BuyTrain News

September 2007

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Education

NAPM-Idaho Southwest (Treasure Valley) and ISM Idaho (Pocatello) will host the Pacific Northwest Purchasing Conference on November 1 - 3, 2007. The conference will be held in the SUB at Boise State University. The plan includes a reception on Thursday evening, November 1st, conference sessions on Friday, November 2nd and half day sessions on Saturday, November 3rd. Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Friday and Saturday as well as a dinner on Friday the 2nd. The conference will include a trade show and at least 30 exhibitors are expected.

It should be a great conference to consider attending. Why?:

  1. Nationally known speakers and programs in a local venue.
  2. Quality educational programs in a much more cost-effective setting
  3. Conference is close-at hand and, for some of us, drivable, saving considerable airport-security frustration
  4. Registration fees are reasonable
  5. Lodging costs in Boise are less than they would be if you attended a similar conference in San Francisco, LA, New York or Paris..... [maybe even comparable to Fargo]
  6. A chance to network with supply chain professionals from companies throughout the northwest.
  7. The weather should be acceptable around the 1st of November
    www.weather.com/outlook/homeandgarden/home/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/83707?locid=83707
  8. Boise is a fun town to wander around in.
  9. The raptor rehabilitation center on the snake river is a very interesting side trip.
    www.peregrinefund.org/default.asp
  10. I'll be there, so you'll know at least one person.

For more information visit the Idaho SW web site 

Personal Development

Career Change in your future? Then plan to attend my program at the conference. Here is sneak preview of one of the programs I am preparing for the conference (working draft).

 Career Coaching – practical advice, links and information

Talking points:

  1. Making the performance appraisal process work for you?
    A personal purpose and strategy for job evaluations
  2. Skills I need to compete for a job tomorrow?
    Professional skills vs skilled practitioner
    Sharpen your tools:   www.mltweb.com/tools/sharpen.htm 
  3. Professional Strategies
    What can I do to enhance my marketability?
    www.mltweb.com/prof/prodev.htm 
  4. Positioning yourself in the job market?
    What are managers really looking for?
  5. Where do I find the jobs that are never posted?
  6. Gathering knowledge and applying it to your public image
    Trip reports and newsletter articles as a career enhancement
  7. Asking better questions
  8. Networking & building “Social Capital”
    A good first impression;  maintaining contact; working the network; long-term relationships
    Relationship article
  9. The Interview
    Interview Questions
    www.mltweb.com/prof/interview_questions.htm 
  10. Perception?
    How do others in the company perceive me?
    www.mltweb.com/prof/perception.htm 
  11. Articles and references on these pages:
    http://www.mltweb.com/prof/tools.htm#PROFESSIONAL%20DEVELOPMENT
     http://www.mltweb.com/prof/job.htm 

    here is one article from my web site......

JOBBERWOCKY

updated August 2007

Where do you want to go today?  Someplace warmer/colder/wetter?  A company that is more cutting edge?  A place where you can get some respect? Somewhere to make more money?  Anywhere because  I lost my job? Regardless of the motivation, many of us have thought about changing jobs or changing careers.  However, unless we start working on that thought we’ll never make it happen. Not doing anything is getting further behind. Waiting until a change is really needed could be way too late.

The bad news: the “internet age” of “electronic communication” is dynamically affecting the job changing process.  New skills are required to compete for jobs today.   Younger competitors in the job market have grown up with sharp computer skills.

The good news: We can learn to use electronic tools. We have experience to sell. We know what employers really need.

Here are some ideas on how to get started using today’s electronic tools.

  • Sharpen internet skills and learn to do effective web searches.  It takes lots of practice with web-search tools to find a specific company or job among billions of web pages. Thousands of jobs are being posted on line and many thousands more are only hinted at in company news releases. Many companies which never advertise, might be good fits for your experience.   Think of it like this “That company doesn’t know it yet, but they need me…..”    If you find yourself lacking in Internet skills, start spending some time on line. Recreation counts for practice and exercise! 
  • Practice preparing and transmitting electronic documents. Cover letters and resumes are often requested and submitted via email.  Crisp correspondence, timely email messages and accurate attachments all advertise your ability to be an effective professional. Team with a friend and start sending each other practice documents.  BTW – if your  internet service can’t handle attachments or blocks the wrong messages, you need to change services now!
  • Evaluate your job skills at one of the on-line career learning web sites. Create an exhaustive list of skills, abilities and ways that you add value. There are some ideas in this article:  www.mltweb.com/prof/prodev.htm     Check out the information at www.businessweek.com/careers/index.htm  or at the ISM Career Center  www.ism.ws/careercenter/?navItemNumber=4893
  • Scan as many job postings as you can. Glean ideas from each advertisement even if you are not interested in the specific job. The sought after skills and keywords are important. Mirror the advertisements in your resume and you are more like to be found. Company resource specialists will often search through e-resumes electronically looking for key words and phrases. Fill your resume with key buzzwords and accomplishments not passive adjectives. Consider the difference between “prepared blanket orders for supplies” and “implemented e-commerce ordering process”. Other buzzwords like “advanced Power Point and Excel” “public presentations” “C.P.M.” , “contract claims”, “supply chain management” should also come to mind. Check out current literature and magazine articles for the hot topics.
  • Get help and advice to prepare an electronic-age resume.  A clean concise and well thought out e-resume makes more difference today than a professionally prepared document on expensive parchment. Look at some of the on-line resources and samples.   
    www.ism.ws/CareerCenter/content.cfm?ItemNumber=12982&navItemNumber=13015         http://content.monster.com/resume/home.aspx
  • Subscribe to an on-line e-mail service about jobs and careers. There are several free ones.  How do you find free newsletters? [take note of the first bullet above]  Give up? Try this Google search: www.google.com/search?q=%2Bnewsletter+%2Bjob+%2Bcareer+%2Bfree 
  • Put your name and experience in front of the world. Contribute articles, post messages and make comments to magazines, newsletters, and web sites. Consider that every time your name appears on the internet is a new opportunity for a “headhunter” or potential employer to find you. 
  • Stay current with the profession. Communication skills, e-commerce experience, cross functional work groups and a big-picture knowledge of current business issues matter more today than 20 years of buying experience.  
  • Post your resume and start getting feedback. ISM members can post resumed online at  the ISM Career Center Members-Only site.  http://www.ism.ws/CareerCenter/index.cfm  

A few final metaphors:

  • If you are really serious about making a change, start making it happen,  while you still have time.
  • You are steering your own ship, so pick a good course.
  • The real question isn’t “Where do want to go today?” it should be “Where are you going today?”

Good Luck!

Mt

 

ISM News

Leadership Workshops are one of the most exciting and valuable events that affiliate leaders can attend. Excellent workshops and timely discussion build enthusiasm and energy. If you missed the workshops this last summer, you can review discussion notes on the ISM web site at www.ism.ws/MembersOnly/content.cfm?ItemNumber=15674[You will have to log in to the members only area of the web site to view this page]

As most of you already know, I am a huge fan of the Leadership Workshop program (read more here...) and I highly recommend them for all members who are interested in keeping your affiliate strong. ISM has already posted the dates and locations for the FY08 workshops. It's not too early to start making plans to attend.  www.ism.ws/MembersOnly/content.cfm?ItemNumber=16880

       
How Can I Verify an Individual's C.P.M. or A.P.P. Status? 

Potential employers wishing to verify an individuals C.P.M. or A.P.P. certification status can use ISM's Credentials Verification.

You are able to search by individual's last name and C.P.M.s only, A.P.P.s only or either C.P.M. and A.P.P. There's also an option to view all individuals certified or accredited within the last 30 days.

Please remember there may be instances where a candidate's information may not be up-to-date due to the time factor in processing applications and recertifications.

To access ISM's Credentials Verification: www.ism.ws/certification/CPMSearch.cfm?navItemNumber=15543

If you are a C.P.M. or A.P.P., you might want to verify that ISM's database has listed you correctly…..
https://www.ism.ws/tools/MemberUpdateDetail.cfm?navItemNumber=4910 

Dress to Impress……

http://amdt.wsu.edu/research/dti/index.htm

New Career Management Tools and Resources.   There's a new area in the ISM Career Center designed to put you in touch with tools and resources to assist you in your career/professional development. On the new Web page titled Career Management Tools and Resources, there are links to tips, articles, newsletters, Web sites of interest and professional development resources. This information is available to both members and nonmembers.

NEW IRS Filing Requirements for Affiliates

Will Your Affiliate Need to File Form 990-N?
Beginning in 2008, small tax-exempt organizations that previously were not required to file returns because their gross receipts were normally $25,000 or less will now be required to file an annual electronic notice, Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations Not Required to File Form 990 or 990-EZ. This filing requirement applies to tax periods beginning after December 31, 2006.

Some affiliates may have already received an IRS letter notifying them that they may be required to file the e-Postcard. The IRS is developing an electronic filing system (there will be no paper form) for the e-Postcard and will publicize filing procedures when the system is completed and ready for use.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) requires the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of any organization that fails to meet its annual filing requirement for three consecutive years. Therefore, affiliates that do not file the e-Postcard (Form 990-N), or an information return Form 990 or 990-EZ for three consecutive years, will have their tax-exempt status revoked as of the filing due date of the third year.

If you would like additional information about this new filing requirement, including notification when the filing system is ready, or information about other new developments, subscribe to the IRS's Exempt Organization's Update, an e-newsletter that highlights new filing requirements posted on the www.irs.gov Web site.

 

Workforce Management

An old friend and I were exchanging information about workforce management. It reminded me of several interesting articles I ad read about current workforce issues and changes.

www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/us_consulting_hc_connect_talentmgmt_PART%201%20%28V2%29%281%29.pdf

www.deloitte.com/dtt/cda/doc/content/us_consulting_hc_connect_talentmgmt_110707.pdf

Why should I care?   Because;  1) I am a member of that workforce and have to compete for my job for at least a few years longer. 2) I can use this information to plan my personal professional development needs 3) I can share this information with managers and professional contacts - thus gaining some name recognition in case I ever need to search for a new job.

GAO testimony on worker classification -

Follow-up ---- here is a link to the referenced GAO report.
GAO revisiting proper classification of employees vs. independent contractors.  Recommendations to the DOL about changes in enforcement.   link to the GAO report: 
   http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07859t.pdf    Among other things was a recommendation that the DOL revise the FLSA workplace poster. The new workplace poster is dated June 2007   Also found this tool on the DOL site which helps determine proper DOL workplace posters - and has links to download the new posters.  DOL - Poster advisor - which workplace posters are required:   http://www.dol.gov/elaws/posters.htm

 Why should I care?   Because; 1) I contract for service employees and want to make sure not to be bothered by co-employment claims. 2) Because some of the contracts I issue require contractors to post the DOL poster in their workplace.  [ the DOL web site has a lot of information about this requirement]

Software Tips

Password Tool

I bumped into this old link a few days ago. If you need help creating a secure password, this tool will suggest one for you. It includes options you can select to make the password more secure and complex. http://www.pctools.com/guides/password/

TIP: Try a different view…….
Having problem reading a particular document or web site in Windows XP?
Maybe the sun, the window colors or text size makes the screen hard to read……..

Try turning on the HIGH CONTRAST display.

Use this key combination to toggle the High Contrast Display on or off.
Left ALT+left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN (or PRTSCRN)

***********************

More XP key shortcuts… <http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=7163489>.
Or for Vista….. <http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=7163463>

*****************

SPAM got you down?

Are you all as cranky with the heat and allergies as I am? 
It doesn't help that I am starting to get more spam in my email.
Thought revisiting some of the old spam reminders might be useful.

Don't Click
In most cases it's obviously spam and should be deleted without ever opening the message.
However,  you do get a message you're not sure about be very careful with any attachments.
Don't ever click on any attachments you're not sure about…. You can't click just a little - it's all or none.

Even if the message looks like it might have come from someone you know. Be Skeptical [Buyers are usually good at this]
Email spammers can make a message look like it came from someone else… 
Just like addressing a letter by hand; I can put anyone's return address on the envelope - good spammers can make the message look like it came from someone you trust.    But when you open the message and see it's an apparent offer for beauty products - then you can probably assume it wasn't from me.

Delete Spam
Just wanted to remind you that you can immediately delete spam from your Outlook emails by holding down the Shift Key when you highlight a message and click to delete.  Outlook will permanently delete the message instead of dumping it into your deleted items folder. 

Find a lost window in Windows XP or VISTA      
[you penguin system users can/should/probably-will ignore this]

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
1) …that you try this tip at least once before you need it.
2) …that you keep it handy - because someday you will need it  - I know at least one procurement manager who wished I knew this trick a long time ago drag this message to your desktop and place it in a folder called windows tricks

What:

I've lost an open program window.  It's either on the second monitor (which just died) or got shoved off the screen to the Outer Limits.  The application is running. You can see it in the taskbar, but you can't see it on the screen, because it still thinks it's running on the secondary monitor

How to move it back:

  • alt-tab to the program window you want to move
  • Key in      Alt+Space,
  • Key in       M,
  • then click any Arrow key just once
  • now move your mouse to move the window where you want it
     

TRY IT NOW while you can see a window on your monitor so you can see what's happening. Note: In case you are wondering how often this happens... it happens a lot. We are using dual monitors. It's an amazing productivity increase for our office where we cut and paste, drag and drop,  and move data between applications and network locations a lot.

HUGE Excel files?

ISSUE:
How you format and work with Excel Spreadsheets can make a big difference in the file size.

PROBLEM:
We had a problem with an excel spreadsheet this morning that was too big to email.
The file size was 3Mb but the spreadsheet only had a few rows of data on it.

ISSUE:
When the user set up the spreadsheet, she turned on line formatting to make the data easier to read.
However, instead of just turning on line formatting for just a few rows of data, she ended up turning on the line formatting for the entire spreadsheet ( all 64,000 rows).

Thus, Excel was saving a spreadsheet of 64,000 rows. Even though most of the cells were empty, Excel was still having to display all the lines for all the cells in the whole spreadsheet.

SOLUTION:
Once excel thinks the spreadsheet is 64,000 rows long, just turning off the formatting won't fix the problem.
[I think this is a long know issue in Excel - wherein the file size won't change even though data no longer is visible]

So the simple solution was just to block and copy the few rows of actual data to a new spreadsheet.
In this case it reduced the file size from 3Mb to about 15Kb for the new file.

BEST PRACTICE:
When working in Excel, be careful to highlight and only work on the actual data, not the whole spreadsheet.
Do not click to highlight the whole column, the whole row or the whole spreadsheet, just highlight the parts that contain your data.

Hotlinks 

Spelling was never my strong suit - and it might not be my only weakness.  I found this page by accident and it just might help a little. Interesting reading and examples of compound word usage.   http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/compounds.htm

Library of Congress resource for understanding copyright laws   http://www.copyright.gov/

Weather Chart

I found this and love it as an easy way to see what the weather will be like in any city I plan to visit.  Just insert replace my zip code(99352) in the link with your zip code.  It's easier than trying to find the link on the web page.

http://www.weather.com/outlook/homeandgarden/home/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/99352?locid=99352

What is metadata & Why do I want to know?

Everyone will continue to get more involved with identifying, describing and applying metadata to electronic documents and records.

 metadata is a property of each file , document or email message
 metadata is used to wrap the file in identifying information just like an envelope wraps a letter
 metadata for electronic files can be automatically generated as well as added manually
 metadata is most meaningful when specified by the person preparing the document
 metadata accuracy is the key to finding the electronic file in the midst of a giant pile of electrons

What is it?

metadata is identifying information about a document, file or record. It is not the document content. It is the document “index”, “description” or “properties”. metadata has been in use since paper files, we just never called it metadata before.

Examples of commonly used metadata:
 A contract number is a form of metadata. The number format doesn’t really matter as long as it is unique and is applied to all of the contract documents. We can find associated emails, NCRs, QA records, etc as long as they are identified by the contract number. The contract number helps us sort and organize all of the NCRs.
 An archive box number. The box number can be used to identify and locate specific archive records. As long as the box number metadata traceability is maintained, the file can be retrieved, returned to storage and located indefinitely.
 The ISBN or UPC code on a book or product identifies the item but is not part of the item.
 Microsoft Office stores metadata about documents and calls it “document properties”. Open a Word or Excel file and in the file menu select PROPERTIES to see who prepared the document and the date it was last modified.

Experiment. In windows XP,  Open My Computer and drill down to folder which contains a lot of office documents. On the VIEW MENU select VIEW DETAILS. In the list of files window, right click an empty space in the column headings above the file list and select Author. Windows will add a column to the display showing the document author. This is one of the properties of the document and a piece of metadata about the document.

Notice that in all of these examples, the metadata can include more than just an identifying number. Looking up the contract number in our database, metadata also includes the buyer, contractor, contract type and contract issue date.  Using metadata we can store, sort and collect related documents by document category, author, date and even various versions (revisions) of the document.

Notice that the metadata is not random. In order to be effective the metadata has to be applied diligently with structure and uniformity .

Example: We could apply a variety of unique random ID numbers to books. In a bookshelf of only 10 books, the books would be easy to find. But in the New York public library, the only way to find a book would be to use the dewy decimal system as a structure for our metadata numbering.

Why is metadata becoming an issue now?

As the pile of electronic information grows bigger and faster, it is even more important to have accurate and meaningful metadata. Electronic filing systems will be only as useful as we are rigorous about keeping our metadata complete, accurate and consistent.

Example: In the 9 years we have been using Passport (our electronic contract system) we have issued over 47,000 unique contracts and purchase orders. However, we can find a specific contract document relatively easily if we know some of the metadata about the contract. Knowing the contract number, vendor and/or buyer we can quickly search to find the document. We are able to find the contract because we have consistently applied the metadata in the PassPort database. In fact the more metadata we know about the contract, the easier it is to find (contract type, issuing company, approximate issue date, etc.). That’s why we maintain vendor and buyer information even though they may be obsolete. That’s also why we have asked that Contract Supporting documents be filed in the Contract Share area using the contract number.

Warning! metadata can go bad.

- Wrong indexing or erroneous information may result in a document that can never be found
- Missing metadata can be disruptive and confusing to someone looking for a document. Consider how irksome email messages can be when they are missing a Subject.
- metadata that is cryptic or uses jargon & oddball acronyms is useless,  since the searcher must understand what they are searching for.

How does this affect me? What can I do?

  1. Each person who prepares and handles Office documents needs to be aware of the metadata hidden in the document properties. The information needs to be correct and in some cases the hidden data needs to be carefully removed before distributing outside the company.  (read more....)
  2. Make File names need to be useful. Instead of SOW.doc include a contract number; 10123_SOW.doc.
  3. Use short file names, with underscores instead of spaces and only letters and numbers (not funny *@#$*&).
  4. Email messages should include a meaningful subject line.
  5. Look at the properties of documents and ensure that they are meaningful and as complete as possible.

How will we ever find anything?

Google, Microsoft and their competitors are improving search engines and databases every day. But even the best tool can't help if the identifying information is missing or wrong.

JUST FOR FUN? 

Try this little brain teaser as a contest in your next affiliate meeting.

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!  

TTFN, 

Mt


Read more articles in the Purchasing Toolbox at http://www.mltweb.com/prof/tools.htm and in the BuyTrain news article archive at http://www.mltweb.com/tools/buytrain/index.htm Return to MLTweb


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