November 2016
The logistics section of a company as large as Apple may soon have to respond to major changes. Considering the brand's international presence and preference for revolutionary product lines, major shifts can obviously demand a lot from participants. The Wall Street Journal reported on a seemingly superficial change that could actually have large repercussions for suppliers, depending on how it plays out.

The Journal said Apple is currently considering several different prototypes, one of which includes "organic light-emitting displays," also known as OLEDs. While these are supposedly more flexible than standard screens and simpler to light up, two executives quoted in the source, Mitsuru Homma of Japan Display and Tai Jeng-wu of Sharp, both cast doubt on the future of the OLED market. This despite research quoted in the source from IHS Markit showing the OLED sales soaring above LCD output in the coming decade.

"Apple is often the subject of rumors, making it sometimes difficult to tell the company's actual plans."
Supply issues
Making any major product changes can impact the supply chain, but this situation in particular comes with some wrinkles which could make the shift particularly difficult. It perhaps doesn't help that Apple, like other technology giants, is often the subject of rumors, making it sometimes difficult to tell the company's actual plans.

Nonetheless, here are some possible challenges that could come with a switch to the OLED model in the next style of Apple devices:
  • Competition vs. skill: As Forbes pointed out, Apple faces something of a dilemma when it comes to choosing an OLED supplier. It likely wants to distance itself from Samsung, a competitor, while still finding a partner that's able to provide. That could limit the business' choices and force it to make some compromises in the name of faster production.
  • Higher expectations: If Apple does commit to this technology, it will probably be under pressure to perform well, which could in turn translate to a need for higher performance quality from suppliers. 
  • The pressure of innovation: It's not just the suppliers that could face high demands. Apple also has a reputation as being on the forefront of innovation, or at least has in the past, putting its new product under scrutiny before it's even been confirmed. Forbes also referenced the need for Apple to balance its new elements, such as the OLED, with the functions it will have to include in the phone, like a front-facing camera. Similarly, the company will have to be both a product leader and a part of the OLED trend. Even if it works with experienced OLED suppliers, Apple might have to find a way to accommodate its specific phone body.
A simple chain
The different links of the chain can bring complexity to the production process. Supply Chain 24/7 referenced that Apple's chain might not actually be as complex as others, such as Amazon. According to this, Apple's supplier list is "manageable" compared to the many that Amazon has to work with. Apple's catalog also only includes 26,000 items which last year-round, as opposed to Amazon's millions of products, some of which are only seasonal.

Purchasing management along with other services can enable companies to be strategic when they choose an efficient way to channel products.
Two years ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos drew attention to the possibility of drone deliveries by discussing their future as a part of Amazon. Since then, the role of commercial drones has become more discussed, leading to some potentially important future developments. Responding to these changes can lead to major reforms if supply chain managers seek out strategic and skilled managed IT services.

FAA progress
The Federal Aviation Administration announced a rule that would affect piloted drones beginning this August. The original June FAA notice explained the Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107), which came with specific restrictions for "transportation of property for compensation or hire." These include geographical requirements and a 55 pound weight limit on both the aircraft and its cargo.
It's worth noting what this rule does and doesn't require. While there are extensive responsibilities listed for remote operating pilots, the body of the drone (or "aircraft," as it's referred to here) itself does not. Instead, the pilot is simply instructed to conduct a check before use, with the actions involved in the check left unspecified.

However, the FAA does have the right to access the vehicle for inspection, and must be notified if an unmanned vehicle causes serious injuries or property damage. In addition, the organization announced the first meeting of the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team, meant to be the start of a greater push toward better safety measures. The FAA said that this was based on other groups such as the Commercial Aviation Safety Team.

"The Federal Aviation Administration announced a rule that would affect piloted drones this August."
Future applications
Supply Chain Digest also recently reported on some meaningful developments in the world of drones. Along with delivery, drones could assist with warehouse activities, using bar code information and digital mapping to navigate complex storage centers. It would require different systems from the drone used in delivery, but it could also be an important aspect of supply if handled well.

Though it may have less of a direct effect on companies themselves, public perception of what drones can do is also a possible factor in its growth. A U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General online survey of 1,465 people recently looked at the growing feelings toward drone deployment for delivery purposes.

According to this source, the supposed time-saving aspects of drone delivery appeals to the public, along with the ability for enhancing emergency services. At the same time, American citizens are largely afraid of the possibilities of drone malfunction, even while 75 percent of them foresee them arriving within ten years from now. While 23 percent of respondents say they don't like or dislike drone delivery, 44 percent said they are in favor of it. This is a full 10 percent more than the amount of Americans who fully dislike it.

Even as businesses research drones for supply purposes, there appear to be possible setbacks in store before they become common. The Wall Street Journal reported on a possible disruption to Project Wing, a drone-based project undertaken by Google parent company Alphabet. The source said that the project will no longer have two members of its team and is now four years in the making.
Procurement management and other essential tasks are all part of a functioning supply chain, as are the tools need to make them work.
Each year and the Institute for Supply Management recognize 30 incredible purchasing and supply chain management  professionals under the age of 30, for their contributions to the industry through the 30 Under 30 Rising Supply Chain Star Recognition Program. This year, Source One's very own Senior Project Manager and MRO Category Expert, Michael Croasdale received the recognition - making the list of 30 Rising Supply Chain Stars for his innovative work delivering a preferred vendor program for a construction client utilizing Google Earth technology.

While Croasdale's solution saved his client thousands of dollars, all too often millennials receive a ton of flack for their dependency on technology - among the long list of other generational stereotypes. However, millennials are making a huge impact on the supply chain management industry. As drivers behind human-centered technology, millennials in the workforce are transforming the way companies operate.

And, despite the terrible preconceptions of the millennial generation, they're not all lazy and entitled. They are a generation composed of diverse backgrounds and motivations. To address those stereotypes, Source One's Michael Croasdale joined two other Rising Supply Chain Stars: Aisha Khan oh Johnson and Johnson and Amrish Lobo of Baker Hughes for a podcast discussion on Being a Millennial in the Supply Chain Management Field. Together, they share the stereotypes they wish they could change the most, as well as how managers can keep millennial talent engaged. For future graduates and millennials interested in a career in supply chain management and procurement, each 30 Under 30 winner shares what motivated their career path in the field and their advice for those looking to do the same.
Context always matters for shipping and logistics, and the dry-bulk sector in particular is reportedly looking at some upcoming improvements. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Baltic Dry Index has slowly rebounded from record-low levels this year to the score of 1,232, a ranking which could be encouraging for multiple businesses, including concrete, coal and grain.

The Journal spoke to Scorpio Bulkers Inc. President Robert Bugbee, who said that the market still has room to improve, although it seems to have moved past the worst levels. For firms such as his that have had to sell vessels to stay even, the hope of more even conditions could make a welcome respite.

"The BDI has seen crests and drops recently, including the May 2008 record number of 11,793."
"Next year there are strong indications we will cover costs and also make some money," Bugbee said. "The market is fundamentally improving and barring a severe disruption to the world economy, it should be plain sailing from the second quarter onwards."

More about the BDI
To understand the significance of the new figures, it may be necessary to look backward at the history of the Index. The New Yorker profiled this system earlier this year.

Created by the Baltic Exchange in 1985, the BDI has seen crests and drops recently, including the May 2008 record number of 11,793, thousands higher than the more recent ratings. This high was followed by a 25 percent dip in the following months, showing the volatility in the market even in the year of its highest figures.

Over the years, the New Yorker said, the BDI has gained fewer recipients and been relegated to the sidelines. However, it appears to be returning to more serious discussion in economic circles, or at least seems to have achieved, as the headline puts it, "surprising relevance" in the current age of dry-bulk goods.

Fast-moving "boom and bust"
Others considering the dry-bulk market also see it as one prone to sudden changes. Writing for Seeking Alpha, independent trader Paulo Santos said that the most recent jumps in the industry could outlast the typical short-lived spikes seen in previous years. Since this is a problem affecting countries across the world, could global sourcing play a role in reassuring companies?

Despite a series of changes as recent as last month, Santos asserted that the key rates are improving, iron ore imports are climbing and that the need for new ships may (eventually) return to influence production. This comes with the major caveat that similar positive trends have ended up crashing in the past, perhaps demanding caution even in the face of some strong improvement.

Yet another source confirmed the tumult in the dry goods sector. Forbes said that the BDI increase in particular stemmed from two political factors: efforts in China to prompt bulk materials shipping and speculation that the new Trump administration could lead to a focus on infrastructure construction, which would in turn require a larger amount of materials.

All of these different publications and experts seem to confirm a major fluctuation, pointing to a need for steady supply systems. When companies face instability, spend management could help reduce costs and influence better decision making.
At my first day at Source One, I did not know what to expect. I studied Source One’s service offerings on the website in order to prepare me for my first day, but I continued to have trouble imagining the work I would be doing. I reviewed my interview notes from when I spoke to the Intern Program leaders about the day-to-day tasks for analyst interns - yet I was still unsure of what specific projects I'd be supporting, the suppliers I'd interact with, and the industries I'd be working in.

My unofficial first day at Source One was the company's Labor Day picnic - during which I was able to meet the team outside the typical office environment and get to know them in a more team building atmosphere. Everyone kept reiterating "Today isn't your typical day at the office." While it wasn't a traditional start to an internship, the picnic allowed me to easily break the ice with my new coworkers. The team was welcoming and I felt quickly at ease getting to know them outside the office walls.

During the official first week at Source One, any questions regarding my role were quickly answered as I began getting filled in on the various projects I'd be working on. As Analyst Interns, much of our time is spent supporting data collection and analysis. We are constantly analyzing invoices, contracts, and other documents to develop a clear view of how companies are spending in a particular category in the form a baseline report. In addition to data analysis, supplier research is vital to establishing a baseline. Supplier research is one of my favorite aspects of my work at Source One. It allows me to get a better understanding of wide range of industries but also has a direct impact on projects as it helps give clients a better idea of the market landscape and their options for cost-reduction. 

In my time at Source, I have gained additional responsibility. I taking on analyst responsibilities for a building materials project working alongside one of Source One's veteran Project Managers.  Like myself, the Project Manager also has an engineering background. Working on this project has been a great experience. I am developing the knowledge and skills to be an Analyst, and have Project Manager to support me along the way. He understands my perspective as an engineering coming into procurement. From his immense experience at Source One, he can help me relate my experience to the overall strategic sourcing process, making me that much more prepared to become an Analyst. For this project I have conducted hours of supplier research which includes using online sources to find suppliers and conducted initial Request For Information (RFI) calls. These calls are used to see if the supplier is a good fit and interested in the project. I am currently in the process of my first RFQ with this project.

I am really enjoying my internship. I am constantly busy but it is not a secluded atmosphere and people are always willing to help. Team building activities and collaborative work environment, make Source One a great work environment to grow. In the future I'm looking forward to getting involved with more Marketing Sourcing initiatives and consult more supplier research within the field to expand my own knowledge in the vertical. I want to continue to work on direct materials projects because I love being able to bring my own knowledge to the table. I came to Source One hoping to blend technology with business and I’ve come to greatly enjoy procurement and have a desire to make a career in supply chain. I am excited to see where this internship takes me.
Enterprises are facing disruption on several fronts, thanks in part to mobile-friendly apps. Like much of the data-focused business revolution, apps stand to free up businesses from traditional tethers and give them a flexible way to manage the supply chain. This is more than just speculation, too: A report from AEB and DHBW recently showcased some of the trends to expect in the logistics sector next year, especially involving business applications.

The study drew from a total of 330 respondents. Most of these were team or project managers in the global trade and logistics fields, but those with various different positions participated too, including executives, division managers, employees and others. The results show conflicting views and hopes for the new year, as stakeholders express their own issues with the current state of apps.

Priorities and capabilities
Despite some possible disagreements, the report made it very clear what the business members want to prioritize in 2017: faster lead and delivery times. According to the source, 72.9 percent of companies believe this to have a "high or very high significance" for next year's performance, even more than those who emphasize reducing supply chain risks. Because of this, any further use of business apps may need to account for this preference to be successful.

"The vast majority of participants said that apps will be a key factor in competition."
The vast majority of participants (nine out of 10) said that apps will be a key factor in competition for global trade and logistics. In addition, four out of five of these respondents believe that business apps will present chances for "transparency, flexibility and control."

More than 64 percent also said they already use business apps in regular activities. The amount of those who use these apps at least once a day is higher for the transport and logistics sector than other industries, such as pharmaceutical or engineering sectors.

Facing challenges
With all of the possible benefits ahead, it's still vital for companies to take the business challenges of these apps seriously. Many think that business apps are overrated for logistics, the report said, and there's also a gap between those that are actually implementing app use plans and companies that merely "plan to."

Achieving better app use will also take some work, given the immense complexity facing most businesses. A Forbes OracleVoice piece recently wrote about the drive to manage operations around the world, taking the many business silos of the company into consideration. Even with the added resources of the cloud, businesses likely have many disparate components to consider.

Just tracking data also isn't the only solution, as businesses will need to use their resources for better transformation in the future. As an example, Global Trade magazine recently cited the company Fleet Advantage's findings on onboard computer data. The firm's President and CFO, Brian Holland, said that the information from these sources isn't used the way it could be.

"In an age where computers drive every aspect of our business operations, it's surprising to learn that many fleets are underutilizing the data that impacts their company's bottom line," Holland said.
To add to their efficiency, logistics companies can enable low cost country sourcing/nearshoring for effective shipping solutions they can rely on.
If you're looking to reduce costs, of course the first step to developing an effective go-to-market strategy begins with understanding how much you're spending, with what suppliers, and on what products/ services  - all answered by conducting a Spend Analysis. The benefits of a Spend Analysis, however, aren't limited to enabling cost savings initiatives. Gaining a clear understanding of your company's spend profile can also be the foundation for the construction of overarching strategic initiatives.

Check out our infographic below to see how your company could benefit by taking a deep dive into your spend patterns!

Of course conducting a Spend Analysis seems like a no-brainer to procurement professionals looking to cut costs. The challenge is answering: How to do so effectively? In many cases, companies look to solve the complexity of getting spend visibility by adding more complexity. Conducting a manual spend analysis can be a daunting endeavor (especially when dealing with decentralized data sets), so procurement groups to turn to a software solution. And while, the automation associated with spend analysis software on the surface seem like the answer to all your spend management prayers, getting a system in place can take months, require extensive integration into existing systems (which means you'll have to get IT and Finance involved), and in many cases the taxonomy used in the system aren't even tailored for the use of procurement. 

Source One's spend analysis as a service,, has you covered. Implementing a semi-automated process, our clients receive a fast and actionable spend analysis report with category recommendations backed by decades of strategic sourcing experience. Our tool was created by procurement professionals for procurement professionals. Meaning, our goal is to provide you with cleansed and classified data, along with category advice and tips, to develop and implement effective strategic sourcing initiatives. 
Automated shipping methods could impact the supply chain on multiple fronts, including land, air and sea. While driverless cars have been a large part of the national discussion recently, unmanned ships still seem to be a possibility, although they bring up numerous questions and challenges.

With the especially busy holiday shipping season upon us, businesses have to think ahead to the possible future. What methods will leave them best ready to compete in a complex global trading environment?

Automation and data analytics may predict some of the way forward, but that doesn't mean there aren't concerns already appearing. Below are some of the key concerns that come with the possibility of self-driven freight ships.

1. Safe storage and transmission
A fear not just for automated cargo ships but any vessels is whether the goods will be damaged in transit. The BBC recently highlighted this in an article about the drive for efficiency in the modern supply chain.

For perishable goods, like bananas, proper storage can be a matter of refrigeration and proper packing. With heavier, more complex products, like cars, managing space with a storage crate can require careful planning, the source said.

"Managing space with a storage crate can require careful planning."
The BBC spoke to WMG Innovation Manager Pierro Filipin, who said that shipping a single container could cost around £5,000 (or USD $6,220.63). He also referenced the older ways originally used to plan for shipments.

"Previously it was done by basically taking a photo of the car, cutting the shape, scaling it in Photoshop so it was in the right proportion, then manually trying to fit the various combinations by hand," Filipin said.

2. Steady progression
Although some may be ready for the fully automated ship system, there is a necessary transition period the industry will likely have to pass through first. The Maritime Executive pointed out multiple reasons why integrating smart technology into fleet vessels needs to be gradual, not instant.

Some of these reasons include the inherent differences between shipping and other forms of transportation. There's a culture in shipping that depends upon a human crew for maintenance and other activities, which automation will need to account for to make a full change.

The need for continuous connection to the cloud and other tech advances could prove to be a problem. As with data-enhanced trucks, the ships of the future may have to upgrade to account for the new demands of the "always-on" logistics system.

For supply managers, the question could become exactly how to collect and use all of the data necessary for transformation. The technologies may exist, but the right interfaces could still be in the works to bring all functions together in one manageable console. The question then becomes what to do in the meantime.

3. Climate and environmental conditions
Finally, the shipping industry will likely face weather challenges that other vehicles don't. A Rolls-Royce and AAWA report on the "next steps" of autonomous ships mentioned the difficult elements of the world around it: the ocean can present both moving and stationery obstacles that an autonomous ship would need to prepare for, the source said.

Guiding ships takes an international presence and a smart use of resources. For this, businesses have the chance to look for global sourcing options that increase efficiency and help save costs.
The new generation of consumers is used to sharing. In a time when money is scarce, users are open to the idea of doing business with people as opposed to established business players. Believe it or not, this concept, often linked with the ridesharing service Uber, is now considered a sort of movement, known as "Uberization," and it's changing finances, housing and other areas—or, it could at least.

Given all of this talk about how to Uberize, it shouldn't be a surprise that the effect is making its way to the supply chain. SCM World's recent Future of the Supply Chain survey polled 1,415 people for information on the future of the industry.

One of the trends it noticed was indeed "Uberizing," which could bring sharing to the traditional environment of logistics. According to the survey results, as published in Forbes, 11 percent more professionals believe that this is "disruptive and important to the supply chain" in 2016 than in 2015. But what would the rise of a "sharing" system really look like for participating companies?

Dynamic warehousing and shipping
Just like rideshares allow buyers to tailor their service to fit their needs, shared supply chain elements could lead to a more customized experience. A Supply Chain Management Review piece recently highlighted the importance of using just what warehouse space is necessary for their operations. This kind of approach to locating and using space could, in turn, lead to cost savings for the company, which no longer has to contend with wholesale agreements they don't need.

There's also the potential for disruption of freight transportation. Forbes discussed this use, looking at Uber's own forays into the delivery sector. However, in some cases, freight simply doesn't seem to translate to shared services, at least not at the moment. Companies will need to recognize the inherent differences between industries, such as whether or not food or other products are really appropriate for flexible shipping.

"The supply chain applications of the sharing model will need to evolve just as Uber will."
Necessary changes
While this may be a hot topic in business for now, the supply chain applications of the sharing model will need to evolve just as Uber will. TechCrunch gave some examples of this, highlighting some of the "essential learning" that can come from what Uber has done well. The source meant this not as a guide for supply chains specifically, but more as a key to how Uberization could play out.

For example, it suggested that predictive analytics could help drive customer fulfillment, just as Uber has tried to use performance metrics to improve its own response time. The needs of the system also dictates special policies to ensure the rides happen correctly, the source said, which could also require a simplified structure that meets cost requirements.

Strategic sourcing 
The promise of global sourcing may help companies reach something similar to this model. Just as Uberization focuses on the smart use of resources, companies can turn to management practices for reduced costs and augmented business developments.

With continuous monitoring, businesses can also use this model to review their own systems and constantly adapt as needed. We may not find ourselves in a completely "Uberized" world, but understanding why the model is so popular could help businesses adapt.
AI has been a talking point for years now as companies try and envision a world where robots help drive production. There are several ways this could manifest itself and some are already showing up in major company supply chains. Businesses can see this as a sign of the need for transformation, now that technology is finally making major changes possible.
BMW Blog profiled the famous car company's use of Smart Transport Robots in a German plant. According to this source, the factory is using 10 battery-powered units to help facilitate production, with the self-driving robots able to move self-guided around a space.

This is part of a five-month initial program and apparently consists of two parts: the roving units themselves, and connected "tugger trains" which navigate using laser signals and multiple units to carry goods. The video included on the blog shows the STR's capable of lifting carts filled with boxes and carrying them to designated locations. The units can also reportedly respond to obstacles in their path, while keeping emissions low.

BMW Group Head of Logistics Jürgen Maidl described both the productivity and sustainability that can come from this new advance in the supply chain.

"Logistics is the heart of the BMW production system - and the use of innovative and digital technologies will become a key factor in our complex logistics processes," Maidl said. "At the same time, sustainable, resource-efficient solutions are also important to us. We are already testing the technologies of the future in a whole series of pilot projects."

The freedom from fixed tracks is an obvious part of the STR's appeal, and it's affecting more than just the auto industry. Back in September, the Wall Street Journal reported on the role Symbotic LLC's robots are playing in the food distribution industry. The Journal also added that this industry typically has not embraced automation the same way as others, representing a possible new area for them to triumph in.

"Self-driving cars and trucks are just one possible way this phenomenon could manifest itself."
Autonomous solutions
Self-driving cars and trucks are just one possible way this phenomenon could manifest itself. Instead of replacing work that humans could do, automated transport could also assist them in getting to work, as a public self-driving transport project in Japan might indicate.
This is the electric Robot Shuttle, first unveiled this summer but now undergoing trials. CNET didn't specifically mention a supply chain purpose for this development, but as with the STR there are possible implications for any business that might depend upon easy access to personnel.

Beyond the technology itself, a changing approach to implementing AI could also dictate the new direction for warehouse management. Earlier this month, WIRED identified a new way of considering automated labor in the factory: With the latest updates in AI, individual units can become more versatile, taking on multiple tasks and saving the company money that might have gone to several different systems.

And since robots are reportedly getting less expensive anyway, there's already an ROI value to be had. WIRED also said that self-driving ships offer to pose disruption as well, bringing self-correcting supply chains to an international level.

Part of a grander narrative
Supporting all of this could require greater use of data centers, with the managed IT services to back them up. Supply companies should remember the necessary changes that these new updates require.
Saving energy and lowering costs can be a boon for the supply chain, but it can also be difficult to implement. Not only do businesses have a huge amount of supply chain components to consider, there's also the problem of deciding which exact method will have the greatest impact. Some are not just trying to reduce energy emissions but offset them entirely through alternative, positive means.
Furniture giant Ikea is planning to augment a distribution center with solar power panels, Chain Store Age reported. Working with the SoCore Energy group and Gray Construction, Ikea reportedly plans to place solar panels across the roof of its building in Joilet, Illinois. The assembly will consist of 8,966 panels and is expected to sit on the top of the building once it's finished roughly a year from now.
Something other companies can take note of is the way this initiative fits the company's larger stated environmental mission. In 2015, the Ikea Group released its Sustainability Report, detailing, among other things, its progress towards energy independence.
It also said that the values of green energy use apply not just to the customers, who have access to resource-saving products. This involved affirming the plan to promote a Code of Conduct for the company's suppliers through initiatives that extend into the future few years.
Planning and acting
Unfortunately, developing a functional green supply chain takes time and attention to detail, as well as reasonable, achievable goals. For a business to fully commit to a green transformation, it needs to understand the impacts on both the bottom line and the customer.
In a chain of actions outlined in Industry Today, calculating the carbon footprint and ultimate savings of a plan can both factor into a new green initiative. Crucially, the source advocated for small changes as well as large ones, which could make the task of modernizing seem more feasible. Instead of putting all of their energy into a massive overhaul, a company can also update smaller pieces, such as lighting fixtures, to introduce changes slowly.
"Consultants can give the company guidance while overseeing an important green conversion."
Procurement and sustainability
One other component of this is the way procurement strategies can go along with environmental goals. The article emphasized the importance of smart procurement, with important sustainability criteria part of the process from the beginning. If a green project benefits from better data, procurement systems can give managers information from the beginning to structure a supply chain correctly.
It goes along neatly with the goals of a procurement audit. Consultants can give the company guidance while overseeing an important conversion, and also make the relationships within the supplier network stronger and more productive.
When there's already a holistic method in place for solving problems, it makes it that much easier for businesses to tweak their approach to reach environmental goals. Accurate reports can be the first step toward implementing change that lasts, no matter what the desired outcome.
With environmental concerns important for producers around the globe and supply chains dependent on international passage, sourcing needs to stem from a business' most critical concerns.
This post is the third and final in a series I have written about the SBA's WOSB program in an attempt to better understand and answer my questions surrounding it.

Government programs, by nature, are difficult to implement. It is even more difficult to understand the effectiveness of large programs once implemented. These programs take time to influence the federal purchasing geography, making course correction a constant work in progress. We should explore issues and concerns with the program. Specifically, is the program working as intended?  Why has the program been investigated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Office of Inspector General (OIG)? 

The GAO was tasked with studying the WOSB Program in 2014. The GAO identified several concerns with the WOSB program. Third-Party certification is essentially assessing a fee for the free program (note, legislation has been passed to amend and remove the self-certification rule). The program requires the same documentation to be uploaded, regardless of self-certification or third-party certification. The SBA does not track whether a business is self- or third-party certified. The contracting officers, not the SBA, are responsible for reviewing the documents submitted to ensure they are all present but does not charge them with ensuring the documents are all valid, as logic would imply.  Contracting officers are only granted access to the WOSB program repository after they have selected an awardee. SBA does not have a process for auditing third-party certifiers to ensure they are qualifying eligible businesses and to ensure that they make the applicants aware of the no cost option to self-certify.  High ineligibility rates have been found in studies conducted on program eligibility.  SBA is developing monthly third-party supplier report reviews but has not given a date for the standard operating procedure release. 

The OIG was charged with investigating the WOSB Program to determine if the set-aside requirements were being complied with and if the benefit-receiving firms met the self-certification requirements. The OIG found that the Federal contracting officers were not properly informed of their responsibilities to vet the contract applicants to ensure they met requirements.  The OIG also found that some of the contract applicants did not meet the documentation requirements. Documentation was either incorrect or, in some cases, not available. The solution? Increased training for federal contracting officers and WOSB Program participants. The OIG also recommended some slight program changes like revising the self-certification rule, revising the financial information form, and performing eligibility exams.

Internal governmental investigations aside, the question remains: Is the WOSB Program working as intended? I would venture to say “yes.” From my research and the 5% federal budget allocation to women-owned businesses announced earlier this year, I believe the program is working as intended. Could it use some process updates? Yes. Could the program steps be simplified? Yes. Over the course of this year, the SBA has released some helpful materials that break the program down into simpler terms. Program improvements are on their way!

Over the course of this blog series, we have uncovered the purpose and history of the WOSB program at the Small Business Administration. Please check out the previous two posts here and here. I have enjoyed researching the program and relaying that research to you. This will be my final post in my WOSB series. Thanks for reading!
In case you missed it, leading procurement consultancy Source One Management Services recently announced the full launch of its Spend Analysis as a Service, The web platform is a response to a growing challenge observed in the industry: companies adding to the complexity of gaining spend visibility by introducing more complexity. Meaning, companies seeking an alternative solution to conducting a manual spend analysis turn to spend analysis software.

The automation of a spend analysis software can seem heaven-sent. The problem however lies in the extensive process of identifying the right software provider, pulling in IT and Finance stakeholders, and hopefully successfully integrating the system into existing infrastructure. Not to mention, these systems often use industry standard taxonomies for classifying spend (NAICS, UNSPC, etc.) that aren't conducive to strategic sourcing initiatives.

Source One's Spend Analysis as a service,, addresses these challenges. As a web platform, there is no system integration or implementation necessary. Simply submit your spend data and Source One's spend management experts will get to work quickly and comprehensively cleansing and classifying your data. When complete, simply login to the easy-to-navigate online tool to drill into your spend profile and see customized tips for addressing your spend categories. utilizes a customized taxonomy that segments spend in a way that is conducive to strategic sourcing initiatives. Source One's spend analysis isn't a regurgitation of your spend data, its an actionable report that is designed to enable your spend management initiatives.

The development and launch of has been both exciting and challenging - as we created a tool that leveraged decades of strategic sourcing experience and data. For a more detailed look behind the scenes, we sat down with Senior Data Scientist and lead architect of, James Patounas a three part interview series:

Many have commented on the way autonomous vehicles could lead the way forward for complicated supply chains. However, the production could also drive major disruption for suppliers and logistics professionals, since these new vehicles will have different needs from those that don't connect to the internet. This is because the vehicle may have to handle an unprecedented amount of data and devote more functionality to this than before.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the companies behind the necessary materials for activated cars. These include the computer chips needed for these operations, as the computing capabilities must be just as important as the standard elements of any vehicle.
"Computer chip production could have an impact on production in the future."
The amount of computer chips inside the average car may grow as the systems in each vehicle get more complex. This means that the way companies produce and transport chips could, in fact, have an impact on production in the future. According to the Journal, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich recently gave an interview before appearing onstage at a Los Angeles event.
"We see the world of cars shifting from something that uses computers to enhance the drive to something that uses compute to really power the drive," he said during an interview before his speech. "More and more, it's going to be that compute capability that's going to drive a lot of the differentiation of the car of the future."
He also said that cars could generate as many as 4GB of data just four years from now.
Innovation and collaboration
This cross collaboration between the automotive and tech industries could also push some of the ongoing developments. Information from Bloomberg said that the value of automotive-supplier deals has improved in the past two years, with electronics companies like Samsung preparing to possibly make significant auto-related purchases. The source also said that China represents a healthy buyer for the smart car of the future.
As such, the connection between the way we deliver computer chips and the way we build cars may become increasingly important. In both areas, new advances could point the way and make supplier relationship management vital.
Back in September, the University of Wisconsin reported on a new method of making computer chips to get the most out of individual unit space. This includes "directed self-assembly," a process which requires only two steps to create well-ordered block copolymers.
The article said that heating these materials could create self-assembled units quickly as a means to speed up production. Electrical engineer Zhenqiang Ma called the new method unique and said it is "mass-production-compatible." As a sign of new thought directing the computer chip industry, it could coincide with other developments that reinvent the ways chips are made.
A different but related statement appeared on the University of Texas Dallas research center website. It detailed a proposal from Dr. Jeyavijayan Rajendran, who plans to focus on a "split manufacturing" model which can potentially enhance security. Different built-in layers supposedly keep important information safer.
As the Internet of Things develops even further, more supply chains could have to intertwine themselves more effectively.
Supply chain theft may always be a problem, but that doesn't mean companies aren't taking a stand against it still. One way to work harder against theft is through a strong procurement management system used for maximizing value and quality. Even when data on this subject seems conflicting, the threat of theft should motivate businesses to use the right tools to pay attention to their shipment lines.
Businesses that know they are more likely to attract thefts can be some of the first to take action. The Wall Street Journal recently relayed information from FreightWatch International about the types of thefts seen last year.
According to this source, food and drink shipments are actually at the highest risk of theft, even though the overall number of thefts is lower. The Journal said that the report called the food and drink thieves "aggressive" and noted that the lack of serial numbers makes them easier to sell later. Even with the amount of thefts rising, the actions themselves are reportedly costing more.
"Even with the amount of thefts rising, the actions themselves are reportedly costing more."
New delivery options
Supply Chain Dive examined one method companies may begin to use for future shipment protection. Based off of the recent steps from Newegg and FedEx, which are working on a delivery center model that deters thieves, supply chains may hinge on readily accessible spots like this. With food products at risk of spoiling, could there be some way for producers to incorporate a similar measure to keep shipments in good shape?
Theft obviously isn't the only hazard facing food supply chains, and the government has recognized this in recent years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which it calls a major reform on its website. Under the Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, the Act says that the transportation will have to keep all products safe while records help track shipments.
Technology also has the chance to enable better food transport conditions that match new technology. In a recent press release, Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions Executive President Bob Sharp said that new waves of technology have made it easier to work off of insight as food is transported. Emerson reportedly uses sensors that fall into the realm of the "Internet of Things" to monitor food surface temperature for accurate information.
"Only a few decades ago, food transporters would put a thermometer in the food once it reached its destination, whether the trip was five or 500 miles," Sharp said. "Now, we have the technology to give us constant insight into food temperature from the farm to the warehouse to the store, helping to protect food safety and quality for the customers we serve."
The company said that 87 percent of respondents to a recent survey think this data will be vital for keeping food safe. Even if it only comes from one source, that's a sign that businesses may make an impact on customers by embracing these advances.
Looking forward
Technology may make other future adaptations easier and more necessary to facilitate management.
Previously in Source One’s Intern Corner, we introduced you to a few of our fall analyst interns Zakariah Kulam and Catherine Nardone. They shared their individual experiences so far and discussed what they enjoy about the learning opportunities and work environment at Source One. In this continuation of the series, you’ll meet more of the young professionals interning at Source One this fall including Caitlyn Ullman, Luke Wilson, and Dejana Dosen. They describe  how they each contribute to procurement and strategic sourcing processes in specific ways for different projects at Source One. Each offer their own learning experiences participating in the program, and share what it's like to work both one-on-one and in groups with the rest of the Source One team including consultants at every level. As we approach the end of the year, Caitlyn, Luke, and Dejana discuss their plans for the future and where they see themselves after they complete their internships at Source One. 

We’re excited to feature even more young professionals who shared their personal experiences in the internship program, and what they’ve been up to these past few months at Source One.

My name is Caitlyn Ullman and I am an Analyst Intern at Source One's Willow Grove office. I am 22 years old from the Wissahickon neighborhood of Philadelphia. I remained in Philadelphia to pursue my college degree at the University of Pennsylvania. I recently graduated in May with a Materials Science and Engineering major and a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. I greatly enjoyed the ability to learn about science and business and was eager to pursue a position that would allow me to continue exploring both. I am happy to say that I have found that as an analyst intern at Source One. 

Through work on direct materials projects I am able to speak with suppliers on a technical level while analyzing all facets of the project through a business perspective. I have developed a general understanding for the contracting and negotiations procedures and look forward to getting more experience with Source One's range of consulting offerings, especially because I'm aware of how they vary throughout the different industries we work with. It has been just over two months since I started as an analyst intern and I have already learned so much about the procurement and sourcing processes. I hope to eventually advance as an Analyst at Source One so that I can have more of these experiences and continue to expand my business knowledge.

My name is Luke Wilson and I am twenty years old. I grew up in the northern suburbs of New York City, and am currently a third-year at the University of Chicago studying Economics and Environmental Studies. On campus I am on the men’s club soccer team, a research assistant at the Harris School of Public Policy, a member of a few RSOs and a frequenter of the gym. At the University of Chicago a lot of my classes and schoolwork tends to be very theoretical, so I have always been interested in supplemental experiences that can give me more practical, hands-on experience. The Source One internship caught my eye as an opportunity where I could apply the analytical and problem solving skills I had been developing my entire life toward real-world, practical problems. After interviewing with Source One in the spring, I accepted an internship position to start in August. I have been working here since then, and have absolutely loved it so far!

The Chicago office is filled with funny, caring, like-minded people who make coming to work feel like fun. Since I have started, three new full-time employees and two other interns have joined, and each person has brought something new and unique to the team. So far in my time at Source One I have been involved with a wide and diverse range of projects, relating but not limited to; regional trade shows, plastic wrap, Swiss watch photographers, landscaping, invoice audits and refrigerator maintenance. My role on these projects at first was limited. However, as I gain more skills and knowledge about procurement, I have been able to take on more responsibility and ownership of the projects I am working on.

Source One has been able to expose me to industries I never knew existed before, and most likely never would have if not for my time here.  Stepping into the world of procurement was not something I had planned on before discovering Source One, but I am happy that I did. Whether or not my future career will be in procurement, I know that my time here at Source One has been incredibly helpful in learning what exactly I like and dislike about different kinds of industries and different kinds of work!

My name is Dejana Dosen and I am twenty-one years old. I am originally from Serbia, a country in Eastern-Europe and made my way to the Windy City of Chicago at age 7. I am currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in Information Decision Sciences with a Concentration in Business Analytics and a minor in Management Information Systems. During my first few semesters of college, I found myself having a difficult time picking a single major because of my curiosity in every subject. This curiosity lead me to Source One Management and the exciting career opportunities in sourcing and procurement.

On my first day at Source One I was introduced to the Chicago Team and was immediately put at ease by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Each person that I met was willing to help me with any questions I had and made sure that I felt comfortable; it really made my transition to Source One so much more enjoyable. Before Source One I had quite a few internships, but never had as much responsibility and real work assigned to me as I do here. So far I have had the opportunity to work directly with one of the Senior Project Analysts with a major client on a project and be the designated Sourcing Analyst on the team. This gave me exposure to the sourcing and procurement process with tasks including data collection, data analysis, the RFP process and the creation of a baseline report.

While new work can be intimidating,  every task I've been introduced to has been an opportunity for me to grow and develop new skills. The experience that I gained at Source One Management thus far has allowed me to further build my analytical and communication skills. I walked into this internship unfamiliar with the sourcing and procurement field and now I see myself pursuing a career in this field after graduation. 
A spend analysis may initially be conducted for one specific result in mind, whether it be maximize budget or just find a baseline for improvement, companies often don’t expect the amount of information a spend analysis may provide . In bringing all this spend data together your organization brings to light opportunities that otherwise would have been overlooked. The final result of a spend analysis offers the answers regarding areas for cost reduction along with additional supply management solutions in areas that might not have been considered for improvement earlier.

If you’re unsure of the benefits a spend analysis could have for your organization, here are three solutions the process will produce beyond cost saving opportunities.

Strengthen Supplier Relationships

An extensive spend analysis offers your organization more information about your spend with vendors individually. While this data may seem established already, because you have a general idea of where your finances are when it comes to suppliers, the further details provided by the spend analysis will make all the difference. You’ll become aware of not only how much and on what you spend with a specific vendor, but also how much you are spending with a vendor’s competitors, which the vendor doesn’t know. This information can be especially helpful when the time to negotiate a new contract arrives. In cases where your organization has worked with a certain supplier for a long term, and your spend has surpassed the initial intention or contract with that supplier, you’ll want to consider the dependency in the relationship. A spend analysis can help you see both the positive and negative effects of maintaining the relationship or switching to a different vendor.

Establishing Benchmarks

The advantages of substantial comparisons with other organizations of a related nature (both locally and around the country) include access to information on the average number of vendors or spend by category and recognizing what vendors are achieving the greatest accumulated revenues from other mutual associations. With the spend data of various organizations all in one place, the observations you make can lead to a greater understanding of industry standards and opportunities. This data can contribute to setting targets for practical and attainable development based on the average for organizations of similar type and size.

Enhance Processes

In some cases, even before a spend analysis is conducted, an organization may identify the need for improving procurement and supply management process when the existing system is inefficient or unorganized. In other situations, the opportunity for a revised system can be established during the spend analysis process. This could entail applying an eProcurement System, an improved approach to PCards, or centralizing invoices with individual suppliers. The results of the analysis can guide your choices when deciding where and how to implement new procurement systems in your organization. There may be the need to configure the system overall and determine what department and individuals can use the improved system to deliver a timely ROI on the project.

For more information on conducting a Spend Analysis and identifying opportunities within your procurement operations, contact Source One’s Spend Consultants.

Source One Round Up: November 11, 2016

Here's a look at where Source One's cost reduction
 experts have been featured this week!

Give Your Procurement Practice Some Backbone
When organizations begin to make the transition from decentralized to centralized procurement operations, there can be quite a few growing pains. In many cases, distilling the information to the right parties and getting stakeholders on board can be major challenges. Without the right amount of support from top-end leaders, resistance can easily halt the initiative. This week, Source One Project Manager Torey Guingrich explains the practices necessary to give your procurement organization a backbone. She gives an overview of the common reasons for stakeholder disengagement when it comes to getting teams on board and the policies to establish that will ensure your procurement practices are fully adopted.

"How to Future-Proof Your Procurement Support Team"
On Wednesday, November 16th Source One, Corporate United, and MRA Global Sourcing will be hosting a webinar on preparing your procurement team for the changing vision of Procurement and Supply Management. The perfectly timed webinar as the year comes to a close, will cover the blend of internal resources and external solutions to address evolving challenges facing procurement groups. The session will cover how the function has changed over the years and explore the different strategies and tactics available to organizations.

The end of the year can bring challenges to supply chains, and not just because of the weather. Procurement management may face crunches as the standard amount of demand increases. It can be a difficult time to try something new, given the high stakes, but it can also be a learning process where businesses see just how effective their supply chain organization is.
While companies can try to unify the different systems they rely on, the end result can also depend upon managing each individual piece successfully. Let's take a look at the different areas that will feel the pressure when the holidays arise.
#1: Retail
Changes in front of the counter can still affect business strength as consumers react. In January, the National Retail Federation stated that the 2015 holiday season saw sales revenue exceed $626.1 billion. The organization's CEO and president, Matthew Shay, described some of the problems that businesses had to face to guarantee productivity.
"Make no mistake about it, this was a tough holiday season for the industry," Shay said. "Weather, inventory challenges, advances in consumer technology and the deep discounts that started earlier in the season and that have carried into January presented stiff headwinds as retailers competed with one another and their own bottom line."
Businesses and consumers alike also had to contend with the rise of chip-based credit cards and the tools needed to scan them. A year later, the change has led to more use even as the technology still causes functionality and cost concerns. Computer World said that this system may have reduced fraud costs, according to Visa, even as businesses question its effectiveness.
#2: Managed IT services and data
Analytics and other data-influenced technologies could inform logistics planning in a significant way. With smart, responsive efforts, businesses could shift their traditional strategies to be more agile. Supply & Demand Chain Executive mentioned this in a long list of ways that supply chains are evolving before the holiday season.
Some of the methods the source pointed out included utilizing performance metrics, predictive measurements and using cloud-based software to provide visibility for the important supply process. The article also said that the previous methods have left data siloed calling for more integration along the entire chain.
By thinking intelligently, businesses can also choose channels to match the business demand and needs. With product lifecycle management, there may be a clearer link between products and supply efforts.
"By thinking intelligently, businesses can match demand with needs."
#3: Shipments
There's also the sheer amount of products being moved to take into account. A separate, more recent NRF press release used a Global Port Tracker report to look at the trends affecting supply shipments this holiday season.
The level imports is expected to increase this year, continuing an upward trend in the number of Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units over the past few years.
This December, the number is predicted to reach 1.54 million TEUs, as well as an 18.6 million TEU increase for the total cargo volume this year. According to the source, this figure has increased since 2010 after rebounding from a major drop in 2009.
E-sourcing and other strategic measures will give businesses some important means of oversight to prepare for any hectic season, especially the holidays.
Overproduction might seem like a preferable alternative to underproduction, but it can be just as bad for companies. A few different stories from recent news highlight the dangers that come when businesses risk creating a surplus- and why strategic sourcing might be a way to alleviate the issue. Using both resources and shipping channels effectively can ultimately leave a business closer to staying on-budget.
Baseball merchandise
SupplyChainDIVE brought up a good point regarding the problems of matching supply in the sports product world. For every team, so much can change based on their fortune at a given moment. A good example is the Chicago Cubs, a team which finally won the World Series after more than a century of its "curse." As a result, demand for Cubs-related merchandise is particularly high right now, something not every company may be prepared for.
The source asserted the importance of balance, with the fluctuating levels of demand posing problems for brand manufacturers and vendors alike. Both will need to be ready for a possible blowout if a particular team suddenly gains in popularity, as the Cubs have recently done.
With costs proving to be an especially difficult prospect here, saving money in other areas can have a net benefit for a business' logistics plan. One of the advantages of strategic sourcing is enhanced delivery, which could be useful for industries where fast turnover matters. Businesses may also work off of a smart analysis to keep costs minimal.
"One of the advantages of strategic sourcing is enhanced delivery."
A more blatant example of the problems of overproduction comes from the auto world via The Wall Street Journal. A company that handles production for the Subaru car brand, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., reportedly prefers to stay somewhat short of its desired range as a matter of practice.
Despite years of growth and a strong U.S. presence, Subaru apparently is taking slow measures to increase its numbers and address an apparent shortage, rather than dramatic steps.
There may be some value to this strategy: If nothing else, it shows that production matters aren't always black and white. Fuji CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga explained some of the reasoning behind the managed shortage more explicitly.
"We don't wish to increase dealer inventory excessively and hope to keep it at a level where there is a slight shortage," Yoshinaga said, adding that he believes they are " unusual for being cautious."
In this case, a carefully planned shortage actually seems to be a part of the company's strategy, even as it goes against industry norms.
"A carefully planned shortage actually seems to be a part of Fuji Heavy Industries' strategy."
Our final case study comes from the dairy world. Food waste is its own complicated issue, but the milk sector alone provides a special, sobering case. A separate article from The Wall Street Journal compiled information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the amount of milk either dumped or lost by dairy farmers and plants alike.
Though the data only pertains to the losses in the first eight months of the years between 2000 and 2016, the results are clear and dramatic: This year alone has seen more than 43 million gallons of milk go to waste, around 10 million more than last year. The source attributed this to a surge in production, initially meant to combat a shortage but is now resulting in lower prices and storage concerns for the excess milk.
The takeaway
These stories may all be different, but they should lead any business to consider the perils of overproduction. To help manage this, businesses can look to logistics methods which give their everyday activities an edge. Whether it's maintaining a "strategic shortage" or simply responding to changes faster, there are several tactics available for organizations in need of better control.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with the Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Mr. Carlos Sada, in what was a very private and candid meeting near Source One’s office in Chicago. As the only representative of the procurement function and the only consultant in the room, I found the discussion extremely engaging and surprisingly timely to my company’s nearshoring undertakings.

Aside from the privilege that it was to sit and chat with such a prominent individual, the meeting was full of interesting content, especially when the discussion revolved around the industrial and economic development in Mexico and its significance to American businesses. You can learn more about his visit here:

Ambassador Sada pointed out that “numbers don’t lie” and that the US-Mexico relationship encompasses one of the most dynamic and economically significant regions in the world, which is primarily fueled by close ties between businesses - from soft commodity trading to the more recently trending automotive and aerospace industries that not only create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region but that have become the foundation for many other industries to flourish.  

As part of Source One’s Nearshoring offering, we’ve many times reiterated that exploring Mexico as a hub of competitive labor, emerging supply base, and business prospecting is no longer a matter of “if” but of “when” for US companies; and my conversation with the Ambassador reiterated our belief. Through Source One’s network of partners we’ve helped develop synergies between local governments, academic programs and businesses to orchestrate a sustainable environment that fosters opportunity for American and international companies who seek to manufacture better quality products at competitive costs to position themselves not just in the North American market but worldwide.

Ambassador Sada’s perspective is both optimistic and cautious. He sees untapped talent and flourishing opportunity for businesses to initiate or expand operations in Mexico that could sustain long term growth for companies on both sides of the border. At the same time, he stressed that collaboration is key to finding competitive business partners and optimizing current relationships. He also indicated that the political climate surrounding the democratic process in the US will continue to play a role post-election but that private businesses will continue to be a main driver for success, and so it is critical for companies on both sides to diligently approach prospects.

And I agree, it is not uncommon for Source One’s customers to ask us to define the risk factors in pursuing nearshoring efforts. Many companies are concerned about the true costs of labor, the quality of the products, and stability of the local governments to provide a safe business environment, and when the international trade conditions are challenged, an additional variable is added to the equation of “perception”. Reality however, is sometimes much different, and we’ve been successful in proving to our clients that finding suitable suppliers who can produce innovative and quality products is not only viable, but highly probable. Therefore, it is vital for organizations to work together and manage risk adequately; by pursuing diligent strategic sourcing efforts, risks can be identified and mitigated - and successful business relationships that add value to both economies are created.