How BCLC is delivering exceptional entertainment with top procurement standards

How BCLC is delivering exceptional entertainment with top procurement standards

BCLC is a Canadian Crown Corporation mandated to conduct and manage lottery, eGaming, and casino entertainment on behalf of the Province of British Columbia.

BCLC delivers socially responsible entertainment to customers while delivering important revenue to support healthcare, education, community programs and charitable organisations across British Columbia.  

Commercial gambling in B.C. is a $3.3bn-a-year industry and in 2016/17 BCLC delivered $1.3bn in net income to the province to support services that British Columbians count on, like healthcare, education and more.

To ensure that it achieves best value for money, BCLC has undergone continuous procurement transformation to drive driving cost efficiency, sustain vendor relationships and champion best business practices.

“This transformation continues to impact the company in a big but positive way,” explains Keith Bolen, BCLC’s Director of Corporate Procurement. “It’s helping us deliver products to the customer that are fresh and help keep them entertained.”

“BCLC continues to evolve, and what was considered efficient and acceptable two years ago is being continually questioned as we look to drive efficiency in order to compete with the overall entertainment industry for customers’ discretionary dollars,” Bolen adds.

“Procurement is an integral part of the organisation's operations because we interface with all departments across the enterprise, whether it's at a transactional level, ensuring that orders are placed or invoices are paid, or up to a strategic level, where we're partnering with business units to source critical services and materials,” he continues.

“Therefore, we have to continually question the status quo and look for better ways to deliver our services in a faster, efficient manner.”

As a Crown corporation, there are strict rules that BCLC follows on a day-to-day basis.

The company is subject to significant oversight, whether it’s through Canadian-based laws and regulations, international trade agreements, audits or the necessity of preserving its integrity and brand.

It’s clear that this same integrity and meticulous approach also applies to BCLC’s procurement practices.

As part of its transformation story, BCLC has embraced a centralised procurement model. “This procurement transformation journey started through centralising the procurement process across the enterprise,” says Bolen.

“We scale the complexity of the sourcing methods to fit the individual business objectives, within the confines of public procurement practice. For example, the processes that we implemented to justify contract awards within our lottery division are the same for other business divisions across the organisation.”

Digitisation is also starting to reshape BCLC’s procurement function, making it more efficient and visible than ever before.

Bolen describes his team’s increased engagement and efficiency thanks to the streamlined technology, such as an e-sourcing tool called Bonfire.

“Vendors register and sign into the system and download their proposals to Bonfire, and then the system facilitates the evaluation process using an automated scorecard,” Bolen explains.

“The Bonfire system has organised the information in such a manner that it's greatly improved the efficiency of how evaluators access the proposals and greatly enhanced how each evaluator may compare each response to a question across every proposal. It’s provided us with real-time reporting as to which vendors have replied, what stage each evaluator is at in reviewing proposals, and elapsed time taken at each milestone in the review process.

“The product is highly scalable, so we're able to manage a significant number of bid solicitations at any one time, and it's also highly configurable as we tend to have fairly complex methodologies that we apply to our scoring method.”

By reducing the administrative burden of the process, Bolen says that BCLC has warmly received this digital tool. In conjunction with this, the entertainment gaming company has also applied automation to track its internal requests and approvals.

“We have another system in place called ServiceNow, which is an enterprise-wide ticketing system that captures and digitises specific requests,” Bolen says.

“It supports and tracks communication between procurement and the requester and it also supports approval workflow. On top of this, it also creates those records that are very helpful for reporting and looking back historically at decisions that were made.”

Looking to the future it seems that more technological innovation could be on the cards at BCLC.

“I expect we will see exponential adoption of new technologies, such as cloud services,” predicts Bolen. “As an example, we are moving in favour of adopting a service that requires less capital investment and is scalable to fit the peaks and valleys of demand.

“I think we will also see a continued, steady adoption of automation in our business process,” he continues. “As we learn how to manage big data, I think we'll see that our marketing efforts will become more targeted, as opposed to broad approach to marketing.”

Like many organisations today, BCLC is also championing a lean and agile methodology, which Bolen describes as a “natural progression” to its transformation story.

“As we changed and improved on our business processes, we found that there is a constant need to improve business processes,” reflects Bolen.

“There's a real drive to keep our operating costs in check and, in order to do that, we have to become more efficient with the existing resources that we have. One way to do that is to look at lean and agile methods to help us better utilise our resources so we can get more done without existing resources.”

Undertaking a company-wide transformation is no easy feat and at BCLC, but it seems that the company of 920 employees has been vital in making its vision a reality.

With offices in Kamloops and Vancouver as well as field staff across the province, a belief in strong leadership and innovative thinking is apparent throughout the company.

“The senior leadership in the organisation continually challenge the status quo,” explains Bolen. “At BCLC, we have a complement of senior leadership expertise that make up our Executive team. The executive team consists of leaders that have joined BCLC from other industries as well as those who have been with the organisation for upwards of 15, who bring a variety of different and fresh perspectives to the business.

“The culture of the organisation is described as being very entrepreneurial in that there is a real desire across the organisation to try new things and challenge the status quo,” he adds.

On the road ahead, Bolen predicts that there will be increasing legislative requirements and transparency needed by public bodies.

“The biggest challenge we have today is really competing at that private-sector level within the confines of a government entity,” he reflects.

“We're held to a much higher standard through legislative rules and that causes internal conflict in the sense that we want to move quickly and we want to make business decisions rapidly, however, we have rules that we have to follow that actually prevent us from moving as quickly as we might otherwise.”

Another core challenge Bolen sees is the need to stay relevant with its customers.

“The other challenge is really staying relevant with the population base because as the population ages our main players are ageing as well,” he says.

“As a result, we promote innovation so we can stay relevant with our players and remain a viable revenue-generating organisation.”

With the continued efforts supporting procurement transformation, a keen eye for innovation and a dynamic team behind it, it seems BCLC is set to continue on its upward trajectory.

Keith Bolen