Ivalua in Paris – Painting an Impressive Picture, Part 2

In his first article on the Ivalua Now conference recently in Paris, Peter Smith focused on the firm itself, with some thoughts on AI. Today, he passes on some insights from the non-Ivalua speakers at the event.

Customer Stories – Transformation from Cosmetics to Construction   

Ever heard of Strabag? No, me neither! But they are a huge firm, with revenues of over €13 billion, Austria’s largest construction company, and of course an Ivalua customer. So are Veolia, Total, L’Oreal, Michelin … they all spoke at the event and by definition, they were happy with their Ivalua experience! Rather than reporting on their different and specific experiences, it is perhaps more interesting to draw out a few common threads around change management, as all had gone through some sort of procurement “transformation” programme.

The corporate culture does affect how these were approached. L’Oreal is a highly professional firm and the archetypal “brand” and marketing experts. So, they branded their global sourcing programme “MySourcing” and amongst a range of communication actions produced a very professional video, purely to educate the global procurement team about the programme. Strabag on the other hand had a very logical and structured programme, with a lot of focus on process, workflow and standards – all run internally, rather than by consultants. But even those two very different firms shared some common attributes, so here are five common factors that perhaps suggest what makes a programme likely to succeed.

Top level buy-in is key. Everyone who spoke about transformation stressed this imperative for board-level support.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. That means with all stakeholders, including suppliers as well as internally.

Design your processes ahead of choosing tools and technology to support that – but don’t tailor and customise technology unnecessarily, which can introduce costs and delays.

Run the programme professionally – with proper project and programme management disciplines, tools, approaches … Sounds obvious but we all know it doesn’t always happen!

Committed people are vital. All those we heard of had a visible passion and commitment for what they were doing. Transformation takes years, not months; energy and resilience from the change leaders is key.

The Future of Procurement

Ah yes, the “Future of Procurement!”  Everyone is interested in that … and Natacha Tréhan, the Professor in Purchasing Management at the University of Grenoble Alpes, gave us her views. She has run their master’s level course in Purchasing (Procurement) for the past 10 years and is an excellent presenter too.  We are entering the “noetic age” she said, where knowledge and information is key, not products and “things.”

It was her comments around “symbiosis” that were most thought-provoking. Symbiosis goes beyond CSR and means (for instance) networks where the waste or residue from one firm might be the raw material for another. It also covers “coopetition” – how to handle those firms that might be suppliers, partners and competitors, all at the same time; an emerging role for procurement, she suggests. She also stressed that “supplier management is becoming supplier motivation,” as we see the best suppliers choosing their customers, not vice versa.

Then Emmanuel Erba, CPO for Capgemini, gave us more future-focused views. He talked about the firm’s own procurement journey, but also got into a more predictive mode as he moved through their own progress from getting the basics right to focusing on strategic procurement and the value chain. Procurement needs to position itself as a “growth enabler” he says, which can come from enriching the supplier base contribution, or dis-intermediating supply chains (for instance) to capture value through direct access. He also spoke about the “procurement as a service” model (something Spend Matters own Pierre Mitchell has written about at length).

And how about this: “Position your role as an aggregator of services, either internal or external, and map them to the business outcomes of the company.”  To be honest, I wasn’t sure I understood everything he was suggesting – it was one of those sesison that leave you really wanting to explore points with him in more depth. It felt like some of his one-liners would have justified a 20-minute discussion in their own right!

But that’s what we should go to these events for – sure, there is the valuable opportunity to network, and to pick up some hard, factual information and knowledge (and to see the Mona Lisa without the crowds …). However, having our minds expanded and stretched a little is another key goal, for me anyway, and these last two speakers certainly achieved that.

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