Conversation with Marco Falso, Sr. Purchasing Manager of IBSA Group22 February 2022
Procurement – a Function of the Supply Chain Department – acts as a link between the different IBSA divisions and the external suppliers. The primary objective of this Function is to optimise purchase requests, procuring the best quality product or service at the lowest price. However – as Marco Falso, Sr. Purchasing Manager of IBSA Group will tell us – the difference lies in how one buys, rather than how much.
HOW DID PROCUREMENT ACTIVITIES EVOLVE OVER TIME?
Within Procurement 4.0, my role as a Purchasing Manager is aimed at bringing added value to the company. Procurement is evolving, in many ways it is changing; however, despite the on-going change, it is often still considered as the “old” purchasing department, an external service like any other supplier, rather than an actual partner with which to improve business processes. In this regard, several recent analyses show how its integration with the other company Functions is increasingly necessary – as well as effective – in order to make the business evolve. Modern Procurement, in fact, can establish itself as a valid and responsible partner, capable of providing answers and actively contributing to the financial outcomes of the company. Procurement today means having a global vision of the market, anticipating problems and minimising the risks of out of stock and of an increase in purchase prices. This result can only be achieved by building increasingly strategic and robust bonds and partnerships with suppliers, especially in this period of global troubles. The most significant evolution in recent years is certainly risk management, a central issue in purchasing policies.
IBSA’S PILLARS ARE PERSON, INNOVATION, QUALITY AND RESPONSIBILITY. WHICH OF THESE DO YOU FEEL CLOSEST TO YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES? AND HOW?
First and foremost, I would say the Person. Companies are made up of people. Teams are made up of people. Without teamwork, no results can be achieved.
As for Innovation, the Purchasing Function will be one of the main channels to drive innovative ideas towards a global sourcing base. It will also play a vital role in guiding the development and evolution of new products. In this sense, I believe that the Purchasing Team will be able to create real value for our company.
Last but not least, I would like to talk about Responsibility, meant as environmental and social sustainability in Procurement. Sustainability is the first area of evolution: Procurement must become sustainable. This should be considered a strategic priority for the entire organisation, an essential element in the definition of short, medium and long term plans. From a sustainable perspective, Procurement is able to generate several advantages, such as the protection of the brand and corporate reputation, as well as the opportunity to reduce operating costs and the environmental impact. In this regard, IBSA has activated a Suppliers Portal, an IT tool that allows to manage and optimise the processes underlying the exchange of documents and information with suppliers. Thanks to the use of customisable indicators, the platform provides an assessment of the supplier based on quality, compliance with regulations, sustainability, logistics and system certification. In fact, a Procurement cannot be sustainable if the Supply Chain is not.
WHAT SHOULD ONE PAY ATTENTION TO IN ORDER TO EXCEL IN THEIR FIELD?
In my opinion there are two essential aspects: partnership with suppliers and attention to numbers.
Establishing an ethical and transparent relationship with suppliers is essential, since we require the highest quality, flexibility and professionalism from them. The selection and procurement of suppliers of goods and services is essential for the business continuity. As is the consolidation of partnerships: there is in fact a direct relation between the affiliation with suppliers and the quality of the products/services offered. Suppliers should be considered as a division outside the company, to be enhanced and consolidated over time. Attention to creating a solid relationship with suppliers is also expressed on an ethical level: the selection process takes place in total transparency, in compliance with the Code of Ethics and general purchasing procedures.
Regarding “analytics”, that is to say the attention to numbers, I would like to quote a famous phrase by W. Edwards Deming: Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion. In fact, I believe that always having the numbers under control is essential in order to perform at our best in our work.
IBSA IS AN INCREASINGLY INTERNATIONAL COMPANY. HOW DOES THIS PROPENSION FOR INTERNATIONALISATION IMPACT UPON THE DEPARTMENT’S ACTIVITIES?
The impact is significant, since Procurement is – and will continue to be – the link between the different corporate Functions. Purchases will be like an inbound and outbound hub. In this sense, internationalisation is leading us towards a global market scenario, a global procurement. The term global sourcing has become very common: it is the constant need to reduce costs on a global scale, which has broadened the horizons of the search for low-cost procurement opportunities. For example, in recent years in Italy the internationalisation of supply chains, in particular towards China but not only, has been the subject of strong interest on the part of Procurement, also in the pharmaceutical sector. Markets have gone global, and therefore Procurement must become international too, if it is to win the challenges of the future.
LOOKING AT THE CHALLENGES OF YOUR DEPARTMENT, WHAT ARE THE ACTIVITIES OR PROJECTS THAT WILL BE DEVELOPED IN THE NEXT MONTHS/YEARS?
The most important project is the development of SAP for the whole IBSA Group. In this context, Procurement plays – and will play – a critical role in involving the other Functions, in optimising the end-to-end supply chain, in integrating business processes and in creating the interfaces between SAP and the portals for the qualification and sustainability analysis of suppliers.