The Manchester Airports Group Procurement Transformation Programme (Part 2)

We discussed the background and planning that made up the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) recent procurement transformation success story here. Now let’s take a more detailed look at some of the practical steps the team implemented to overcome challenges and drive programme success.

A Considered, Step-by Step Approach

One of the main hurdles of any transformation programme is getting everyone on board. George Owens, Group Procurement and Contracts Director/CPO knew that. He had a wealth of experience from previous procurement change management programmes, so understood the first priority was to get his own team fully behind him and in sync with the vision. His ability to set out a clear roadmap to get to that vision was paramount.

You need the objectives, a view of exactly where you are going, the actions, and strategy, all pulled together into a ‘real’ overview. Then you compartmentalise that into how you actually go about doing it. George provided 6 strategic priorities, with charts and diagrammes that physically showed us the way, then we were able to build our own pillars (made up of the systems, people and activities required) underneath to support them,” explained Jason Lowry, Head of FM, Engineering and Maintenance Spend at Group Procurement.

With senior-level stakeholders already aware of the importance of need for better governance and compliance, the team started to think of innovative ways of getting the wider stakeholder community on board.

One initiative was the “lunch and learn” sessions. These proved popular and very efficient as a means of communicating what the new processes would mean to rest of the business. They invited 400 requisitioners to join them over a series of informal lunches, where they would explain about the changes and what they would mean to them. These were also the perfect opportunity for Procurement to obtain feedback and ideas.

These sessions included a light-hearted video produced by Procurement with a Star Wars theme that plotted the transformation journey. It was fun, but delivered some serious messages to buyers, budget holders and other stakeholders. This worked very well and key messages and obligations were quickly adopted and retained.

A procurement intranet site was also designed, housing all manner of supportive documentation, framework agreements by category, supplier contacts, advice and contact details. It brought the department to life for the business units, giving faces to names, with roles and responsibilities. There were also articles in the internal magazine, and an infographic was created which outlined clearly, and practically, how the new processes would work. It was a fully-fledged marketing campaign that made sure no-one was left out of the picture or could say “I didn’t know where to go” or “I didn’t know the processes had changed!”

The team also identified the key principles for sourcing activity – what they considered to be the hub of good procurement practice. For example, clear understanding and adherence to regulations, and a transparent supplier selection process, were all part of this. And for all new processes, stakeholders from every location were invited to take part in their development to increase the sense of ownership.

To ensure best practice and compliance within any procurement, the team also created an executive- and CEO-endorsed policy, process and forms map. This was a systemised, visual flow chart which directs the buyer step by step through a controlled set of procedures. Each part of the process is protected by a “gate”, which prevents a procurement exercise from progressing to next stage unless it has been signed off appropriately. It meant that business objectives and stakeholders would be aligned, that budget had been approved and that appropriate sign-offs had been applied before even going to market, winning time and efficiency gains for everyone. It was an efficient “right-first-time” strategy that ensured regulation and legal compliance while maintaining commercial focus.

Yet another key success factor was the development of category strategies in accordance with the wider Group procurement strategy, and that, in accordance with wider business goals. For example, in the IT category, ‘MAG online’, was a big priority.

As Tom Alford, head of that category explains: “Online selling to customers, not just parking, fast track and lounge services, but also ordering goods in advance to pick up as they go through the airport, was considered an area for investment. Supporting it would require digital transformation, and use of smaller agile suppliers, yet working with a legacy infrastructure. It was something the business wanted ‘quickly’ – our response was to explain the priority of getting it right and giving ‘value’ over speed. It was another part of the transformation where collaboration, informed decision making and understanding were key to acceptance.

One of the biggest constraints to setting up and getting through a project like this, is, and always will be, lack of time and resource. People have their day jobs to do! Lack of time meant it was difficult to access the people needed to help develop a new process, or review things, or organise workshops, or develop, trial and refine processes.

This again comes down to the right leadership,” explained Rob Williams, Head of Procurement for Capital and Assets. “We were aware of the time and resource requirement for CIPS accreditation, for example, and George got the Board to recognise that time and resource had to be created. That requires selling it in pounds and pence, putting your cards on the table from day one and explaining the risk associated with not doing it. Either way, getting the Board to endorse organisational change is essential to starting the journey, as you have to accept that the only way to free up time, is to work differently”.

In part 3 tomorrow, we will take a look at some of the outcomes, learnings and benefits of these steps and initiatives.

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First Voice

  1. colin grant:

    Guys I’m sure that you all do your best, however the airport access and Egress is a disaster if the team can focus on that.

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