Monthly Archives: January 2017

Sourcing Strategy – 5 Steps to Effective Category Management

Category Management is a process that enables you to source more effectively and then to get even more value from continually optimising the resulting contracts. You do this by grouping together products or services that have similar characteristics and are bought from similar supply markets. But that is just the starting point. To succeed with a category management approach you need an effective process to do it. Here is a five step process for category management. The first letter of each step forms the memorable acronym DISCO.

Step 1: D for discovery. This is the step in which you agree a mandate with the budget holder for looking at the category, forming a category project team, agreeing the current status of the category, agreeing the business requirements and setting a target for what you are trying to achieve. It is also the step in which you determine the data you need and put in place a data collection mechanism.

Step 2: I for insight. At this point you will have collected the data set out in the Discovery stage. You now need to turn it into meaningful business intelligence by using analytical tools. This can include price and cost analyses, supply market positioning, supplier preferencing, Porter’s Five Forces, supplier capability analyses to name just a few.

Step 3: S is for strategy. Now that you understand your spend data, the supply markets that you use, the suppliers in those markets, commercial risks, your business requirements and trends in technology and capability, you are in a position to develop sourcing strategy options that meet your needs and at the same time reduce costs. Each of these options is analysed against the requirements and a preferred option agreed with the budget holder and other stakeholders.

Step 4: C is for contract. You now need to go to market with the preferred option using your standard contract letting processes.

Step 5: O is for optimise. The one certainty in life is that there will always be change. This step puts in place both contract management processes that enable the contract to meet the demands of any change in a way that continues to offer best value. It is also the step in which you put in place a supplier relationship management programme. This works with your major suppliers on continuous improvement opportunities that are outside of the contract and also promotes good practice that has been developed with one supplier to other suppliers who could also benefit.

Apply These Tips To Your Life If You Want To Succeed In Business

Here are some things that you must do if you want to have a successful business. At this point, anyone can go on a popular search site and find that there are thousands of books that have been written by various authors on how to become successful in business. With all the information available to us, both on the internet and library, it is tough to find a short list of the most important rules that must be followed in order to achieve success in business.

However, I have read some of the requirements needed to succeed and have put it together for you. This tips pertain more to yourself as a human being rather than business tips. Although it might sound irrelevant and unimportant, these tips that I am about to share with you are some of the reasons why so many people fail every year when they choose to start their business.

The first tip is be fearless-

Let me give you an example. If you decide to get involved in the telecommunications industry, you will sometimes have to talk with new clients every week through the phone. Some people never choose the telecommunications industry because they are too shy and they are too scared to talk to potential clients every month. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of hurdles to face when you decide to start your own business, so you will have to become a stronger person and have more faith in yourself.

The second tip is you will have to grow as a leader-

As an entrepreneur, you will have a lot of people depending on you. The people who will be depending on you will be your employees and your business partners. They will require your leadership in order to function. You will have to understand that your business decisions will either help or hurt your business partners or employees.

The third tip is using your leverage-

As a leader of many, you will soon realize that you have power and leverage on society. You will have to use your new power and leverage in a positive way. People will claim you as their idol and will always look up to you for advice and guidance. You must leverage your power positively and you will have to make moral business decisions.

The last tip is a bonus-

You must have the right attitude. You must have an open mind and understand that your business partners and employees will want to share some ideas with you pertaining to growing your business. You must have the right attitude and show them that you value their opinion.

Four Ways to Cooperate With Other Businesses to Grow Your Business

Many small business owners spend a lot of time, effort and money doing things to grow their business that could be done more effectively in conjunction with another business. By this, I mean forming partnerships with other businesses can not only improve a small business’ marketing, but it can also improve the business itself.

In this article, four ways to grow a small business through networking and cooperating with other businesses will be discussed. Each, of course, has distinct advantages and disadvantages. They are: 1) cross-marketing, 2) organizing an event, 3) forming a support group, and 4) sharing resources.


In any community, there are numerous opportunities for businesses to cross market their products or services. Here are some examples. A souvenir shop in a resort community that gives its customers a discount coupon for a local restaurant would encounter no additional expenses. The restaurant, of course returns the favor, by giving a discount coupon to its patrons. A graphic designer, for example, might be able to cross promote services with a local print shop or sign maker. An oil change shop could give a coupon for a car detailer and vice versa. The key is to find reliable businesses that genuinely view this sort of cross-promotion as a win-win activity.

Organizing an Event

There are many ways for a group of businesses to organize an event that will help each business grow. Farmers markets, street fairs, community events, etc. are a great way for local merchants to realize the benefits of cooperating to bring customers to the area. A health club, for example, might hold a health fair in partnership with a local health clinic. A restaurant and a local wine shop might collaborate to have monthly wine and food tasting events. A web development company could partner with a local photographer to give a demo on shot-for-the-web techniques.

Form a Support Group

It is easy to become isolated as a small business owner. Between the late hours, the stress and need to make payroll, there seems to be little time for anything else. Not surprisingly, the small business owner next door, down the street and across town probably is dealing with a lot of the same issues. One way to network and support other small businesses is to form a weekly or monthly coffee club. You could even introduce a topic of week and share ideas on one them each week.

Share Resources

A great way to lower expenses and strengthen your systems is to share resources. Even a simple thing like buying in bulk and splitting the order can have a big impact on the bottom line. Almost everything is less expensive in bulk, but many small businesses do not have the need, space or financial resources to buy, say a pallet of paper, but three or might. Another thing that many businesses can share is business intelligence. This might include a mailing list or information about reliable suppliers.

Sharing resources or expertise does require mutual trust and understanding. Over time, however, the strategies in this article can strengthen a small business’ connections to the broader business community, result in operating efficiencies and help develop better marketing initiative.

The Three Greatest Barriers to Organizational Change

The need for rapid organizational change is a fact of life in today’s business environment. While there may be a few companies whose leaders are committed to a belief that it is good for everyone to “shake things up” from time to time, most organizational change is undertaken to accomplish key strategic goals. No matter how necessary change seems to upper management, many barriers must be broken down if a planned strategic change is to be implemented successfully. The key to successful change is in the planning and the implementation. The three greatest barriers to organizational change are most often the following.

1. Inadequate Culture-shift Planning. Most companies are good at planning changes in reporting structure, work area placement, job responsibilities, and administrative structure. Organizational charts are commonly revised again and again. Timelines are established, benchmarks are set, transition teams are appointed, etc. Failure to foresee and plan for resultant cultural change, however, is also common. When the planning team is too narrowly defined or too focused on objective analysis and critical thinking, it becomes too easy to lose sight of the fact that the planned change will affect people. Even at work, people make many decisions on the basis of feelings and intuition. When the feelings of employees are overlooked, the result is often deep resentment because some unrecognized taboo or tradition has not been duly respected.

2. Lack of Employee Involvement. People have an inherent fear of change. In most strategic organizational change, at least some employees will be asked to assume different responsibilities or focus on different aspects of their knowledge or skill. The greater the change a person is asked to make, the more pervasive that person’s fear will be. There will be fear of change. More important, however, there will be fear of failure in the new role. Involving employees as soon as possible in the change effort, letting them create as much of the change as is possible and practical is key to a successful change effort. As employees understand the reasons for the change and have an opportunity to “try the change on for size” they more readily accept and support the change.

3. Flawed Communication Strategies. Ideal communication strategies in situations of significant organizational change must attend to the message, the method of delivery, the timing, and the importance of information shared with various parts of the organization. Many leaders believe that if they tell people what they (the leaders) feel they need to know about the change, then everyone will be on board and ready to move forward. In reality, people need to understand why the change is being made, but more importantly, how the change is likely to affect them. A big picture announcement from the CEO does little to help people understand and accept change. People want to hear about change from their direct supervisor. A strategy of engaging direct supervision and allowing them to manage the communication process is the key to a successful change communication plan.

There are other barriers, to be sure, but the three outlined above are extremely common and highly likely to create havoc in the organization. By planning and dealing with these three areas thoroughly, carefully, and sensitively, people will be most likely to get on board and help implement the change and adapt to organizational change far more readily and supportively.

Enhancing Business Acumen – The Five Essentials

In order to run an effective, dynamic, and successful organization, leaders must possess sound business acumen. Unfortunately, we are not born with this vital leadership skill, it is cultivated over time. When asked to define business acumen, the response of senior leadership is basic and straight forward. Most believe that business acumen means having financially savvy; but that my friend is only one element of business acumen.

There are five essential components that make up sound business acumen: Intelligence, Strategy, Communication, Innovation, and Accountability. As you review the qualities of each, assess yourself as well as other leaders on your team to see where strengths and weaknesses exist within your organization. Then start on an action plan to close those identified gaps and drive organizational success to the next level.

#1 – INTELLIGENCE: Yes, leaders possessing this component of business acumen are skilled at creating, reading, and analyzing financial reports and budgets. However, they are also at ease when it comes to explaining this sometimes complex information to others. This is a quality that most senior leaders admire and think of when they envision someone with great business acumen. Along with financial savvy, leaders possessing this component of business acumen have an immense hunger to learn more and increase their knowledge and intellect. They not only read business books, magazines and white papers to gain knowledge, but also to glean skills and techniques that can be applied in their line of business and daily work.

#2 – STRATEGY: Leaders possessing this component of business acumen know the key priorities (business objectives) of the organization, and have proactively formulated a written action plan to get the team there. They don’t wait for the strategic plan to come down the pike from corporate, as soon as they get wind of the key business objectives they begin focusing on how their team will contribute to and impact it. Again, having business intelligence is not enough, leaders must also be able to turn all that wealth knowledge into actionable behaviors that will engage an entire workforce or team and drive positive results.

#3 – COMMUNICATION: Leaders possessing this component of business acumen are excellent communicators, both verbally and in writing. They know that simple, clear communication is the key to achievement of the key business priorities and strategy. If you ever observe leaders with great communication skills, you will notice that they communicate clearly up and down the organizational ladder. They can get a point across with finesse at the executive level, and simplify the message with ease to relate it to the day-to-day activities of line staff.

#4 – INNOVATION & RESOURCEFULNESS: Leaders possessing this component of business acumen have the keen ability to work with little, and produce much. They are not limited by a lack of resources, but innovative enough to create new ways of getting the job done effectively and efficiently. While having all of the tools at their disposal to do the job properly would be great, they do not allow the lack thereof to create team dissension or negativity. Their greatest joy comes from being able to overcome barriers and obstacles to create a product or service that is exceptionally better than they ever expected. Leaders who possess sound business acumen are not wasteful, but innovative and resourceful.

#5 – ACCOUNTABILITY: Leaders possessing this final component of business acumen understand the importance of employee accountability in optimizing productivity to achieve success. Without accountability none of the other components that make up sound business acumen (intelligence, strategy, communication and innovation) will be of any worth. In order to hold employees accountable for driving the key priorities of the organization the leader must set the standard or expectation, communicate it to enlist employee buy-in, integrate it into every aspect of the work environment, evaluate employee performance against it, then reward and recognize those who consistently meet and exceed the expectation or standard.

Just like a waterfall, business acumen starts at the top and trickles down throughout the entire workforce. If senior leadership does not possess these essential components, organizational effectiveness and success is not sustainable. Now that you’ve been equipped with some level of clarity concerning business acumen, the next step is to work toward closing your professional gaps. Bottom-line, developing sound business acumen does not start or stop with becoming skilled at analyzing financial reports; developing sound business acumen is multi-dimensional.

Transportation Management System – An Introduction

A Transportation Management System (TMS) is a software that is aimed at helping business and organizations to effectively manage its logistics supply chain, it helps organizing and tracking the movements of the products and materials. A Transportation Management System also helps in managing shipping units, outbound and inbound shipment scheduling, transportation mode selection, freight bill auditing, payment and processing of loss and damage claims etc.

Some of the basic functions and advantages of a transportation management system are shipment load planning and shipment routing optimization, routing guide, execution management and carrier communication, shipment tracking, freight bill audit & payment, business intelligence and reporting, claims management, returns management, appointment scheduling etc.

The shipment load planning and routing optimization helps the shippers to plan the loading and then find a suitable and optimized routes as per their requirements. This helps to save a lot of money and time and as a results makes it easy for the shippers to manage.

The routing guide is another feature of a TMS which helps the vendors to get an idea about the inbound routing guides for better cost management. The execution management and carrier communication helps the shippers to find the tools needed to help them in selecting the right carriers along with shipping cost calculation. The TMS also helps you in getting an accurate freight bill audit and also in implementing the payment part. As with any other tools, a transportation management solution also offers business intelligence reporting, which helps you to get more idea about your business and ways to improve it.

A TMS or a logistics management system can also be used as an effective vehicle routing software which helps you in the effective utilization of vehicles used for your transportation purposes. It identifies areas where the vehicles can be utilized effectively without spending much time and money. Since the TMS identifies the shortest route, it will result in reduced fuel consumption and enhanced fleet management and utilization.

For small companies which have a remarkable small transportation operations, the use of such a tool is not recommended, as they might not have any difficulty in managing all their transportation activities manually. But for a big company with a large number of vehicles and transportation activities, it is a better idea to avail the services of a transport management system, as it will ease their management activities and help them to save a lot money.

More and more companies have started using logistic management system and hence the demand and competition have increased considerably. So the number of companies providing customized transportation management system or freight management systems has increased. Some of the software offered are not having the expected quality and one must be sure to select the right and the best transportation management system for their company. There are also many software having advanced options such as GPS vehicle tracking or GPS fleet tracking system. So while purchasing the transportation scheduling software, make sure that you have spend the money on the right tool.

Supply Chain Technology – 6 Key Deliverables

Without a doubt one of the most crucial tools available to supply chain professionals today is information technology (IT). IT can be the glue that help Supply Chain deliver real value to organizations – however an incorrectly configured system or a poor technology choice can bring it’s own problems – here we check out 6 things that your Supply chain IT system should deliver.

1. Efficient Transaction Management

Having simple standard transaction processes, for example how you raise a Purchase Order, supported by a user friendly user interface is a must – make it easy for users to capture data once and then utilize it again and again within the system. Pay close attention to processes that may result in data integrity concerns – make sure that your transactions capture the key information that you require to monitor your business and look for automation of repetative non-value add activities where possible

2. Business Intelligence

An adequate business intelligence or management reporting solution is often the keystone of any business – for Supply Chain that’s equally true – knowing where your assets are, accurate and timely inventory information, supplier performance and a firm grip on costs should be easily achieved at the click of a mouse. Look to ensure that everyone in your organization has access the data they need when they need it.

3. Enterprise Integration

Linking the supply chain both internally and externally is no longer a pipe dream – tools such as XML and intelligent transaction processing systems allow different companies spread across different geographies to collaborate in real time – share order books, asset information or collaborate on tenders or bids – ensure that your system is capable of sharing data with your partners.

4. Workflow

Your system should enable you to flow activity within the system to your hierarchy of users – need to get approval on an order – do it electronically with workflow – had a delivery rejected by your warehouse – send out automatic alerts to QA – gone out of stock for an item of inventory – flag it up to your materials management team for action – look to use your system to manage by exception.

5. Forecasting

Having the right planning tools will get you where you want to get to tomorrow and highlight your business risks before they bite – need to plan your inventory costs over the next 5 years – need to understand your staffing needs on your electrical commodities – make sure your solution has adequate planning and forecasting out of the box.

6. Collaboration

Collaboration sparks ideas – can save money and brings the company closer together – get the benefits of having design and procurement work closer to share and work on the same data – Need Design and Procurement to work on a Bill of Materials?- having the right collaboration tools can deliver real value.

SAS Analytics Training – What You Need to Know

When looking for quality training, whether you want to improve your own knowledge or you want to send your employees on a course to improve productivity within the work place, there are a host of important factors that you have to take into consideration. One of these factors is identifying which course to use and how your company can benefit moving forward, or how you can increase your chances of securing a promotion or finding the job of your dreams moving forward.

SAS analytics training stands for statistical analysis system, which is a software solution used for advanced analytics within the work place. It is also used for data management solutions, business intelligence, predictive analysis and more. It can be a useful tool to help you manage your data more effectively and to help you grow your business in the future.

This software was originally developed many years ago in the United States and has increased in popularity with companies that are trying to manage their companies more effectively and seamlessly, by managing all their data with ease to reduce the risk of errors.

The SAS analytics training can provide learners with the ability to utilise the software effectively, making sure that they get the most out of the package to help the company grow and move forward. The software is capable of a number of things from manipulating data to retrieving data and altering data to mining data. Once a student learns how to use the programme effectively, they will be able to use the programme daily to manage the data within the company safely and effortlessly.

With the right SAS analytics training, team members are able to put their data choices into the system in a series of statements. The software then takes these statements and takes action, using the information provided to give the user the results they are looking for.

Companies investing in the software and providing their team members with SAS analytics training will see a return on their investment as the company runs smoother, data is available at your fingertips and you can then use the data to push your business forward.

There are some important factors you have to take into consideration whether you are paying for yourself to take a SAS analytics course or you are sending your team members for training to ensure success. The first is that you want to choose a proven academy with a high volume of happy students who have used and passed their course with good results.

You will want to ensure the SAS analytics training courses you are looking at cover all the basics you need your team members to know, helping your business grow moving forward.

Identify if the company you are considering for your SAS analytics training can provide you with online and in-class training. You may prefer your team members to spend a day or two at a training course, rather than leaving them to their own devices and assuming that they are taking the time to learn online.

Also ensure that the company you choose can come to your area, if they do offer in-class training and always double check to ensure that the courses are certified, giving you peace of mind and helping your team embers improve their own experience and knowledge.

The final step to choosing a SAS analytics training provider is to identify what companies they have worked with in the past and the price of their courses. Ideally you don’t want to pay a too high a price, but at the same time, you don’t want to exceed your training budget.

Business Planning – Short Term, Medium Term and Long Term Goals

As the owner or executive of a business, you have business goals. You have your 5-year goals or your long-term goals, and then there are steps along the way to reach those goals: medium-term goals and short-term goals.

If you were a retailer you might have the following goals:

Short term: sell a certain amount each sunny day, a certain amount each rainy day, a certain amount each holiday, weekend and weekday.

Medium term: Identify your best suppliers. Establish relationships with the most efficient, timely, reliable and innovative suppliers. Attract a higher number of baby boomers than your competition.

Long term: Continue to create innovations in the marketplace that can set you apart from your competition, such as innovative loyalty programs or bleeding edge point-of-purchase technology.

In business planning and business performance management, key performance indicators (KPIs) are fundamental to knowing where you are in your path towards a certain goal.

This is what Wikipedia says about KPIs:

A performance indicator or key performance indicator (KPI) is a measure of performance. Such measures are commonly used to help an organization define and evaluate how successful it is, typically in terms of making progress towards its long-term organizational goals. KPIs can be specified by answering the question, “What is really important to different stakeholders?”

Wikipedia mentions long-term, but that misses out on important short-term and medium-term goals which I’ll explain shortly. The other key term here is “stakeholders.”

Each goal, whether short-term or long-term, has different stakeholders.

If you have daily retail sales goals, then a store manager has to have access to data that shows him or her in real time what’s going on in the store.

If you have quarterly or yearly goals vis-a-vís your suppliers and different customer segments, then an operations person or sales director needs access to information that shows how you’re doing along these paths.

If you have long-term plans to create innovative solutions and become a market leader, then the CEO or owner needs access to key data to know how you’re doing against these plans.

Different time-frames, different stakeholders, different goals, different KPIs.

What tools are available to help you along the path?

David Abdo wrote a post entitled “Business Intelligence Software: Who Is It Really For?” where he argued for the democratization of business intelligence software across the enterprise.

The existence of a multi-tiered goal structure as illustrated above implies the requirement of a company to implement a business intelligence tool that’s accessible to all people within the company.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Importance Of Data Mining In Today’s Business World

What is Data Mining? Well, it can be defined as the process of getting hidden information from the piles of databases for analysis purposes. Data Mining is also known as Knowledge Discovery in Databases (KDD). It is nothing but extraction of data from large databases for some specialized work.

Data Mining is largely used in several applications such as understanding consumer research marketing, product analysis, demand and supply analysis, e-commerce, investment trend in stocks & real estates, telecommunications and so on. Data Mining is based on mathematical algorithm and analytical skills to drive the desired results from the huge database collection.

Data Mining has great importance in today’s highly competitive business environment. A new concept of Business Intelligence data mining has evolved now, which is widely used by leading corporate houses to stay ahead of their competitors. Business Intelligence (BI) can help in providing latest information and used for competition analysis, market research, economical trends, consume behavior, industry research, geographical information analysis and so on. Business Intelligence Data Mining helps in decision-making.

Data Mining applications are widely used in direct marketing, health industry, e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), FMCG industry, telecommunication industry and financial sector. Data mining is available in various forms like text mining, web mining, audio & video data mining, pictorial data mining, relational databases, and social networks data mining.

Data mining, however, is a crucial process and requires lots of time and patience in collecting desired data due to complexity and of the databases. This could also be possible that you need to look for help from outsourcing companies. These outsourcing companies are specialized in extracting or mining the data, filtering it and then keeping them in order for analysis. Data Mining has been used in different context but is being commonly used for business and organizational needs for analytical purposes

Usually data mining requires lots of manual job such as collecting information, assessing data, using internet to look for more details etc. The second option is to make software that will scan the internet to find relevant details and information. Software option could be the best for data mining as this will save tremendous amount of time and labor. Some of the popular data mining software programs available are Connexor Machines, Free Text Software Technologies, Megaputer Text Analyst, SAS Text Miner, LexiQuest, WordStat, Lextek Profiling Engine.

However, this could be possible that you won’t get appropriate software which will be suitable for your work or finding the suitable programmer would also be difficult or they may charge hefty amount for their services. Even if you are using the best software, you will still need human help in completion of projects. In that case, outsourcing data mining job will be advisable.