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How to Improve the Efficiency of Your Small Business

Spend Matters welcomes a new guest contributor, Staples Industrial. Small businesses tend to operate closer to the margin, meaning that waste and repetitive workloads can quite literally affect a business' bottom line. That's why, from startups to neighborhood mom-and-pop shops, efficiency is key to maintaining a healthy small business. From considering outsourcing to evaluating their supply chain regularly, here are a few steps that small businesses should be taking to discover which processes are the best fit.

Prawn (or Shrimp?) Prices on the Rise in the US

In the US, shrimp consumption each year reaches around 600,000 tons with total domestic production accounting for less than 10% of consumption. As a result, the US must rely on imports from other origins to meet demand. In 2012, total US shrimp imports fell by 8% year-on-year to 533,500 tons. Shipments from Thailand, Vietnam, China and Malaysia all fell as production was harmed by a shrimp disease known as Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS). Production in Thailand, the largest supplier of shrimp to the US, was down 8%, while exports to the US dropped a significant 27% to 135,600 tons.

FedEx Quietly Unveils New Surcharge

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Jon Winsett of NPI, a spend management consultancy focused on eliminating overspending on IT, telecom and shipping. For years, […]

Capital Equipment Sourcing: Pitfalls to Avoid

Procurement professionals who participate in the sourcing decisions for capital equipment often face several challenges: how to measure and derive value (especially when historical precedent is not available), how to gain the trust of the business stakeholders (especially the plant production and engineering ones), how to gain an “even place” at the negotiation table with the suppliers, etc. In attempting to address several or all of these challenges simultaneously, procurement professionals lose on more than one count. There are a few important pitfalls that need to be avoided to ensure success in the sourcing efforts of capital equipment.

How Might We Drive Innovation from Others’ Assets?

Last month, Shweta Shanker of GEP wrote a dead-on post on Procurement and Marketing Collaboration. One of the many important points she made is the need for procurement to provide visibility into any individual supplier’s spend relationship, which then ensures that all possible leverage is maintained. Conversely, one might argue that marketing needs to provide upstream visibility into their activities so that procurement has adequate time to source and procure. All too frequently, marketing’s creative process eats the time theoretically allotted to sourcing and procurement. As a result, procurement is forced to provide expedient support (using the same suppliers every time) as opposed to optimal support, delivering the best possible pricing and quality for the marketing piece or program.

The All-in-One Telecom Carrier: Good or Bad?

Telecom carriers are quickly evolving to become all-in-one information technology service providers, offering a combination of enterprise IT solutions in addition to traditional wireline and wireless network offerings. Today, most carriers, including market leaders like Verizon and AT&T, now have offerings for data center, cloud computing, and managed network and security. This begs the question: should companies pursue a single vendor strategy for both network and IT services? What are the risks?

Dark Clouds on the Horizon? Your Data is Everywhere, Whether You Like It Or Not

Think about it. You create a document on your laptop – it’s got performance results, strategic positioning statements and an analysis of the biggest risks to your operation and you email it to the senior management. Now there are a dozen copies of that document on as many laptops. Your colleagues have their company email synced to smartphones and tablets and within moments those sensitive documents are replicated dozens of times on as many devices. Those individuals concerned with losing data will back it up to memory sticks. Before you know it, the data you spent millions on protecting has spread like a virus across half the devices in your company in a highly concentrated, easy-to-understand form. Any one of those devices could be lost, mislaid, stolen or otherwise compromised, and it is an awful lot easier to crack email on a smartphone than a corporate firewall.

US Pork Prices Set to Fall

Last week we wrote about beef, not long after the news broke that Smithfield Foods will be sold to a Chinese pork producer. So it’s fitting to take a look at pork prices this week.

Thought Innovation – Considerations for Supply Chain and Procurement in the Share Economy

Disruptive trends continue to shift the business landscape and challenge longstanding operations. Disruptions come in many forms (natural disasters, raw material availability, factory and line down situations), but innovative and disruptive trends are often overlooked, in particular the share economy. The impact of these trends on supply chain and procurement is not the first to come to mind, however it is an integral part of evolving models to thrive in the future for the share economy.

Mobility Center of Excellence Meets Wireless Cost Management

When I ask CIOs to describe wireless cost management within their business, their responses inevitably vary somewhere between “a challenge” and “a nightmare.” There’s a long list of reasons why companies overpay for wireless – ranging from carrier pricing disparity to the general lack of visibility into how wireless is being consumed across the business. But, that’s just half of the mobility spend management challenge. What about the spend management discipline required to identify and implement the mobile applications and initiatives that will increase productivity or boost revenues?

Apple's Procurement Strategy

Recently, news surfaced that Apple is planning to award more business to a relatively unknown company called Pegatron. Though the jury is still out on the success of such a move, it nevertheless provides some pointers on the procurement’s alignment with overall organizational goals. GEP takes a look at the potential benefits of Apple's decision, from risk diversification to margins sustenance.