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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Shawn

Serving 4,000 meals daily without breaking a sweat

IHH Healthcare is Singapore's largest private hospital chain, having Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena, Gleneagles and Parkway East Hospitals under their management.

With not only health-conscious and critical patients to feed, but doctors, nurses, administrative staff, patients' families as well, it takes more than a team of great cooks and chefs to serve up at least 4,000 meals every single day.

It takes an entire backend system that starts from when you order ingredients to 5 mins before you serve your customers. This is how Chef Catan, Group Executive Chef of IHH Healthcare, turned a traditional and manual paper-based process into a digital process that increases daily efficiency by more than 70%, saves resources, reduces wastage and saves our planet (by going paper-free).

IHH Healthcare's old process: A Paper-based nightmare

In the past, if I have to go around all facilities to check the marketlist, I really have to physically go around. I will take a few days to finish up my task.

Before hopping on with Zeemart, here's a little glimpse to how procurement used to be done every few quarters.

After choosing from over 100 suppliers and settling on 60, there are about 10,000 different Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) that the respective teams must now choose from. These SKUs were printed on A3-sized papers and laid out neatly in a room where chefs from their own cuisine departments, will come and indicate their orders. After every department has taken their turn, it then goes to Chef Catan and to take a look through everything and put a tick beside every order to approve it.

Assuming all goes well, these A3 sheets will then be passed on to the procurement staff who then have to consolidate, fax to and coordinate with over 60 different suppliers. Coordination includes ensuring that stocks are still available and prices remain unchanged, if not, it's back to square one, where chefs have to change/modify their order and Chef Catan has to approve it again only for procurement to repeat the same process over and over and over again.

Oh yeah, these mountains of papers are all kept in boxes and they used to have to keep every. single. piece. of. paper. Imagine that...

IHH Healthcare's new process: Same same, but different (and digital)

Now, with this digital platform, I just have to on my laptop and I can see all four facilities. I can check through in an hour.

Don't get me wrong, nothing's changed. Everything from ordering to approvals stay the same. Chefs from different cuisine departments still come together to place their orders over 10,000 SKUs but now it's all done on a single laptop or their own phones. These orders are then consolidated and sent right to Chef Catan who can view and approve everything at one go.

When passing it on to the procurement team, every list will be sorted by suppliers and be ready to be sent to suppliers right away. This reduces the time needed to complete the entire process from 3 weeks to a short 1 week and the paper needed from stacks upon stacks to none at all.

Even for their daily and weekly ordering processes, having one designated laptop to order from instead of sifting through stacks of papers has helped to cut the process from taking 6 hours to just 1-2 hours, saving them at least 70% of their time so they can focus on what truly matters, their food. This is especially significant for IHH Healthcare who goes through about 300-400kg of cod fish every week. And that's just one SKU.

Reducing Wastage and Saving Resources by being data-centric with Zeemart

Apart from the obvious time saved by digitising the entire process, let's get to the nitty-gritty hidden details. Another way Chef Catan maximised using a digital platform to increase his savings quarterly was to get leverage on all the raw data to get a clear overview of all of his spending data, from cuisines down to individual SKUs.

At the end of every quarter, Zeemart helps to consolidate IHH Healthcare's spending for the quarter for their business analyst to summarise and evaluate. By doing this, Chef Catan was able to make minor adjustments such as combining different departments' ordering sheets that have common items to a single SKU and evaluating item actual usages to determine if they will still be needed for the next quarter.

By doing so, Chef Catan was able to save on and meet his quarterly budgets and reduce wastages (which they actually have so little of that a food waste recycling company had to turn away after finding out!).

When Passion meets Innovation in the kitchen

Something incredibly inspiring about Chef Catan is his passion for cooking and giving back to the community.

The team under his leadership has truly made for some of the most touching stories of going above and beyond for your customers (in this case, patients). From cooking a whole Steamed Garoupa for a patient who had to celebrate Chinese New Year at Gleneagles to providing a 3-tier wedding cake along with canapes for a patient who wanted to celebrate their last moments marrying their significant other, Chef Catan always goes the extra mile to make everyone happy.

He greets all his colleagues wherever he goes with a bright smile, talks to all of them whenever he can while ensuring that the quality and standards of everything they do are always up to his high expectations. Above all these, he is always finding out how to improve his processes and is continuously refining it.

All of us at Zeemart are glad to be Chef Catan's digital procurement partner and are honoured to be a part of his mission of serving up great food that patients can always look forward to during their stay at any of IHH Healthcare's hospitals.

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