May 2015

Telecom invoices can seem designed to be confusing. Too often, companies end up paying for services they don’t need – and sometimes don’t even realize they have. Putting a little due dilligence towards understanding an auditing invoices goes a long way towards saving significant amounts of money.
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As a country, the United States is proud of a lot of things. We're proud of our sports teams, our mixed heritage and even the nation's wide and varied landscapes. We tout our domestically manufactured products with the seal "proudly made in the U.S.A.," but even though we are among the leaders of industry and innovation, most of the consumer goods sold in the U.S. were made in other countries. At this point, seeing a sticker or note signifying a product made on American soil seems like a surprise. Even the small American flags that people wave at parades and displayed in their front yards were likely made in China or another outsourced country.

However, in-country production of many consumer goods is seeing a turnaround. Not only is this a positive boost for patriotic morale, but it's a big step toward reducing the unemployment rate and reinvigorating the economy. Within the next few years, Americans can expect to see more companies opting for on-shore manufacturing for a wide array of products.

Big moves for big companies
Walmart is making big headlines this month with its push for more local manufacturers and suppliers for their U.S. locations reported IndustryWeek. Last year the company made a push for U.S.-based manufacturers with its "Made in the USA" Open Callwhich proved to be so successful that it's up for round two later this year. Walmart Vice President Cindi Marsiglio claimed that domestic manufacturing benefits both the customers who purchase said goods and the people and communities that produce them.

These pushes for local suppliers come on the heels of allegations that Walmart's Bangladesh operations employed children as young as 11 for 100 hours a week to make affordable clothes for consumers elsewhere in the world the International Business Times reported. Whether Walmart is embracing domestic manufacturing to benefit and employ more Americans or to avoid more labor scandals overseas remains to be seen but the shift does seem to be having a positive outcome for the aforementioned parties.

Removing links in the supply chain
Walmart is not the only company looking to relocate factories and suppliers back on to American soil. According to MarketWatch over 60000 jobs were added in 2014 thanks to reshoring efforts. The Reshoring Initiative strives to educate U.S. companies and convince them to bring their operations stateside again. It seems that many of these enterprises including Apple and the Dodge motor company are choosing to relocate their operations due to escalating wages in foreign countries the Reshoring Initiative asserted. When you combine these wages with the cost of shipping goods to the U.S. and paying all the parties in question our home country is quickly becoming the economical choice.

This is not to say that outsourcing will disappear from our supply chain entirely but there are some big changes on the horizon. In a Deloitte survey 54 percent of executives from multi-billion-dollar enterprises stated that they hoped to move production back to North America from places like China and Southeast Asia. Businesses that reshore their operations will be able to more closely monitor the factory conditions and employee wages two humanitarian issues that often come up in conjunction with outsourced manufacturing and are the subjects for depressing exposes.

Whatever the specific reasons may be to move production back to home territory  reshoring is an important step to reinvigorate the U.S. economy that will hopefully continue to build momentum.

There has been an uptick in lawsuits being settled by major telecom carriers. The FCC recently announced telecom giant Verizon Wireless will pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million to settle accusations that companies were billing customers millions in unauthorized third party charges.  While the FCC was able to assist in this particular instance, it is most commonly the responsibility of the organization negotiating with the telecom provider to spot sub-part terms and conditions to prevent those hidden charges. And when those contract items are missed, it is the organization’s heavy undertaking to get those charges credited back.
The good news: these charges are preventable. During initial negotiation and contract drafting with your carrier, be sure to consider the following:

  1. Room for Pricing Negotiation—you may often hear that your current rates are the lowest you’ll be able to receive. Carriers often have much more regulation over their enterprise clients pricing than they would ever likely admit.  Even if the carrier is unable to directly lower pricing on services, there are discounts that should be considered in equipment purchases (i.e. free phone units). 
  2. Cramming—telephone companies sometimes allow third party vendors to place charges on their clients’ accounts.  Consumers should never be held responsible to pay for charges they did not request. Cramming is illegal and any service found doing such should be indisputably removed and the customer compensated. 
  3. Maintenance Charges—if a service or equipment is interrupted due to an underlying issue on the carriers behalf, why should the client be left responsible to pay for a maintenance visit? Including clear and concise SLAs within a contract can aid in this area to help ensure you are not being unfairly charged for the carrier’s corrective actions. 
  4. Redundant Features—features like voice mail and GPS use to be necessitated as add on. With the prevalence of smart phones many of these features are included on the physical equipment and do not need to be purchased individually.
  5. PICC Charges—are aimed at compensating the local telephone carriers for the costs associated with providing "local loop" service. These are carrier specific charges and a competitive pricing issue. Because some companies simply do not charge this at all, it can be used as a point of negotiation to have these fees waived. 
  6. Disconnected Services—even though a disconnect request has been placed, unless monitored these services may still continue billing. That is why including some type of timeline for action on disconnect requests within your contract is imperative. 
  7. Commitment Terms—your organization may take an unexpected hit or sell off a business unit.  A business downturn contact clause protects you from still being solely responsible for the services in these instances by allowing you to either reduce your original commitment levels (i.e. spend) or furthermore possibly migrate to an alternative technology. Alternatively, your organization may invest in new technologies and services during an expansion or technology change. In this case, ensure that any new spend will count towards your commitment levels. 
  8. Recovering Overcharges—related to the above points, carriers often leave it solely up the customer to identify any billing errors.  As a customer you have up to two years to pursue the recovery of any overcharges. It is important to confirm that these rights are stated within your contract.
  9. Voice Minute/Data Usage Balance—clients tend to overestimate minutes needed, and underestimate data usage. Do not get stuck paying thousands in usage overage charges every month. While negotiating, consider the type of pooling and overage protection options the carrier has available. 
  10. Early Termination Fees—the ideal scenario while negotiating your contract would of course be “termination without penalty”. This gives your organization maximum leverage when requesting anything from your carrier. Receiving termination without penalty from a telecom carrier is rare.  While it is more common to have early termination fees for your services, this does not always consequentially mean you have to wait until end of contract to terminate services. It may be more cost effective to terminate services before and pay the early termination fees. While drafting contracts you may also want to include the option to terminate services if certain SLAs are not met. 
As you can see there are certain legal clauses that can be included in contracts to help ensure that your organization does not fall victim to these types of unjust charges. While constructing a strong contract goes a long way to combat these unanticipated charges, it is imperative to consistently monitor your monthly billing charges on your invoice.  If not monitored these problem areas turn into invoice mischarges , becoming more tedious to remove as time progresses without action toward correction.
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Since the Great Recession of 2008, the job market and unemployment remains a sensitive issue for politicians, newscasters and the general public at large. We've fought long and hard to pull ourselves out of the bad economy and reverse high unemployment rates, and today the rates are sinking toward 5 percent, a low we haven't reached since April 2008 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The White House is confident that we'll see 5 percent unemployment by the end of the year and with the hiring surges around the country that prediction may in fact come to fruition.

Abundant employment
As the rate of United States citizens finding jobs inches down toward the lowest it's been in more than seven years more companies are choosing to hire employees in response to burgeoning markets. These jobs range from warehouse work to retail positions and even jobs within the U.S. government.
The enterprise conglomerate Amazon recently released a statement detailing the need for 6000 more employees in various distribution centers across the country SupplyChain247 reported. The company usually hires part-time workers for the holiday season to fulfill the influx of orders that require immediate attention and will likely do the same later this year even with this new bout of hires. The Swedish-based enterprise currently has 360 stores in the U.S. but has big plans to open 60 more by the end of the year. Of the 60 one is a 65000-square-foot superstore in Manhattan that just opened in late May. The number of employees will vary between locations though the added stores will undoubtedly lead to more delivery drivers and management staff.

Businesses are not the only organizations needing extra hands on deck. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency recently announced that it will hire about 1000 more employees in various distribution centers across the country reported There are recent openings due to retirements and other departures but we'll soon see more gaps in protection that need to be filled. There are a series of specific requirements that applicants must fulfill in order to be considered.

How will the supply chain be affected?
Because these industries are opening their doors to more employees the economy is bound to experience a boost as a result. With more people moving to new locations and purchasing homes,  cars,  appliances, and new clothes it's not so far-fetched to imagine more money flowing in and out of the economy. the supply chain will also experience a surge as a result. These companies will need to manufacture more products have them shipped by more people and there will be an increase in back end employees. As with any plump to the job market however the true outcome will only be sure with long-term results.

Whatever the numbers may turn out to be at the end of this year or the end of this decade more jobs for the public in diverse industries is a good sign for unemployment. These jobs also offer extended career plans with opportunities to move up should the employee be ambitious enough to go for it. At the end of the day however these are the starts of new careers with the hope of a better tomorrow for these individuals and their families. Hopefully this is a start of an extended trend that keep people employed for a long time.
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For the past 30 years or so, there has been a coffee revolution. It seems that people are drinking more of it and that major cities have a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on every other street corner. Some take their coffee black and don't care where it comes from as long as it's hot and strong while others prefer an espresso drink that has more names and titles than a member of the British royal family. However we take our cup of joe, whether it's first thing in the morning or as an after-dinner drink that helps soothe after a long day, coffee is a daily part of many people's lives around the world.

Some coffee shops view their job as more than just providing a warm, caffeinated beverage - coffee is a way of life and a business that can constantly be improved. Starbucks Coffee Company, the long-standing Seattle chain that achieved nothing short of worldwide domination, has many thoughts about the coffee supply chain and constantly strives to make improvements for customers, employees and business associates.

Giving the supply chain an energy boost
The people at Starbucks may be the geniuses behind icy blended coffee drinks and those delicious little cake pops, but the company also has a plethora of innovators working tirelessly to make the long and convoluted supply chain a thing of the past. According to SupplyChainBrain, the coffee conglomerate will be making moves to satisfy one-day deliveries to many of its highly urban locations.

During the heat of the summer months it's not unheard of for various stores to run out of commodities such as lemonade or passion fruit iced teas. The one-day deliveries do pose an issue though even if the stores are stocked more often. Starbucks officials are concerned about the effect of traffic on these efforts as well as the amount of manpower the company would take to satisfy every location's specific needs throughout the day. The one-day delivery effort could result in drivers clogging up city traffic during peak hours just to make additional drop-offs.

Their solution? Driverless delivery vehicles. Many automobile companies are already working on driverless solutions though the Wall Street Daily detailed that the biggest obstacle will be getting everyone metaphorically on board the automated automobile movement. Starbucks is working closely with researchers to make this dream a reality cutting costs and saving time in the process.

Working together
Starbucks is known for taking care of its employees. Most recently it was in the news for providing every team member with 100 percent tuition to obtain a four-year bachelor's degree from Arizona State University noted the company's website. Little does the public know however that Starbucks is also a proponent of working with other businesses - competitors included - to provide the best service and products for all customers. SupplyChainBrain asserted that the coffee company is more interested in utilizing the resources of its associates rather than trying to put them out of business. Starbucks is a company that treats every employee like a partner in the enterprise and now it would appear that it is treating vendors suppliers and even competitors in the same manner.

In years past suppliers and even competitors in the same manner.

In years past Starbucks made the push for all-natural ingredients and Free Trade coffee and now it seems that the company is taking the supply chain by force and altering our perceptions of what it can do. In this fast-paced world Starbucks is changing the supply chain to follow suit. We all just might need a cup of coffee to keep up.

" Changing the supply chain, a cup of coffee at a time 5/26/2015 12:00:00 AM
Transit in trouble

The common person may only consider the state of highways and main streets when they are in shambles after a long winter or ruined during a natural disaster of some sort. For instance, New Englanders despise the potholes and frost heaves left by Father Winter and his army of snow plows, while tornadoes, flooding and snow are the perfect combination for terrible road conditions in the Midwest.

Though we know the roads need a lot of work and we see road crews working tirelessly in the summer heat to smooth out the streets, there always seems to be something left undone. This leaves us with many questions: Why exactly are the roadways in the United States so neglected? Are these state-level issues or is it one of national importance? How can we get the roads up to proper standards and why does it seem to be taking so long? What sort of effect will this have on the supply chain as a whole?

Finally on the road to success?

There's actually been a lot of talk in the higher levels of American government concerning transportation infrastructure recently, although it's mostly about how the May 31 deadline for extending the federal transportation funds is quickly approaching. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to have been much progress in Congress or the House of Representatives, although a proposed $10 billion extension that could last until the end of the year, reported SupplyChain247. While that budget might seem like a good solution, many believe that it's time to start investing in long-term options and do away with extended funding.

"We just ought to be embarrassed that we have potholes in this country that aren't filled; we have bridges that are crumbling; we have roads that need to be done; we have transit systems that are in a state of disrepair and others that we could be expanding; and we're twisting in the wind," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated in response to the approaching May deadline.

The issue at hand is not just a matter of money spent by the government, but also a question of how to go about putting money back into the hands of the people and into the economy as a whole. After all, the nation's roads are paths for products to get from one coast to another and for consumers to travel and purchase gas and goods along the way.

Rethinking the roadways

While these roads are integral to the economy of the U.S. and there's no chance that we'll abandon them in our lifetime, perhaps it's time we look at the crumbling infrastructure in the context of the century in which we live.

According to the Harvard Business Review, infrastructure is a bipartisan issue and should be reconfigured for the today's technologies and needs. The budget to fix up the roads and bridges that are nearly too dangerous for human passage should go elsewhere, maybe to more efficient means of transportation and greener methods that are more sustainable in the long run.

These new projects could open a lot of doors for the supply chain. Since the roads will need to be improved anyway, supplies and workers will be in demand regardless. But if bullet trains or other forms of transport become more viable options for the country, there will undoubtedly be a supply to meet the demand for these new forms of transportation. We need to see the roads as an opportunity for growth, not a burden that needs to be dealt with in a blase manner.

What's the buzz? Honey bees in serious danger

Creepy-crawlies don't really register as an entity that needs to be protected. Those of us with misgivings or phobias about our multi-legged friends would prefer to have them out of sight, out of mind and out of the way, but many who dislike or fear such things as beetles, ants and spiders do not consider the ecological repercussions should an event actually wipe out an entire species.

Unfortunately, since many people choose not put much stock into issues pertaining to bugs or other small creatures, the situation with honey bees has gotten a little out of control. Those who are allergic or unsettled by the thought of bees might be glad to hear that there will be fewer of them buzzing around flower gardens and unsuspecting perfumed individuals this summer, but this is in fact a very big problem for anyone who enjoys fruits, vegetables, flowers and other products that require pollination. The major decrease in honeybees this year will lead to untold and severe problems for many industries around the world.

Not so sweet

Whether we want to admit it or not, we need bees. We need honey bees so earnestly, because 30 percent of everything we eat needs an insect to pollinate it, and that insect is almost always the Apis, or honeybee, reported Forbes. These little farmers travel from plant to plant, minding their own business and making it possible for us to operate multi-billion dollar industries  based on their activities.

Over the past few years, however, these precious little resources have been rapidly disappearing. In an interview with National Public Radio, beekeepers reported that they lost nearly half of their colonies last summer. While it's common for some bees to die off in the colder winter months and the arduous working months of spring and summer, these new numbers are unheard of and could very well lead to issues in agriculture.

While we have been assured that honeybees are not going to be going extinct any time soon, we will probably see an increase in price of some of the goods that rely on honeybee pollination. noted that bees add $15 billion to the United States economy each year, so what can we do to protect these buzzing boons?

Bring back our bees

Experts have been speculating for quite a few years about what could be causing colony collapse disorder, the name of the phenomenon behind the disappearing bees. At first, people blamed the pesticides and other chemicals that farmers put on their crops to keep harmful bugs at bay. However, Forbes noted that the experts are still not sure what exactly is causing all these bees to die off. Scientists have also considered shortages of the nutrients and pollen that bees need to survive. The source indicated that humans plant row after row of crops but don't bother with wildflowers, which sustain bees for longer.

Thought the specific cause or combination of causes is still unknown, we can be sure that the honeybees are no longer buzzing in abundance due to human interference. Moving forward, we should try to facilitate bee population growth by planting more wildflowers and using fewer chemicals on our plants. In the end, we could have healthier food, bigger gardens and more bees to make everything grow big and strong. Seems like this counts as a triple-win situation.

How can unemployment fall but layoffs rise?

We are no strangers to the economic hardships that the United States has been facing economic hardships since the Great Recession in 2008. Since then, Americans have been fighting tooth and nail to return the country to the economic greatness it experienced in the years before the severe dips hit the stock market. The past seven years have been a long road, but with tenacity and wherewithal, we've climbed out of the pit of job loss and a weak American dollar to emerge on the other side with high hopes and an even stronger national dream.

However, not everything has returned to normal, despite the efforts of the American people to fight against the odds and claim back the lives they knew. Even though unemployment is sinking, the U.S. is seeing fewer jobs created and more layoffs - what's the deal?

Unemployment is down

After seven years in an economic slump that displaced thousands of people across the nation, the U.S. is seeing the lowest unemployment rate since before the recession hit, reported Jeffry Bartash for MarketWatch. This gargantuan feat is thanks to the government, which created hundreds of thousands of jobs in all sectors to support the American people in their time of need. Though some months have been weaker than others since the efforts began, unemployment is currently at 5.4 percent, which seems like a major accomplishment in light of the much higher rate of unemployment in 2009 and 2010.

Unfortunately, the rate at which jobs are being created seems to be slowing down considerably. In a separate MarketWatch article, Bartash outlined some of the problems that the country is facing in regard to slow job creation. The source indicated that the Federal Reserve's index of labor market conditions fell into the negatives two months in a row for the first time since 2012. Even though the dollar is strong and many more people have jobs than they did just a few years ago, people are wary about spending their money and putting it back into the economy. These issues cannot fix themselves, though the government is certain that the end of 2015 will see unemployment near the 5 percent mark.

Layoffs abound

While the market is not always responsible for various layoffs that occur around the country, these are still happening at an increasing rate. Long-standing companies such as Blue Bell have had to let some of their employees go in response to contaminated food products, reported While the numbers of Blue Bell layoffs don't necessarily reach the numbers seen during the recession, they deeply impact the community in which the factory resides.

According to a recent report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., April 2015 saw the highest number of job cuts in the past three years. The surge topped out at over 61,000 jobs lost in a single month, up a considerable amount from March. Experts explained that the huge drop in oil prices is to blame for the layoffs in Q1, even though gas and oil prices increased later in the quarter.

It appears that no industry is safe from the sinking oil prices and subsequent job loss, but the national government is confident that these setbacks are merely temporary. Perhaps the American people are just wary of the sudden decrease in unemployment and will wait to celebrate the return of our economy.

Thoughts on the pharmaceutical supply chain
Regardless of the industry in which we find ourselves, it's important to have a competitive edge over other companies in the same field. On a larger scale, for separate sectors of commerce that can range anywhere from avocados to zebra-print textiles, having a unified supply chain in place is not only better for business, but forces the rest of the players in the game to rethink their methods.
One supply chain in particular is especially dexterous in maneuvering through the sometimes perilous waters of supply and demand: that of the pharmaceutical supply chain industry. Ads for pharmaceuticals are everywhere in the United States - on our televisions, in our magazines, on the sides of buses, on benches - promoting the various pills and potions that nearly 7 in 10 Americans take, according to the Mayo Clinic. And if you thought that the sector's advertising was effective, the supply chain to deliver medication to the nearly 70 percent of Americans is even more so.
Even though the pharmaceutical industry is a competitive player in the business, there are still some issues that need to be worked out in order for its supply chain to be as effective as possible.

Top-shelf performances

What determines the best performers in the supply chain can sometimes seem arbitrary. As long as consumers get their goods in a timely manner, the materials were sourced in an effective fashion and there are as few extraneous costs as possible, then the supply chain has done its job well. However, Supply Chain Quarterly does its best to measure what makes a certain supply chain excellent or not.
Based on the metrics of  its operating margin, inventory turns and the like, Supply Chain Quarterly was able to discern which pharma company's supply chain was the most effective over the period of years between 2006 to 2013 and 2009 to 2013. Despite the fact that there have been many mergers, acquisitions and new regulations that can be difficult to keep progress up, the numbers show positive growth of the supply chain even if they're slowing down a bit.

Paring down procedures

The pharmaceutical supply chain is a truly complex enigma. Researchers and doctors are always looking for the newest miracle pill that will change health care altogether. Unfortunately, this means that there is a lot more time and energy spent on procuring supplies and testing out new formulas than there is on delivery to the customer.

Supply​ Management suggested that pharma companies should focus more on the consuming customer rather than the self-sufficient scientists, as the customer is the end result, not the person who made the medication.

What can be difficult about this, the source indicated, is that the supply chains can feel convoluted when they involved so many small processes. That's not to say that there should be fewer regulations or more shortcuts to get the products into the bloodstreams of people across the nation, but taking out extraneous steps and reorganizing the focus may get the pharmaceutical supply chain up to where it could be.

While there are quite a few people around the world who maybe take too many medications, it is important that this supply chain is as effective as possible to ensure the delivery of life-saving medicines. Over the course of the next few years, we can expect to see a more trimmed-down supply chain and satisfied customers, without the supply chain losing the edge that pharmaceutical companies need to stay on top of their game.
Moves to make manufacturing safer for all

The world of the supply chain is massive. With all the sectors involved from beginning to delivery, products, materials, tools and everything in between go through many set of hands. When you think about it, there is even a supply chain for the machines and vehicles that will eventually help make and transport other items that are sold around the globe. Supply chain operations represent a large circle of commerce that is highly dependent on the other people in the industry doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

What happens, though, when employees at factories, plants, farms or refineries are put at risk? The well-being of humans should never come behind the desire for a thriving economy, but should a certain sector fail to produce its load, what are the repercussions? There are so many steps that need to be taken in order to protect everyone involved in the supply chain, but hopefully the actions that lawmakers take will be long-lasting and safe for all parties, from production to procurement.

Factory fires and Manila mishaps

Conditions at factories located in remote parts of the globe have been a topic of discussion that has made international headlines and been the subject of many news programs from early morning to late night television. Though efforts to shake up the old ways in favor of safer and more humane workplace environments have been made, there have yet to be any real regulations that protect the people making our clothes, toys and electronics.

Just after the two-year anniversary of the factory tragedy in Bangladesh that claimed over 1,000 lives, a slipper factory in Manila caught on fire and claimed the lives of 72 workers due to the low safety standards that exist for buildings in the city, reported ChannelNewsAsia. This is just the latest in what seems to be a fire epidemic for Manila. The city's risk of fatal fires has increased by 20 percent in the past two years alone, noted the source. Many of the recent victims could have been saved if there were proper fire exits in place, but sadly there were no escape routes for the building.

The fires were mostly caused by faulty wiring and neglected heat sources, the article continued, which could have easily been remedied with regular inspections and enforced safety regulations.

On the home front

Far-flung parts of the globe are not the only areas of the world to be plagued by poor safety standards. In fact, we are still fighting to ensure safe working conditions for United States citizens coming into contact with beryllium. This dangerous metal-turned-dust causes a fatal lung disease that could be avoided if there were more precautions in place to eradicate the health threat.

According to the International Business Times, the Office of Management and Budget is delaying making a decision about a proposal to help keep workers healthy and safe. The agency is five months past the deadline, putting countless people at risk. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is trying hard to fix the problems that stand in the way of enacting humane working conditions.

Even though there is still a long way to go to ensure the safety of all members of the supply chain, there is now a bigger spotlight on the issue. Brushing the problem under the rug and hoping it will go away will never fix the problem, but keeping it at the forefront of the public's awareness will hopefully lead to a better future for the ever-important supply chain. 

Piracy increases, supply chain at risk

When you think of pirates, your mind probably conjures the image of swashbuckling and bearded men, clad in tunics and leather, possibly sporting eye patches and pointed hats. While these adventurers of yesteryear seem like nothing more than romanticized stories these days, piracy is still a prevalent issue for procurement services around the globe. Modern-day pirates have traded in their swords and ships for military-grade firearms and attack tactics that involve taking the cargo ships and their inhabitants captive.

The threat in both Asian and African waters is very real, and something that needs to be considered when companies rely on global sourcing. How is piracy affecting the supply chain and what can we do to protect the men and women aboard the cargo ships from harm while ensuring the safe passage of the goods they are transporting?

Escalating threats

Piracy has been around for hundreds of years, if not longer, but these seafaring criminals have only changed their weaponry, tactics and targeted loot over the centuries. Today, at-risk cargo ranges anywhere from oil and fuel to scrap metal. According to Maritime Executive, 2015 has already seen five major incidents of piracy and general attacks have increased from 29 to 38 over a two-year period.

Most of these attacks took place in the South China Sea and off the coasts of Singapore and Vietnam. The severity of the incidents varies, and pirate attacks have become so commonplace that they are now considered normal to some governments. However, the Chief of Navy for Singapore issued a warning against terrorist activity, which may look strikingly similar to piracy despite having stark differences in intention.

Since the threats on the ocean show no signs of easing up or going away, many companies have taken the safety of crew and cargo into their own hands - much to the chagrin of governing bodies adjacent to the dangerous waters.

Safety first

While it's a smart investment to hire personnel from private security firms to accompany products on the voyage from point A to point B, these professionals do not always practice within the limits of the law. At times, it seems as though the sea is a vast and lawless entity, but those who traditionally operate within the bounds of the law back on land are still required to conduct themselves legally at sea.

SeatradeGlobal reported that security contractors are becoming increasingly popular in at-risk areas such as West Africa and Southeast Asia. There have been multiple issues concerning the legality of the weapons on board these vessels traveling through nearby waters, as well as the practices in which they are used. In various cases, the firearms that security professionals have could get them arrested in some countries, leaving them to fend for themselves since insurance doesn't cover illegal practices in international waters.

Piracy and the safety of cargo and crew is an issue that is being taken seriously, but also one that could go seriously wrong if ship owners resort to questionable security practices. It is the duty of the supply chain managers, procurement specialists and government agencies to work together and figure out the best way to conduct business and keep safe from pirates while still remaining lawful. Yes, of course it's important to protect the people and products on these ships, it's a matter of integrity and the vessels must also operate under the law, even if there are dangerous groups who decide to defy it.

It felt like yesterday I was making sure that no one in my family needed the phone for an hour so I could go online to check out myspace to see what my friends were writing about or check out a new band I just heard about. After checking out myspace I may have strolled over to altavista or askjeeves or mapquest.

I needed an hour because it took almost half as long to connect onto the Internet using America Online. We were using dial-up then and in those days no one used Google because it was too plain looking. There was no such thing as Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat. You also needed to write out the entire URL (

Yes, it was the 1990's and since then, the internet entered into hyper-drive, speeding away and never looking back. So what has AOL been up to since the peak of screen names, IM-ing (instant messaging), and annual install discs? Ben Rooney from CNN Money
Yes, it was the 1990's and since then, the internet entered into hyper-drive, speeding away and never looking back. So what has AOL been up to since the peak of screen names, IM-ing (instant messaging), and annual install discs? Ben Rooney from CNN Money details what has been happening to AOL since the 1990's:

"In January of 2000, when the Internet was still relatively young and a large percentage of users depended on dial-up modems, AOL and its stock were flying high. It used that strength to strike a deal with established media giant Time Warner (TWX), the owner of CNN, HBO, Warner Bros., and a number of other units it has since sold off. The deal was eventually judged to be among the worst mergers in corporate history. The Internet bubble soon burst and the combined AOL Time Warner reported a record corporate loss of $99 billion in 2002, just a year after the merger was completed. The conglomerate eventually dumped the AOL unit in 2009."

On Tuesday, Verizon announced the news of the acquisition of AOL for $4.4 billion, leaving all of us to ask the same question: Why? Curious, I took a look at AOL and to see for myself if it was worth $50/share. Like its competitors, AOL has the usual headlines from the different sections of the news, sports updates and a section for local weather, nothing out of the ordinary. Then I discovered what I had never known: A section for AOL original shows. Did you know they have over 30 original shows that have been airing since 2011?

In comparison to AOL's website, Verizon's site is not user friendly. The site’s interface has been designed for its members who are looking to check their email or manage their settings. Verizon's site does not seem to gather wandering eyes and clicks. Conversely, according to the CNN article brings in $600 million in advertising, most likely a result of the site’s content and layout.

Verizon is already an enormous company. Verizon posts on their site important facts on last year's performance including:

  • $127.1 billion in annual revenue
  • Fortune 500 rank is 16 
  • Approximately 176,320 employees
Most mergers include two companies who are in competition. The merge would boost the new company's market share and the government has to decide whether that constitutes a monopoly or unfair playing field for the industry. I do not foresee any bans or restrictions on the deal due to the separate business model/customer base of Verizon and AOL. Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, believes "internet companies and traditional cable, phone and media companies need to be coming together to create joint offerings, and that those who don't find a partner are in danger of being left on the sidelines without enough scale to compete." Only time will tell if he is right.

The most important fact is that Verizon is the largest US wireless company with 108.6 million retail connections. Verizon has the network to leverage based off of volume. The company knows that if they can expand their offerings they can keep sustainable growth, retain current members, and continue to rank high and bring their shareholders money. If they believe AOL is worth $50/share that is good for all AOL stockholders, but I believe it is valued lower and is currently, an inflated stock price. Net Income has staggered since 2010, peaking in 2012 at $1 billion, but only reporting $92 million in 2013 and $126 million in 2014.

Can reducing food waste begin with the supply chain?

"Waste not, want not" and "finish everything on your plate before you leave the table" are common phrases heard in homes across the country. Many people are very conscious about using the food they've purchased effectively, not letting things grow old, stale or rancid. Allowing good food go to waste seems like an unintelligent way to spend money and resources, especially when commodities such as water are so precious in states like California, where a lot of the food in the United States comes from.

It would behoove all of us to do our parts to ensure our refrigerators are only filled with products that are fresh or will not go bad. However, while we may stay on top of every expiration date on each individual label, there is still so much food that goes to waste in the course of the supply chain. How can we stop wasting products, time, money and other resources and get food into hungry bellies instead of landfills?

Not so appetizing

Many individuals enjoy imported food and exporting goods for profit. During the winter months, people in colder climates enjoy eating salads, pineapples, raspberries and avocados, despite the fact that these ingredients can be expensive. Many of our food products travel for miles and miles before ending up in our grocery stores.

Unfortunately, this means that there is a lot more time for fresh fruits, vegetables and uncured meats to spoil before even reaching our cities. According to Albawaba, over $3.5 billion worth of food is wasted in the United Arab Emirates every year. This does not just apply to products grown in the country, but to imported goods as well. The source also noted that the United Nations reported that 32.7 percent of the food produced on the planet goes uneaten and wasted every single year.

GreenBiz surmised that by the year 2050, when the planet has 9 billion people to feed, we will run into more problems of people going hungry or eating food that's heavily genetically modified or unhealthy. It's shocking that 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste each year, a good deal of  which occurs due to from poor supply chain practices.

Food for thought

In order to prepare ourselves for the inevitable increase of population and address the sheer wastefulness that has become a component of the supply chain, there needs to be a change in the way we approach food products. Food should not be seen as something that is disposable. It serves a purpose and is a human right, but is not accessible for all. The fact that we are all right with throwing massive quantities of food away when there are starving populations across the world doesn't bode well for the future of the planet.

Since we will not give up our luxuries of raspberries in winter and star fruits in the desert, we need to change our game. Perhaps there should be more sustainable methods for transporting food - faster, colder, more efficient - to make up for the distance between farm and fridge. Perhaps we needs to examine supply and demand needs to determine what is able to be produced and try to reconcile the numbers to eliminate waste. 

There must be a way to prevent the wastefulness that's become so commonplace in our society today. Maybe we can get to the root of the problem so the supply chain will perform to the best of its ability, delivering fresh goods to every hungry tummy.

Car recalls: Supply chain to blame?

When it comes to our lives, safety is usually our top concern, yet there are so many areas in life that force us to live dangerously. We ingest chemicals, use public transportation, seal ourselves into elevators, among other dangers, and we don't even think twice about it. We expect the manufacturers and suppliers to do a quality job while making these potentially hazardous items for us and we trust them.

However, it feels that once every few weeks, we hear of some recall or another that's the result of a death or an injury. Every once in a while, these recalls pertain to a toy or some food product, but it's often a related to a vehicle. These multi-ton machines carry us from place to place, but at what risk? How often do cars, trucks and SUVs need to malfunction before the testing facilities in charge of ensuring safety for all actually make the cars safe?

A long and bumpy road

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of press about the issues that car companies have had with their products out on the road. We've heard about faulty air bags deploying incorrectly, causing grievous bodily harm and brakes that don't work, causing crashes of all magnitudes.

In the past few weeks alone, three major car companies have needed to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles for a number of reasons. reported Mitsubishi recalling over 130,000 cars for unstable electronic control units, which could very well result in crashes.

Car and Driver reported that General Motors has recalled nearly 470,000 cars this year for seatbelt attachment failure. These features, mandatory for every car and in nearly every state, should not malfunction, yet models of the Chevy Malibu from 2011 and 2012 needed to head back to the dealerships for repair.

And finally this year, Ford Motor Company has recalled 600,000 cars, SUVs and trucks for myriad reasons including steering and light issues, noted These standard features, imperative for overall safety for the driver and other motorists on the road, should not be problems for professional car makers, yet there are problems arising every few months.

No car is perfect, and they are progressively getting safer as the years go on, but perhaps the features that need to be on every car should be the focus, as opposed to parking assist and touch screen audio controls.

Who is responsible?

The safety of all travelers should be the main concern for car companies. However, is it necessarily their full responsibility for the success of the features in a given vehicle? In the supply chain for car manufacturing, there are suppliers who make individual components like locking mechanisms and gears and bolts that allow parts to move properly. Is it their duty to ensure the proper functionality or does the responsibility lie with those who install said components into a given vehicle?

Whoever is at fault specifically, it should be the duty of all links in the supply chain to ensure the safety of the drivers. These machines have the potential to drive up to 150 miles per hour, carrying families, driving alongside others, and safety protocol should not be over looked.

There’s no doubt the Great Recession added extra strain on company hiring practices, leading HR organizations to find new ways for finding and developing ideal talent. One of those approaches was hiring more and more contingent labor. As the economy slowly recovers from the recession, however, the demand for temporary staffing and contingent labor hasn't died down. In fact, it continues to rise.

Companies, and candidates alike, are seeing the mutually shared benefits of temporary staffing arrangements - including cost flexibility for employers and work/life balance for candidates. This growing trend is particularly popular in fields such as IT/ Programming, Engineering, and Multimedia/ Design.

The demand for contingent labor is also seeing an uptick in procurement, sourcing, and supply chain organizations as well. However, with limited talent pools and high competition, companies are struggling to find these types of talent on their own- a hot topic of conversation during the 2015 Annual ISM conference this past month.

But, there is hope! Procurement consulting firms (like Source One) offer all the benefits of staffing agencies PLUS a variety of agile solutions to meet varying talent needs.

Below is an infographic outlining the growing demand for contingent workers and potential solutions for finding these candidates. 

Reducing Cost of Goods Sold through Strategic Sourcing
In today’s world of economic flux, global political unrest, and flash-in-the-pan technologies, it is difficult to strike the appropriate balance of factors your company can control and factors your company can’t control. For direct spend and engineered products, the factors within your control can seem few and far between. Companies toil to stay ahead of the market, to innovate, and to deliver finished products that perform well with customers. And before a product ever gets to market, so many hands across so many different departments have to touch it – increasing your costs and risks. The cost of goods sold (COGS) must be controlled to sustain profitability – but how can you control such an unruly element?

When cost savings is the prime directive, Procurement shoulders the heavy load of responsibility.  Using strategic sourcing techniques on indirect spend categories, companies have been able to realize cost savings and secure their supply chain operations. However, where the indirects supply base can be rationalized and pricing dynamics controlled, the marketplace for direct materials is much more difficult to control. For engineered products, spend analytics and going to market (RFx design, bidding processes, etc.) cannot deliver sustainable savings and increased profits.

The good news is that Procurement can tackle this problem by working hand-in-hand with Engineering to address matters of product design and assembly. The bad news is that these two groups don’t speak the same language, and seemingly don’t have the same goals. Procurement groups can struggle to gain traction with engineering groups when procurement’s focus is too much on cost. Obviously, Procurement’s focus on cost as a primary driver is appropriate. And stemming from rigidity or siloed thinking, Procurement groups may effectively live or die on the basis of costs savings alone.  If the organizational model and company goals all point to cost savings by any means possible, then Procurement groups may find “low-hanging fruit” by cutting corners in engineering and design. It’s easy to see how this creates an environment where Engineers see Procurement as “bean counters” who have little regard for the integrity, efficacy, and marketability of an end product.  
As with many things in business, a balanced approach wins out. Especially for direct spend, the best Procurement groups also focus on supplier financial viability, supply chain visibility, and ultimately end product quality – which naturally means better collaboration with Engineering. Procurement groups must work to understand Engineering’s point of view – why was the product designed this way? Why this material for this component?  True collaboration requires both sides to come to the table with open minds and an earnest desire to find common ground. Some companies have attempted to solve these issues through their hiring practices, specifically by creating hybrid positions such as “procurement engineer” or “sourcing engineer.” Such cross-pollination can be effective, but does not guarantee sustainable results as individuals settle into roles and the status quo takes hold.

The most reliable way to ensure sustainable results? Find the right strategic partner with a history of delivering results and advancing operations. 
California drought continues, supply chains in danger

"Rain, rain go away" is not a tune that anyone is singing in California. It's of no surprise that the drought in California is still going strong, with only a few inches of rain falling in the past six months. There have been a number of bans on water usage and what exactly can be in production while the state enters its fourth straight year of an incredibly limited water supply.

Unfortunately, it would appear that there is no end in sight for the parched regions, but the supply chain is still fighting to maintain its pre-drought production level. Not only is this not a sustainable practice for any company in a drought-stricken area, but the state is very close to running out of all its reserves. Northern California has even gone so far as to propose secession to prevent the southern regions from taking the precious resource. What's happening to the California supply chain now that the rainy season is almost over and there was barely any water to speak of?

Crops and clothes in crisis

The supply chain in California is now inundated with a great deal of problems thanks to the lack of rainfall in the past few years. While manufacturers, farmers and suppliers tried to keep a stiff upper lip about the whole situation, it most certainly began to wilt this year under the heat and pressure of failing crops and industries.

ZDNet reported that it takes 1.1 gallons of water to nourish a single almond and more than five gallons for a single head of broccoli. While the farms in California provide 90 percent of the green vegetables that the United States uses throughout the winter, it comes at a very steep price by way of water.

Crops are not the only products taking a hit during this prolonged drought, either. The denim industry in Los Angeles and the other garment manufacturers are feeling the strain from the lack of rain. TriplePundit indicated that many pieces of clothing are treated with water and companies have had to get creative to find alternate methods. Though many denim designers have been ahead of the curve by implementing water conservation efforts as far back as 2010, they will probably face more restrictions if the drought should continue for much longer, as it is expected to do.

Not a drop to drink

Bottled water, an industry that seemed ridiculous 30 years ago, has also been hit hard by the lack of resources. Ethos Water, a sustainable bottled water brand by Starbucks, will be moving its facility from California to Pennsylvania, noted MarketWatch. Though the company supports over 1 billion people worldwide with clean drinking water, it waited to move their production until there were water bans in place.

The water company will be looking to remedy its West Coast distribution efforts in the next few years, vowing to only produce in areas that can handle production on such a large scale. The bottled water industry is quite lucrative, with the whole market currently valued at $600 billion, reported the source.

The drought isn't just affecting businesses in California - the citizens who live there are placed under a strict ban that shows no sign of letting up. Fresh water can be considered the world's 21st century oil in terms of value and commodity, though it can be argued that water is more important to human survival. Hopefully the end of the drought is coming close, because California's supply chain is thirsty and is in desperate need for some water.

Fluidity needed for the beverage supply chain

Staying flexible is important for the health and longevity of many things. Keeping a limber body will prevent stiffness and atrophy as age inevitably sets in. This is not unlike the aging process of a business. It's very easy to get comfortable in a pattern and eventually get so stuck in those ways that deviation from the norm seems impossible. For a very select few, this manner of business is not so injurious, but for others it means certain demise.

This flexibility or fluidity is imperative for survival. There are so many changes that could interfere with production or supply in the blink of an eye. This is never more true than for companies in the beverage supply chain. Consumer desires are mercurial and their patience often runs thin, so it's crucial for beverage companies to keep up with the ever-changing demand.

Keeping spirits bright

The business of wine, ales and spirits has changed greatly in the past century. Wines and beers were traditional imported and spirits were concocted in old distilleries or barns, so their flavors were just that of the alcohol itself. Fast forward to 2015 when Diageo, premium drink maker, produces hundreds of kinds of alcohols ranging from flavored vodkas to top-of-the-line rum worth $250,000, reported IndustryWeek. 

The source indicated that the company not only produces spirits, but is also high-spirited itself. Always seeking out that competitive edge, Diageo is constantly trying out new flavor combinations for its products. The innovations taken add up to about one per day, seeing which ones will catch on in alcohol-imbibing communities and which were simply valiant efforts, albeit strange.

In order to accommodate these quick changes, Diageo's factories and suppliers need to have a quick turnaround times. One flavor doesn't take off? Cease production, sell off the remaining supply and work on the next project. This extreme fluidity is practically unheard of in the supply chain, but it does speak to the determination of the team to provide the public with new products as quickly as possible.

Not so sweet

It's been in the news recently that large chain restaurants such as Chipotle and Panera have made efforts to rid their dishes of GMOs and other unnatural additives, reported National Public Radio. These restaurants have worked closely with their suppliers to eradicate genetically modified corn and bleach from their kitchens, but have not made any changes to their soft drinks.

The sodas available in these establishments still contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, which has been known to lead to certain health issues. Though a Panera representative asserted that the company is working with its beverage suppliers to take care of these issues, the business has not made any changes yet, the source indicated. If the public calls for more natural options and national chain restaurants are taking notice, shouldn't other large companies follow suit?

It's fascinating to see how these enterprises will tout natural flavors such as vanilla but stick with sweeteners that are anything but sweet. Perhaps it's time that soft drinks follow in the footsteps of hard alcohol producers and pay attention to consumer trends and wants.

The supply chain can be a tricky beast to manage, but it can be handled with more ease if all parties are open to change. In business, nothing stays still for long and beverage companies, as well as others, should do well to go with the flow - or end up high and dry.

The ISM 2015 Annual Conference came to a close yesterday in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. The conference, which celebrated 100 years for the Institute for Supply Chain Management, was filled with industry expert attendees and speakers, enlightening sessions, and relationship building.

At this year’s conference, William Dorn, Vice President of Operations and Diego De la Garza, Senior Project Manager & Latin America Liaison shared their expertise on navigating the many business opportunities Mexico and other Latin American countries offer in the presentation: Nearshoring from Mexico: The Supplier Development Challenge. Mexico and Latin America are ripe with opportunities to reduce supply chain costs and risks and gain access to innovation, and this session illustrated how companies can overcome some of the associated challenges.

In addition to the presentation, Source One also hosted an exhibition booth at the event. Members of the Source One team were met with interesting discussions and questions on topics such as benchmarking, strategic sourcing, and procurement transformation.
Dorn shared his thoughts on the event:

“I look forward to attending the ISM Annual Conference every year and this year was no exception. Joining the excellent ISM roster of educational sessions and presenting on the topic of nearshoring was a great experience. There is a growing interest of companies looking to move elements of their supply chain away from distant countries to places like Mexico and other Latin American countries, so it was a great opportunity for Source One to shed light and demonstrate our expertise on the challenges of nearshoring, but also how to companies can overcome those challenges to gain a competitive advantage.” 

Here is an overview look at Nearshoring in the form of an infographic:

On Tuesday, April 21, 2015, McDonalds pledged a similar oath as Krispy Kreme, Yum Brands, and Dunkin’ Donuts: to terminate deforestation across its entire supply chain. The dictionary of forestry defines deforestation as the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. The World Wildlife Fund reminds us that the Amazon has lost 17% of its forestry in the last 50 years. An article from The Guardian captured a quote from the Vice President of Agriculture at the World Wildlife Fund:

“McDonald’s brings size and scale to the debate of sustainable sourcing. Their reach is large, they are global, they work closely with the suppliers and so this outreach can only help,” said David McLaughlin, Vice President of Agriculture at the World Wildlife Fund.”

A lesson we can all learn in supply chain: gaining top level support is critical for best results and efficiency.  There will be roadblocks and resistance up the chain of command if a change, even for the better, is coming from an entry level position. People will second guess the idea or plainly reject it due to the source alone. The higher up the title of the person making the changes, the higher the percentage of compliance. 

The deforestation commitment from McDonald’s comes from the McDonald’s Worldwide Supply Chain department. Francesca DeBiase, senior vice president of the department explains: "This commitment to end deforestation demonstrates another major step for McDonald's as we work to increasingly embed sustainability throughout our global business," said Francesca DeBiase, senior vice president of McDonald's Worldwide Supply Chain and Sustainability. "Making this pledge is the right thing to do for our company, the planet and the communities in which our supply chain operates. We're excited to continue collaborating with our supplier partners to achieve our goals."

In a way, this supply chain lesson is also a message about accepting responsibility and meeting expectations as a role model. McDonalds may have what many people would deem an unhealthy menu, but regardless of healthy choices, McDonalds holds an estimated 21.7% of the US fast food industry according to With over 35,000 outlets in 119 countries it is the world’s largest hamburger fast food restaurant. Other companies may be looking at McDonalds for guidance in regards to social responsibilities, diversity, wages, and other company policies.

Social responsibilities typically include giving back to the community in ways of donations and charities. The Ronald McDonald House, founded in 1974, is a “nonprofit organization whose mission is to create, find, and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children” ( One of the top grossing programs is McHappy Day, an annual event where a percentage of the day’s sales go to charity.

The guardian article mentions that “while McDonald’s said that its policy is effective immediately, their actual targets for zero deforestation may be five to 15 years away. This is in line with the New York declaration on forests that it signed at the United Nation’s climate summit in September, along with other global corporations, to end deforestation due to agricultural commodities by 2020 and the loss of natural forests by 2030.”

Even if it takes all the way to the year 2020 or 2030, this is a major step in the right direction. There are many supply chains out there today in various industries responsible for some deforestation. If they are a small or medium sized supply chain the mentality could very well be if the big supply chains are doing it, it must be ok. McDonalds is leading by example and everyone and every company should be doing their best to preserve rainforests and if possible, restore the wildlife and habitations that have already been destroyed.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Assess Your Agency Relationship

The relationship between an advertiser and their agency is often considered a strategic partnership. However, it takes efforts from both parties to create a true partnership. If you are an advertiser and your existing agency is making you spin circles in your desk chair, you should begin to ask yourself some key questions to help identify what is currently missing from the relationship. And keep in mind, you may be part of the problem. So, before you decide to hire a search consultant, stop spinning in your chair, and consider asking yourself the following questions:

1. “Does Transparency Exist?"

Transparency builds trust in any type of relationship, and with an agency, it all begins with fully understanding how they are being compensated for their services. According to, “...most client-agency contracts insist that all discounts, rebates, and benefits earned by media spending be returned to the client. But if a TV station returns a discount to a media-buying agency there is no way for the client to know about that payment if the agency does not disclose it.” Invoicing alone should indicate how and where your dollars are being spent. Both you and your agency need to be aligned and clear on the budget, content and messaging, strategic direction, and goals of the brand. If there is no clear direction or a lack of transparency exists, you run the risk of not knowing where your dollars are being spent and what you’re actually receiving with your money.

2. “Are they listening to me?” 


When interacting with your agency, are they considering your advice, knowledge, concerns, and direction? You know your brand best, the product/service, its benefits and target consumers. A good agency should guide and challenge you to drive collaboration to find the best possible route for market success…together. However, if you are not actively involved, therein lies a problem that needs to be addressed. As the client, you should also be actively providing input and direction into the project.

3. “Do I have any homework?”

Homework, you say!? Yes, homework. Your agency should be giving you assignments and projects to be working on to contribute to the ongoing marketing campaign efforts. For example, such tasks may be building a strong brief to dictate the agency’s assignment. Or the task may be smaller, more tactical efforts such as blogging and social media interactions to keep your brand active and relevant. An agency that has the right idea will ask you to put your knowledge to work to keep you on the map. Again, as stated previously, no one knows your brand more than you. Your thoughts should be prevalent and present in all marketing channels to maintain your connection with your brand and target audience, and in the end, reach your strategic goals.

4. “Do I Have Access to their Marketing Tools?”

Your marketing agency should be allowing you access to the same tools they are using to build and promote your brand and track performance. For example, if your agency has access to Nielsen Data, you should be able to see the insights, solutions and output from this tool. Overall, you should understand the tools being utilized and what value they deliver. If the tools cannot be shared, at the very least have visibility into the deliverables they produce. In this day and age, there are many marketing tools that can produce various types of measureable reporting detailing how your campaigns/marketing tactics are performing. Some of the tools may include visibility into market share, social reach, website views, etc. When using your agency’s tools and/or reviewing the output, are you coming up with the same assumptions observations and conclusions? You should see exactly what they are seeing without any question. This allows you, as a team, to work towards the same goals and understand exactly if your efforts are working or not.

5. “Excuses, again?!”

Is your agency constantly making excuses as to why an assignment is taking so long to complete? Do you receive the dreaded response of “Sorry, that’s out of our scope?” Agencies should be upfront with their deadlines and scope of work before you even start a project or sign a contract. This ties in very well with your agency being transparent with you.

Once you have answers to the questions outlined above, share your thoughts with your agency. Direct dialogue is necessary to build trust and your current agency deserves honest feedback on their performance. A great deal of work goes into an agency search and a possible transition to a new agency. Therefore, take the time to fully evaluate the current state and determine if there is a solution to fixing what is wrong in your current relationship. At the end of the day, an advertiser wants an agency that brings out the best in their brand and company, one that will work side by side with the advertiser and pick their brain on where they envision their brand going. Working with an agency should be fun... and not cause you angst! So, take some time, think about these questions and after all is said and done, ask yourself a final question: “Is it still worth it?”