BuyTrain News

February 2007

  ISM News
Personal Development
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Gift Idea:

Wondering what kind of recognition present to give a volunteer or colleague? I suggest you give them something that will help their career.  Visit the site and pick up a few desk references:

And of course, my All time favorite gift idea is still the BAR study guide

Work From Home ???

The GAO issued a ruling which supported a Federal Agency plan to reimburse the cost of high-speed internet access for agency employees working from home. While this is not a new issue, the GAO ruling does help define some of the concerns which need to be addressed when implementing a similar plan.  Among other things, this ruling says:

Public Law 104-52 authorizes federal agencies to use appropriated funds to install telephone lines and “necessary equipment” and to pay monthly charges in any residence of an employee authorized to work at home, provided that the agency “certifies that adequate safeguards against private misuse exist, and that the service is necessary for direct support of the agency’s mission.” Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations Act, 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-52, title VI, sect. 620, 109 Stat. 468, 501 (Nov. 19, 1995), reprinted at 31 U.S.C. sect. 1348 note.

What does this mean to us? Directly it means very little unless you are a government employee. However, the ruling and qualifying explanations could be helpful if you are trying to convince your employer to support working from home. The GAO analysis could also be helpful if you are considering setting up a home office to support future job opportunities. It might also help you if you decide to argue with the IRS about deducting a home office.

Recommendation: If you plan to be in the workplace for longer than the next 5 years, I’d suggest reading and saving this information. It is quite possible that someday you might have the opportunity to work from home (even if just a few hours), and/or become a consultant to a company in India.

Already, remote and home-based workforces are becoming very popular. Most of the technology barriers which made working from home difficult are already resolved, leaving only corporate policy and management resistance to change roadblocks. As younger generations enter senior management, the cost & time savings they can realize with remote workforces will be the significant decision factor since the technology [to them] is a no-brainer.

Corollary: I’ve said this before and I’m sticking with it. It won’t be long before younger workers bring their own computing power to the workplace. Younger generations are growing up with computing power as an integrated part of their life. They compile contact lists, reference information, links to resources and customized computer applications.

In those cases, having their own computing resources, customized to their own needs, makes these people much more competitive in the marketplace and valuable to the hiring company. As the technical tools become more ubiquitous and flexible, the tool which a person has grown up with and knows how to use best will be more useful than a generic system in the office.

For some professionals, bringing their own equipment is already a reality (professional chefs with their own knives, lawyers with their own reference books). Consider a design-engineer just out of graduate school who has a state-of-the art laptop with software he knows how to use effectively. He might be much more efficient solving design problems on the tool he know how to use. Also consider how fast personal cell phones are invading the workplace replacing company issue cell phones which can never be kept up to date.

What’s my point? For you younger people, when purchasing a new computer system, consider how you might want to use it to help with your career. Purchase software, computing power and set the system up to duplicate (and improve on) the work you do at the office. That way, as you use the system at home, you will be practicing at what you do to earn a living. Also, when you have the opportunity (and I suspect you will someday) you will be ready to tell a potential employer “I already have a way to do that job and would prefer to use my own tools.”

Seminar and Workshop

On Tuesday March 13, I will be presenting a Seminar & Dinner program for my friends in the OMV affiliate. Thought you might be interested in seeing the synopsis. The seminar will be back-to-back 1/2 day workshops. Should be a lot of fun. If you are interested in participating, contact Sid Brown for details

Wonder what we are going to be talking about?   Take a look at the articles in the next section - they are just a few of the discussion items I plan to cover..........

Computer Tips for the Supply Management Professional  (dinner program)

A notebook and a pen used to be the only tools necessary for a business trip- but today it’s the laptop. And if the laptop crashes while you are traveling – it can sure impact the business. Worst of all, laptops seldom crash during business hours or when a helpful IT person is nearby. This workshop is geared toward the nontechnical professional who needs to keep his/her laptop healthy and functioning. We’ll review some tools, tips and techniques that everyone who travels with a laptop should be aware of. We’ll also shed light on some geeky computer terms and translate the computer tips into plain English.

Where Do Those Prices Come From?
Getting To The Juicy Roots Of Product Pricing

This workshop will start at the very basics of Cost and Price analysis. We’ll use a dirt-simple example to discover how producers construct product prices. At the same time we’ll expose cost elements and considerations which influence the selling price and pricing decisions. Once we have a common understanding of the basics, then we’ll explore various alternatives and options which can be influenced by our purchasing strategy. Along the way we’ll talk about more advanced products and production processes. Our goal will be to understand the cost factors that make the most impact on a manufacturer's selling price and determine ways we can take advantage of this knowledge to negotiate lower pricing.  Note; A ½ day workshop does not afford enough time to become cost analysis experts - but it does give us enough time to understand the basics and find some ways to reduce costs.  

Negotiation Tactics And Tips
Using Our Product Knowledge To Negotiate The Best Possible Purchase.

This will be a basic negotiation principles workshop where we will explore ways to use our production and cost knowledge to plan a negotiation strategy. We’ll identify cost elements and manufacturing processes that can be targeted for price-reducing negotiations.  We’ll also talk about negotiation tactics and Strategies which can be incorporated into day-to-day work habits. Our goal will be for each person to leave with a list of specific negotiation tactics ideas about how those tactics can be applied to reduce acquisition costs.

Personal Development

Cost Counts

A few years ago I read an article about a purchasing agent at Costco. It highlighted an important cost-related negotiation strategy that I had seen every time I walked through Costco, but failed to recognize.  Read more.......

100 or Not?

When is an order for 100 pieces not really an order for 100? Read more.....

A Professional Attitude

Whether it’s a two-person lawn mowing business or a multi-national defense contractor, someone manages the supply chain of products and services needed to keep the business running. The extent to which the supply chain can be managed more effectively and efficiently can make or break a business of any size.  Natural Selection in the business community happens as the result of loosing customers because costs are too high, losing a major liability lawsuit, loosing critical sources of supply, missing deadlines and many other reasons which can be caused by Supply Chain mismanagement.  Read More......

ISM News

Did You Know?

Electronic Supply Management Resource

The ISM Electronic Supply Management Group has announced their newly updated web site. The site includes experienced commentary, links and information about managing supply chains using electronic systems and tools.  A worthwhile resource to share with members and colleagues.

Software Tips

Since I don’t have the problem, I don’t normally run across or look for tips targeted at parents of computer-using-children.

In this case, I happened to see this article and think it could be very valuable to parents. It talks about one of the most popular web sites on line - that your kids are probably using.  Suggest you read the article and then click the link " For more information on a parents guide….." to read the guide.

It's hard enough to keep children from downloading a virus, let alone keep children safe.  Remember I sent out a note a few weeks ago about how to set up a limited account for children … if you haven't already done so, then you probably don't want to read this article either….

NOTE: This article is posted on one of those web sites your mother warned you about - it has lots of good information - but also has a lot information about things that could get you into trouble.  I'd suggest not getting click happy while visiting this site - stick with the task at hand, then move on.

I provided this answer to an Excel question about sorting 

Sorting while Ignoring Leading Characters
I have a large worksheet containing many line items. Each line item has a part number, and I need to sort rows in the worksheets based on a portion of the part number. What I need to do is to have the sort ignore the first four characters of the part number, using everything beginning with the fifth character to perform the sort. Is there a way to do this in Excel?

Here is an easy solution, that could certainly speed up the process.

  1. Insert a new column in the worksheet. Could be at the end or in the middle somewhere. The new column will become a SORT KEY column which will be populated with the data that you will then use to Sort the worksheet.  Just like an index number column.
  2. Use a formula to populate the SORT KEY column with a Trimmed version of the part number.  Use the RIGHT function to select just the specified number of  characters from the right end of the part number.   =RIGHT(B2, 9)   selects the 9 characters from the right part of the part number in cell B2. 
  3. Copy and paste the formula in each SORT KEY cell on the worksheet - populating each SORT KEY cell with the 9 characters from the corresponding Part Number cell.  Use AUTOFILL or copy and paste to copy the formula in the cells.
  4. Sort the worksheet using the SORT KEY column. Use other TEXT functions:   LEFT to pick out the left characters of a part number string,  or MID to pick out the middle characters.

Copy Excel Chart to Word

I was reminded this morning about this old trick for copying a few cells out of an excel chart.
It's a quick way to copy part of a worksheet to send to someone or to paste into a WORD document
You can also use the same trick to copy an excel chart or graph.

Quick Launch Icons

Wish those little icons in the Quick Launch toolbar area of the Windows Taskbar were a little bigger?
It can be done.

The quick launch toolbar includes program icons and by default it appears on the taskbar next to the Start button.

1- Right click on an empty place somewhere on the Task Bar and unlock it (uncheck the "Lock the Taskbar" item)
2- Right click on an empty place in the Quick Launch toolbar
3- In the dialog box select VIEW then LARGE ICONS

Word 2007 Compatibility- Heads Up

I've been reading a little about the new version of Microsoft Office including WORD 2007.    So far I know almost nothing about the new versions of the applications  - seems like some interesting new features, but I don't plan to change until I have plenty of extra leisure time to learn about it.   However, Office 2007 is available now and if you purchase a new PC or new software you could end up with the 2007 version.

One thing to be aware of is that the new version of WORD, creates and saves documents in a new format with features that are NOT compatible with older versions of WORD.   Just like previous changes, Microsoft has done a pretty good job of giving you options to edit and save files in "compatibility mode" - however, you'll need to scrupulously make sure that you do so.

I doubt we'll change here at the office anytime soon - so those of you who take work home, will just need to be aware of the potential compatibility issue if you end up using new software at home.

Two More Quick Tips

Tip 1:
 Have you ever found a memory stick (thumb drive) or floppy disk just laying around and been tempted to insert it into your computer just to see what's on it? Don't!

A computer virus or malware could be just waiting for another victim.  Disks and drives that can autoplay (start automatically when you insert the disk) can just as automatically infect your machine.

Tip 2:
Do you get bunches of return mailing labels from insurance companies, and other solicitors asking for donations? I say use them - don't toss them! Stick your name and address on books, computer disks, memory sticks, rebate forms, cell phone chargers, pot-luck dishes, pets, spouses, small children …  O.K. you get the idea


Getting ready to travel overseas?

I forget about this amazing source of information. The CIA World Fact Book. Try looking up any country

How do you register new suppliers?

Here is a great example of what could be done with the suppliers registration process. By providing potential suppliers a lot of information up front - there are no surprises.

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!  



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