"A very professional concept," the CIPS MENA judges said of EKFC's procurement ©Emirates Flight Catering
"A very professional concept," the CIPS MENA judges said of EKFC's procurement ©Emirates Flight Catering

Emirates Flight Catering case study: eight priorities, three awards

Breaking down the task of transformation took the award-winning team from mere rubberstamping to adding value

As the world’s largest airlines-food provider, Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) may have been supporting growth at parent Emirates Group since 2003, but its procurement department was then still focused on transactional purchasing.

The company provides catering and support services for over 130 airlines operating out of Dubai International Airport, employing more than 11,000 staff and serving an average of 200,000 meals a day. Yet, back in 2015 it was faced with slowing growth and rising costs. It needed to get greater value from its AED1.3 billion annual spend.

To achieve this, procurement had to move from ‘postboxing’ requests and rubberstamping purchase orders to a strategic, value-adding function – that meant a total transformation, from top to bottom.

Eight core priorities were identified, covering everything from increasing sourcing transparency to building the right talent and culture. These priorities were translated into a simple procurement compass model with four points: people – recruiting and training a team with a shared vision; governance – covering policies, culture and performance reporting; positioning – ensuring the department is recognised as providing knowledge leaders in sourcing solutions; and technology – for efficient and effective delivery. This meant projects could be planned and executed in a structured way. It also gave the team with a point of continuity for the change, with consistent messaging and language.

EKFC examined every element to see where it could help deliver and embed the change programme within 24-months. In the first year the focus was on getting close to the business, while in 2017 it was about tackling non-contracted spend and control on pending requisitions.

It introduced an open-plan environment to encourage collaborative working and ran lunch-and-learn sessions with stakeholders to provide better understanding of the department’s mission.

The transformation earned the team the CIPS 2018 Middle East award for Most Improved Operation – Step Change, and the overall award. The team has delivered AED85 million in hard savings, providing greater profitability and supporting the development of new facilities.

The judges were impressed by the speed of the transformation, which Kieran Dowd, vice president – procurement, says was made possible by a compelling case for change that was supported from the very top, and an energetic team with clear goals.

A better process

The EKFC procurement team won a second category award: Best Process Improvement.

The new leadership team set out to find a technology partner (Coupa) to deliver a purchase-to-pay system that would speed up transactions, improve spend visibility, pay suppliers on time and generate savings through better contract compliance. Innovation and the ability to regularly enhance the system was a key part of the tender.

The team involved stakeholders in workshops to plan and design the system, and delivered a communication programme that created a buzz around the project to engage end-users.

It took 13 weeks to set up the system, and after six months, requisition to order time had improved from 35.1 days to 4.1.

See all the CIPS SM Middle East 2018 award winners

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