Standard Bank case study – Procurement professionals moving forward

Standard Bank moving forward.jpgStandard Bank’s first draft of Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) certification candidates achieved a 100% pass mark in the last assessment period, the only company to do so, which is part of the financial services provider’s re-design of its Procurement function – ‘Project Prologue’.

Director of Procurement, Meshern Govender, and Head of Strategic Sourcing, Rafique Jassiem, told SmartProcurement about the project that helped the bank realise significant cost savings and efficiencies. In addition to the savings achieved, the bank managed to achieve a full 20 points on Preferential Procurement (up from the previous year’s 17.37).

Project Prologue is Standard Bank Procurement’s initiative to make Procurement more relevant to Business Partners. It addressed process, policy, organisation, technology and people to turn a transactional procurement environment into a strategic value enabler.

It implemented a development continuum for all Procurement Staff that provided a platform to develop procurement competence and ensure that it is maintained in all key areas.

Prior to the project, the bank had a lack of supplier management and strategic sourcing competence, and was historically focused on transactional Procurement and contracts management. “There was a lack of clear direction that left staff unsure of objectives, and there was no clearly defined strategy around people development and retention within Procurement and as a result we suffered high levels of staff turnover,” said Govender.

The aim was to improve Procurement job satisfaction. The bank engaged in development dialogues, powered by Commerce Edge, on an individual basis to ensure relevance to each staff member and continuous improvement through both up-skilling and cross-skilling. It employed talent mapping principles to inform talent retention strategies.

“The value to the organisation is attached to the retention of the right skills to meet and exceed business objectives consistently,” said Govender.

And it all seems to be working.

Standard Bank recently won the 2011 Best People Development Initiative award at the second CIPS Annual Awards evening for their approach to Procurement skills development. Standard Bank runs a comprehensive internal survey that individually measures staff engagement and leadership culture. In 2009, Procurement staff scored the lowest at departmental level. The changes instituted through Project Prologue placed Procurement as the highest ranked team from a people engagement perspective in 2010.

“Standard Bank Procurement has created a winning culture. Staff turnover has reduced dramatically, and is well below the company average. There is a healthy competition and demand for the seats for upcoming drafts to the CIPS certification programme,” enthused Govender.

The project was rolled out in three phases:

The first phase was creating a culture of meaningful work: clarifying roles within the division; and standardising and clearly mapping job descriptions within roles, which paved the way for agreeing performance contracts with all staff.

The second phase was to extend the basics to a focused personal development plan for each staff member within the team. Standard bank’s management team developed a process blue print and created a series of internal workshops and training sessions to embed the process.

Once the process and performance requirements were clearly understood, Commerce Edge created a developmental dialogue tailored to Standard Bank’s process to establish where the major developmental areas were. A required competency was determined and a minimum organizational standard for each competency was established for each role through multiple workshops with the management team.

Standard Bank then established detailed learning and development curricula for all competencies, relying on four sources for meeting their development requirements:
Commerce Edge Procurement bespoke training
• CIPS Certification
• Standard Bank existing curricula (for regular requirements)
• On the job coaching and manager led master classes.

Standard Bank though felt that for development to create a competitive advantage it needed to be tailored to an individual, and thus embarked on an intensive online process of self evaluation with each staff member to help identify which courses to prioritise. Together with their line managers staff determined which individual route to take to improve development areas, guided by the set curricula and bank’s standard for the particular role. These developmental paths were then formalized in both staff and manager’s performance contracts to ensure progression was created.

The bank is currently in the third phase of its people journey, said Jassiem. The primary focus is the sustainability of the interventions already implemented. Detailed succession plans have been established to tie in the horizontal role based training to the wider organizational requirements across the procurement disciplines: personnel are up-skilled and cross-skilled.

Certain key management roles are also rotated, so that when an exit is experienced there is adequate “cover” until the role is replaced.

“The remaining effort towards the end of the year is to engage in a follow-on individual development dialogue to measure progress within the department,” concluded Jassiem.

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