Q & A: The Process Behind the Selection of New Staff Uniforms

One of the noticeable things when walking around campus are the new uniforms worn by security guards and housekeeping personnel, as well as other University employees. News@AUC met with Tawfik El-Klisly, executive director of the Office of Supply Chain Management and Business Support, to understand the process and rationale behind the selection of these new uniforms.

What were the main issues with the previous uniforms? Most of the issues revolved around poor quality fabric and lack of color harmony. In the past, each unit would order its own uniforms, giving vendors generic sizes only. The result was that multiple vendors supplied the different types of uniforms, which resulted in inconsistency of appearance, variation in cost, wrong sizes and a delay in delivery. The technical specs were also left to the vendor. A systematic process has now been put in place, regulating how, what and when to order and distribute uniforms, as well as to proactively plan and take into account all the details involved, such as documenting the different types and sizes needed for each area. How were these issues dealt with? A committee made up of representatives from the offices of the president, provost, communications, facilities and operations, human resources, ombuds and supply chain management (SCM) was formed, in addition to several uniform users. The committee spent the first two months looking into different uniform styles and designs. Then SCM, along with an appointed garment technologist, made assessment visits to various suppliers specialized in the manufacture of uniforms. After a vendor was selected, the approval of the Egyptian Organization for Standardization and Quality was obtained. A full list of the 1,350 employees in different areas who are entitled to uniforms was developed through a lengthy process that took nearly one month, then a series of size-fitting sessions was held for each employee to ensure that the proper sizes and pieces were supplied. The garment specialist conducted quality checks at each stage, and the uniforms were made in accordance with the University’s standard logos and colors. In addition, to make the garments more personalized and protect against loss, a label with the employee’s AUC ID number was stitched to each uniform piece. At the final stage, a task force from SCM counted all the uniform pieces, matching the employee ID number with every piece and packing the uniforms in specially designed bags, which were delivered to each individual staff member. After delivery, SCM received a few complaints regarding size, which were taken care of immediately. Who is wearing these new uniforms? The new uniforms were made for a wide range of employees, including medical services staff; landscaping, maintenance, buildings and grounds, and housekeeping personnel; security guards; lab technicians; as well as those working in mail services, transportation, environmental health and safety, warehouse operations, faculty housing and the printshop. Does this lengthy process and better uniform quality mean that AUC paid more money than what was paid in previous years? Good quality does not mean higher prices, as long as there is an efficient, waste-cutting process and a good selection of the proper, specialized vendor who would provide insights about cost optimization. In actual fact, the University paid the same amount as in previous years, but with a 30 percent increase in the number of uniforms. Some staff members have expressed dissatisfaction with the new uniforms. How will that be accounted for? The selection of new uniforms is a work-in-progress, and efforts are continuously underway to improve both the process and final output. We are aware of staff members’ comments with regard to the new uniforms and always welcome any feedback. These comments are currently being consolidated and will be looked into with each department director to agree on what needs to be changed and when. Our ultimate aim is to make staff members comfortable and, at the same time, reflect a positive and professional image of the University. To view a photo gallery of the selection process,click here.