Continuous improvement in procurement

Continuous Improvement in Procurement

Interview with Nataša Cikač, SCM expert

Interview by Dustin Mattison, Supply Chain Expert Community

Can you first provide a brief background of yourself?

Sure, Dustin. Thank you very much for your call and for this interview. My name is Nataša Cikač. I have worked for more than 20 years in procurement in Croatia, varying from different branches food industry, rubber industry and metal industry. Three years ago, I decided to start my own business, which is company Cronata Ltd. Well, I am very passionate about procurement and I wanted to use all my experience and all my knowledge to help others to improve their procurement processes in their companies.

How is procurement being accepted in your country, Croatia?

I have made a research last year. First, procurement is present in every company, for sure. This is the process. A company cannot function without it. But, the position of the procurement is still not so strategic. Bigger companies understand and notice the value of the procurement and they started to transform it from operational and tactical procurement to strategic. Now we can find CPO as members of the boards and part of the top management. Hovewer, some companies still do not recognize the value of this function. This is one of the reason why I launched Procurement Academy Cronata in three modules to raise an awareness of how procurement function is crucial for companies, how their employees can help to achieve strategic goals of companies and how to create value added.

Can you talk about continuous improvement tools and strategies?

Of course, it is not enough to implement a strategic procurement. You have to improve this process, and people of course, on a daily basis. Some tools can help procurement to become better and to achieve goals of the company as well. The rules of continuous improvement come from Kaizen, which means to change for the better. Moreover, small changes could be done to improve procurement processes. Well, we could implement some tools and strategies which could help even the boards to achieve more savings, better relationship with suppliers, to find value-added… Moreover, the concept of continuous improvement is oriented to the final customer. Not to internal stakeholders, but to the final customers and clients. If we look at it that way, then procurement can be a very important part of the organization and it can achieve much more for the company and customers. [inaudible 00:04:06].

Of course, it is not enough just to continuously improve procurement. It is also important to continuously improve the whole organization – this is the concept. It has to involve all employees and all parts of companies. Nevertheless, the procurement is a very good field and a very good space in the company and function, where small steps could achieve very good results.

Can you share some of your experience regarding continuous improvement?

Well, continuous improvement as a concept in Croatia is not so largely present. However, some parts of continuous improvement techniques are found in companies where I worked at and who became my clients in the last three years, such as Lean, 5S, PDCA, KPI,… Improvements in procurement could be done through supplier relationship management or category management or the very important part of continuous improvement is risk management. Usually we improve processes, working place, communication, quality, depending on companies goals and priorities. However, clients who recognize the importance of improvement and decide to use approved tools and techniques, can achieve, with our help, measurable results.

Well, thank you, Nataša, for sharing today in this topic.

Thank you very much, Dustin. It was my pleasure.

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