Stephen R Samlalsingh, an accountant at State-owned Petrotrin, is team leader of a group that copped one of five awards at the World Bank's Procurement Innovation Challenge in April.
From over 50 international entries related to procurement innovations, Samlalsingh's team was awarded the honour.
His submission "Petrotrin, Trinmar Operations Contracts office Go Green initiative to the World Bank" showed how "Using ICT to improve effectiveness, increase transparency, reduce costs and save trees" was possible.
As team leader, Samlalsingh challenged the staff at the Petrotrin Contracts office to come up with innovative ideas to improve the way things were done, using standard desktop software to improve the business processes towards enhancing accuracy, cost effectiveness and timeliness of business while minimising the environmental impact of operations at the office.
Samlalsingh and his team began the process by hosting a symposium with contractors at the Town Hall in Point Fortin and encouraged them to bring their "next generation" relatives who were involved in the business and who acted as change agents within the business.
E-Meetings were introduced, allowing for a single document with the agenda to be scanned and emailed to all parties.
At the actual meeting, a projector was used to display the issues up for discussion on the agenda.
All tender documents were converted to PDF form using Adobe Acrobat and issued to all contractors on CD resulting in a significant reduction of paper.
For urgent services, tenders are issued via email using authorised emails provided by contractors.
Due to limitations with the local legal system, in that electronic signatures are not recognised, emailed bids are not submitted. Bids are still received manually.
The system devised by the Samlalsingh team standardised the procurement process since all contractors receive the same document at the same time. Through the use of a dedicated e-mail, contractors e-mailed all queries for clarifications and responses were communicated to contractors via email.
Before the introduction of the e-meetings – which were used effectively for over a year and at more than 50 meetings - paper packages had to be compiled and delivered to each member and representatives of the executing department, which would often result in piles of paper being left back after meetings.
An in-house Microsoft Access database system called HEARTbeat was also developed by Samlalsingh and his team to track the receipt and issuance of all incoming and outgoing inter and intra contract office documentation. This was implemented in several offices throughout the organisation replacing an archaic notebook system that administrative personnel used.
The challenge resulted in the development of a number of achievements by the Contracts Office.
The team was able to introduce the idea to several other offices within the company, which included the promotion and enhancement of overall operational efficiency, the deviation from a paper-based culture to a green/eco friendly environment, reduction in cost in terms of effort and material for developing and preparing tender documentation, the enhancement of communication among contractors as well as the improvement of procurement efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in-house applications.
Samlalsingh has been invited to present his submission at an international Contracting Conference in October.