Interview with Arnd Bläsing, Purchasing Manager Sternenbäck
In more than 170 Sternenbäck bakeries in 5 German federal states, fresh bread is baked every day. A total of over 1,400 people work there in the 3 baking factories. Arnd Bläsing is the purchasing manager of the company and reports in this interview about the purchasing optimization project with Kloepfel Consulting.
What was the reason to optimize the purchasing? What were the goals?
The management had decided to support the purchasing department and specifically me as the purchasing manager. This was very positively received, because we have a high workload due to the operative day-to-day business and scarce resources. In fact, we lack the resources to plan and implement a comparable optimization project by ourselves as normal processing tasks took up too much time for that: Invoice and price control, data maintenance, etc.
It was also exciting to have the Kloepfel employees reflect on where we stand in comparison to other companies’ purchasing processes and prices. Sternenbäck’s clear goal under new management was to further improve the economic situation and therefore to examine savings.
Which topics were in progress? Which Kloepfel services and tools were applied?
Initially, really everything was targeted: With a few exceptions, such as rental agreements, we examined all purchasing areas. This ranged from office supplies and raw materials to energy purchasing. The Kloepfel team did a very good job of picking up on this and presenting it. When the potentials came to light, we decided to tackle them!
How satisfactory is the project result? Where were the most savings achieved (time/money)?
We were able to save the most on the sales packaging issue, which I actually suspected even before Kloepfel’s support. When the opportunity arose now with Kloepfel Consulting, we went this way very successfully.
Kloepfel’s experts also gave us an excellent overview of the top providers in the field of logistics. There was also a certain urgency because our previous forwarder had gone bankrupt. After the first selection of a forwarding agent, it unfortunately turned out that it was not sufficiently suitable. Thanks to the existing overview, I was able to react quickly and independently, and the new choice is spot on.
What were the biggest challenges of the project?
The Corona crisis was a turning point. Due to uncontrollable price increases, not all savings targets could be achieved, and in some areas we had to freeze the project. These were really special circumstances, because from then on it was first necessary to deal with the Corona crisis.
At the beginning of consulting projects, there is often a fear of an additional burden on the organization. How was that with this project?
I have been with the company for about 22 years now, so hardly anyone can offer more background knowledge. This was also accompanied by the responsibility to provide the best possible information. I’ll be honest about that: It was challenging on some days, but it was also indispensable for good results. You can only get good results by working together, and I was very satisfied with that.
How did you manage to get the employees interested in the project?
At the beginning, I was a bit skeptical myself, but after we had agreed on what savings beyond what was written in paper were possible and realistic based on my experience, it was easy to get the employees enthusiastic about the project.
In consulting projects, the human component plays an important role in addition to the technical component. How did the cooperation with the consultants from Kloepfel Consulting go?
I got on really well with the Kloepfel team, there was mutual sympathy. That contributed to the good cooperation and we were also able to have a private conversation or two.
The suppliers not only had to get used to new faces at the negotiating table, but also to changed requirements. What were their reactions like?
The suppliers were willing to cooperate and, for their part, documented to the best of their ability what scope they saw. There was open communication and, of course, limits were also explored. No one felt upbraided.
What is the longer-term vision for purchasing?
Purchasing is to be expanded in the long term, and succession plans must also be found. When I retire from the company at some point, I would like to do so with a clear conscience and a well-ordered house. We are working on this with full commitment.
What is the conclusion of the project?
The result is exactly what we had planned beforehand. Many things can now be presented more transparently, especially requirements for suppliers! I’m also pleased that I was able to learn a lot personally, despite my experience.
Gerrit M. Schneider
Pempelforter Str. 50