BuyTrain News

February 2012

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  ISM News
Personal Development
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Personal Safety Thought:

What does you family do to stay safe? Do you have fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, emergency food, backup contact plan and/or what else? It's a great topic to discuss and share with colleagues at your next meeting or in a short newsletter article. Helping each other stay safe and productive is one of the easiest and most rewarding things we can do. Why not try this as an icebreaker around the tables at your next meeting.


Internet Security Concern –
everyone who uses the internet needs to understand!

Did you hear on the news recently that online retailer Zappos web site was hacked? The company downplayed the news release saying that the hackers only got the last credit card 4 digits - so not to worry. The new report said that hackers also got the user name and login password. O.K., so why should I care if a hacker wants to long in to my Zappos account? It’s not like I’m concerned she will find out my shoe size.

WRONG! Many people should be very concerned.

The hacker did not want the credit card numbers – she wanted the user ID and Login password. Why? Because many people still use the same user ID and login password for multiple applications. So a hacker could take the user ID and password list and try to log in to AOL mail accounts. Surprisingly – a significant percentage of the Zappos user IDs and Passwords will log in to AOL (or YAHOO or whatever) mail accounts.

If you used the same User ID and password for Zappos that you also use for AOL mail – then the hacker has been reading your mail account!

Once in to your AOL mailbox, the hacker can steal your contact list, search email messages for other login updates, credit card or bank data, etc. AND until you change your AOL login, she can return again and again and again.

Have you recently received an email from a friend’s AOL email that looked kind of strange? Why would John be calling me darling? Why would he want me to view a gambling website in China? Why would he invite me to send him my contact list? Could it be that John’s AOL email account was hacked? Could it be because John used the same Login for Zappos and his AOL mail? Hmmmmm

Would a fraudulent mass marketer pay big money for a list of email addresses and the associated friend’s name so that emails which appear to be sent from John will most likely get opened and trusted?

Do you get the picture? I’ll bet most people reading this note have received emails looking like they were from a friend – but obviously fake. Trust me – your friend isn’t doing it – but someone [a nefarious jerk] is using the email information which they connected to AOL with a hacked Zappos user ID and Password.

O.K. so what can we do about it?

1- It’s too late to tell john to close the barn door. The hacker already got my email address from John’s account and she [the hacker] sold it to an email spammer [idiot, jerk and someone I’d like to meet in person just to explain what I really think]

2- If you have the same passwords on ANY of your email, AOL, Yahoo, Google, social networking or sensitive web sites – CHANGE THEM ALL immediately. Don’t wait until the cows leave – they will never come home. [Obviously change them to all be different from each other]

3- Stop using the same passwords in multiple applications. Find and start using a password manager . Set up strong and unique passwords for each web site or application. Here’s a list of places to start looking for password management software. [FYI – I use Roboform]

Buyer Loses in Court

I read a bid protest newsletter from the GAO and look primarily for cases where the Buyer looses. Why? Because, it helps me avoid making the same mistake.

In this case, the buyer lost in part because the file and subsequent correspondence failed to specifically identify sections of the specification that caused an offer to be rejected.  As the GAO reviewer put it “ the record is remarkably absent…[details about how an offers proposal was considered]”

Lesson: When making a determination of responsiveness, be specific. Show exactly what part of the specification or requirement the offer does not meet.  Instead of "…the offered equipment does not meet specs…"  be more specific. Example: "Specification section 2.6 requires contractor to provide chemicals in a Klein bottle however contractor proposed on page 38 to use mason jars."

Here is a revealing paragraph from the decision (pretty easy to see why the buyer lost):

Next, we turn to VCG’s contention that the VA improperly rejected its bid for the Trane chiller and the R-123 refrigerant as not meeting the specifications in the IFB.  The record is remarkably absent of any rationale to support the agency’s arguments in this regard. The contemporaneous record contends vaguely that cut sheets for the Trane chiller were “questionable” and that the R-123 refrigerant associated with the Trane chiller did not meet the specifications of the IFB, without any explanation of what was questionable or what specifications were not met. During the development of the protest, we sought explanation from the agency, and the agency merely repeated that the bid was “lacking and thus, nonresponsive” and “failed to meet the criteria established by the agency in its IFB.” Contracting Officer’s Statement at 2; Supp. AR at 1. Despite multiple opportunities, the agency has not explained why VCG’s proposal failed to meet the IFB’s requirements, which of the 384 pages of specifications and drawings were not met, or what in the 14 pages of documentation describing the chiller model VCG included in its bid was questionable. Without support for its conclusions, we cannot find that the agency acted reasonably in rejecting VCG’s bid.

Here’s a link to the whole thing.

B-405940, Veterans Contracting Group, Inc., January 12, 2012

E-Mail Pitfall

The problem: It is too easy to rant and rave in an email message. It’s also too easy to describe concerns, take a stand on issues and admit failures.

The Issue:   Email messages are a prime target of the legal discovery process. Electronic searching and discovery of a corporation computers, network servers, backup servers, jump drives and mailboxes is a huge business, paid for by our own company. Do a lousy job of searching for all the electronic dust bunnies and the company could lose the legal case by default.  (read more comments and concerns about electronic records here and in this presentation)

Even Worse:  Nearly all email messages will be around forever (read more… ).  Kind of like the embarrassing high school year-book comment.  If it’s in an email message, it’s likely to turn up just when you least expect it.

The Impact: Email message will likely be found during the legal discovery process and used in court. Whatever is said to anyone (not just between the Buyer-Seller) about this issue will be found and exposed in the lawsuit. [notable exception would be messages that are allowed to be attorney-client privileged].   This includes email messages which support arguments about intentions for taking action, meaning of terms, expected outcomes and plans.  

Lesson: Don’t say anything in an email message you don’t want to hear in court. Don’t say anything in an email message that a lawyer can twist against you.

Here are several examples:

Email message Cross Examination
The contractor is inept and couldn’t build a proper bozat no matter how long we gave him. Was your rejection of the product arbitrary? Did you give appropriate consideration to the request for a change?
If we reject the parts, then we’ll save the overspent budget. How long have you known of your intention to cancel the contract?
I’ve weasel-worded the contract so we can do whatever we want when the time comes. Is the contract intentionally ambiguous?
That specification is lousy, no one could build it in the time allowed. Did your company intend for the contractor to fail?
Why can’t you be more like your brother? Did you favor one son over the other?

Co-employment article:

Are the contract personnel working in your organization truly subcontractors? Could the Government rule other wise and bill the company for unemployment insurance and payroll taxes? Could a disgruntled contractor claim rights to your employee benefits? The answer is.......... it happens more than you'd think.

Companies have to be very careful when using contract workers, to ensure they remain contractor personnel and don't slip into a gray zone.

Resources: IRS training materials; Legal article; Many more examples

Suspect Bolts?

Does the prospect of using suspect or counterfeit items in your manufacturing process concern you? I'd guess if your company makes or builds anything - it does. Here's a web site reference to pass along to suppliers and shop personnel that might shed some light. Managing Suspect and Counterfeit Items in the Nuclear Industry; International Atomic Energy Agency Guide

When to Negotiate?

Recent television commercials about hotel room rates reminds us that sellers are motivated to negotiate when the product or service they are selling is perishable. That is, the unsold hotel room becomes worthless overnight. Similarly, unsold apples spoil and become worthless, and empty space in a long-haul truck can't be filled once the truck departs.  Thus for many types of commodities and services, the seller becomes more motivated over time. This could be an advantage to Buyers.

So a reasonable question to consider before entering in to the negotiation  is; “Is this product or service perishable?”  If it is a time-sensitive transaction, then that should be considered in the negotiation and might be just the leverage we need to find a better deal.

Easy question f we are buying fruit.  Harder question if we are buying industrial supplies or services. They don't "spoil" but the opportunity for the deal can deteriorate over time for other reasons. Here are some suggestions to consider as you plan your next procurements:

  1. The competition is going to release a similar product - buyer who waits will have a better choice.

  2. The manufacturer is going through a learning curve and future sales are likely to be better priced.

  3. The buyer's manufacturing department is actively looking for alternatives, and this might be the last sale

Sellers also use this “perishable” characteristic in negotiation with the famous phrase “ Sale ends Monday”.

Personal Development

Professionals develop their own professional development programs! No one would want to use a doctor or a tax attorney who hasn't kept up with the latest advancements. If you doctor said " I don't keep up with current medicines because my manager won't pay for it," would you stop using that doctor?  Is our profession any different? Are we prima donnas who only learn what our managers require and pay for? Are we willing to let someone else will take responsibility for our professional development.  Read more....  Here is sample strategy .

My Resume... Note to Self:

What resume-worthy accomplishments have I achieved by being involved in my local affiliate organization? Leadership experience, project management, budgeting, presenting, organizing and training are all valuable skills, no matter where they are experienced. Have I overlooked a professional advantage by not highlighting my outside-the-office career-enhancing “opportunities”?  Here is one example of how it could look: Managed a team of 25 people in a two-year project to plan and produce the Pacific Northwest Purchasing Conference with a budget of over $40K and an audience of 150 professionals.

New Interview Question: Why do you think it appropriate for professionals to read industry journals and email magazines? Which professional newsletters do you read?

Is your answer “None, because I’m too busy”? If so, that’s an interesting attitude for anyone who might have to compete for one or more new jobs before they retire.

So what do you read? Steamy romance novels, science fiction [my favorite], newspaper want ads or funnies, cereal boxes,  or…? I read this material because, it's a distraction and I can imagine being someplace else.

But you could say the same thing about items of educational interest. I find reading professional newsletters relaxing because:  1) they distract me from my day job  2) they help me imagine being somewhere else AND 3) they are informative about subjects I can actually use at work AND 4) they help keep me prepared to prepare for a job change AND 4) they contain useful topics of value that I can share with my professional network.

No,  I don’t spend all my time reading newsletters – but I do try and balance my reading time with items of professional value.  No,  I don’t read every word, I scan for interesting items. Even if you can't devote a lot of time to it - it's worthwhile to include some professional news in your reading list.

Here are some suggestions from my subscription list:

BuyTrain News  [at the top of the list because it’s mine!] Ross Reck’s Weekly Reminders
ISM Inside Supply Management ISM Supply Chain Weekly
ISM Just in eTime ISM Digital articles [members only]
ISM Supply Line 2055; certification update ISM Newsline [members only]
Repurposed Materials U.S. GAO Comptroller General Decisions & Reports
Internet and E-Commerce Law News Export / Import Law
The Master Negotiator AICPA Newsletters  (accounting)
The Supply Chain Digest  
Note: If you’d rather watch than read. There are many YouTube channels devoted to purchasing and Supply Chain information
You Tube Channels
And because developing professionally includes using software tools more efficiently:
ISM Media Room videos Windows Secrets
Microsoft Security  Newsletter for home users Microsoft at Home and Work
Exchange Messaging Outlook [ Tips on using Outlook] Exploring Windows Newsletter

 Try reading a few professional newsletters as a distraction and not thinking about it as work. Prepare for the future, gain value today and be ready for the sneaky job interview question.

Resume Accomplishments a Little Thin? Think Out Of The Box

What resume-worthy accomplishments have I achieved by being involved in my local affiliate organization? Leadership experience, project management, budgeting, presenting, organizing and training are all valuable skills, no matter where they are experienced. Have I overlooked a professional advantage by not highlighting my outside-the-office career-enhancing “opportunities”?  Here is one example of how it could look: Managed a team of 25 people in a two-year project to plan and produce the Pacific Northwest Purchasing Conference with a budget of over $40K and an audience of 150 professionals.

ISM News


For those of you looking for a good excuse to take the family to D.C. for vacation and write off part of the cost as personal education. The ISM conference this year is in Baltimore. I highly recommend that anyone who can find a way – try to attend at least one ISM Conference. They are truly becoming international. Last time I’d guess about 30%  of the 2100 participants were from outside the U.S. Take a look at all of the different programs that will be offered in Baltimore and you can get s sense of the scale. Conference

The conference is a great way to get a sense of how global Supply Chain management has become. Manager not convinced?  Download a few of the various presentations form the last conference.

ISM Media Room Channel on YouTube

Looking for something to spruce up the affiliate web site or something that can help with marketing?  Add a link to an ISM YouTube video.

Software Tips

Geek Humor

Open MS Word and on the Review Tab open the Thesaurus. Then using the Thesaurus search for alternatives to the word information. Do those synonyms look right to you?  If think the answers are funny - you just might be a geek. 

You can use Google to search a specific web site for information. Here is the syntax to use in the  Google search box if you were going to search my web site for information about SOX:  " sox"  


Learning Curve Calculator We'll be talking about learning curves in my workshop in April. This online tool is a quick way to get a simple answer.

Learning Curve:  handouts from the DAU courses including a spreadsheet with built in calculator.

Sid Brown, C.P.M. award recognizes Jerry Baker and Lee Buddress

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! As always, you are welcome to use my articles or presentations for educational purposes. Just as long as you are not charging for the materials and credit the source.  



Read more articles in the Purchasing Toolbox at and in the BuyTrain news article archive at  Return to MLTweb

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