Author: admin

Whether you prefer the term personal assistant, office professional, receptionist or secretary, we all know by now that this pivotal role in any office environment doesn’t have to be headed by a woman, men are just as good at organisation and second-guessing the boss!

Remember to honour your staff members who hold this title on Secretaries Day South Africa on the 3rd of September 2014… or if you are reading this, know there is nothing wrong in highlighting a reminder for your boss.

This also might be the time to ask for that new filing system you have had your eye on, which will make your life easier and more productive. So, order some fluorescent Post-it Notes and start sticking some reminders up around the office!

Behind the magic

Paul Vincent exposes a number of tricks that FM services suppliers use to bump up their bills.

I recently got hooked on a TV programme called Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed. I find it fascinating to see how the most famous tricks and illusions are done and in particular I have been amazed at how easy it is to lay a curtain of distraction and deception over an audience – no matter how closely they may be sitting to the action.

For the past five years I have been living a dual business life, helping both purchasers and service providers to operate more effectively. And just like the masked magician in the TV show, I know many of the ‘secrets’ that lurk beneath the surface of the buy-side/sell-side curtain. This insight has helped me become a very knowledgeable buyer, particularly at identifying when suppliers are playing a surface commercial game to get past the procurement gate – often safe in the knowledge that once in contract they can recover and in many cases exceed the value of any concessions they may have been forced to make.

Facilities management is the latest area of spend I have been involved with, in particular, planned and reactive engineering services. During the past 12 months I have seen many examples where procurement professionals believed they had negotiated great deals on behalf of their internal clients but had actually been blindsided as to their true FM service costs and the income/margin that suppliers are able to make from them.

An organisation has three levers to pull if it wants to maximise value for money in FM services: number x quality of service x unit price = value for money.

Despite lots of great market talk it is incredibly difficult to control all these variables simultaneously. Organisations have successfully honed in on these variables individually and have been able to generate cost savings. But these are often only visible on the surface and are in practice very short-lived.

What seems to happen during negotiations is that organisations will insist on receiving the highest quality of service for the lowest unit price and the supply chain will agree to this because they can’t afford not to. So the procurement case looks good. The projected savings look good and, as far as appearances are concerned, the procurement professional has done a great job.

Coping with the accrual budget

But then their invoices arrive and the accrual budget (based on the volume of jobs issued) kicks in. Things start to unravel. The supply chain (and their suppliers) might have added an average of half an hour on to each of their jobs, which no-one can validate. They may have invoiced for the same job three times – because to achieve the quality of service target they can only do a short-term fix (or use underqualified staff) each time a problem is reported.

This can very quickly lead to budget overspend and become a huge bone of contention between FM service providers and their end client. Furthermore this overspend is not usually recognised until well into the contract. In most cases supply chain firms know that their clients cannot track or validate their actual time or performance on site therefore the savings they commit to during contract negotiations are often illusory. Someone told me the other day that the average contract life in the FM industry is now as low as 18 months – if this is true then it is an incredibly poignant indicator of business inefficiency.  

The FM marketplace is hugely competitive. There are many different types of management models and service providers. The absence of real- time activity tracking in many buying organisations means that clients need to trust that their chosen supplier will do what they say they will, or that they have done what they said they would.

Here are some of the things that ‘savvy’ clients will be watching out for:

Reactive call-outs

• The FM or contractor presents low hourly rates to win tenders but because of a lack of adequate control on site they could manipulate the hours on an engineer’s sheet to increase the cost.
• The FM or contractor will send a low-level cover engineer to attend the first reactive call so they can achieve their contractual KPI’s. But they don’t fix the issue therefore guaranteeing a return visit which will invariably encompass a further (and possibly higher) call-out charge.
• Many FMs or contractors do not have the processes or mechanisms in place to track how often they do reactive work on the same piece of equipment or issue, leading to much higher client costs. I have heard of numerous instances where repairs are carried out on the same problem over and over again, thus the cumulative call-out charges end up dwarfing the cost of replacement.
• The FM or contractor attends the first call but the overall job cost will be higher than their predetermined limit – it would therefore need to be competitively quoted for. They will have hit their KPI (and be paid accordingly) but from a client perspective the job is no further forward.

Planned preventative maintenance

• These jobs might not be carried out in full but they are always fully charged for.
• Jobs can often be manually closed on the systems operated by FM companies without concurrence from the client. Once a job is marked as being complete it can be charged for.

Invisible mark-ups and rebates

• Where there are a number of links in a supply chain percentage mark-ups can be added or increased on quotes and materials – these will of course get passed onto the client.
• If you use a management company then they
may be receiving a percentage rebate from the downstream supply chain they are overseeing. Very often this rebate is factored into their upfront pricing. They will still achieve their full margin from the client but just recover it via another route.  

In my experience of this spend area, service providers are not trying to be deliberately deceptive, it is more the case that clients are unwittingly using competitive forces to create an unrealistic and unsustainable contract framework for the level of work required. I hope your organisation is not one of them!

Paul Vincent is managing director of Insight Sourcing Solutions

Source: www.supplymanagement.com

 

Product Review

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International News

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Local News Article

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Re-Distribution… SA-style

We were shocked and horrified to hear that only a couple of months after moving into their new, state-of-the-art offices down Woodmead way, that the Tarsus warehouse was robbed of nearly R9-million worth of stock. Even more shocking was the fact that the gang of nine armed robbers seemed to know exactly what they were doing and looking for when they committed the crime. They ambushed CEO Anton Herbst as he was leaving the premises – later than most – and forced him at gunpoint to use his security clearance to gain access to the areas they had targeted. The robbers concentrated on notebooks and other mobile products – their only misinformation, apparently was when they demanded to know where Tarsus’ cell phone stock was. We’re very glad to report that neither Herbst nor other staff were injured in the robbery, but the very trauma of the incident does not bear thinking about. We hear that some useful images of the gangsters were captured by the company’s CCTV – maybe Tarsus should consider distributing these not only in an attempt to see them brought to justice, but also so that other distributors can be made aware of the potential threats. Threats, we might add, that are commonplace in the South African channel, but which European and US colleagues can never comprehend when you relate such stories.

The conflict in the Middle East has resulted in some of our customers and certain retail members including Shoprite, Massmart, SPAR, Woolworths and Pick n Pay being approached, sometimes in an aggressive and confrontational way, to remove products sourced from Israeli manufacturers from their shelves. This infringes on their rights to free and fair trade as enshrined in the countrys constitution. South Africa is a fully constituted democracy that respects law and order. There are channels provided by our respective members for complaints and grievances to be lodged if a consumer is dissatisfied with a particular product. This is also contained in the Consumer Protection Act.

 

Our position, as an industry, is that we recognise the right of consumers to exercise freedom of choice with regard to the products that they purchase. In line with this we believe that the industrys role is to ensure that the products sold in our members stores, are marked with legislated descriptive information that includes the country of origin. This enables consumers to make informed buying decisions that are aligned to the personal perspectives that they might hold.

 

 

Lebo Mashigo

Senior Consultant – Private Sector

Meropa Communications

( +27 11 506-7300È+27 74 474 9972
* lebom@meropa.co.za
7 +27 86 743 3419
ühttp://www.meropa.co.za

Value retailer Ackermans has connected all 436 of its stores across Southern Africa using Metacom’s managed network and intelligent routers, which use a combination of ADSL, satellite and GSM to provide every point of sale with seamless, reliable connectivity, no matter how remote the location.

“Metacom is able to offer us a fully managed service that meets stringent SLAs,” says Conrad Reinke, IT Executive at Pepkor IT. “Most of our stores have ADSL and it is a good medium, but there is no guarantee of service; if it goes down, we have to wait in the queue for Telkom to fix it. So we need a reliable failover to GSM to keep the store online. Most of our customers are now paying using credit cards, so we cannot afford to be offline for even a minute.”

 

In addition, says Reinke, “some of our stores are in small towns where an ADSL line isn’t even an option. In that case we have to rely on GSM connections.”

 

Metacom’s intelligent routers have integrated ADSL, dual GSM SIM cards so that connections stay up even if one network goes down, and can serve as WiFi hotspots. “We can offer excellent quality of service across multiple connection technologies because we manage our network actively,” says Metacom MD Réan van Niekerk. “We monitor every one of our devices around the clock to ensure that failover and recovery of service is seamless. Most of the time, our customers don’t even know when they have failed over from ADSL to 3G, or from one network to another.”

 

Reinke says the Pepkor group particularly values the fact that every store in the group can connect easily to the corporate network, whether it’s in Cape Town or Lagos. “With Metacom the network configuration is always the same, so any store can plug seamlessly into our network no matter whether they’re on ADSL, a cellular connection or even satellite.”

 

Van Niekerk says Metacom has also invested heavily to ensure the quality of its core network infrastructure: “We have a really solid backbone that connects to all the major networks, service providers, electronic switches and other partners we need to make the system work seamlessly. And we’re able to provide unrivalled reliability of communications at a cost that is attractive even for lean retailers like Ackermans.”

 

 

About Metacom

Metacom delivers any data, anywhere in the world, reliably, securely and cost effectively. We currently operate in twelve countries throughout Africa. Custom designed hardware and software provides seamless connectivity across our converged communications platform. We integrate a wide range of wired and wireless technologies including GSM, satellite, short-range radio and fixed-line systems such as ADSL, Diginet, Frame Relay and X25.  Our International Operations Centre constantly monitors and maintains system integrity to ensure exceptional reliability.  All R&D, manufacturing and remote engineering support is based at our head office in Cape Town, with support capability in all South Africa’s major centres serving local and cross-border clients.

South Africa’s sparkling wine J.C. Le Roux was declared as one of the Icons in the 2014/2015 Ask Afrika Icon Brand survey.

According to Fin24, Target Group Index (TGI) by Ask Afrika measured 8000 brands, only 31 obtained iconic status.  J.C. Le Roux was the only alcoholic brand to make the Icon cut.

“J.C. Le Roux’s Iconic status is the ultimate proof that our Méthode Cap Classique and sparkling wines are most loved by South African consumers,” said global marketing manager Jackie Olivier.

Over 15 000 adult consumers were surveyed in the Ask Africa Icon Brand survey by the Afrika Group market research company, reports Fin24.

All Gold (condiments and sauces) was announced as the overall winner, with Koo Baked Beans (tinned food) in second place, Huletts Sugar (sugar and sweeteners) in third and Albany (bread) in fourth place

Examples of some international Icon brands include, Coca Cola and Big Mac (USA), BMW and Mercedes (Germany), Fosters (Australia), Dom Perignon (France), Rolls Royce and MG (Britain), Guinness (Ireland), Bells and Glen Fiddich (Scotland), and Smirnoff (Russia).

Source: www.smesouthafrica.co.za

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