One company making great strides in the digital revolution by offering innovative e-procurement and e-sourcing solutions that are cloud based and SaaS offered is SafeSourcing Inc. A strategic sourcing firm, SafeSourcing is at the forefront of offering a full suite of procure-to-pay tools under the SafeSourceIt™ banner which helps in reducing costs and improving efficiency. The company’s mission is to provide information and services to customers through e-procurement tools that proactively support consumer safety, environmental standards, and historically generate greater than a 10 x ROI for their customers.
Ronald D. Southard, CEO of SafeSourcing, discusses the company’s value proposition, solutions, customer base, and future plans in an interview with the CIO Applications magazine.
Could you provide us with an overview of SafeSourcing and the solutions offered?
From a fundamental perspective, SafeSourcing was established to foster a safe and secure e-procurement and e-sourcing environment. Being a strategic sourcing and e-procurement firm, SafeSourcing is loaded with an efficient and comprehensive suite of e-sourcing and procure to pay applications, which include our SafeSourceIt™ eRFx family of products including RFI’s, RFP’s, and RFQ’s or Reverse Auctions also called online bidding. Our procure to pay suite encompasses SafeContract™, SafePO™, SafeCatalog™, and SafeDocument™.
At the heart of our e-sourcing solutions is our eRFx suite of tools, which were developed with the aim to seamlessly connect buyers and suppliers. Incorporating Request for Information (RFIs), Request for Proposals (RFPs), and Request for Quotations (RFQs) or Reverse Auctions. These tools support new contract purchases, spot buys, replenishment, aggregation, and collaboration within buying organizations.
Could you elaborate on the functions and features of the solutions provided by SafeSourcing under its procure-to-pay full suite?
Procure-to-pay models encompass a broad range of functions, tools, and programs companies must embrace to elevate their current savings while still improving quality. Our unique procure-to-pay suite addresses all the business needs and includes all the necessary tools that a firm may require to source any category in the market including services, select a vendor, and maintain a healthy relationship with the vendors.
SafeSourcing has developed a contract management tool SafeContract™ featuring internal tools that send timely alerts to users regarding contract pricing and upcoming renewal dates of the agreement between buyers and suppliers. With this, our aim is to ensure that customers receive a price that is aligned with the current market conditions and grow their business profitability.
We have also built a purchase order management tool, SafePO™, and a catalog system, SafeCatalog™, to support our contract management tool. In a scenario where a firm has negotiated a contract with our eRFx suite to receive supplies from an office supply company, SafeCatalog™ enables the client organization to control this order and maintain savings by listing the approved vendor at negotiated rates and place the order. The order confirmation then initiates the purchase order management tool, SafePO™, and places the purchase order to the supplier, which is in accordance with the contract.
We also have a document management tool SafeDocument™ that many of our customers use for vendor management. All our products are supported through a set of services that are delivered in the form of White Glove service. Our pricing model is designed in such a way that any company can take any category to market.
Could you share the entire process of managing an eRFx including a Reverse Auction?
Typically, there are six major steps that define the e-procurement process including strategy, development, supplier research, hosting the events, running the events, and finally delivering the reports. Our competent customer services team of skilled individuals, along with a support team, works consistently to realize all these steps time after time.
When it comes to hosting an auction, SafeSourcing’s customer service team thoroughly reviews the auction strategies, supplier selection, contract terms and conditions, and other information and requirements at least three times before sending it for customer’s approval. Once the team receives an approval from the client, we send out invitations to the supplier community that are approved for bidding. Simultaneously, our team plays an interactive role with the suppliers and encourages them to participate in the bidding.
Thereafter, once suppliers agree to participate, they may submit questions regarding the event, which is communicated to customers for resolution. But before beginning the online bidding, we train suppliers on how to efficiently operate and use our system. On the event day, after the suppliers have bid on the particular sourcing category, our system sends out a set of automatically generated surveys to the suppliers regarding their treatment during the process. Reports containing all the relevant information needed to transform the bid into a contract are also immediately available the minute the event concludes. In support of our customers, our team conducts a one-on-one dialogue with the customer to review the reports and arrive at potential award scenarios. Finally, when the customer selects a supplier to do business with, the project is marked as awarded to them in our system and a regret/thank you note goes out to all the participants providing them with the project’s status.
What are the differentiating factors of SafeSourcing?
First and foremost, a point that needs a special mention is our zero-risk pilot program ‘if you don’t save, you don’t pay.’ For the last several years, our customers have averaged savings of 24.7 percent across a broad range of industries and categories including capital spends, direct spends, indirect spends and services of all types.
Another strong factor that sets us apart is our ability to consistently drive greater than a 10x ROI for our clients. Be it in the retail, distribution, healthcare, finance, manufacturing or other industries.
Unlike other e-sourcing and e-procurement companies in the market, we provide a SafeSourceIt™ Supplier Database with over 427,000 global suppliers, making it one of the largest databases of its type. We also offer our SafeSourcing Wiki that is available on our website at no cost. This along with our monthly newsletter and daily blog offer easily accessible procurement knowledge to all supply chain knowledge workers.
Could you provide a customer success story where SafeSourcing helped a client in their e-procurement process?
One of our Fortune 500 distribution companies was searching for a means to consolidate and source their temporary labor spends across more than 70 locations nationwide. Reasons: limited spend details, non-consistent job descriptions, no insight into the basis of the charges, and more than 125 vendors being used. When the client approached us for assistance, our initial step was to consolidate and standardize the job description list with the help from HR. Eventually, we moved forward with reducing 125 vendors into a pool of 30, after which the process was straightforward. We required these 30 vendors to provide base rate according to geography, national upcharge by job description and unemployment tax and worker’s compensation rates by state. We then compressed the cost. The end result was very beneficial for the customer in both time savings, quality and actual savings being in excess of more than 2 million dollars.
What plans do you have for the future, pertaining to geographical expansion or addition of new features to your procure-to-pay suite?
For 11 years, we have worked with focus and determination to reach where we are and build a strong and diverse client base. But, times change, and we need to evolve with the times. In my view, markets change so quickly, and new products and services enter markets so rapidly that it becomes nearly impossible for companies to keep up with their sourcing needs and receive best price, products, and services. Our goal is to embrace this market shift. We aim to continuously offer ancillary services while using technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and e-learning to enhance and automate our offerings. We recently added a new graphical view to our systems in order to provide alternative ways for our customers to interact with our tools and digest their results.
Data is yet another factor we are looking at for the future. Since our inception, SafeSourcing has assembled an enormous amount of data that allows us and our customers to examine business categories and align with market trends. Our ultimate objective is to continue to manage, collect, and manipulate data and extract valuable insights from that data for use by our customers.