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Procurement Process Improvement…..Now
John Fulton, ISHP – John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts

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August 2009

If you have been in the hospitality industry for more than a decade, you already know that there is a unique period of time after a recession starts to recover.  That “greatly anticipated improvement of the economy” will generate many very fast paced projects for hospitality procurement organizations! 

For those professionals newer to the procurement industry, you need to take this to heart……when clients obtain financing, they will expect consultants and project teams to immediately move onto “their” project first and produce enormous results in a very short period of time.

The above observation is not a commentary on whether the process is right or wrong.  It does however; reflect what your organization will face in the near future as we see a deeply anticipated economic recovery.  For this reason, I suggest that you spend time now….analyzing and building new and improved “pro-active” segments to your existing processes.  Do this now, not when you are besieged with a sizeable list of new projects.

  1. Personally reflect over past projects with a critical eye.  Sort out and list on paper specific situations that suffered “lack luster” results.  Descriptively identify errors, omissions, quantity miscalculations, vendor shortcomings, product quality issues, late shipments, missed deadlines, etc.  Be especially alert for reoccurring patterns. 
  2. At this point, you can use the benefit of “hindsight”!!!!  Evaluate each one of the above situations.  Expose issues that contributed to the disappointing results.  List alternate actions that would have resulted in a more positive outcome.  These alternate actions will be instrumental in identifying the improved processes that your organization will want to adopt. 
  3. At this point, build on paper (like a “flow chart”) your company’s work flow.  Identify on the flow chart the point where issues recorded in step #1 first surfaced. Using the alternate actions identified in step #2, insert them into the flow chart where checkpoints would be strategic in assuring improved successes. You should not only take into consideration such issues as checkpoints, but also formulas for calculating quantities, employee responsibilities/expectations, schedule milestones, when and where to include more effective creative and analytical talent, planning for more organized and timely client involvement, etc.  It must be said, it is important to re-build your process in an un-biased environment. 
  4. After all these efforts, the step that can not be forgotten or passed off lightly is the proper communication to the members of your team.   It is important to the success of this exercise that the modifications you have identified be documented clearly on paper and communicated to your associates.  It also would be critical at this time to conduct a formal meeting with your staff, describing the philosophy of your “improved processes”, the details and the expected results.
  5. At this point, do not be lead to believe that the above “improvement process” is complete.   In the world of hospitality procurement, you have to listen, listen, listen.  This coupled with constantly changing franchise standards, shifting global economies, electronic and communication advancements, production oscillations and manufacturer instabilities; you must be open to accept, manage and operate in a constantly evolving environment.  For these reasons, frequently “inspect” the processes that you implemented and assure they are accomplishing the results that you desire.  And of course, be prepared at anytime to make adjustments as needed.

Be advised, the “post recession” business opportunities have historically presented themselves with abundance.  In preparation, review your organization’s processes…..NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION!!!!