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UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF PROCUREMENT


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PROCUREMENT TRANSFORMATION AT THE HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY WRITTEN BY

WILLIAM SMITH PRODUCED BY

K ANE WELLER


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HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY

MAHMOUD ALALAWI, DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT AND CONTRACTS AT THE UAE’S HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY, DETAILS THE PROCUREMENT TRANSFORMATION UNDERWAY AT THE ORGANISATION

W

ith 23,000 students and 16 campuses spread across the United Arab Emirates, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) is

one of the largest applied higher learning institutions in the country. Facing the supply chain challenges 04

presented by such a sizeable institution is Mahmoud Al Alawi, Director of Procurement and Contracts. Since joining the organisation in November 2018, Al Alawi has renewed the focus on having a dedicated and streamlined strategy underpinning HCT’s procurement function. “We’ve discussed how to best ensure procurement is engaged with the strategy of HCT,” says Al Alawi. “Now, we are part of the strategic decision making of HCT, and I am involved in committees responsible for strategic initiatives.” With the strategic structure clarified, HCT has embarked on a number of progressive and transformative initiatives involving the procurement department. “We are applying international standards, and we have plans to be part of the new Fourth Industrial Revolution, implementing a strategic plan, known as ‘HCT 4.0 Employability & Beyond’. We are


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1988

Year founded

16

Campuses

23,000 Students

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HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY

“WE HAVE PLANS TO BE PART OF THE NEW FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION”

involved in the management of strategy, from the academic side to the technical or technological side, and we also provide the facilities and the equipment.” Technology has played a part in ensuring that the procurement department can achieve its goals. Existing systems are undergoing enhancement, with Al Alawi targeting a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. “We are floating a tender in the market

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Mahmoud Alalawi, Director of Procurement and Contracts, Higher Colleges of Technology

for a new ERP system that’s integrated between procurement, finance, HR and our SIS. This was one of the decisions


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY – HCT’ 07 that we took after I joined and we’re

having our team check all the activities

expecting the tender to be closed by

and the trade licenses, the system

the end of the year.” Currently, HCT

does it instead. It will do the necessary

is undergoing a programme of digital

matching before advising us whether

transformation to decrease existing

the company in question complies with

manual efforts. “As of now, we handle

the requirements and with the activities

about 50% of our processes manually,

that they have mentioned in the

with the other 50% automated – but that

registration form.”

is not enough for us.” HCT is also engaging with emerging

Such innovations have required a change in culture, and Al Alawi has

technologies to improve its capabilities,

taken a considered approach to getting

with a particular focus on artificial

stakeholders on board with the changes.

intelligence, which is being put to work

“I believe that engaging the end users

with an AI system able to register and

with us in the process is the best way to

categorise suppliers. “Instead of

overcome any in-built resistance that w w w.hc t . a c. a e


they might have. We expected a certain amount of resistance, so we thought that we’d involve them with making the changes, instead of just having them apply it.” Obtaining HCT management approval for the changes wasn’t an issue for Al Alawi. “The leadership was very helpful and supportive. They really believe in what we are doing to

“I BELIEVE THAT ENGAGING THE END USERS WITH US IN THE PROCESS IS THE BEST WAY TO OVERCOME ANY CULTURAL RESISTANCE”

transform procurement, and with their support, we’ve managed to change. For example, we’ve reduced the vendors’ payment term from 60 days to 30 days,

Mahmoud Alalawi, Director of Procurement and Contracts, Higher Colleges of Technology 09

E XE CU T I VE PRO FI LE

Mahmoud Al Alawi Mahmoud Al Alawi holds the Procurement Transformation file at the Higher Colleges of Technology in line with the national agenda of the UAE and the HCT 4.0 Strategy. He has held various positions as Contracts Manager at the IAT, then Director of Operations, and has overseen the IT Department as well as acting as the Director of Support Services in ADVETI. Al Alawi is a member of several international committees and associations such as the CIPS, the IFMA and the BSI. Al Alawi has received awards from organisations such as: “Rashid Award for Scientific Excellence” in 2007, “Best Supervisor Award” from ACTVET 2017 and “Best Employee” from the UAE Armed Forces in 2006 and 2008. He holds an MBA in International Business from the UOWD and a Degree in e-commerce from the HCT. Currently, he is a candidate for the DBA programme in Derby University in the UK.

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HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY

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C O M PA N Y FACT S

• Reduced the vendors payment from 60 days to 30 days • 50% of processes are automated, with the percentage increasing


which was much appreciated by our vendors.” The change in approach has reaped tangible rewards. “The traditional, paperwork-based process of procurement used to take a long time,” says Al Alawi. “We used to float some tenders and out of the 50 or 60 invited, we would have two or three participants. Now we have more than 70% participation in our floated tenders. Since our partners are part of our success, we are inviting them for an open forum next month to be part of our planning for our 2020 Annual Procurement Plan”. To reinforce the culture, HCT has systematised what might previously have been a verbally-based approach. “We’ve established four sections to the department,” says Al Alawi. “We have the procurement section, contracts, procurement operations, and vendor management. The whole team knows their responsibilities both within their section, and between the sections within procurement. In this digital age we don’t want to purely depend on people, so we’ve built a system and gained approval of all the policies and procedures from senior management. w w w.hc t . a c. a e

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HIGHER COLLEGES OF TECHNOLOGY

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“WE’VE DISCUSSED HOW TO BEST ENSURE PROCUREMENT IS ENGAGED WITH THE STRATEGY OF HCT”

Everything is documented and clear – we even made them illustrated via presentations to make them very easy for anyone to understand.” The future for HCT holds plenty of promise. Aside from the aforementioned HCT 4.0 strategic plan, the ‘InnCuVation’ spaces project has seen the creation of state-of-the-art innovation

Mahmoud Alalawi, Director of Procurement and Contracts, Higher Colleges of Technology

labs in three campuses, with more to come. New approaches to procurement are being developed, with a move to leasing and managed services instead


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of purchasing. Students are also

working on putting in place a two-year

benefiting from the new approach,

plan, then a three-year plan, then a

with private sector procurement

five-year plan. That’s going to make the

partnerships leading to employment

implementation of our strategy much

post-graduation, as well as being able

easier and more controllable in terms

to open companies licensed by HCT,

of budgeting – it’s among the biggest

which is aligned to the HCT 4.0

initiatives and projects that we are

foundational pillar of Graduating

working on.”

Companies. Al Alawi, meanwhile, is looking to add more rigour to HCT’s planning in order to unlock the potential in the procurement function. “Instead of an annual plan, we’re w w w.hc t . a c. a e


United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi T 800 69428 www.hct.ac.ae

Profile for Business Chief Middle East

Higher Colleges of Technology October 2019  

Higher Colleges of Technology October 2019