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It's often said that good help is hard to find. While that's true for many employers these days, the same can be said for products. Due to supply chain constraints, fueled largely by the COVID-19 aftermath, just about every industry is running low on something. In construction, it's lumber; in grocery, it's toilet paper, according to a number of recent reports.

The key to successful and timely productivity is finding the suppliers that have the goods you need on an ongoing basis. The question is, how do you go about doing that?

Here are a few rules to live by:

1. Learn the classification of your supplier
When you go about searching for an alternative or fall-back supplier, it's very important to know what type of supplier you're dealing with. As noted by Entrepreneur, suppliers typically fall into one of four categories:

1. Manufacturers
2. Distributors
3. Importers
4. Craftspeople

Understanding which category your supplier falls in can give you a better idea of whether they'll make for a good partner given your demands. For example, a distributor is more likely to have necessary materials than a manufacturer these days because they work with multiple manufacturers and warehouse those products for sale to business owners. While distributors tend to be more convenient, the tradeoff is you'll likely spend more as a result, or at least more than you would by buying directly from a manufacturer or salesperson who sells on a manufacturer's behalf.

If the materials you need are more niche or specialized, independent craftspeople may be your best bet. Importers who buy from overseas markets are another option. They can cost more, however, due to the expense of shipping and the fees involved.

Like a favorite restaurant that rarely disappoints, consistency is key to finding and evaluating good suppliers.Like a favorite restaurant that rarely disappoints, consistency is key to finding and evaluating good suppliers.

2. Evaluate their track record
Something else that's critical is establishing at the outset that your supplier will be able to come through for you. In other words, do they have the means to make or obtain what you need? It's all about capacity. They should be able to provide evidence that they're capable of producing whatever you require to do your job, including staff, equipment, storage and more.

3. Key in on consistency
Think about the restaurant that you enjoy eating at the most. What is it that gets you to go back time and time again? It isn't just the fact that their food is great, but that it's consistently great. No matter what, you can bank on the fact that you'll have a tasty meal.

The same rule applies to your distributor. Ray Carter, the director of DPSS Consultants, is the originator of "The 10 Cs" concept for assessing high-quality suppliers. Consistency is one of those Cs, along with competency, capacity, commitment, control, cash, cost, culture, cleanliness and communication.

If your supplier is unpredictable, never knowing when they'll have the materials you require, then it's probably time to move on. You can evaluate consistency by doing your research, such as by reading customer reviews online or speaking with colleagues who've worked with particular suppliers.

Procurement problems have created massive delays, bottlenecks and sales slumps for businesses up and down the supply chain. This fact is a major reality for automakers, most of which lack the all-important chips that are essential for cars to operate.

The inability to procure these tiny computer chips will likely lead to a massive gap in expected deliveries for the world's largest nameplate, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

40% shortfall in 2021 production
In a forecast issued to the SEC, Toyota announced it will produce approximately 330,000 fewer motor vehicles than it anticipated in the month of October alone. Because of this, and other disruptions, the automaker expects to fall well short of its annual production target, perhaps 40% lower than its initial projections.

In the statement, Toyota pointed to the dearth of semiconductors and the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as the main reasons for diminished production.

"The spread of COVID-19 infections remains unpredictable, making it difficult to maintain operations due to lockdowns at various locations, and we are working to transfer production to other regions," Toyota said, referring to several of its factories in hard-hit countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam. As noted by Supply Chain Dive, Vietnam produces many vital parts and components for Toyota models, including wires, seats and frames. In fact, according to VnExpress International, roughly 95% of the auto parts produced in Vietnam go to out-of-country manufacturers including Toyota, Hyundai and Mazda. Around 80% are for Toyota specifically. Malaysia, meanwhile, is a worldwide leader in semiconductor manufacturing and exports. Studies estimate that close to 56% of Malaysia's manufacturing sector derives from exporting the electronics made there.

Tiny computer chips are causing large issues for automakers worldwide.Tiny computer chips are causing large issues for automakers worldwide.

The central ingredients needed to develop semiconductors were already in short supply, but the coronavirus lockdowns that are in place in these countries have compounded the procurement dilemma.

Semiconductors, which allow for electrical processes to take place, have been difficult to come by for much of the year. This is a big reason why automotive dealerships are running low on showroom inventory. Major nameplates like General Motors have been forced to shut down their factories for weeks at a time due to a lack of the materials needed for production and assembly.

Many other industries rely on semiconductors
It isn't just the auto sector that relies on semiconductors. You name the form of electronic, the products need semiconductors to work properly, from smartphones to internet of things products to data communications equipment.

Amit Nagar, a partner at Bain & Company, told Supply Chain Dive that automakers likely won't have first dibs on these semiconductors when they start to become more easily obtainable.

"The suppliers, they'll want to go to the other industries outside of automotive," Nagar warned. "The reason is because automotive is a lower-margin outlet for them versus the electronics companies."

In other words, since many more smartphones and PlayStation game consoles are sold in any given year than automobiles — all of which require semiconductor technology — there's greater economic incentive to sell to manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and Sony.

Bottom line: The procurement problem plaguing the auto industry is poised to continue for the foreseeable future.

The procurement of building materials has been an ongoing headache for real estate construction firms over the past several years, and the problem has only gotten worse in recent months due to the surge in prices fueled by inflation and supply chain disruptions. Indeed, according to a poll conducted by Dodge Data & Analytics, approximately 70% of civil contractors say the dramatic cost increases affecting construction materials — such as lumber, asphalt and metal joists — have affected their timelines for the completion of projects. So much so, more than 3 in 4 are worried about the extent to which rising prices will affect their work schedules in the months ahead.

Contractors remain hopeful, however, that state-of-the-art technology will enable them to locate the suppliers that have the items they need, so projects can get off the ground and completed in a timely fashion.

The tech tools builders are using
One such company leveraging tech is Graham Construction & Engineering. As reported by Supply Chain Dive, the Calgary, Ontario-based developer, which builds both in Canada and the United States, is using a tracking solution that's produced by SAP. Called, the software allows users to identify where they can go to find the resources their project calls for in the appropriate quantity. Most of the structures that Graham Construction & Engineering builds are for commercial use.

Matt Gramblicka, who serves as vice president of information technology and enterprise applications at Graham Construction & Engineering, told Supply Chain Dive that the solution helps to eliminate guesswork by increasing transparency.

"It's really about having visibility into where that market shift is, and making sure that we have the right connections with people to actually get the supply in the first place," Gramblicka explained.

He added that previously, you had to actually talk to someone to get the materials, often in person. Being able to do it all electronically now is a game changer because "you know where things are and how it is getting there."

Lumber prices have skyrocketed, and certain types are difficult to locate.Lumber prices have skyrocketed, and certain types are difficult to locate.

Construction Intelligence Cloud Service
Another developer finding success with tech is Pepper Construction. Headquartered in Chicago, Pepper Construction has experienced the longest delays with materials such as precast wall panels and steel bar roof joists; the demand for these items exploded in 2020 and it continues. However, the Midwestern developer has been able to procure these materials through an intelligence cloud service from Oracle. Called the Construction Intelligence Cloud Service, Oracle's latest innovation helps builders and project managers identify where materials are in the supply chain and what companies have had them available in the recent past.

Oracle Vice President Burcin Kaplanoglu said the solution gives construction companies more options and context so they can make smarter buying decisions.

"You can look at their relationships with suppliers, see how much they communicate, even see the amount of requests for information they've had. Those are the tools our customers are starting to use," Kaplanoglu told Supply Chain Dive.

While these technologies may not completely resolve procurement problems, users say they're helping them cope with economic realities so they can work more efficiently. 

As offices across the country begin reopening, many organizations have begun the process of reengaging former facility service providers to reactivate programs that were disrupted as a result of temporary facility shutdowns.  Some examples of categories impacted by facility closures includes services such as water & coffee, food & beverage, security, and janitorial services.  While there is a lot to gain by establishing a go-to-market sourcing strategy for each of these categories, this blog will specifically focus on how to successfully source best-in-class janitorial and cleaning services. 

Identify current state vs desired future state

Before going to market it’s important to understand what’s working and not working with your current janitorial services provider.  Take the time to run an internal review and score the supplier based on factors that are important to your company, some examples may include: Is facility cleanliness acceptable, are staffing levels adequate, are response times for emergencies acceptable?  Understanding the pain-points with your current supplier will help naturally pivot the next crucial step which is updating and/or creating a Scope of Work to align with your desired future state.  The Scope of Work (SOW) should be created and included in your janitorial services contract to ensure supplier expectations are clearly established.  Any concerns regarding the requirements established in the SOW should be aligned on between both parties prior to contract execution to ensure your desired future state is fully understood.   

Request for Proposal (RFP) development

Prior to building your RFP to receive supplier pricing, it’s important to ensure you have the correct janitorial service providers invited to this sourcing event.  I highly suggest starting this process off with a Request for Information (RFI) with detailed questions submitted to a wide range of potential suitors to help identify suppliers that fit the needs and requirements within your newly updated SOW.  Once this list of potential janitorial services providers has been properly vetted, the RFP construction process can begin

When building your RFP, it’s important to arm bidders with the proper metrics to ensure an accurate bid can be delivered to help meet the requirements established within your SOW.  Some examples of metrics that will lead to a successful RFP may include: total locations in scope, cleanable sq/ft per location, supplier’s forecasted full-time employee (FTE) bid count per location, and FTE hourly rate per location.  While there are many other metrics that could also be included, these selected inputs shared by bidders will enable you to accurately understand costs by location as well as the total cost to service your janitorial services portfolio.

Holding awarded supplier accountable

Congratulations, you’ve successfully gone to market and identified your suitable janitorial services provider through a successful sourcing initiative.  While you’ve confirmed that the supplier’s price is acceptable, now is not the time to let up!  It’s important to establish processes during the contracting phase to help manage expectations of the supplier, and to ensure they are held accountable.  For instance, if you wish to establish a required cleanliness score minimum across your entire portfolio, apply language within the agreement that applies penalties associated with facility scores below a certain threshold.  Quarterly check-ins should also be a goal to ensure continuity is in place, this can be achieved by including language in the contract requiring Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) to be conducted.  While these suggestions may not seem like much, they can often mean the difference between a good program and a great program.  

Going out to market can be a daunting task at times, I hope this blog helps guide you and your organization along the way to successfully source best-in class janitorial and cleaning services.  

Several weeks after Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf Coast, the Category 4 storm lived up to the hype; Louisiana homeowners, businesses and area churches are in recovery mode from the drenching rains and heavy winds. Many remain in the dark two weeks later. While oil refineries were offline when Ida roared ashore — and for several days thereafter — the resulting supply chain disruptions haven't substantively affected prices at the pump.

More than 72 hours after Hurricane Ida made landfall, over 95.6% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was down, National Public Radio reported from Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement data. The same was true for more than 93.7% of natural gas lines. Yet despite the temporary refinery stoppages, experts don't anticipate major price fluctuations at gas stations.

"This is not Katrina," Richard Joswick, head of oil analytics at S&P Global Platts, told NPR.

Katrina — which ironically hit the Bayou State the same day as Ida, only 16 years earlier — was a weaker storm than Ida but caused massive levels of damage that are still being felt over a decade later. The immediate effects on gasoline prices were significant, with the cost of a gallon rising by 45 cents almost immediately, according to NPR.

But by Sept. 6 of this year — Hurricane Ida reached the Louisiana coastline on Aug. 29 — the cost for unleaded regular rose nationwide by just four cents to an average of $3.17 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost has since retreated slightly to $3.16 per gallon.

Oil refineries are getting back to normal after Hurricane Ida.Oil refineries are getting back to normal after Hurricane Ida.

Tepid demand for oil
This isn't to say that oil production didn't diminish. Investment bank Goldman Sachs said in a note to investors that it anticipates 40 million barrels of crude production to be lost overall as a result of the pipelines shutting down during and after Ida, Reuters reported. What has prevented prices from rising more substantively is limited demand.

"On net, we believe the storm will have left the U.S. short of around 30 million barrels of total oil, almost entirely in products due to the impact on refinery runs versus demand," Goldman Sachs said, according to Reuters. "While there is pessimism on the oil demand recovery due to the storm, reducing COVID infections, particularly in the U.S., could offset the fall in the coming weeks, with both higher U.S. margins and a tightening WTI-Brent differential."

Storm damage mitigation efforts bearing fruit
Goldman Sachs predicts the oil demand impact to top out at 450,000 barrels per day as a result of Hurricane Ida. The total is much less than previous years storms, especially Hurricane Katrina. Joswick of S&P Global Platts told NPR the improvement is largely due to refineries applying the lessons they learned from Katrina, hardening their infrastructure to mitigate the damage caused by flooding and harsh winds.

"They raised critical equipment up off the ground so it wouldn't flood, for example," Joswick noted.

Two words describe the nation's struggling supply chain: not enough. From not enough raw materials to not enough workers involved in production, shortages of all shapes and sizes are preventing the supply chain from normalizing. Complicating matters even further are the receptacles used at ports to transport manufactured goods: Once again, there simply aren't enough of them.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, steel boxes are increasingly hard to find at many of the world's busiest shipping ports. John Fossey, head of container equipment and leasing research for the container indexing firm Drewry, told the paper that while there is more than enough material to build the steel boxes themselves, the ones that are already built and ready to use are largely stuck in the wrong places, meaning the ports that already have a sufficient amount. A variety of unrelated global events has contributed to the logjam, such as the weeks-long blockage of the Suez Canal that occurred in March and the backup of container ships at the Yantian port in China; that alone led to 350,000 containers being stuck in neutral, unable to reach their intended destinations.

Cost of steel boxes has doubled since 2016
Contributing to the complexity is the cost shippers must pay for steel boxes, as limited supply is driving the average price to new heights. In 2016, the average annualized cost for a standard 40-foot shipping container was approximately $2,500. Today, it's more than double that amount at nearly $6,000, the Journal reported, based on Drewry data. Experts anticipate the price will go even higher as the busy holiday shopping season approaches.

"Approximately 22% of sales go by the wayside when cargo is unable to reach buyers."

The result of not enough shipping containers in the right places is a loss in sales. Indeed, according to a survey of participants belonging to the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, approximately 22% of sales go by the wayside when cargo is unable to reach buyers. This may be due to businesses or consumers canceling their orders or spoilage, as in the case of perishable foodstuffs.

"Global trade right now is the hottest restaurant in town," Brian Bourke, chief growth officer for freight forwarder Seko Logistics, told the WSJ. "If you want to get a reservation, you need to plan it out two months in advance. Everyone's trying to grab any spot they can and they're all spoken for."

Pricy steel boxes to persist into 2022
Perhaps the biggest frustration of all is container prices are expected to remain in lofty territory for the foreseeable future. Philip Damas, who heads the supply chain advisors division at Drewry, said shippers and business owners should expect delays to persist well into 2022.

"There is no end in sight," Damas told the Journal. This could also affect holiday shoppers; buyers may not have their presents in time as Dec. 25 draws nearer.

Timeliness — or lack thereof — isn't likely to adversely affect the giving spirit. The National Retail Federation says a busy holiday shopping season will push overall retail sales to north of $4 trillion in 2021, a double-digit percentage increase from 2020.

For those who have not heard the term “Elevator Pitch” (for the under 40 business population this may be “new jargon”) … it meant if you get into an elevator with someone you wanted to obtain a business relationship with you had the time of traveling up (or down) to make an impression.  Sales folks/Co-workers would time their elevator trips to join the people they needed to connect with for the ride… first ride up in the morning, when they went out to lunch, or when they left for the day.

A good elevator pitch should last no longer than that elevator ride of 30-60 seconds or 75 words. It must be interesting, memorable, and succinct. It must contain or explain what makes you or your organization, product, or idea – unique.  The truth is during that elevator ride the true connection created is of personalities, a foundation during that shared ride and your future timed rides with that individual.

One origin of how the “Elevator Pitch” began is that of Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso, two former journalists active in the 1990s. According to Rosenzweig, Caruso was a senior editor at Vanity Fair and was continuously attempting to pitch story ideas to the Editor-In-Chief at the time, but could never pin her down long enough to do so simply because she was always on the move. So, to pitch her ideas, Caruso would join her during short free periods of time she had, on the elevator ride. Thus, the concept of an “elevator pitch” was created.

Advantages to conducting an elevator pitch include convenience and simplicity. For instance, elevator pitches can be given on short notice and without much preparation due to the pre-planning of the content being delivered within said pitch, making the listener more comfortable. Furthermore, elevator pitches allow the individual who is giving the pitch the ability to simplify the content and deliver it in a less complicated manner by providing the information in a cut-down fashion that gets right to the point.

In this 2021 business world the “Elevator Pitch” as morphed into what has been coined the “Meet and Greet”.   I have even heard it referred to as “Business Speed Dating” no matter how the interaction is referenced, it often is accompanied with a business card being offered or exchanged between the two parties.

Let’s take the convention center “Meet and Greet” scenario – This type of Elevator Pitch/Meet and Greet/Business Speed Dating has been around for decades – you are invited to a booth or get a punch card to visit many booths and then your full punch card is entered into a raffle for a wonderful prize.  At the booth, for as long as you will stand there a representative from that company will determine if your company is a fit to start building a foundation with.  You may be asked for your business card or on your own drop your card in their bucket or have your badge QR code scanned.  If asked for your business card by an individual or QR code scanned, be rest assured, notes about your discussion can immediately be documented for future reference.

True Business card story: I use to work for a company by the name of Medical Logistics 20+ years ago.  It was a startup, and the business cards were dark royal blue with white lettering.  The printer made an error and did the dark royal blue on both sides of the card, there was nowhere to jot down a note on the card! The male Client Acquisition Team members kept their business cards in a right top shirt pocket to easily hand them out at tradeshows – one morning it rained buckets, we all got drenched going into the convention center… the blue leaked onto their shirts! (mine were safely stored in a business card holder in my pocketbook!)

The goal of the business card or QR scan with notes is be able to continue the conversation where it was left off, “dog is Shih Tzu, kids are___” or “company has problems with name a vendor that supplies them X” the next time there is a conversation?

No matter the jargon – The Elevator Pitch/Meet and Greet/Business Speed Dating… the first step is making a connection with an individual in less than a minute… that is a skill very few people have naturally.

 Today an Elevator Pitch is to “hook” a person into truly listening… with our high population of the business world working via Zoom/Teams/Skype for Business etc. combined with being able to hide your face makes many wonders, who is listening? 

The University of Louisiana Monroe morphed to the times and held a Virtual Elevator Pitch competition in 2021 with a 1st place prize of $150?!  Stephen King has been quoted to say, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”   

Ilene Rosenzweig and Michael Caruso would be proud to know what they did and documented still has relevance in our long distance, virtual business world.

The bottom line, “The Elevator Pitch/Meet and Greet/Business Speed Dating” – the technique builds a comfort level.  Once the comfort level has been created then an introduction to “talk business” can truly begin.  

At Corcentric, we are often introduced to provide both Procurement support and IT related subject matter expertise. In working with IT stakeholders, we strive to develop and maintain the comfort level, listen to pain points, providing resources to improve the client-supplier situation that is creating angst; This enables the building of trustworthy partnerships with our clients.  

From product and produce shortages to delayed deliveries, supply chain constraints have routinely been cited as the source of the U.S. economy's various ills. Now they're being blamed for some of the trucking industry's less-than-stellar conditions.

For the fourth consecutive month, the American Trucking Association's For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index Index fell on a seasonally adjusted basis, this time in July. At 109.8, the index slipped from 111.1 in June, the equivalent of 1.2%.

What is the truck tonnage index?
The truck tonnage index is issued each month by the American Trucking Association. It's designed to represent how much weight, or tonnage, motor carriers haul to their intended destinations. Since nearly 73% of the domestic freight in the United States is transported by trucks, many economists consider it to be an indicator of the nation's economic well-being.

Bob Costello, chief economist for the trade group, said he believes the dip is a product of the ongoing supply chain challenges that are affecting businesses in just about every industry. The ongoing problems associated with not having enough drivers may also be playing a role.

"Not only are there broader supply chain issues, like semiconductors, holding tonnage back, but there are also industry specific difficulties, including the driver shortage and lack of equipment," Costello explained. "For-hire truckload carriers are operating fewer trucks than a year earlier. It is difficult to haul significantly more freight with fewer trucks and drivers."

Truckers are feeling the effects of supply chain instability in the loads they carry.Truckers are feeling the effects of supply chain instability in the loads they carry.

Truckers are hoping to bounce back after a tough 2020
While it's not unusual for the tonnage to diminish in the summer months — especially in comparison to the end of the year during the busy holiday buying season — motor carriers are looking to make up for lost time and money after the fallout from COVID-19. Since many retailers were closed or went out of business due to the shutdown of the economy, tonnage on the year was 3.3% lower than it was in 2019. And on a year-to-date basis, tonnage is 0.2% below where it was at this time last year, according to ATA data.

However, thanks in part to more people getting back to work as well as more Americans deciding to get vaccinated, the trucking industry may rally as the supply chain gets back to normal. The National Retail Federation says it expects retail sales to top $4.4 trillion in 2021. If that comes to pass, it would be a double-digit increase from purchase activity in 2020, up by as much as 13.5%.

"Incoming data suggests that U.S. economic activity continues to expand rapidly, and we have seen impressive growth," said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. "Most indicators point toward an energetic expansion over the upcoming months and through the remainder of the year."

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay added that a combination of vaccine distribution, private sector ingenuity and fiscal stimulus provided by the government have millions more Americans back on the job. This should help to further reduce supply chain bottlenecks.


A black chalkboard with writing that reads, "HIRING!"

It’s not even autumn yet, but the world’s largest retailer is already looking the deck the halls of its supply chain in anticipation of the holiday season. Walmart hopes the addition of 20,000 full- and part-time Supply Chain professionals will help it maintain an edge over competitors like Amazon during the busiest shopping days of the year.

The Seasonal Supply Chain: Challenges Ahead

The nation’s biggest private workforce will grow thanks to more than 250 hiring events at Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities across the nation on both September 8th and 9th. Open positions range from freight handlers and lift drivers to managerial roles along Wal-Mart’s supply chain.

In addition to stiff competition from other e-tailers and retailers, Wal-Mart faces complications from the ongoingCOVID-19 pandemic and labor shortage. The virus has slowed down manufacturing, shipping, and other essential supply chain stages for more than a year and these issues (along with related congestion and volatility) look certain to continue into 2022.

Standing Out in the Search for Supply Chain Talent

Last year, Walmart responded to unprecedented digital demand by hiring around 20,000 employees to full and part-time jobs. This was the organization’s first significant holiday hiring spree in a half decade. In-person shopping has become safer and more popular in the last year as vaccines have helped to mitigate infection risk, but online retail promises to define the holiday season yet again.

Walmart is touting competitive salaries (averaging $20.37/hour) as well as several new benefits. The organization has begun offering new bonuses to warehouse staff and covering education costs for certain employees. Beginning in October, Walmart will incentivize prospects and employees alike to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by offering an additional bonus. Many competitors are offering similar perks. Amazon, CVS Health, and Walgreens Boots Alliance have all announced plans to boost wages for new employees and Target operates a college program of its own.

Experts suggest they’ve all got their work cut out for them as 2021 draws to a close. Brian Devine, the Senior Vice President of ProLogistix, a staffing firm whose clients include retail giants like Walmart and Target, sounds particularly pessimistic. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, he remarks, “There’ssimply not enough human beings to fill all the open positions.”

What Do Candidates Want? 

With a huge number of open positions to fill, organizations ranging from small businesses to titans like Walmart are hard at work trying to learn what leading candidates want and equipping themselves to offer it.

Across industries and experience levels, leading candidates tend to want many of the same things:

  • Flexibility: One-size-fits-all approaches are anathema to results. Employees know this, which is why they develop their own strategies for addressing common tasks and overcoming obstacles. Organizations claim to believe this, but all too often ask candidates and employees to operate within rigid systems that stifle innovation and tarnish morale. 
  • Opportunity: Nobody wants a dead-end job. Even long-time employees won’t hesitate to leave if they get a sense that they’re bound to be stuck in the same position forever. To stand out, organizations need to regularly consult their people to ensure they’re offering a variety of responsibilities and providing adequate room for everyone at every level to grow. 
  • A Sense of Purpose: Professionals want to know that their actions at work have an impact and that their employers have a positive effect on the world at large. Survey data regularly shows that younger professionals in particular are eager to work for mission-driven organizations that do more than just talk the talk when it comes to critical issues. 

Staff Your Supply Chain

Looking for temporary Procurement and Supply Chain hires to meet seasonal need, support major initiatives, or explore a new category? Corcentric’s recruiting and staffing experts may be able to help. Check out this case study describing an engagement with a North American pharmaceutical leader. 



Credit: Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines recently made public that they were conned out of almost $1 million. A material operations manager and a senior buyer conspired to send through overpriced items from a specific vendor and received kickbacks from the vendor for doing so.

While not an everyday occurrence for companies, it is common enough that if a company hasn't seen it happen, they either will in the future or lack the processes to know that it could be happening. 

I've seen this quite a few times using different methods and doesn't have to require employees to participate for the con to be effective. Usually, the reason it occurs and isn't immediately caught comes down to 2 root causes:

  1. Poor separation of duties. One of the most common issues is when the person who is requesting new supplier creation is the same as the person who approves those suppliers' invoices/POs. Not having a different staff member verify the supplier is legitimate as well as other people verifying dollar amounts are in the expected range (such as a Cost Center Manager looking at a report of all line items) are common holes that can be attacked.
  2. Insufficient processes for validating invoices and payment instructions. There should only be specific people who can update a company's Remit To address or payment instructions, and those people must have defined verification processes for each.
We've seen this happen not just when companies come to us asking to improve their processes, but it can even become apparent during an otherwise normal Corcentric technology implementation. Unlike many other companies, we review relevant processes during the implementation and provide recommendations on where to make improvements to achieve their Target Business Outcomes. Even in just the past 12 months, I've worked with clients during these implementations who do not vet new suppliers, do not have defined processes for updating bank account information, and do not have strong reporting for managers to review purchases.

These holes may not be obvious unless you are looking for them, but once found can be plugged. In the examples above, we come in with recommendations on how to fix it and then can work with the client to ensure they are properly deployed in order to maximize the reduction in fraud potential.

While companies like to think of staff as family, all it takes is one person acting maliciously for millions of dollars to be removed, and without the proper controls, the company may not realize it for years, and could never discover the truth.

Many companies across the U.S. have job openings they are desperate to fill; the same is likely true of your procurement team these days. The value of a highly effective approach to sourcing was certainly underscored by the pandemic, and companies small and large are now looking for great hires that can make them more efficient.

However, you have to consider whether you are doing enough to truly attract top talent. If not, you may find yourself struggling to compete as COVID-19 variants continue to take hold in the U.S. and beyond.

The following tips should help you get a little more out of your procurement recruiting process:

1) Write better job descriptions

First and foremost, the job descriptions you post on your own website and any career sites should be thorough without being overly long, and lay out exactly what you are looking for in a candidate, according to Planergy. To truly attract top talent, you will also want to make sure you clearly list the precise salary and benefits offerings you bring to the table.

Are you doing what you can to attract top procurement talent?Are you doing what you can to attract top procurement talent?

2) Look high and low

Your old recruiting strategies likely won't work if you have been too narrowly focused on where you source your candidates from, Planergy advised. For that reason, place listings on as many sites as you think will be relevant. While you certainly don't want to sift through hundreds of applications for a single opening, the specificity of your listing should help keep applicants to only those who are qualified.

3) Ask for recommendations

No one knows better than your employees what it takes to work in your organizational system, find new ways to innovate within those parameters, and what you're looking for in terms of a great candidate, according to Harver. For that reason, establishing a referral program that rewards people for suggesting great hires — whether they're friends, family or former colleagues — could help simplify your recruitment efforts dramatically.

4) Make sure your offerings are more than just competitive

When it comes to establishing baselines for salaries, benefits and perks, you can't just let the market dictate what you're offering, according to recruiting expert Scott Dance, writing on LinkedIn. These days, it's wise to go above and beyond the market, because that few extra thousand dollars per year — or more generous health insurance package — could be what differentiates you from your competitors, and makes you that much more effective and efficient as an operation. In that way, the best workers available end up paying for themselves.

5) Make it easier to apply

Finally, keep in mind that job seekers have likely gone through just about every application process imaginable — and therefore know what they like and what they don't, Dance added. For that reason, your application process should be as straightforward as possible. Allow people to just attach a cover letter and resume to an email, or fill out a quick form on your website. Making candidates jump through hoops is a great way to discourage the best ones from following through with their preferred method of application.

 The movement of goods from one point to another is complex - the transportation industry is a blend of the networks, infrastructure, equipment, information technology, and employee’s necessary to transport a large variety of products safely and efficiently throughout the nation and around the world. Although generally considered separate transportation entities, trains, planes, ships and trucks are actually part of an integrated network.

With such varieties in how company’s ship their goods, its impossible for two organizations to have the exact same supply chain profile. For this reason, to compare data from one shipper to the next, it can cause misguided recommendations and expectations. Benchmarking data versus industry wide historical rates or against other shippers does not account for future trends and predictive modeling.

In the Big Data Era, companies in a variety of industries, including transportation, more acutely feel the need to collect information most relevant to their businesses. They want to find a way to make decisions based on accurate information at the right time. To achieve this, the development of systems that can transform the data collected information from which to generate actions that benefit the business directly.

Some of these benefits may be:

  • Identifying growth opportunities – internal and external data analysis can help to shape and forecasting business results, allowing identification of the most profitable growth opportunities, as well as some differentiators for business
  • Improving business performance – data analysis facilitates agile planning, forecasting more accurate budgeting and improved planning is an important tool for decision making
  • Better management of risk and regulatory requirements – data analysis allows improved reporting procedures, identification of risk areas such as compliance violation, fraud or reputation damage
  • Using emerging technologies – can identify new opportunities for obtaining information relevant to business management, based on new technologies

Very few companies use the full potential of predictive analysis. On the other hand, this approach often comes into conflict with trying to keep under control and lowering IT costs. Therefore, identifying and capitalizing on available information and identifying information sources that can support the generation of new opportunities have become the main challenge.

Effective integration of predictive analysis in business management has a measurable impact on performance because it allows better planning, weather clearer and more informed decisions, resulting in increased profits, reduce risk and increase business agility.

Using predictive analytics is useful transport companies to ensure that all relevant functions involved in the process so as to obtain an overview and to minimize information leakage. Information about consumers are a typical example in this respect: sales have billing addresses data and record transactions, marketing has information obtained from the analysis of feedback coming from consumers and the logistics department has details on concrete deliveries. All this information can sometimes double or vary from one department to another.

A coherent analysis of all these data can be a challenge, but an accurate analysis and enhanced business can generate added value. 

Stop living in the past and jump on the predictive analysis train…or truck…or ship.