BuyTrain News

November 2013

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Personal Safety Thought:

One of my "favorite" pet peeves: Travel prepared! A recent trip through several southern airports, highlighted the fact that many people travel in comfort and forget to be prepared. I always notice all of the people in flip-flops or wobbly high heels in an airport. In addition to the many tripping and snagging hazards in the airport, these people are forgetting that they may have to evacuate quickly and safely in an emergency. Not that I really care if they can't - but I worry about the people who will end up running behind them.


Electronic Records and Legal Discovery

It's a new hot growth industry for software developers and lawyers.  If your organization hasn't planned for and trained personnel about the e-discovery process - you are at risk.  Here is an article to use in affiliate newsletters that highlights the risks. If you want to do a half day seminar or workshop on the subject - let's chat.

Selecting a Responsible Contractor

Finding, vetting and selecting a contractor who has a reasonable chance of performing successfully, is one of the more important contributions we make to the supply chain. We just finished a fun workshop discussing  issues and options for evaluating potential contractors and making responsibility determinations.   You can find a copy of the handout on my workshop handout page - here


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 company 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 company requires and pays for? No! We are professionals who take responsibility for our own careers and training?  Read more....  Here is sample strategy

Cost and Price Analysis seminar.

We can use our knowledge of the contractor's price drivers to negotiate more complete and more valuable contracts. - handouts and presentation from my recent seminar in Salt Lake City on this page.

Cost Risk – one driver for contract types.  A follow-up note to the Cost-Price Seminar. Read here

Insurance Risk Presentation. 

A few notes and comments from a recent ISM Webinar.  Read here

Cardinal Changes in a Contract 

What are Cardinal Changes and how could they lead to windfall profits for a contractor? Read more here

Small Business Teaming Arrangements

I was asked about the difference between teaming arrangements and partnerships in determining Small Business (SB) qualifications.

This article does a good job of describing the legal differences. 

A few thoughts:

  • A small business can establish a relationship with one or more large businesses in order to obtain the capability to perform a contract.
  • Under some circumstances, a SB can qualify for award of a small business set aside contract even though they are counting on their relationship with a large business in order to perform the work.
  • A SB may be disqualified for a set aside award if the small business incorrectly establishes the business relationship.
  •  Some of the qualifying/disqualifying issues include who controls the relationship, the type of agreement, which entity is doing the work, who will be legally bound by our contract, etc.
  • If the SB subcontracts some of the work, they still must perform a percentage of the work. E.g. more than 50% of service and 15% of construction plus some additional qualifiers in the SBA regulation.
  • Questions about SB qualifications are judged by the SBA. Buyers and seller appeal SB and teaming partner questions to the SBA for a determination.

An easy way to think about it would be to consider a SB trucking company. The SB probably leases its big trucks from a leasing company (quite likely a large business). Under most circumstances we wouldn’t think twice about awarding the contract – clearly the SB is in control and performing and the lease is incidental to the contract. If our solicitation had required the SB to submit a technical capability proposal, they might have included copies of the lease, showing that the trucks were under subcontract, as proof of their ability to obtain and use the required trucks.

If on the other hand, a large size trucking company has a contract with a SB for marketing and sales support. The SBA would likely find that the large business was in control of the arrangement and disqualify the SB for award of a SB set aside. Likewise, if the SB and large trucking company had a 50-50 partnership agreement, the SBA would evaluate the partnership entity as a whole to determine size status.

Buyer Loses by Default

Point Taken - it's my job...

When we get involved with a contract action that is not normal or typical. It could be oddball scope, creative contract terms, unique circumstances or special payment processes.  We have to take the time to methodically consider all of the various changes, additions or deletions to our normal process. Our standard terms, processes and contract types may not be adequate. It's our job to notice the difference and make sure we have done our due diligence before proceeding.   How? here are some suggestions:

Step back from the action and ask what could go wrong. [ an experienced buyer knows that anything that can go wrong  -will] . If it can go wrong, write the RFP or contract provisions to cover it and negotiate mitigating remedies in to the contract.  Then read the entire document and see if the words really say what you are planning on doing.

Include language in your RFP and negotiations which elicits the significant price drivers from the contractor.  Understanding how the contractor arrived at the price will help ensure both parties are in alignment. In addition, understanding the price drivers will lead to creating a more complete and valuable contract. (see cost-price article above)

Why? What if? What are the Facts? What are my assumptions? What could change? It's our job to ask those questions.

My Resume... Note to Self:

I wonder what my personal 'brand' looks like online?

Mentor Remembered:

After 40 years, I have a lot to look back on in my career. It has been interesting, rewarding and at times a lot of fun.  I can't imagine what it would have been like without the support and advice of great mentors and leaders. This past year marks the passing of one of my good friends and an incredible mentor. Elaine Whittington, C.P.M., I will miss you.

Professional Networking Strategy

Establish and maintain active contact with people who are resources for:

  • Business and professional information
  • Potential career development mentors or collaborators

Expand and develop our personal network of business contacts by having a meaningful dialog Sufficient to determine if a continued professional relationship would be of mutual interest and value. Seek a common interest and reason to stay connected by sharing:

  • Background and experience
  • Professional growth plans
  • Business challenges
  • Contact information and a means of staying in touch
  • Upcoming opportunities for further discussion or exchange


ISM News

ISM Web Site - New and Improved!

Change happens and ISM is undergoing some significant changes. It's not too early to start making plans to participate in the ISM International Conference and Leadership workshop. Looking forward to seeing everyone in Las Vegas, in May. Read more...

2013 Pacific Northwest Purchasing Conference

NAPM Spokane presented another informative, educational and fun conference. Here are some pictures .  Make plans now to participate in the next Pacific Northwest Purchasing Conference in Anchorage Alaska. Save these dates , October 6-8, 2014. Watch the NAPM-Alaska web site for more information.

Special Interest Groups and Forums - one more advantage of participation.

The opportunity to collaborate with people who share a common interest or expertise is a valuable membership benefit. By working together, ISM Groups can present programs or speakers on specific topics of interest. ISM groups are offering regular free online webinars to their members. Joining one or more special interest groups of members is easy and free. Here is a recent newsletter about ISM Groups .

Software & PC Tips

Instead of railing against new technology – get even with it. Learn to use new software tools to your advantage. People who say they don’t have enough time to read instructions, learn about software tools and practice new features – never will have enough time.

I just switched to Win 7 – so I’m starting that long uphill climb. This tip may be old news to all of you.  I think recent item lists and jump lists will be an important productivity increase in Win 7. (once I learn to use them) Read more here

BTW: Have you noticed that you can right click the Outlook taskbar icon and start a new message…. Here is more information about jumplists from Microsoft.

Delay sending Messages in Outlook 2010 - Here's how

Make Outlook Out of Office Rules more useful.  Here's how

Computer Virus Alert

Since there has been so much written about virus and antivirus - I don't often mention it anymore. However, I read a special report this morning that reminded me to remind you.....

For those of you who use home computers. There is an insidious new virus on the loose in cyberspace. Unfortunately, the virus warning that displays is very similar to a hoax and an old virus - so that you might not realize what's happened until it's too late.

This new virus, actually does encrypt document and image files on your PC. AND - it encrypts them in a way that they can NOT be unencrypted without the key. Of course the virus demands you pay to obtain the key... a risky solution, which might be worse than the problem.

Worse... the virus has so many variants, that anti-virus programs are having a hard time keeping up with it... so we all could be vulnerable.

What to do:

  1. Do not stick head in sand, read at least one of the two articles I have linked below - at least so you know what to watch for.
  2. Make sure you are using a good antivirus program and are keeping it very up to date. Don't know if you are? It's kind of like driving car and not knowing if the brakes are in good shape..... poor judgment grasshopper.
  3. Do NOT open any email attachments if you don't know what they are and trust the person they are from. Particularly dangerous are ZIP files like the ones that come with FAKE UPS delivery notices. Do not click on them.
  4. Don't download or install software from questionable sources.
  5. Make sure you have current backups of important or valuable files.
  6. Do not leave your backup device, USB drive etc. turned on or plugged in to your system when you are not backing up files. This virus will look for any file it can find in your system and all connected drives to encrypt.
  7. As noted in several articles, the virus is actually quite easy to remove - unfortunately, removing the virus does not decrypt your files and may make it impossible to decrypt them.


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
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