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Streamlining the procedures
Setting up an international organization from the scratch is not a trivial mission to say the least. Staff has to be hired and multinational teams formed and then trained on procedures and routines which are newly developed and in the early stages of being implemented.
In order "to streamline, improve and speed up" the procurement process within the young ITER Organization, Francoise Flament—since April the Head of the Procurement & Contracts Division—gathers her team around the table once every month. From time to time, they move off-site for an unbiased, auto-critical assessment "to measure our overall performance," as Francoise Flament puts it. Stepping back, progress is visible, even measurable.
Through end-August 2009, a total of 390 contracts, 7 Task Agreements and 391 Purchase Orders representing EUR 120 million have been signed. The time span between a purchase request and placement of an order has been dramatically reduced from more than 20 days to less than five. Since the start of 2009, the decrease in the percentage of single-tender contracts has been significant, dropping from 25 percent to 16 percent in contract value, and from 72 percent to 41 percent in total number of contracts signed.
A new dedicated website gives detailed information on procurement procedures, the types of solicitations issued by the ITER Organization, calls for nominations, calls for tenders, and forthcoming calls. A recently-issued Procurement Manual describes the workflow and provides a guide through the standardized procurement process.
A contract management system has been set up in conjunction with IT. This system will enable the Procurement & Contracts Division to keep track of the status of individual tender processes. A web-based application for supplier database management has also been established, which will help suppliers register with the ITER Organization by providing corporate and procurement classification information. This tool aims to improve the communication between the ITER Organization and the supplier community, to increase knowledge of the market place and to facilitate competition. An on-line registration form for suppliers will also be available through ITER Organization public website.
A procurement plan has now been developed together with the ITER Organization departments and offices. Such a plan is essential for the effective and timely solicitation of tenders, quotations, award of contracts, delivery of services and supplies, or performance of the works required for the ITER Organization.
In order to make sure that the bidder for a technically complex part of the ITER machine has the financial strength to fulfill his commitment, a contract for global business information was placed to support the ITER Organization in its assessments.
"The whole team, together with ITER departments and offices, has achieved a lot," says Francoise Flament. "Still, we need to stay focused on performance and continuous improvements in order to support the ITER Project."
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