Conversations in Middle East Procurement – Moustafa Helmy, Qatar Foundation (PART 1)
Our latest initiative ‘Conversations in Middle East Procurement’ aims to publish a series of interviews conducted with well-known Procurement Practitioners from the region, who lay out the vision for their function while detailing out the best practices they have implemented along the way.
In this 3-post series we bring Moustafa Helmy, Head of e-Procurement Systems at Qatar Foundation to share his views, experience and ideas.
ZYCUS: Let’s start off by understanding the organizational setup of procurement at Qatar Foundation and your internal stakeholders.
M. HELMY: Let me first introduce what Qatar Foundation is doing and how they operate. We are a large scale organization with core focus on education, science and community development. Additionally, we have shared services across all the entities linked to Qatar Foundation, which are diversified between Schools, Research Centers, Education Units and Research Offices across units. Shared Services include Procurement, HR, Finance, Safety Management, Facility Management, Communication and the internal audit teams. These departments work horizontally across all Business units of Qatar Foundation.
The biggest challenge we face as the central procurement team of Qatar Foundation revolves around being able to satisfy the needs of our customers. This may sound clichéd but it is by far the toughest challenge we face thanks mainly to the high diversification of needs. The requirement of our internal customers ranges from college stationery to scientific equipment for labs and robotics. We are dealing with schools, research officers, universities as well as government organizations with complicated sourcing processes.
Qatar Foundation being a private, non-profit organization funded by the Government, a number of regulations pertaining to government tendering applies to us. Being agile and responsive to our customers, keeping these regulations is a challenge.
ZYCUS: Are there specific targets with regards to quality and meeting SLA’s? Any metrics you track on an ongoing basis?
M. HELMY: Of course. Let me outline the shared services concept for you. We have signed an SLA with our internal customers based on the value, quality of the contract and the purchase order. We measure this and report it to our end users every Quarter. We also have annual customer meetings where we look at these metrics. Additionally, we have a performance management team which tracks our performance across the shared services department and reviews these SLA’s on a quarterly basis. These are shared with the top management post approval from our internal customers.
Additionally, we have metrics for like freight services, supplier onboarding & registration, which are measured by their respective SLA’s.
We have adopted this concept ever since we started the procurement department in late 1999. We implemented our ERP in 2004 and adopted the shared services concept since 2007. Our primary goal is to satisfy our internal customers – all our agreements and budgets for next year are based on how well we realize our SLA.
ZYCUS: Do you also want to talk about specific metrics that you track these SLA’s on?
M. HELMY: Yes, we have multiple SLA’s and metrics we track on an ongoing basis. The most important one is the cycle time and we are working hard to refine it. We have implemented many projects internally to improve this metric, especially for low value purchase orders which make up the majority of transactions from a sheer volume perspective. To quote some numbers, close to 70% of our purchase orders are medium or low value. The remaining 30% of the transactions are the big ones.
We are working on defining these processes, refining them and re-engineering them by automating them in an effort to minimize the waste and improve our cycle time numbers. This is top priority for me and my team and we want to do this by adopting new technology while resolving the conflicts which may arise from a policy and procedure standpoint. This is our target and we are working on it. We have made considerable progress and are a Platinum CIPS organization, the only one in the Middle East and Third in the world.
ZYCUS: What are the strategic priorities and goals you have set specifically for 2014?
M. HELMY: Let me continue from what I spoke about earlier. We are working on transforming the Qatar Foundation Procurement Directorate into a Centre of Excellence. So we are working with our internal customers to improve our process as well and de-centralize some functions which they can take care of themselves. We are looking at how we can leverage our ERP system to help them fulfill their needs. For example, we are developing a procurement section at every one of our internal customers. These smaller teams will be responsible for handling all the internal requisitions and requirements for their business unit in regards with the Low value non critical items.
We also plan to extend our ERP e-Procurement system to them to enable these teams to create their own RFQ’s, Purchase Orders, and receipts. We would obviously continue to maintain some controls while we help them adopt our system giving them the ownership for all PO’s with Low value.
Implementing this across all our centers gives our internal customers more flexibility while giving us the visibility into their performance. The model is already yielding results. We have decentralized a big volume of Purchase orders which were earlier issued by us. Today, our internal customers are issuing these themselves and are happy about it. Close to 6000 purchase orders released by Qatar Foundation now come from these decentralized procurement teams. My goal for 2014 is to complete this transformation initiative.
In our next post, we shall see how Qatar Foundation mitigates supplier risk through supplier onboarding and performance management.
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