Dr. Robert Tay: Driving Smart Procurement at DVLA

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By Carol Opata

For any organization, procurement is an essential business process. Organizations acquire goods and services from external suppliers at the best price to expand, enhance operations, and optimize business performance. Being the indispensable business catalysts, procurement and procurement processes have evolved at a rapid pace over the last few decades. The current procurement process is quite more complex and dynamic than the conventional one, wherein the buyers directly connect with the suppliers regarding competitive bids and attain short-term contracts that were fairly based on a pricing standpoint.

Current cutting-edge procurement processes are no longer a luxury but a necessity for businesses across the globe. These aim at achieving substantial cost reductions, exponential product development speed, and quality assurance. Today’s organizations, that aim to stay competitive at all times must invest in ensuring due diligence of suppliers dispersed across a vast geographical domain before locking in on any long-term contract decisions. Striving to achieve a compelling performance, improvements across the entire supply chain process, especially in procurement, is unarguably the cornerstone for organizations.

It is in this light that, the Procurement director at DVLA takes us through some strategic and smart procurement initiatives he has championed at DVLA in the last decade…excerpts……

What does your job entail as Head of Procurement at DVLA?

As the Deputy Director Procurement and Stores (Head) I have overall responsibility for the Authority’s procurement, stores and related activities at various locations, a role which requires coordination at the highest level to achieve value for money. Management of the cost-effective flow of materials and services from their source to meet the needs of the Authority’s internal and external Customers. Coordination of all material activities of the Authority inclusive of Procurement, material planning, stores management, managing outsourcing etc., to enable the Authority function as one Procurement Entity. I advise on requisite organizational structure to meet the future needs of the Authority, placement of staff, and assignment of roles, managing succession, setting high performance standards and holding staff accountable.  My key accountabilities involve the direction of the Authority’s overall materials flow operations, including, Purchasing, material planning and inventory management and disposal of stores. Selection of vendors, rating of vendors, development of vendors and distribution of goods etc. Evaluate past performance data to forecast needs and scheduling orders. Facilitate procurement and deployment of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems. Develop strategic plans to improve productivity, quality, and efficiency of operations. Works effectively across the Authority to ensure successful flow of materials across all units to meet the needs of the Authority. Coordinate the preparation of procurement plans in line with Public Procurement (Act 663) (Amended) Act 2016, (Act 914).

Build a strong supplier-base for procurement in the categories of international competitive tendering, national competitive tendering, price quotation etc., and ensure that same shall be accessible to staff.

Ensure the disposal of the Authority’s assets in compliance with the Public Procurement (Act 663) (Amended) Act 2016, (Act 914) and DVLA’s internal policy.

Ensure Authority’s stores are run effectively in line with standard principles and best practice.

What are some of the challenges that come with your job?

Difficulty of internal stakeholders to understand and appreciate the role and importance of the Procurement function. Stakeholders interest in running their silo procurement activities, change of Government and continual change of the Chief Executives and the pressure to adjust to each and everyone’s aspirations and expectations. Political influence in procurement decisions and its impact on value add and fair competition and bureaucratic and prolonged nature of the procurement cycle in the public sector domain

How did you align with the reforms that have taken place at DVLA in the last 4 years?

I have been the main pillar behind all the strategic and smart procurement initiatives at the DVLA since my assumption of the position over the past ten years. The last four years indeed saw the reaping of the benefits of investments made through SMART procurement and placement of the State of the Arts Infrastructure, equipment and logistics that had laid the solid foundation for all the transformations in the DVLA over the past four years.

What has been some of your achievements as the Procurement Director at DVLA?

I joined the DVLA in April 2012 as a Manager, Procurement, at the time there was only one officer at post. Procurement was then under the Finance Department with the Officer reporting to the then Deputy Director, Finance.

The function/Department, under my able supervision and strategic leadership has grown from the hitherto one (1) man department to a nine (9) member permanent professional staff department with not less than five casual and temporal staff and National service personnel gunning up for a recognition as a full-fledged directorate. 

The function/Department has been rated Excellent by the Public Procurement Assessment Ratings team from 2012 to Date.

I have guided and coached all my staff into acquihiring professional qualifications.  All them have MSC in Supply Chain Management with two having attained the Chartered Status (MCIPS, UK) of The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS, UK).

I was very instrumental in the real changes that integrated DVLA’s business processes, eliminating bureaucracy, developing digital services, challenging the status quo to make the way of working with customers consistently world-class whiles embracing the opportunities for improvement that come from better efficiency and effectiveness through SMART procurement initiatives and processes of acquisition and installation of state of the art equipment, machinery and logistics to form the bedrock of the massive positive turn around in service delivery.

I spearheaded the total acquisition and installation of key state of the Arts, value adding Information Technology projects amongst others deployed that have tremendously improved service delivery at the DVLA to the delight of customers.

These key ICT installations and infrastructural developments culminated into the following breakthroughs and turnaround time’s s at the DVLA, ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency in the issuance and management of Driver’s Licenses.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I am a people’s person, who believes in coaching and professionally counselling a team to grow in an enabling and supporting environment.

What are some of your hobbies?

Travelling, Music, Social work and impacting knowledge.

If you had three wishes, what will they be?

An opportunity to drive a professional development and placement agenda that will reduce procurement related judgement debts in the public purse to the barest minimum.

To make this world a better place through the driving and embedding the value add and total quality thinking and behavior a culture for the people of Africa

To put a smile on the face of somebody each day. Giving back to the society.

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