Heroes of Procurement


We Had One Week to Stock a Hospital For Frontline Workers

CIPS 28 May 2020

Mitie procured thousands of items for the new Dragon’s Heart Hospital in Cardiff in just seven days.

With only a week’s notice before The Dragon’s Heart Hospital’s opening date in Cardiff, UK, facilities management (FM) firm Mitie mobilised an operation to provide services – including cleaning, catering, security, portering and clinical waste management – to support the facility’s battle against the coronavirus.

 Contents

  1. One Week Till Opening...
  2. Improved Supplier Relationships
  3. Strong Communications
  4. Adapting to Demand
  5. Elevating Procurement
An image of a heathcare cleaner

Image: ©2020 Mitie

The 2,000-bed NHS field hospital set up in Principality Stadium was created as a temporary response facility for Wales during the peak of the pandemic. Due to the need to upscale efforts at an unprecedented pace, the decision was made to outsource the FM facilities.

Mitie was contracted to take charge of sourcing and stock management, for which the company worked closely with on-site teams to ensure frontline workers, 200 of its own FM staff, and patients would have access to vital equipment. As part of wider efforts, the company has also been providing critical maintenance services for NHS Nightingale Hospital in London, based at the ExCel Centre, as well as other Covid-19 regional testing centres.

Activating Supply Channels

Mitie brought onboard a dedicated team of procurement employees and specialists from across the UK to procure thousands of items such as uniforms, catering equipment, cleaning materials, IT equipment and office supplies. A holistic and centralised procurement strategy was established, which helped control spending and to ensure contract compliance and necessary acceleration of supply orders. Also, adaptive measures were implemented to resolve logistical barriers and ensure efficient use of resources.

Iain Taylor, head of business services procurement at Mitie, says: “By the nature of this project and its tight timeframes, a just-in-time approach has really worked, so that we are ensuring our teams on the ground have the supplies they need, when they need them.

“Lead times and flexibility have been at the forefront of all conversations. Due to the current challenges, we have also expanded our existing supply channels so that we now have a much larger supply chain for the most vital items.”

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 One Week Til Opening...

The quick turnaround was one of the largest challenges, says Joe Kent, Mitie’s supply chain lead for the Dragon’s Heart Hospital project. The procurement team was up against a significantly short mobilisation time so started placing multiple large orders with trusted suppliers. Strong relationship management was a core element of the project’s success, as Mitie had access to a catalogue of preferred suppliers willing and able to deliver incremental services, even during a crisis.

 

Taylor says: “Our existing suppliers have been brilliant in responding quickly to the project and the challenges it has presented. We’ve all adapted ways of working to achieve one goal – ensuring that the Mitie teams are operational and prepared to support the Dragon’s Heart Hospital.”

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A women changing a hospital bed sheet

 Improved Supplier Relationships
Operational issues and supply chain pressure points have been amplified as firms have restructured, resorted to remote working or reduced teams to skeleton staff. Therefore, previously simple processes – such sharing purchase orders and delivering supplies – have been made more difficult. However, Kent says, this provided an opportunity to cultivate improved supplier relationships which has led to “extraordinary levels of collaboration”.

For instance, following reports of panic buying of cleaning products at the start of the pandemic, Mitie quickly worked with its suppliers to accommodate extended lead times and mitigate any subsequent price gouging. Further, contractual issues were able to be resolved through collaboration and negotiation.

The pandemic has also had some positive knock-on effects, Kent says, by bringing the supply chain closer. “The legacy that this crisis has developed is a much more modern and collaborative approach with both customers and suppliers, with new lines of inquiry and support opened up. It really has been a united front from clients through to the supply chain, down through all the tiers.”

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  Strong Communications
Stakeholder communication has been a leading factor to working effectively with upstream and downstream suppliers during such volatile times. While there were already well-established systems in place to communicate with key suppliers and subcontractors, Mitie also developed a risk-based approach to monitor its key supplier status on a daily basis.

The company implemented its trusted approach to communication across business operations, sharing regular status updates and highlighting and managing risks.

Kent says the Mitie procurement department was elevated to the forefront of internal communications through a supply chain hotline. The hotline acts as a platform for colleagues to raise any supply chain requirements or issues directly with the procurement team, accelerating problem solving through clear communication. The team also provides regular status updates on key product lines and services for company-wide internal communications channels.

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  Adapting to Demand
Existing supply chains struggled to keep up with the unprecedented demand experienced in the first few months of the year, so Mitie took action. To manage this risk, the procurement team overhauled its supply chain, including logistics, to ensure effective management of stock and reduce risk.

Kent says: “We took better control of our supply chain by analysing our demand profile for PPE and investing in our own warehouse facility to store supplies which can be distributed to frontline colleagues directly. The Covid-19 situation has reiterated the importance of close stock control.”

“By sourcing new routes to market and purchasing PPE in bulk, we now have a well-stocked warehouse, fully managed with stock control, pick and pack capability and a distribution network. This is not designed to replace our existing supply chain, but rather to complement it and secure critical stock for our frontline colleagues during this time.”

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 Elevating Procurement

According to Mitie, while its emergency procurement action contributed to a successful project for the client, it also helped the company in the long-term, expanding its PPE supply chain, and sourcing or underwriting stock, with a key example being the creation of its own warehousing facility to store products. Products are now being ordered by air and sea freight to manage the huge increase in demand for these items, both internally and externally.

Furthermore, the supply of PPE and other vital medical equipment needed to fight the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of “a well-developed and efficient procurement function”.

Kent says: “Procurement now finds itself front and centre as a key component to supporting the UK during this pandemic. The team still has to manage business continuity alongside the usual ‘day job’. However, the global pressure on the supply chain has been recognised – both internally within the business and by external stakeholders.”

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a woman cleaning by hospital bed

 


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