over the next two days of some emerging new industry trends and what you are doing to develop strategies to adapt to them.

Mobile Technology – It is no secret that the world has embraced mobile technology with a passion rarely seen by any technology.  Many technologies in the past have been focused and applied to at best 40-50% of the population.  This is not the case with mobile technology as the market penetration continues to grow and the capabilities of new devices begins to eclipse the processing power of full desktop PCs from as recent as 20 years ago.  To ignore the possibilities of your customer’s use of this technology is a big mistake.  Find out how you can gain an advantage over your competitors by offering smart and useful applications to your customers and increase their loyalty to your products and services.

Managed Services– Baby Boomer Retirement and a Slumping Economy are two of the biggest reasons that companies have lost staff in the past ten years.  While the economy is showing some signs of life, the rapidly depleting Baby Boomer workforce will continue to deplete over the next ten years leaving many holes especially in skilled areas.  Because of this trend many companies are looking more and more to outsourcing their needs to Managed Service Companies who specialize in an area and have an experienced and skilled staff to handle it.   Print Services, telecommunications management, re-emerging trends coming back to Travel Management Services are all areas that companies are moving toward to help fill a need for their company without adding headcount.

SaaS/Cloud Based Technology – The days of companies investing millions of dollars in Enterprise Software purchases are coming to an end.  Sure there will be some mission critical solutions that will continue under this model, but most other solutions will move to the “Renter’s” model where companies pay for what they need on a module by module; user by user basis.  Accounting software, CRM software, Productivity software, Loss Prevention software, Finance Software are all areas where companies have ditched the $1 million dollar capital expense purchase in lieu of a smaller monthly operating expense model.

Intelligent Video – When video was first introduced it was a novelty that generally came into play only when a significant historical event needed to be reviewed.  Tape based systems failed because of the human aspect of changing the tapes or because of the failed hardware itself.  DVR technology helped with this but then created a huge collection of video that generally just sat on the machine.  What companies are realizing is that they need services and software that can do the job of analyzing the video for them and alert them when they need to review it.  Companies are expecting more out of their video investments and because of that Video Analytic software and hardware vendors are constantly bringing new and better solutions to the market for customers to choose.

For assistance in finding the partners to assist with developing strategies in these areas within your organization, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  

We look forward to your comments.

Your boss says get us some wins that support our CSR initiatives regarding the environment!

Friday, September 7th, 2012

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

According to Wikipedia  Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to virgin production.  Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy.

When creating a recycling program for your company here are twenty items  to get you started that you might want to consider for addition to your program.
1. Glass containers
2. Plastic containers
3. White paper
4. News paper
5. Magazines
6. Paperboard
7. Cardboard
8. Plastic wrap
9. Pallets
10. Wood scraps
11. Food
     a. Returned
     b. Expired
     c. Damaged
     d. Bad
12. Meat scraps
13. Metal
14. Aluminum
15. Scrap steel
16. Batteries (lead)
17. Tires
18. Truck  
19. Roofing (TPO EPDM)
20. Insulation
21. Polyisocyanurate
22. Poly styrene
23. Asphalt
24. Concrete
25. Freezer Suit

If you are looking for help in gathering and or implementing a Recycling program as part of your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, please contact a SafeSourcing customer services representative to see how we can help.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Nothing is Precious!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Today’s post is by Michael Figueroa and Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Take a sheet of paper, and spend the next 5 minutes planning out your virtual dream business. It can be a coffee shop, hotel, restaurant, bank, whatever. Plan out the fun stuff like how it will look, what kind of theme it will have, what kind of amenities you’ll provide, what kind of things your customers will rave about when they see how well you do them. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the details of the lease agreement…

Is your 5 minutes up? Alright, with your business draft in hand, I want you to take your brilliant idea, tear it up, and throw it away. Yes, seriously.

Did you hesitate because you felt attached to your idea? Did you resent losing those 5 minutes, and want to hang on to your idea simply because your time is valuable? Did you genuinely like some of your ideas and feel they should be kept around?  Those reactions are NORMAL. Not all of us will feel that way, but most of us tend to hang on to the idea’s we have generated or invested any amount of time into. But ask yourself a follow-up question:

If I don’t want to let go of an idea I spent 5 minutes on, what other ideas am I hanging on to for no other reason than because of what I invested into them? Do I have projects that should be let go of, but that I spent so much time on that I don’t want to abandon it? Do I have relationships with customers or suppliers that I’ve had for years that are killing my bottom line? Am I stuck in a comfort zone?

A well-known mantra of the Stanford Design School is “nothing is precious”. Because creative types know better than anybody, that getting over-committed to an idea can be toxic to innovation. The innovation process is not routinized and committed, it’s evolving and uninhibited. Having a “nothing is precious” mindset means not being afraid to fail-forward by abandoning attachment to pet ideas. 

SafeSourcing’s part in this process is to find you the business relationships that make the most business sense. Let us help you get out of the rut of “we’ve always done it this way” thinking.

Why not contact SafeSourcing and see how we might help you fail forward.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Mangoes in the news? This is bananas.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Today’s post is from Dave Wenig, Manager of Customer Services at SafeSourcing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),, there have been plenty of investigated outbreaks of salmonella of various strains already in 2012. The latest of these outbreaks came from mangoes and seems to be getting under control.

On Wednesday, August 29, 2012, Splendid Products issued a voluntary recall of Daniella Brand Mangoes due to a “possible health risk.” See the Splendid Products website for more information.

This author was really pleased to find so much public safety information available to consumers on the Splendid Products website. If all companies took such an approach to food safety, the number of people affected by these types of outbreaks might be reduced significantly.

As always, features a scrolling marquis that features safety information relative to consumer products. Clicking on this marquis will direct you to even more information about the scrolling topics.

Public safety is always in the mind of SafeSourcing and should be treated as a primary responsibility for all companies.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.