photo: procurement team

Procurement realignment streamlines the purchasing process

In a strategic move to enhance efficiency and streamline procurement processes, WAPA’s regional Procurement groups officially initiated a transition to a center-led organizational structure on October 8. This significant shift aims to enhance WAPA’s ability to fulfill its procurement mission more effectively WAPA-wide.

Photo: Steve Etzel
Portrait of Vice President of Procurement – Steve Etzel

Regional procurement teams continue to support their designated regions and collaborate closely with business partners under this new alignment. The key distinction is that all regional procurement managers will now report to the Vice President of Procurement, Steve Etzel, operating under the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.

This center-led structure enables WAPA to maintain its strengths in localized procurement support while capitalizing on opportunities to standardize processes. The transition aligns with WAPA’s strategic plan, Power Forward 2030, specifically addressing objectives related to governance, risk management, compliance and optimizing service delivery.

Power Forward 2030 Strategic Objective 4.1 states that, among other things, WAPA will enable quality decision-making across the organization and practice good governance through clear lines of accountability, responsibility and transparency. Additionally, Objective 4.2 aims to modernize, standardize and streamline business processes, systems and tools to provide high-quality services efficiently and consistently. The Procurement realignment reflects progress on both objectives.

The decision to move towards a center-led procurement structure was grounded in a comprehensive business-case analysis. Conducted by an independent consultant and informed by insights from nearly 100 WAPA stakeholders, the analysis aimed to determine the most effective procurement structure aligned with WAPA’s mission.

Etzel emphasized the importance of this shift, stating, “The realignment was needed to comply with multiple Department of Energy audit findings, staying in step with other federal agencies that have realigned their contracting functions, and providing an environment that is conducive for collaborations and efficiencies.”

This structural transition leverages established relationships between WAPA’s regional and Headquarters procurement teams and emphasizes the commitment of the Procurement staff to support WAPA’s mission. It also addresses concerns related to workload management, striving for a more balanced distribution of workload across staff.

The benefits are already becoming evident. Information sharing has improved through the utilization of SharePoint, fostering collaboration and the exchange of best practices. A centralized filing system and organized training schedule further contribute to enhanced efficiency.

Efforts are also underway to implement tools such as a workload tracker for daily use and providing real-time status updates for customers or WAPA leadership. Currently, customers need to contact a contracting specialist directly to request a status update. When the new system is fully operational, customers will be able to obtain that information online, saving countless hours responding to queries.

Etzel highlighted how well the realignment process went. “The procurement realignment transition we’ve gone through here at WAPA has been extremely straightforward,” he said. “I’ve been through other realignments in the past, and this has been by far the smoothest.”

Etzel credits assistance from others who have had similar transitions in the past, such as Mike Montoya, who led an IT realignment a few years ago.

“By implementing standardized processes, systems and tools, we have more visibility and are more agile,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Mike Montoya, speaking on the IT department’s realignment seven years ago. “Ultimately, this leads to better delivery of WAPA’s mission and becoming a better strategic partner to WAPA’s businesses.”

Subject matter experts in the Procurement department can now share their best practices across all WAPA regions, increasing efficiencies, breaking down the silos that have existed between the regions previously. As an example, individuals with a construction background can form a working group to share best practices regarding contract writing. Creating working groups, identifying subject matter experts and sharing valuable information across a much larger group of people: These new functionalities can only benefit WAPA as a whole.

The VP of Procurement aims to ensure customer satisfaction. In the words of Etzel, “My goals this fiscal year are to meet with the customers in each of the regions in order to build our alliances, and to be available to answer their procurement questions or concerns, all while making intentional engagements a priority.”

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Last modified on March 8th, 2024