By buying the sites of Saint Jean de Maurienne and Castelsarrazin to Rio Tinto in 2013, the German Aluminum specialist Trimet created Trimet France. After getting out of Rio Tinto group, the new entity has restructured all of its departments so that they operate in full autonomy. After about 18 months devoted primarily to ensure the continuity of goods&services’ supply for its two plants, Trimet France initiated the transformation of its Procurement Department, based on a Procurement Diagnosis approach.
Nicolas Archenault, Head of Trimet France Procurement & Supply Chain Department, testifies of the advantages that this type of approach can bring.
After belonging successively to Pechiney, Alcan and Rio Tinto, the activities of Saint Jean de Maurienne and Castelsarrazin – two centuries old at the forefront of aluminum technology – are now held by the German Trimet for 65% stake combined with EDF for the remaining 35%. Trimet France employs 560 people. Aluminum products, including wires, have electrical and mechanical applications and are intended for many markets: transmission lines and power distribution, high voltage transmission, various fastening systems, …
Deliver an objective view of the Procurement organization practices.
After a first stage where he had in priority to reconstruct a Procurement team being rapidly capable to operate autonomously rather than being dependent on a central structure, Nicolas Archenault considered it would be necessary in a second stage to lay down the basis that enable to move towards solid and sustainable Procurement practices.
« Being now a medium-sized company does not mean that we must not adopt good Procurement practices. The first year, we had the nose to the grindstone. Our goal was then to give ourselves a longer term vision. The Procurement diagnosis allowed us to first identify the practices that bring value to the company then to plan actions to ensure the adoption of these practices », he says.
The clear support of the company board and the call for an external competence.
When he submitted his project of Procurement Diagnosis and the associated objectives, Nicolas Archenault had no difficulty in convincing his executive committee, he has just been asked the reason why he needed an external help.
« Being helped by a Procurement diagnosis expert having the right methodology and the right tools is a clear advantage allowing in particular to effectively structure the process; moreover, the consultant brings an external and nuanced look depending on the context of the company organization and then makes recommendations accordingly », he says.
A pragmatic and collaborative course, in a mindset of trust.
Nicolas Archenault appreciates that there has never been any distance with the consultant who helped him in the process.
« We spoke the same language and we have worked in a relationship of trust, in permanent link from beginning to end. In particular, the joint work made in the preparation phase has undoubtedly enabled us to properly anticipate any potential reluctance of my Procurement team and thus to adjust the way the exercise would be conducted in the following three phases», he says.
A key condition for success: involving the Procurement team while letting time take its course
The proposed participative process has enabled to cancel the last hesitations, to demystify some concepts that may seem abstract and, ultimately, to obtain naturally the adhesion of his team to a transformation plan over 3 years that makes senses for all.
« The fact that they have been allowed in particular to evaluate, first individually then collectively, the recommendations made at the end of the audit phase has led my team members to adopt the roadmap and the associated target. This adoption has also been possible thanks to the time we gave to people so they walk from some form of refusal up to acceptance » said Nicolas Archenault.
A structuring exercise leading to immediate benefits, including the « natural » development of the Procurement Strategy
Nicolas Archenault believes that the diagnostis exercise has clearly helped to federate the team around a common language and to make feel to all members – including those that can be the most recalcitrant – the benefit to adopt certain practices and tools.
« One advantage of the diagnosis is that it has naturally and immediately led us to formalize the key elements of the multi-annual Procurement strategy and its conversion: (1) to common and individual annual objectives and (2) to a plan of concrete actions to achieve these goals » Nicolas Archenault says. « The first initiatives quickly launched and planned have focused on improving our category management methodology, our Skills management process and our eProcurement process », he adds.
An approach to recommend, even for Small, Medium and Intermediate sized companies
« The Procurement Diagnosis process should not be seen as a big group stuff. » Strengthened by his experience, Nicolas Archenault asserts that « any company having a real Procurement potential, even if it is a small-sized one, will find it very useful to carry out a Procurement diagnosis and as they have no central means, they should not deprive themselves to use an external expertise »
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