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Seeking efficiency: DLSU’s new Supply Chain Management Office

As part of the University’s plans to innovate and transform its internal systems, the Procurement and Asset Management Offices were merged to form a new Supply Chain Management Office, according to a Help Desk Announcement released last October 8. 

At the helm of this new office is Executive Director Cynthia Ruth Abangan, a current board member of the Philippine Institute of Supply Management, who plans to ensure that there will be “no one left behind” when it comes to providing services to the University’s various stakeholders. 

What is a supply chain?

The term “supply chain” is, in essence, a strategic way of procuring goods and services. “The focus is not to buy what is needed when it lands on our desk,” Abangan says, as the process would begin “even before the request is received.” This works by having requirements identified, consolidated, [and] standardized rather than processing each one on-demand.

Abangan illustrates this idea by citing how different student organizations often make similar requests when it comes to ordering promotional materials like shirts. “Nag-iiba lang ‘yan sa design na ipi-print…Meron diyan, parehong T-shirt, ‘yun ang kailangan or what other promotional items that they [need]. So puwedeng mag-sit down in a planning [meeting] and identify anong [specifications],” she elaborates.

(It differs only in the printed design…Some require the same T-shirt or promotional items. So we can sit down in a planning meeting and identify the specifications of these requests.)

Depending on the type of material needed, the office can then accredit specific suppliers who they can form a relationship with through a standardized contract. “We plan together—timelines, requirements in terms of quantity and specifications, so we know that the higher volume that you get, the lower the costs,” Abangan highlights. “The level of partnership comes into a premium level of partnership kasi nandoon na ‘yung trust…kabisado na niya ‘yung requirements mo.”

(They are familiar with your requirements already.)

By bridging this gap between the offices and the external supplier, she is confident that it will allow their new office to fulfill its duty to “safeguard” the resources [of the] organization and of the University.

Supply chain management integration

In 2019, DLSU revealed its ongoing digital transformation project, the Banner Initiative to Transform, Unify, Integrate, and Navigate (BITUIN), which would see an overhaul of the University’s different internal processes. The integration of the two offices, Abangan notes, forms part of the “organizational transformation” happening beyond DLSU’s digital infrastructure. “The rest of the transformation is outside of the Oracle system. Some of those processes are not automated, so tuloy ‘yung transformation,” she adds.

Integrating the two offices will result in more “proactive” services being provided through “end-to-end business processes”, Abangan hopes, as “unnecessary layers” in the workflow would be eliminated during the streamlining process. “‘Yun ‘yung gusto natin makita dito: saan tumatagal, saan ang bottleneck, what seems to be the difficulty.”

(That is what we want to see here: where the delays are, where the bottleneck is, what seems to be the difficulty.)

Having built up a wealth of experience in the supply chain industry, she stresses the “beauty of communication and service.” She utters, “We don’t stop finding [a] solution to your requirements just because this does not fall into our area of responsibility. We’d like to bring forth something beautiful here, such that this integration will make that possible.” 

However, as two offices are being consolidated into one, there is a concern that redundancies in headcount would occur and may require some staff to be let go. Abangan clarifies that the University has taken a “no one left behind” principle when dealing with this scenario.

“I’d like to reiterate retooling, reskilling, [and] repurposing will be in place,” she assures, mentioning that the Community, Culture and Human Resources Services Office is assessing the capability of employees and staff to find roles in the University that better match their skillset. “If you ask around, employees are not resistant to change…I can speak for my group because when I came, they were very excited and have been waiting for the transformation kasi alam nila, they will be placed where they are most beneficial to the organization.”

In collaboration with student organizations

Despite the planned changes for the new office, Council of Student Organizations (CSO) Chairperson Angel Sesante says that she was not informed of the integration, but she is nonetheless hopeful that the process of event preparation will be improved, with CSO and the new office both collaborating in procuring the items needed by organizations. 

“Usually, we process our event [central committee] shirts [through the Procurement Office] or plaques and medals that we use for Lasallian Excellence Awards…Hopefully, [this] can make the process more efficient and student-friendly,” she explains.

Abangan also shares a positive outlook on the integration, emphasizing that the office will act as an “anchor” to the objectives of the organizations and will ensure effective communication. 

Committing to this, the office plans to sit down with student organizations and to hear the plans that they have for the academic year. “We’d like to hear from them—anong plano nila, paano kami makaka-support…kaya ba nating pag-usapan ‘yan [and] can we consolidate it as a whole?” Abangan remarks.

(What are their plans? How can we support them? Can we talk about it?)

Furthermore, the Executive Director also plans to delve into the issues regarding delivery time and product quality that organizations are concerned about, with plans to utilize “category management and strategic sourcing” to be able to address these concerns. “We work on your budget, on your resources and manage it well, without compromise to the quality and to the delivery of your requirements,” she says.

By Ian Kevin Castro

By Julianne Cayco

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