Q&A: driving supply chain excellence, and delivering value through data quality, accuracy and timeliness
The Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM) has recently embarked on a continuous improvement project designed to improve analytics and process efficiency for effective, data-driven decision making.
The Operational Excellence initiative is part of PFSCM’s digital transformation, and is driven by our commitment to our ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS) which guides us in improving our operations and service delivery by constantly evaluating the effectiveness of our processes, systems and tools.
PFSCM Director of Finance and Accounting John Yeardley, who has been integrally involved in the Operational Excellence initiative, shares his insights and experiences of the journey thus far.
Q: Why did the organization undertake this project, and what does it entail?
PFSCM is constantly evolving to meet its clients’ changing needs, and to adapt to market developments.
Recently, the organization underwent two notable business transformations.
Firstly, we implemented a digital supply chain management Control Tower to improve supply chain visibility, and streamline collaboration among stakeholders. This digital transformation was a paradigm shift in how we approached our day-to-day activities.
Secondly, we adopted new health product procurement categories such as diagnostics and laboratory equipment, which are among some of the most complex products to source, ship and store. The additional product portfolio brought with it new processes, increased transaction volumes and richer data.
The Operational Excellence initiative, which is an integral part of this digital transformation, is specifically focused on optimizing financial and operational systems and tools, to align with and support the above mentioned business transformations.
The initiative is designed to streamline our internal processes and improve the quality, accuracy and timeliness of data supplied to internal and external clients.
Internally, the Operational Excellence initiative will contribute towards clear allocation of roles and increase collaboration efficiency across the entire business, thus projecting realistic goals and timelines, one step at a time.
Q: What are the key objectives and success factors of the Operational Excellence initiative?
The key objectives are to optimize processes, and generate comprehensive quality client reports by redefining financial and reporting structures, while using modern tools to support data analysis and report creation tasks.
As the sources, volume and variety of data within our business increase; data quality management becomes increasingly important. Therefore, state-of-the-art and future-proof architecture concepts and tools, such as agile digital supply chain management systems are needed to deal with these challenges.
Q: What approach was implemented to achieve the key objectives?
The approach is based on a four-step continuous improvement process methodology, which aims to improve a company’s performance by involving all staff.
The four steps are plan, do, check and act. First an organization must plan its process frameworks, and then implement the new or amended processes. Once implemented the execution of the processes must be monitored and measured, and finally the processes must be improved based on the evaluations made.
The project plan was split into two phases. The first was carried out from July to December 2020, and focused on developing and implementing new automated processes, while identifying and correcting any process and data management shortcomings.
The second phase started in January this year and is aimed at continued improvement, automation of processes and utilizing the enhanced quality data to develop advanced business reporting.
Q: How is the model used for improved engagement and communication across the organization?
The cross-functional project teams included representatives from each appropriate operational or administrative unit affected by the specific process change targeted.
What we found was that by bringing these groups together to discuss the specific topic of initiative, the resulting interactions also built stronger relationships between departments, thereby facilitating increased communication and effective collaboration.
Q: What is the biggest benefit or success you have experienced so far?
There have been many benefits from the initiative and these will increase as we move further into phase two and capitalize on the process and automation improvements already implemented.
I believe the biggest benefits we have seen are improved collaboration, acceptance of new ideas within the organization and increased motivation resulting from the visible efficiency improvements.
Q: From your experience thus far, how has the Operational Excellence project helped PFSCM deliver value to its clients?
The improved internal processes enable us to deliver our services more efficiently within the performance parameters set by our clients.
In addition, our clients benefit from increased accuracy and timeliness of information; all directly supplied to them. This positively impacts their ability to achieve their public health goals.
Q: How does the initiative contribute towards sustainable business practices?
The initiative helps us to identify areas of waste and inefficiencies in all its various forms, whether it be redundant processes that waste time and money, or business activities that produce physical waste.
Not all health care waste can be prevented, but from a supply chain perspective, waste generated as a result of expired products, damages during transportation, unwanted donations, counterfeit products, or unsuitable products, can be minimized, by increasing the accuracy and timeliness of information, data and communications.
By increasing the accuracy of business intelligence reporting, and streamlining processes we are ensuring that the impact of supply chain activities on the environment, community and society as a whole is as minimal as possible.
In conclusion, PFSCM’s QMS has always been the foundation of our organization, and has inspired and driven many critical continuous improvement projects.
By diligently applying its principles, we identify and manage risk, and continuously improve our operations to deliver best value and quality services to our customers.
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