The Art of Planning

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 Bimba Jayawardena, Manager - Procurement and Logistics at FITS Aviation

With 6 years in supply chain management and 12 years in research and development hands on experience, she’s a powerhouse in the industry. She is now a  Manager of Procurement and Logistics at FITS aviation. She’s responsible for providing total procurement and logistics services. 

Being a purchasing manager comes with a lot of responsibilities. You have to seek reliable vendors, negotiate prices...the list goes on.

Sometimes a part arrives damaged, you ordered the wrong part, or a supplier doesn’t honor the price they promised you.  

Sometimes you feel like these problems are tornados that keep disrupting your path to success.

We wanted to help you overcome these struggles. In this series, we have asked top experts in the industry what challenges they had faced in the past, and how they overcame them.

Plan, Prioritize, Perform

In this industry, anything can happen.

That’s why you need to plan for every worst-case scenario.  

“I prepare a tasks list for my duties, prioritize them and prepare daily. Weekly and monthly agendas.  I try to have a contingency plan so that there is an alternative solution for any task that failed from primary plan. I do practice pre-preparation for next day by checking the next day “To Do List” before going to sleep.”

Create a backup plan for Maintenance checks

Maintenance checks require a lot of planning and even then something could go wrong. Have a backup plan for an emergency situation to keep costs low.

“For maintenance checks, we prepare a summary of availability of spares, supplier’s geographical location, price, and condition of spares. Then decide the suppliers for purchasing spares, shipping schedule, and logistics arrangement. This way we able to keep costs at a minimum.

During an emergency, the agenda will be rescheduled, for the requirements. We will work out the best possible timetable to meet emergency targets without compromising other duties. E.g. for an AOG situation, we attend spares search, procurement, and delivery while managing regular activities in the procurement department.”

 Understand the importance of teamwork

Trying to guarantee deliveries are on time is stressful enough as it is. But doing it all on your own? You’ll end up overwhelmed.

You have a team for a reason, and that reason is to ensure that everything runs according to plan. Don’t try to do it all alone. It is essential to communicate and plan with your team.

“We work as a team to achieve this target. We have understood the importance of planning, effective communication, coordination, competency in geography, international transport and logistics, suppliers’ efficiency and making the right decision on the right time to ensure timely delivery of orders. We look at the supply chain holistically, identify bottlenecks in the processes and attempt to resolve the issues to avoid delays. Some are beyond the control and then, we adjust our procedures to minimize the impact from such causes. E.g. Cancellation of a scheduled flight, offloading AOG cargo and reroute packages by airlines. We work closely with forwarding agents and airline cargo planning divisions to minimize the risks or use alternative routes and airlines to import the spare parts. “

 Learn to love the challenges

Everyone has a part of their job that they find challenging. But overcoming those challenges and even learning to love them will help you become a better leader.

“The most difficult task is to find a rare spare part, at a given budget, conforming to requested quality parameters and delivery time to avoid an AOG situation. This job needs lots of time spent on part search as well as negotiation and transport arrangement.

These rare spare parts are very expensive and are not available in the market to purchase off the shelf. They are either manufactured to order or available at a tear-down stockholder. Before purchase used spare part, it must be tested, repaired and certified for airworthiness. The process takes several days and has an impact on delivery lead time. We lose several days from purchasing process. At the end, transport arranges with AOG status and increase in the operational cost cannot be avoided.”

 Overcome Challenges

Understanding the impact of approval delays, product conformity, and evaluation of suppliers will help you run more efficiently.

Impact of approval delays on delivery lead time

The time it takes to get the suppliers approved can slow down your delivery time. But if you strengthen your pool of suppliers you can prevent that delay.

“One of the biggest challenges faced by procurement. Purchasing process involves obtaining approvals from the quality department at different stages. If the spare part found with an unregistered supplier, need awaits till supplier evaluated and approved. This process consumes time and affects delivery lead time.”

Quality assurance conformity requirements for spare parts incorporated in the procurement guidelines to minimize the time taken for clarifications. Procure spares as much as from registered suppliers and try to enhance supplier base by adding new suppliers to the list periodically.

Product conformity

Products fail to perform though quality compliance as per purchase order.

Prior confirming the order check the condition, warranty, and certification and get approval from the quality department. If any deviations found at incoming inspection or when tested on aircraft, we inform the supplier and claim damages. Our claim procedure for faulty products informs suppliers at the time of registering them.

Evaluation of suppliers, MRO facilities

It takes a longer time to evaluate and approve suppliers. During the periodical evaluation, good suppliers disqualify when they fail to send RFQ regular basis.Evaluation criteria validate periodically to measure supplier’s overall performance instead of an individual parameter.”

Hopefully, this article has helped you overcome some of the challenges you have faced as a purchasing manager. What are some of your struggles in procurement?

Tell us your story below.