After a short stint at the beginning of my career at one of the major banks, I have worked in procurement roles since 1981 - in managerial positions since 1985 and in senior management positions since 1992. In 1995, at the time of the unbundling of JCI, I was appointed as Group Purchasing Manager of JCI, purchasing for both JCI and Anglo Platinum, with a total staff of sixty five based both in Head Office and on the mines and processing units.
At the time I joined the JCI Buying Department in 1984, it was a clerical operation, structured for a reactive and unsophisticated approach to procurement. During the ensuing years the management team developed the Department to a professional standard.
As from 1987 I was responsible, as head of the section, for developing the contracts function into a professional team, with tools to assist them in performing the procurement to a very standard. I established all the standard tender and contract documentation, which had to be written in such a way that staff members, who had no legal training, could write professional enquiries and contracts. This documentation has been developed further, updated and improved regularly and is still in use today.
Starting in 1984 an approach to procurement was adopted that entailed intensive investigation of needs as well as market research (products and suppliers) and the involvement of internal product users. A value management section was formed and developed in JCI to improve the descriptions on the materials catalogue and to compile generic specifications to enable the buyers to obtain competitive prices. Extensive market research, involving both end-users and suppliers, would be done before generic specifications were finalised for a range of commodities/products. Form this process long term contracts (terminable typically on two months' notice) were established. Detailed costing data were obtained prior to award and ensured price control over extended periods. Many successes were achieved, resulting in significant cost reductions. Much later, this process became known as "strategic sourcing" in consultant speak.
Over this period I also co-wrote the specification for the first computerized contract management system to be used in the Group. This system was further developed over a period of more than ten years and was used until the "main frame" was switched off at the time of the unbundling of JCI. The commercially available ProQure system is partly based on the functionality developed as part of this system.
During 1988 I initiated the development of a support system to monitor contract inflation. This system was still in use at the time I left Anglo Platinum at the end of 2004. A system to control work allocation and workload was also implemented, and JCI was one of the first companies in SA to introduce EDI, enabling the electronic transmission of orders to the Edifact standard. JCI's Group Purchasing Services was the first in buying department in South Africa to adopt an external benchmarking service (Pricetrak) that provided valuable market information to ensure that price competitiveness is maintained over time.
The Anglo Platinum purchasing department was formed in 1998, following the final breaking of ties between Anglo Platinum and JCI, now under the infamous Kebble management. I was responsible for the establishment of the department and the management thereof thereafter.
An ill-fated "strategic sourcing" project was embarked upon during 1998 with the "assistance" of the AT Kearney consulting firm. This project confirmed the value of consolidating purchasing power and the value of processes established much earlier (1984) in the function at JCI. The importance of good, non-adversarial buyer/supplier relationships, a cornerstone of JCI procurement since the early 1980's, was re-established - an expensive lesson learned by Anglo Platinum resulting in the destruction of strategic supplier relationships for short term gain.
I personally supervised the configuration of the purchasing functionality of the MM module of SAP at the time of the implementation Anglo Platinum, to ensure that it meets the functional and corporate governance requirements.
During 1999 I requested EDS to assist with investigations into the establishment of an electronic marketplace for Anglo Platinum. At about the same time Accenture attempted to move into this space, and I participated in these sessions as well. Both these initiatives were, however, overtaken by "Project Charlotte", announced in May 1999 and which led to the formation of Quadrem.
Being a strong believer in the orderly description of items to be procured (to ensure visibility of spend and to facilitate competitive tendering), I encouraged and supported the development of a comprehensive generic (i.e. supplier-neutral) catalogue. This proved valuable with the advent of electronic procurement.
In order to promote corporate governance I developed a comprehensive set of procurement policies applicable to procurement staff members as well a set focused on employees outside the procurement function. This culminated in the purchasing department becoming ISO-compliant through the formalisation of procedures and work instructions (as prescribed) in order for the company's refining divisions to obtain ISO ratings.
I implemented a multi-disciplinary (procurement-, audit-, security- and legal functions) process to deal with cases of white and blue collar crime or unethical behaviour that involved suppliers. This process, which clearly promoted corporate governance, was very successful and was widely supported by management in the company.
During the period 2000 to 2002 André took responsibility with external consultants for the development of integrated and automated distribution centre for Anglo Platinum's new mines on the Platreef (the so-called "Eastern Limb"). This project was successfully completed.
Although I have never been responsible for the logistics and warehousing functions, I maintained a close working relationship between procurement and the warehousing functions both in JCI and Anglo Platinum. In 1984 I established the JCI Group's first group warehousing and transport contract. This concept is still used today.
During 2005/6 I was co-founder of Ess Cubed Procurement. Ess Cubed's mission was to assist large and small organisations with procurement related functions. This could range from short term tactical interventions, to long terms strategic sourcing initiatives, to the provision of a complete outsources procurement service.
Personal highlights from the Ess Cubed period included the preparation of a comprehensive RFP/RFQ for the outsourcing of a total mining service (drill, blast, load, haul, dump) for the Kao Diamond Mine (unfortunately a casualty of the 2008/2009 slump in the diamond industry) and a major "privatisation" project for Debswana, resulting in the selling off of, inter alia, a mine-managed shopping centre, diner, print service, and the outsourcing of major functions such as the maintenance of the houses in a mining town. Good relationships were also established with Skorpion Zinc, Transnet, Omnia, Anglo Platinum, Barrick, Lonmin, Vale/Odebrecht and others.
The venture was successful and was sold to Quadrem International after only two years at a profit. Unfortunately, the fit with Quadrem was not good and the business declined from the time of the sale. The take-over of Quadrem by Ariba, and the restraint of trade it imposed on Ess Cubed, practically killed the business.