A bit over 18 months have passed since the majority of the globe locked down due to COVID-19. As we continue to acclimate and adapt to the ongoing pandemic, we see some signs of recovery. The manufacturing and packaging industries, however, continue to struggle in many areas. These struggles have required procurement executives to become more agile and diverse in their approach to finding the most cost-effective packaging while also problem-solving when others come up short.
Vendor contract management is the process of creating, negotiating, agreeing, storing, and tracking vendor contracts. This process enables teams in legal, procurement, and finance to manage risks involved as well as renewals.
Interesting times are ahead for companies that purchase significant pulp and paper volumes, a group that includes virtually any manufacturer with packaging needs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index, from February 2020 to February 2021, pulp and paper prices increased more than 5%. Data published by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank shows that corrugated prices increased approximately 11.5% between September 2020 and March 2021. These price increases will soon show up in packaging costs...if they aren’t already.
In today's challenging market environment, reducing packaging costs is essential. It may not occur to most companies to look at their corrugated supply vendor agreements for potential cost savings — but it should. Strategic Resource Management (SRM) understands these contracts, and we work with companies every day to locate and capture these savings. Working in partnership with our customers, we often reduce annual corrugated costs by double digits.
In our experience, whether it’s a packaging, transportation, temp labor, or a telecom agreement, saying “no changes, here’s my signature” is a classic blunder.
Staring down the barrel of budget planning for 2020? For many managers working with a calendar-based fiscal year, the dog days of summer also mean the advent of the annual planning cycle. Given all the uncertainties in the past few quarters, odds are that department heads are being asked to “do more with less,” or at least step up output at a faster rate than costs.
Negotiating new vendor agreements might be the part of the supplier contract process that garners the most attention, but it’s the careful attention to detail after the contract is signed that promises will deliver hard-fought savings. We don’t mean to say that vendors are always looking to pull one over on you after you have signed on the dotted line. Honest, human errors do occur on both sides of the contract, and maybe more often than we’d like to think.
All manufacturers want to get the best possible deal from their suppliers. However, the definition of “best” is subjective. Every partnership has different goals and non-negotiable points. We’ve found that before starting the contract negotiation process, a cross-functional team is well advised to invest the time to decide what it wants and needs from the relationship.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on everyone’s mind in the manufacturing industry. The nation’s largest companies are investing in this technology, and countless startups are working feverishly to stake their claim to various use cases. While AI is often positioned as a threat to human jobs, it can actually enhance how humans serve customers in many ways.
The big corporations have an inherent advantage in harnessing AI to their benefit. AI runs on data, and they simply have more of it. They have hundreds of thousands of customers. They also have more resources – both dollars and full-time employees – to utilize and monitor AI. This doesn’t mean there’s no hope for smaller businesses, though. Data can be pooled and anonymized across groups of smaller manufacturers, generating many of the same powerful insights.
The continuing explosion in online retail sales was one of this holiday season’s major headlines. While there has been plenty of debate over its impact on shopping malls and other brick and mortar outlets, another downstream effect is rarely discussed—one that can be seen on your curb every recycling day.
Topics: Vendors & Contracts