Austine Jarome, Director of Purchasing for Al Faisaliah Hotels talks procurement and technology ahead of the Hospitality Business Conclave on January 25.
Do you believe that the management needs to be more involved in the procurement function from a strategic point of view?
I would rather say that the management should see the strategic importance of procurement function. The procurement function is considered an expensive stream. The modern procurement methodologies of vendor-managed inventory, cyclic buying, are not practiced across business units.
Maverick buying should be discouraged. On the other hand, planned, managed procurement should be encouraged. Irrespective of direct or indirect buying, project or regular procurement, all spending should be brought under a management system.
What is the difference in operating in Saudi Arabia and what are some of the procurement challenges specific to this part of the world?
It would be like me explaining how the watch works. Operating in Saudi Arabia is more of a manual job. It is not a very technology-driven market here at Saudi Arabia – people rely more on the paperwork, and standards at customs and ports could be interpreted as one wishes. Lack of established, credible supply base is another issue.
How much are you using e-procurement techniques for your day to day needs?
At present, 80% of the procurement process is done through software and other e-techniques like cloud computing.
How do you keep the different stakeholders happy, keeping in mind the cost concerns of the owners and quality concerns of the end user?
Quality is a perspective thought; it could be replaced by identifying what product could serve the purpose. For example, if an end user wishes to have a laptop, that could be addressed by buying a HP, which is not that costly compared to a Sony.
The million dollar question is, will the HP serve your purposes or do you want a feature rich, sleek and astonishingly great looking Vaio? In the case of the latter, it comes with a high price. But if your buying objective is just to serve your purpose, you will not feel the pinch of a higher cost.
What do you expect from the Hospitality Business Conclave 2016 in Jeddah? Do you think these meetings with world class suppliers helps you in your procurement process?
In fact, I am a good listener, so I wish to listen to what the experts have to share. Second, getting a platform to introduce one’s view is important, so I consider this event a great platform.
Hoteliers are known as innovation seekers and having said that, knowing about new technology, and networking with peers and suppliers are the other ways that I wish utilise this opportunity.