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Author: Hannah Butterworth

How to end supplier and contractor management headaches

There are many ways of managing your suppliers and contractors effectively– as you’ll probably know from searching online. But just how many of those ‘software solutions’ that you come across will give you full control of your contractors, whilst being efficient and easy to use?

We know that in a business, you need to always be in total control of your contractors and have full visibility of what is going on and how they are doing – while also being efficient. Time is money after all. So we have designed our software, Altius Exigo with your challenges in mind – here are more details on how we can end your supplier and contractor management headaches.

Control

Rather than spending a lot of your time managing your contractors through spreadsheets and questionnaires, let the software do the work. Altius Exigo is a smarter contractor management tool and is able to work more efficiently than the spreadsheets that you’re probably using.

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

And should you need to implement any changes due to an alteration in circumstance with your suppliers and contractors, the introduction of these into the Exigo software is simple and in your control. Which is better than searching through lines and lines of data in your spreadsheet – changes would also be visible to your contractors, so you’re always on the same page.

Plus, if at any time, a job with your contractors goes wrong for any reason – it is important that you’re in a position where you can say how and why. With the Exigo software, everything that you do with your contractors is tracked automatically. From this, you can access the status of any supplier or contractor, from any point in time, along with evidence and rationale for decisions made, which will help you should you ever need it.

Efficiency

Managing, assessing and just keeping on top of your contractors, we know can be extremely time-consuming, so why not invest in something that is more efficient if the option is there?

Ask yourself, how much extra time would you have to spend on other tasks that need your attention if you were released from the day-to-day managing of your suppliers and contractors? That is what Exigo Essentials can do for you – the software handles the day-to-day routine so that you can concentrate your efforts where they are needed.

As the Exigo Essentials system is designed and implemented by Altius you will have access to our Altius Eco-System which means that you can benefit from our knowledge and experience with managing problems, should you ever need it.

Transparency

Making any changes to contractor information or requirements from a project, however minimal, can often seem like a nightmare for the person who has the job of communicating these amendments to all parties involved.

Using Exigo Essentials can take away this nightmare by giving you and your contractors a mutual platform for collaboration, ensuring that you both have an understanding of what is required, which helps everyone communicate that they are committed to producing a service that meets expectations. Therefore strengthening your relationships with contractors.

Being able to access accurate information about any of your contractors and real-time reporting is also a feature of Exigo. Being able to view up-to-date supplier and contractor information can highlight any weaker points that may exist and potential issues, allowing you to resolve them before they can turn into a risk to your business.

Altius Exigo

Interested in Exigo Essentials? Sign up today to get a free demo of the tool in action so that you can see first hand, just how much of a difference investing in Exigo Essentials would make to you.

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Nine deadly sins of managing contractors and suppliers

Are you covering the basics of supplier and contractor management? Whether you work with 20 or 200 suppliers/ contractors, finding time to check they’re capable, manage and monitor them on each project takes time that you simply haven’t got.

As a basic standard you should have a robust management system in place to avoid committing one of these nine deadly sins of managing contractors:

1 – Missing contractor and supplier information

As the main starting point of managing contractors, you should have their information and have it available to you within a few clicks. Keep in mind that there’s little use in collecting the same information for every contractor. Depending on their service, depends on the information you will need.

2 – Irregular verification

When was the last time you checked your contractor or suppliers information was updated? You should be checking at least once per year and have access to this anytime to update and retrieve their information.

3 – Not updating your staff on authorised contractors

There’s no point going to the effort of collecting information and verifying contractors and suppliers if your staff don’t know about the new process in place and instead appoint a supplier or contractor not verified. Ensure the message of approving contractors and the new approval process is known and used.

4 – No policy, no rules

Policies and rules set the quality of work you would expect from your contractors. Without these, your company may be tarnished if a project goes wrong. Set out what is expected from the start and make sure your suppliers and contractors adhere to them.

5 – No contracts or specifications

Ever left a project to a contractor only to find it wasn’t finished properly?  Get your requirements down in writing and make sure they understand what you want right from the start. Changes in job requirements should also be followed by a renewed contract.

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

6 – No restraint updates

You’ve given your contractor the rules and a contract of work, but did you tell them about that access door or the exposure to heat they will endure undertaking the project? You’re responsible for all restraints and controls that could hinder your contractor’s work, so update them thoroughly.

7 – Don’t monitor behaviour

Just because you’re taking control of your contractors’ capability for your requirements, it shouldn’t lead to them putting less effort into their compliance and performance. But contractors lulled into complacency is a common occurrence, so monitor their behaviour and make sure they know where accountability lies.

8 – Poor auditing (or no auditing at all)

Technology provides a better platform for you to audit your suppliers and contractors over reams of paperwork. Saying that, a spreadsheet that is both huge and complex isn’t the solution either. Using a software, such as Altius Exigo Essentials, gives you the platform to audit better.

Remember deadly sin number one, audit the things that matter to each contractor – a sweeping report just isn’t going to give you the insight you set out to achieve.

9 – No goals to achieve

It’s often said that what doesn’t get measured, just doesn’t get done. Giving your contractors KPIs allows you to gather, measure and analyse statistics to reveal just whether you are getting value for money and the quality of service you wanted.

Don’t fall into the trap

It’s easy to be busy and procrastinate away from managing your suppliers and contractors more effectively and making sure that your compliance process is right for your business.

Spending time now on improving your supplier and contractor relations has been proven to reduce costs, boost efficiency and improve the quality of work. To find out how you can achieve this, and not fall into the trap of these nine deadly sins above, sign up to our free webinar to learn more tips on managing suppliers and contractors.

See Exigo Essentials in action

Introducing Exigo Essentials: The smart contractor management software

If you manage suppliers and contractors, you’ll be aware of just how time-consuming this task can be. Using spreadsheets and email is one way of managing contractors but wouldn’t it be easier if there was a system that automatically emailed your contractors, allowed contractors to manage their compliance profile online and provided you with reports at the push of a button?

Now is the time to stop looking – and no, it isn’t too good to be true. Introducing, Altius Exigo Essentials, the smarter contractor management software that helps to manage your suppliers and contractors online.

Don’t believe us? Watch this:

 

Exigo Essentials is a web-based solution for businesses wanting to ensure their suppliers are safe, certified and fully compliant. Designed for businesses with 10 – 10,000 suppliers, Exigo Essentials is the smart way avoid introducing risk into your business.

Automated processes and workflows

All processes and workflows within Altius Exigo Essentials are fully automated and will email contractors when they need to take any action, and include details of what needs to be done and when it must be completed. In the case that no action is taken, the alerts to you will be escalated to ensure that nothing is ever missed.

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

Real-time status tracking and reporting

Altius Exigo provides a current view of your supplier’s status so that you can see at a glance where any of your risks or potential issues lie – giving you the ability to act on problems before they happen. The advanced report design feature in Exigo Essentials allows the creation of scheduled report deliveries, which helps to keep the desired team members in the know with any developments regarding your suppliers.

Document control and versioning

Document management is included as standard as part of the Altius Exigo software. It provides you with one place where you can see all of yours, and your supplier’s, past and present documentation. The system will also inform your suppliers and internal staff members automatically when any documentation needs to be updated – which ensures that nothing on your system is ever out of date.

Ready-made templates

This cloud-based software provides you with an extensive library of contractor compliance templates, so you will have everything that you need to get up and running, quickly and easily. The templates that are included are anything from Health and Safety to Anti-Corruption and Bribery. No matter what your business needs, there will be a template for you.

Built-in expertise

Through the Exigo Essentials platform, you can access the Altius supply chain compliance knowledge and expertise we have built up over two decades. Our knowledge of industry regulations, compliance standards, procurement processes and risk management is built-in to every feature of the Exigo Essentials platform, so you spend more time working with your suppliers and less time focusing on contractor compliance management.

The next steps…

Do you like the sound of Altius Exigo Essentials? Sign up to our webinar below and watch a full software demo of Exigo Essentials. Or, if you don’t want to wait, get in touch with us today, and one of our compliance experts will contact you shortly.

 

Request an Exigo software demo

Altius publishes new guide to contractor compliance for facilities managers

Supplier assessment and assurance specialist Altius has published a free guide to help facilities managers improve contractor compliance.

The guide outlines the steps facilities managers can take to address common contractor management problems that may present supply chain risk. Such problems include a lack of central supplier information, the complexity of managing supplier lists and difficulty in sourcing good quality new contractors.

Manage suppliers better

Managing supplier lists is one of the critical steps covered in the guide, including creating a central repository of supplier information and encouraging sharing of information to avoid duplication of effort.

The guide also includes advice on how to move towards an evidence based compliance process and transparent decision making process, together with recommended tools to get the job done.

Gary Plant, Managing Director of Altius,said: “Contractor compliance is a critical to the smooth running of your supply chain. It’s important to have a robust strategy and framework in place that sets out exactly what is expected of them and what the timeframe is. This requires policies and rules; contracts and specifications; controls and restraints and continuous monitoring.”

Download your free guide

Discover how you can improve your supply chain and contractor performance by downloading our free Facilities Manager guide Improving Contractor Performance With Compliance. The free Altius guide will highlight key steps you can take to gain optimal contractor compliance, including:

Get your free copy of the Facilities Manager’s Guide today.

Download Improving Contractor Performance with Compliance: A Guide for Facilities Managers

An SME’s guide to approving contractors effectively

Contractors and suppliers provide assets to your business that you couldn’t do without, but along with the products and services that they bring, they could also bring liabilities, problems, or even adverse PR to your business.

Understanding how to approve your contractors or suppliers effectively will become an integral part of running your business, and it all starts with assessing capability:

Assessing capability

This might seem like an obvious place to start, but all too often, even when contractors are asked to do something that they know is outside of their capability, they will attempt to do it because they don’t want to turn down any business.

While sometimes this can work out in your favour, it can be risky and it’s advisable that you have a process in place so that you can effectively assess your possible suppliers. That’s where the following three points come in:

Information

Information is the critical starting point.

Supplier information is needed to establish that a supplier has the capability to provide you with the product or service that you need. This includes checking that they work in the right geographical area, or that they are a large enough business to handle the contract that they are being considered for.

The requirements for the information that you need to gather will vary from business to business, so make sure that you ask questions that are applicable to you and the service that you’re looking for.

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

Verification

When suppliers carry an element of risk, it’s often inadequate to take their claims at face value and it is essential, and sometimes a legal requirement to verify that their claims are true.

Any checks that you carry out must be evidence based and carried out by a ‘competent’ person. The checks can include a ‘tick-box’ mentality where you assess the prospective contractors/ suppliers to meet third-party certifications, such as ISO standards and other certifications that a business might need to operate within their industry (it can also include health and safety regulations).

This evidence shouldn’t just be checked once a year either, it should always be live, up to date and easily retrievable.

Authorisation

Once a supplier has demonstrated that they are capable of providing the products and services that you need, it is vital that you let them know exactly what you have authorised them for. If this doesn’t happen, they might agree to carry out tasks outside their verified scope, which could bring unwanted risk into your business.

In time, you’ll have a list full of suppliers that you have approved, so make sure that it is shared across your business. You don’t want any department to stray from this list and appoint any non-approved suppliers, for example, if they’re cheaper on price. In the long run, that decision could be more costly to you.

How can Altius help?

The steps outlined in this blog can be time-consuming, especially if you’re a small business and don’t have a lot of time to put aside for approving suppliers. Nevertheless, ensuring that your suppliers are capable of efficiently carrying out their duties should be high on your priorities – and this is where Altius Exigo can help you.

Altius Exigo Essentials is a solution that was designed to give you complete supplier and contractor management that is flexible and transparent – and it can help you to take care of the steps outlined in this blog. Interested? Sign up to our webinar below and learn how Exigo Essentials can assist you with any supplier/ contractor management problems.

See Exigo Essentials in action

Managing Contractors: Five practical steps for managing contractor compliance

As a business owner, Procurement Manager or Health & Safety Manager, you have enough on your plate without worrying about how changes to health and safety legislation impact on your contractors; and just hoping they all remain compliant is probably not a sensible option. These issues are critical because a non-compliant contractor represents a serious risk to your business.

As a market leader, we have been helping clients work with their suppliers and contractors to improve relationships and ensure overall compliance, by implementing our “Supply-Chain Compliance Framework”.

Follow these four steps to start that journey yourself.

1 – Be clear on your requirements

The starting point for managing your suppliers is to be clear about what you require from them. While this might sound obvious, all too often suppliers are asked to do something that is outside their capability, but they attempt to do it because they don’t want to turn down business. Also, suppliers often fail compliance audits because they are asked to provide evidence of capabilities to carry outwork which they never claim to have a competence for – just because a rigid procurement process says they must do.

Efficient and effective supplier management requires more than a rigid one-size fits all solution. Each supplier should be managed according to the work they will be required to complete. After all, there’s probably little benefit in asking a small electrical maintenance contractor to evidence a Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethical Procurement policy simply because that’s, “our company policy”.

Key takeaway

Categorise your suppliers by grouping them into the types of work that they are likely to carry out for you. Separately, list all the different types of work that are required by your business, and then list the compliance requirements next to each one. Once that is complete, pair the suppliers to the specific compliance requirements. You now have a starting point for your supplier compliance management requirements.

For easy and efficient management of all of your suppliers, Exigo Essentials provides a comprehensive library of compliance templates.

2 – Get evidence of capability

This is an area of supplier compliance that most companies will be managing to some degree. It is intended to make sure suppliers are capable, on paper at least, of doing what you want them to do.

This starts with gathering information that will demonstrate that the supplier meets your business needs; do they do the work you require? Do they work in your geographic area? Do they have the right level of insurance? Are they big enough to conduct the work being contracted out?

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

Gather all of the information you require from a questionnaire and obtain documentation – such as insurance policies, professional certifications, etc., that satisfies your compliance requirements.

When contracting work carries an element of risk, it’s often inadequate to simply take the contractors claims on face value. Therefore it is essential, and sometimes a legal requirement, to check their claims.  This may involve verifying the documentation with third-parties, such as certification bodies, insurance companies, etc.

Finally, once the documentation has been validated, it is essential to let the contractor know, and also to record internally, exactly what they have been verified for. If this isn’t done, they may be asked, and they may agree, to do things outside their verified scope that will expose your business to unnecessary risk.

Key takeaway

Collect the information and documentation you need from each contractor and then contact the relevant third-parties where necessary, to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date. A solution such as Exigo Essentials contractor management software can store and validate you contractor’s documentation.

3 – Communicate your requirements clearly

As with any form of management, supplier and contractor management requires clear and effective communication. You want to communicate exactly what it is that you are purchasing and expecting from the supplier or contractor. This can extend beyond the actual product or service, for example, warranties, manuals, certification, etc.  The contract is not fulfilled until all specified items are delivered.

Ensure all of your company’s policies and rules have been communicated to your contractors. If you have people working on site, on-site inductions are good examples of processes that are implemented on construction sites to make sure everyone knows the policies and rules. Having a readily available repository of your policies & rules that your contractors can access at any time provides clarity to all parties.

Key takeaway

Make sure your expectations are clearly communicated to your suppliers and contractors. Ensure they have access to your rules and policies for clear and transparent communication. Learn more about Exigo Essentials software and the secure document storage vault.

4 – Monitoring

Once your contractors are fully compliant, know exactly what is required of them and how your business operates, the next task is to ensure you get the service you expect.

Conducting audits can be an effective tool for measuring whether or not all the processes undertaken so far, by you and your contractors are achieving the desired outcomes.  Be careful not to use audits only when situations are taking a turn for the worst. Audits are not a tool for fire-fighting, but are most effective when used to facilitate continuous improvement – rather than a tool of last resort.

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

Use your audits to assess contractor behaviour and measure them against key performance indicators (KPIs). At the most basic level, assessing behaviour ensures contractors arrive on time, follow policies and procedures or communicate in a polite and courteous manner. KPIs, on the other hand, allow you to monitor outcomes on an ongoing basis. They are very useful for detecting trends and raising standards once processes are established and stable.

Key takeaway

To maintain strong contractor relationships, you should implement an audit schedule to ensure every contractor is audited at least annually. Findings from the audit should be used to improve performance and processes between your business and the contractor.

5 – Bring it all together

Whilst the four steps outlined here are a practical way for managing supply chain compliance, carrying them all out single handily can be a hugely daunting task for anyone. So, for the four steps above there is one simple solution: Exigo Essentials.

Exigo Essentials is a scalable solution designed to give you complete control and help in managing contractors, processes and tasks, and will easily enable you to take care of the steps we have outlined here. Like the sound of Exigo Essentials? Sign up to our webinar below and see how Exigo will help you implement a smarter contractor management process.

See Exigo Essentials in action

How to manage supply chain cyber security risk affordably

According to a Manpower survey, demand for specialist cyber workers has increased four-fold over the past year, with top experts being paid more than £10,000 a day.

In response to the cyber security issues in the industry, supply chain compliance expert Altius has launched a cyber security software package for those many businesses whose payroll doesn’t stretch to employing £10,000 per day experts.

Altius Exigo

The Altius Exigo software, with licenses available from £167 per month, is a low cost solution for addressing compliance across supplier networks. It gives organisations the option to configure their own compliance framework, either by adapting existing templates and processes or creating new ones using built-in tools.

Exigo has been successfully piloted by global creative agency Leo Burnett to improve management of information security and data privacy across its complex and large supply chain. This is enabling the  world-leading advertising and marketing services agency to reduce risk, ensure compliance and automate management reporting.

Cyber security

“The eye-watering pay packets of cyber security experts demonstrates the demand for specialist support from nervous businesses, particularly in the wake of recent attacks on organisations such as Sony and TalkTalk,” said Len Simmons, Technical Director for Altius.

Discover the all-in-one contractor management software >

He continued “It is essential that businesses check IT security and data compliance among their suppliers – ensuring that these organisations have robust policies and measures in place to prevent common security failures. Organisations may have risk well managed within their own immediate business, but failings by their suppliers could expose them to data and security breaches that have the power to destroy reputations, business partnerships and profit margins.”

Erik Hart, VP Director, Information Security and Infrastructure Solutions at The Leo Burnett Group/Arc Worldwide, said: “Altius has helped us create efficiencies in the way we assess the security and compliance of our suppliers. By utilising the Altius portal we can create automated touch points with our suppliers, as well as generating reporting, as needed, on various data points.”

The software

The Exigo software is cloud-based, so requires no hardware or software installation. It can be integrated with existing enterprise systems and has an in-built audit trail to create full visibility of supplier compliance and enable instant retrieval of records and information. It also provides automated report generation and data exportation compatible with other business formats, such as Excel.

In addition to managing information and data security compliance, the software can be configured to assess performance and compliance for many other areas of business areas, such as health and safety, environmental bribery and corruption policies, CSR, quality, and environmental and employment law.

Altius software and compliance management services are used by many leading organisations as part of their risk management strategies. Clients include Morrisons, Selfridges, Airbus, Trust Inns, Punch Taverns, Arcadia Group, Superdrug, Bellrock, B&Q and Debenhams.

Do you like the sound of Altius Exigo? You can request a software demo here.

Exigo_Essentials_Free_Demo

What Harry Potter can teach us about supplier positioning and management

Just as the fictional school of Hogwarts sorts its aspiring wizards and witches into four houses in the Harry Potter fims, a supplier positioning matrix sorts suppliers into four categories and aids you and your company by minimising the cost of compliance.

Supplier positioning matrix

High risk / High value

Supppliers need to be trusted partners working closely to achieve shared objectives. A deep two-way understanding is needed, especially when dealing with assets that are direct components for your business.

High risk / Low value

Processes need to provide efficient mitigation against risks. Pertinent information needs to protect buyer is essential. This strategic security and investment in facility maintenance and tooling can negate risks associated.

Improve your contractor performance with compliance. Find out more >

Low risk / High value

Buying power can be used to achieve the best deal for customers. Buyers need enough information to get the best from the market. This tactical profit approach is synonymous with consumer purchases such as energy and cars.

Low risk / Low value

Using the simplest possible process to find and use suppliers, only basic information is needed for these tactical acquisitions. Furnitue and stationary are such examples of these kinds of purchases.

Supplier differentiation

By differentiating suppliers on the basis of level of risk and value of business you can prioritise use of compliance resources and use strategies that reflect risk and spend to minimise the cost of supply chain management. For example, it’s not necessary to audit all suppliers, which is an expensive way of achieving compliance. This method can be reserved for where the risk and contract value warrants it.

The most basis checks can be reserved for low risk/low value suppliers, such as stationery vendors, where financial health checks will probably suffice. It’s important to ensure financial solvency of all suppliers and processes such as Company Watch, which is a standard element of the Altius compliance service, make this easy. .

Smart technology and outsourcing routine processes can help make assessment simpler and reduce cost. It’s important to use your resources where they will bring benefit to you and your customers, i.e. the ‘Strategic Critical’ supplier category, where you’ve got the most to lose and the highest chance of losing it.

Free guide to managing contractors

To help businesses better manage contractors, Altius has created the free guide, Improving Contractor Performance with Compliance: A Guide for Facilities Managers. The guide can help you find a better approach to supplier management, give tips on objective decision making, and help you find the right tools for monitoring contractor compliance. Download your free guide by clicking here.

How to introduce your own supplier audit in five steps

One of the greatest challenges of supplier audits is actually introducing it into your workplace in the first place. Both you and your suppliers understand the importance of such audits to mitigate risk, ensure supply chain integrity and stay within the boundaries of the law.

To ensure your own supplier audit is adding-value to your operations and supply chain from first integration, take into consideration these five steps for better auditing practice:

The right people, the right tools

A strong platform internally is required before even contemplating going out to audit suppliers. This requires you to build a team that you can trust to audit, input data and analyse as effectively as possible.

For those firms operating on a global scale, sourcing local freelancers will save you money on travel costs for your core team, but caution is required to ensure you employ the right auditors for you.

Likewise, having the right tools available to your new team is critical to begin the auditing process. This doesn’t just include your internal supply chain software, but also the templates/questionnaires/audit forms that your team will have to complete for each supplier.

Schedule regular audits

How often you should hold audits depends entirely on the size of your supply chain. 12 months is seen as the most popular timeframe to complete audits – but sticking to your schedule and taking the time out every year to dedicate yourself to the process is hard to do.

It’s inevitable in most organisations that supplier numbers continue to grow year-on-year. This growth, coinciding with your existing and ageing database over time means you’ll be exposed to the most basic changes which could disrupt your daily activities. Supplier names, locations and lead contacts, are just three examples of this situation. To combat this, be firm with yourself and your team to ensure regular audits take place.

Best Practice Guide to Supply Chain Compliance Now Available >

Identical supplier standards

To maximise the benefits of your audit and the standards of your organisation, it is essential to audit your suppliers based on the same aspects – no matter where they are in the world. For organisations with global suppliers, this is more important for you.

As well as having a standardized approach, based on UK industry standards that lead the way in global supply chain management, you should ensure that your people and tools can achieve the same higher standard to meet your expectations.

Can a local freelancer 2,000 miles away carry out the same supply chain check as the rest of the team could? This is just one question to think about when introducing your new supplier audits.

Closed-loop process

Once the auditing process has been completed, now is the time to bring that data together to ensure that consistent results are achieved and reporting can be made to share the results with the relevant stakeholders in your organisation.

Ensuring you have a closed-loop process means that audits in the future become easier over time to complete. Verification of existing suppliers, including changing their basic contact details, can be completed more efficiently internally.

Measure audit success and report

After audits, you should be measuring and reporting the success of the latest one you’ve completed. This allows for you and your team to implement improvements and fine tune your auditing process. Questions to ask yourself at this stage include:

These measures can greatly enhance your resource planning and management in the future.

Photo credit: Bruce Guenter

Best practice guide to supply chain compliance

10 facts that will stagger all supply chain managers

When in control of a supply chain, being able to identify and mitigate risks that could be disruptive to your supply chain is likely to be high on the priority list. Or so you would think… Sometimes this doesn’t seem to be the case.

So, here are 10 facts that will definitely stagger all supply chain managers in the industry:

Share this infographic on your site:

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you mitigate supply chain risk, please get in touch today. In the meantime, why not take our supply chain health check questionnaire so that you can see just how well you know your supply chain and where there is room for improvement.

Or download our eBook below and discover how to improve your contractor’s performance…

Download Improving Contractor Performance with Compliance: A guide for Facilities Managers

Photo credit: Tanya Hart

Sources:

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