PROCUREMENT: NEVER GET CAUGHT OFF GUARD
By Charles Chartrand, guest editorial
Finding the best product at the best price isn’t easy, especially when faced with global shortages. To respond to the growing demand in the horticultural industry and meet its customers’ needs, Berger has managed to adapt and transform its ways of doing things in order to stay agile. This involved overhauling an internal department that is vital for keeping operations running smoothly: procurement.
A lack of products means a drop in revenue… for every link in the supply chain. We also know that change is the only constant in life and, in light of the pandemic, this has never been truer. As a buyer, retailer, producer or distributor, you are sure to have felt the effects of supply chain issues since March 2020. Berger—a producer of horticultural mix—is no exception.
If we were to summarize the art and science of procurement, we could say that it means buying the right product, at the right time and in the right quantities. However, the challenges faced by the global supply chain have massively complicated things and have had two major consequences: higher prices and delivery delays. At Berger, increasing prices is the very last resort and “out of stock” is also not an option. The decision to further develop and expand the dedicated procurement team was the right one and quickly paid off.
“The company has developed a major supplier diversification strategy. The aim? To always have alternative options without compromising on quality.”
Safety stocks have been increased, which helps protect against constant market fluctuations. Added control over costs and inventories has also been introduced. In the same vein, the company has developed a major supplier diversification strategy. Determined to avoid relying on a single source, Berger has tasked its Quality and Laboratory teams with working with multiple suppliers to test the excellence of their products. The aim? To always have alternative options without compromising on quality.
Staying Competitive Requires Constant Attention
Improving its internal department has allowed Berger to solidify its procurement operations. Since the restructure, Fanny Laliberté and two supply planners have been doing all they can to build strong relationships with new suppliers. The result? More frequent purchase-order tracking and a more rigorous cost-control process to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of the best products at the best prices.
Berger is also rolling out a procurement dashboard that, in addition to providing an overview of all purchases, will allow the company to adapt to any business turmoil more flexibly. Keeping a close watch has become essential in this constantly changing market where fierce competition is rife.
The dashboard shows:
- Key performance indicators for the service, because reassessing its processes is part of Berger’s culture of innovation and continuous improvement
- Analysis of supplier performance in terms of the quality and performance of their products (data, such as receiving the right products at the right time, is now automatically integrated into the system).
- Market analysis. Forewarned is forearmed!
Having the right tools is the key to working well. These strategies provide a clear overview of the situation, at any time. “Having a clear idea of performance allows us to make the right decisions rather than basing our considerations on guesswork or theories,” says Fanny Laliberté.
HUMAN RELATIONS AT THE FRONT LINE
Solid partnerships with well-chosen suppliers are a clear driver of strong performance. Especially since Berger, naturally, strives to be an excellent customer to these suppliers. Ideally, this vital relationship needs to be as close as possible — and this is what the family values at Berger’s core are all about. “We want the best for each other and this goes beyond the purely professional,” insists Fanny. “We are very close, we keep up to date with each other and this closeness is truly rewarding, from every point of view,” she adds. In times of pandemic, this collaboration is just what the doctor ordered and will certainly provide a solid base for the future.