As the NUS Organisational Excellence (OE) Procurement initiatives began their roll-out with the introduction of Category Management and Procurement IT in January 2019, Category Management and Policy & Process Initiative Owner (IO) Seow Siew Peng, Associate Director at the Central Procurement Office (CPO), shared how the new processes target to improve productivity and maintain a more highly skilled and dedicated workforce in NUS.
Category Management was introduced to drive greater value, reduce cost from NUS’ supply base and mitigate risk from the supply chain. Category Managers involved in this initiative have to be equipped with domain knowledge in the various categories under their charge, to derive better value for the University and improve spend visibility (analysis process in data collection and classification of expenditure data with the purpose of decreasing procurement costs and improving efficiency) through effective category grouping.
The Category Managers also have to carefully investigate the supply market to understand competitive dynamics and the key factors that drive competitiveness in the supplier’s industry. This will enable them to decide on the best category sourcing and negotiation strategy that could secure the lowest market price for the University.
A headway made under Procurement IT was the implementation of the E-AOR (Electronic Approval of Requirement) in the current Electronic Procurement System, SESAMi. This development harmonises the forms and processes campus-wide, which will lead to a fully automated and enhanced approval workflow.
These procurement initiatives have given rise to several challenges. As procurement data was insufficient, the teams initially found it quite daunting to analyse data and establish sourcing strategy. Users were also unfamiliar with the e-platform and preferred to fill out forms manually rather than logging into the system.
“Having category groupings means capturing granular data about each category – information such as purchase volumes and complete itemised descriptions, thus allowing better optics on the University’s expenditure,” explained Siew Peng on the new initiatives. “This is incredibly useful for CPO to strategise procurement and explore potential bulk contracts.” Procurement IT IO Michelle Liu, CPO Manager added that the digitalisation of manual processes will expedite the overall procurement turnaround cycle and benefit everyone greatly in day-to-day operations.
Michelle further shared that she was excited to be given an opportunity to work on and improve the processes carried out by CPO. “The first challenge is building trust, a necessary foundation for a high-performing team,” said Michelle. “With a high level of trust, teams become more productive, have a greater sense of unity and will progressively be supportive.”
Both Siew Peng and Michelle agreed that their OE initiative is an ongoing effort to establish an internal framework of standards and processes aimed at delivering products and services to fulfil customer expectations. “We will continue to gather feedback and review our processes in order to achieve the optimal goal of OE,” they affirmed.
Organisational Excellence is a strategic initiative undertaken by the University to develop best practices for an efficient and world-class administration to better support NUS’ Vision and Mission. It aims to bring about improved work processes and policies as well as create opportunities for talent development and growth.
The OE Procurement teams from Central Procurement Office (from left to right): Winston Kan, Associate Director; Seow Siew Peng, Associate Director; Serene Ying, Associate Director; Chong Jia Yun, Manager; Michelle Liu, Manager; Lim Eng Xiong, Manager