While technology has been of great assistance to the industry, Achampong agrees with Al Bastaki and remarks that people skills are still very important. “The key skills that people need to have these days are stakeholder management skills which are highly rated in procurement. Other skills which are also equally imperative are influencing, and project management skills. Those are areas that the CIPS concentrates a lot more on now than before, as technology takes over or adds value to lots of areas of our jobs.

“Technological assistance can be more analytical than human beings. Some of the e-sourcing systems are in effect to doing an element of e-negotiation. The things you can’t replicate in technology are prevalent in our training and applied learning, people skills and ethics, of course.”

Jumeirah uses a centralised procurement system called Adaco Dot, and the software is used for purchasing, inventory and recipe management.

Elaborating on the system, Al Bastaki says: “In Dubai, Jumeirah has a centralised system for procurement across all its hotels. We have two systems in place, one for operations and the other for negotiations. A negotiation tool is important, it needs to be transparent to the market and to the suppliers.

“Earlier suppliers would complain as they wouldn’t get a chance to negotiate or lower their price due to the manual system that was in place.

“Today the system is fully automated — operations, as well as the section process through bidding.

“Suppliers can’t see the price or the ranking, our team has access to the pricing and rankings. The system then picks the lowest price, provided the technical criteria of quality has been thoroughly examined and approved initially.”

For Al Bastaki, finding skilled people is a major challenge; having a centralised procurement system in place should have made it easier, but it’s not, he notes. “It’s difficult for us to find the right person for the right job. And even if you find that person and you train them and if they reach to that satisfactory level, it’s easy for them to be picked by some other company.”

He concludes: “In my experience, I can say that it is really important to have people with skills who run and support the procurement process. No matter how amazing the software system is or how wonderfully well the process works, if you don’t have skills, you will fail.”

Story continues below