BuyTrain News

November 2006

  ISM News
Personal Development
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Many Thanks to my friends in NAPM Spokane for hosting a great Pacific Northwest Purchasing Conference.  If you missed it, you missed a collection of interesting speakers, good programs and a very comfortable facility.

 I’m was privileged to be on the agenda along with two former Presidents of NAPM, ( Elaine Whittington, C.P.M. and Sid Brown, C.P.M.).   I presented a negotiation workshop;  reviewing ways to get started with the negotiating process along with some tips on reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. I've posted a copy of the presentation on the web site here.

In the second workshop I teamed with  Elaine Whittington, C.P.M. to talk about keeping your computer safe. We explained some of the Geeky PC terminology as well as recommending tools and actions that each computer user should be taking to protect their critical data. It was a lot of fun translating the computer and internet terminology that confuses so many people.  I have tried to explain a few geek terms on my Speakeasy Geek web page.

One of the more interesting presentations I attended was a discussion about Radio Frequency ID tags. It’s amazing how small and inexpensive simple ID tags have become (< 10cents).  Use of RFID tags is expected to grow significantly as more companies mandate their use. Wall Mart already requires RFID tags on some purchased items and has published a schedule to suppliers showing when most of the Wall Mart shipments will have to include RFID.  RFID tags are found in many consumer locations on high-value merchandise. The tag attached to an item or box can be read from a scanner, which could be many feet away, and identify the individual, product, pallet or shipping container. In some cases, receiving dock forklifts just have to drive by the portal and the computer reads the RFID tags and records the shipment – which can even include serial numbers of the individual items.

If you have never participated in one of the regional or national conferences I highly recommend you do so.  It's a great way to meet Supply Chain people from other locations and share successes and challenges.

Personal Development

Is that Personal Question?
In a Negotiation;  if not, maybe it should be.

My good friends Ross Reck and Elaine Whittington, C.P.M. have long advocated considering personalities and the ‘people factors’ in a negotiation. In the past I focused more on negotiation preparation and planning. Lately I have started to understand their point, and considering the people-side of the negotiation. People and personalities are a significant factor in contract negotiations and more importantly in contract performance. It's the people that perform not the piece of paper we call a contract.  Here is a real-world example of how this worked. Read the full article here....

ISM News

Did You Know?

ISM conducts regular membership demographic surveys.  The most recent survey in 2006 is available to ISM members online at  .

Included are ISM member statistics such as job title, educational degrees, certification,  spend authority, and salary rage. It's interesting to see how you stack up against other members,  and a useful tool when negotiating for a salary increase,  considering a job change or making staffing plans for a new organization.

How's this for an eye opener…. Based on the 2006 survey:
Over 55% of ISM members make more than $65,000/year.  You don't? hmmmm let's see if we can spot a reason why.
70% of members have a 4-year college degree or better;
61% have a business or supply chain related degree
70% have worked in the profession for more than 9 years
50% have C.P.M.
And over 80% of us are over 36 years old.
Read the whole survey to see how you fit in...

It might help to answer these buring questions; Can I expect to increase my salary more if I get a degree? Would it be helpful to obtain my C.P.M. (or CPSM)? Should I move to a bigger company to have more opportunities? You get the idea….

Need a Bid Specification?

Did you know that ISM has a bid specification database available to members?  It's a collection of over 1500 specifications contributed by members that can be used as a starting point for your next Supply Chain 'opportunity'.

On the ISM web site, in the left navigation menu,  select TOOLSs >  RESEARCH TOOLS > BID SPECIFICATION DATABASE. Here is a few examples of what you can find:

Bid Specification Search Results1527 matching records found.

Software Tips

How can my PC Help with Contracting Issues?

Two Examples:

1) A contractor received the following legal opinion about a contract wherein the Buyer had shortened the contractor name by using an acronym instead of the full name.  (names have been changed to protect the innocent). 

This is not a valid acronym for our company name. I understand the concern of using Animated Association of Automotive Audiophiles over and over in a contract.  However, under no circumstances do we want to start using AAAA. The reason for this is that we have a brand name in the market place and don’t want it diluted by acronyms.

2) NPR story about a contract dispute – resolved by the courts,  over the placement of a comma.  

Both situations serve as reminders that we are issuing legal documents. Cavalier wording or punctuation which creates ambiguities, can, and will, be used against us in a court of law.  I jest with my lawyer friends about using too many words, but sometimes using too few can be a problem.  In the first case, our contract referring to the AAAA company, could be judged invalid since there is no such company. In the 2nd case, clarifying comments seem to have been left out of the English version of the contract.  Someone assumed that their (unwritten) interpretation of the text would suffice.

In both examples MS WORD can help us to fill up the contract with precise words while at the same time avoiding repetitive typing.  Here are two easy ways:

1) Set MS Word's autocorrect feature to always replace a specific acronym with the full text.. I have mine set, for example, to always replace DOE with the Department of Energy.  To resolve the first example above I could set up MS Word autocorrect so that every time I type AAAA,  Word automatically replaces it with the full contractor name.  In Word open the tools menu and select AUTOCORRECT.  Add the acronym and text to replace it. 

2) Store clarifying or explanatory text in a separate “scrap” file.  Then reverse the processes to easily insert the scrap-file text in as many places as you want.  In a Word Document highlight the paragraph or text that you want to save, and drag it to the desktop. Word will create a “SCRAP” icon.  Now you can drag that scrap back into any MS Word document to insert the text.  Note: I can also drag the scrap text I create from Word into an Outlook email message or Excel file.

Let Outlook Help Your Memory

Sometimes we receive notices about scheduled Network Outages. It would be helpful to have a reminder about those events on our calendar so that we don’t schedule a meeting or task when the network will not be available.

There is an easy way to use Outlook as a personal reminder about important events.

When you receive an email and want to set a reminder.

1 - Drag the email message from your in-box and drop it on your calendar. This will automatically open the calendar dialog box with a copy of the message included.

NOTE: you can do the same thing by dropping a message on the Task icon – to set up a task.

2- Set the date and time to correspond with the event.

3- Set the REMINDER  to remind you about it a few days in advance

4- Set the "SHOW TIME AS" to show your time as Free (or whatever is appropriate).

5- Save and Close.

This will add the event to the Outlook  calendar and send a reminder so you don't forget…  If you SHOW TIME AS Free, then it won't block other appointments, but will still show up where you can see it.

Examples of where this might be handy:

"The network will be offline on Saturday…."

"There will be a PassPort outage starting at 3:00, be sure to close and save your work before it dumps you out."

"I'll be over at 2:30 to chat about this audit report."

"Remember to bring this completed for with you to staff meeting…"

File Wont' Open?

Do you have a file that won't open?  It could be that the file just needs to be renamed. Windows, Microsoft Office and many other software programs identify a file based on the 3-character file extension  following the period "." in a filename.

Examples:  .XLS=Excel;  .DOC=WORD; .PPT=PowerPoint

Older programs and some people, have never adjusted to that naming convention. They create files with names that sound good, but don't comply. As a result, we sometimes run across files with oddball filenames, weird filename extensions or no extensions at all.

Some Examples:  REPORT.MAY ;  RESUME.MLT ; SEMINAR(09/23/06) ; and worse

Since Windows Doesn't recognize these filename extensions, it has no idea what program to use to open the file. If someone sends you the file in an email - then clicking on it will result in an error.

You can sometimes work around this error manually.  1)Save the file to your hard drive. Scan it with an up-to-date virus checker!  2)Rename the file, adding an extension based on your best guess about what type of file it is. 

In our examples above I'd guess this way:



Sometimes malicious people will try to fool you by adding two or three extensions behind a filename:


This is not a TEXT file, it's an HTML file that could do bad things to your computer.

They are hoping you won't notice and click the file to run a virus.  If you click before thinking - it's too late-  you can't just-sort-of click.

Whenever you receive a file from someone you don't know (and trust) -be very careful.

Corollary..  How you name a file can not only affect how easy it is to open, but it can also affect how easy it is to link to, attach or describe.

Despite the fact that Windows will let you use long file names, it can cause you problems.

Whenever possible I try to stick to these file name rules: 

1- Keep the file name short   [ There is actually a limit to how long a file name can be and all of the folder and subfolder names in the path count against that limit as well]
2- If you want to leave space for readability use an underscore in the name    (Taylor_Resume.DOC)
3- Don't use any other special characters in the file name. 
4- Always make sure the 3-character extension references the right software program. Usually programs assign the extension automatically.
5- Never include spaces in a filename.
6- Never include extra periods in a filename (see rule 3).
7- These rules apply to folder names as well.

Geeks call the original file naming convention of 8 characters with a period followed by 3 characters:    " 8 dot 3" . The closer you can get to filenames complying with that geeky term, the safer.

Example of the problem in rule 1 above:

Imagine a file in a subfolder of a folder, of a folder, of a folder on our network drive called:  Fiscal Year End Report (10/15/2006).doc.    Regardless of all the other problems with the filename - the limit on length could sneak up and block access to the file.

Windows sees the full file name like this:

[ _\\HANFORD\DATA\Sitedata\TNS\procedure_rewrite_taylor\Performance%20Matrix%20files\Fiscal%20Year%20End%20Report%20(10/15/2006).doc ]

You get the idea…... how hard it would be to keep track of that and/or ask someone to type in the link.


Provide Feedback and suggestions for future newsletters at any time. I'll try and use what I can.

I really do appreciate those of you who take the time to write and comment on this newsletter!  



Read more articles about negotiation and creative contract solutions in the MLTweb Purchasing Toolbox at and in the BuyTrain news article archive at

MLTWEB is assembled and maintained by Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M. 
Materials and articles prepared by Mike may be shared for purchasing education provided that this source is cited and no fee is charged. The rights for any other use are withheld.
Copyright;  Michael L. Taylor, C.P.M.
Last Updated: 05/23/2006