The ability to visualise change is a challenge that Procurement Managers have to face every day, and the ability to persuade their teams and cross-functional colleagues to join them can be even harder. In order to continually evolve hospital procurement practices, the implementation of new systems and processes are critical to reaching the end goals of improving delivery performance and patient care.
We spoke to Adeel Ahmed, Warehouse Operations Manager at Alfred Health, in advance the National Hospital Procurement Conference 2014, to give some insight into how he has effectively implemented change to successfully improve warehouse operations and distribution efficiency.
Could you give us a brief overview of your role at Alfred Health and the current structure of the Procurement department there?
Adeel: My current responsibilities at Alfred Health are Warehouse Operations and Distribution Management. I have a team of 30 associates who ensure that the demand of goods at all three Alfred Health Campuses is met without any delays/shortages. I am currently operating at DIFOT levels of 99.5%, this entails monitoring stock levels of critical medical lines and general consumables etc. and ensuring that my workforce operates within the safety and regulatory policy requirements, I am also engaged in the management of the Systems and Reporting team whose primary function is provide appropriate reporting as and when required by Supply Managers and maintenance of Central Alfred Health Supply Catalogue.
My previous extensive supply chain background in a world class organisation like Toyota Motors Corporation helps me to introduce and monitor systems, which help improve my warehouse operations and distribution efficiency. I have introduced many visual management systems, which have helped in controlling stock out situations and thereby improved delivery performance. My previous experience has also helped me deal with industrial relations issues at the Alfred Health resulting in a team working environment which is performance driven.
The current supply chain structure includes a Director Supply Chain who is responsible for the overall financial and administrative management of Supply Chain Department, Strategic Procurement Manager who manages the procurement of indirect categories and capital goods, and a Contracts Manager who manages all tendering and contracting activities.
What are the biggest challenges you have had to face over the last six months and how are you overcoming this?
Adeel: Change management and introducing new systems are always a challenge. Since I joined the Alfred, I have introduced new systems for improving efficiencies and was met with resistance initially. I have had good direction and support from supply management which was of great help. Some of the key strategies I adopted were introducing Quality Control Circle (QCC) activities including members from cross functional teams that enabled us to gather a few different ideas and opportunities for improvements. I went about introducing new systems by coaching/mentoring my team members and showing the benefits of the new system. The changes introduced resulted in benefits the team could visualise. Over a period of time my team realised that working efficiently resulted in job satisfaction and the morale of the team improved.
How have you seen the principles of optimising warehousing space change since you have been in this position?
Adeel: This is a project I have been working on and have used lean techniques to improve key performance indicators like assessing stock levels, lead times, monitoring service issues etc. After monitoring and assessing these indicators over a 6 month period, I was able to rearrange the layouts in the warehouse. This has resulted in an optimised layout reducing the total space requirement by 25% without affecting service levels. The overall housekeeping has also improved with the introduction of techniques like 5-S.
You are speaking at the National Hospital Procurement Conference in Sydney in July. What are you hoping to get out of the event?
Adeel: One of the key takes for me would be to understand various concerns/new ideas from other hospitals; hopefully I would be able to implement some at Alfred Health and may be able to make a contribution towards the success of other services. Sharing industry experience would be a great way towards our common goal which is outstanding patient care.
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