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Challenges and Solutions in the Integration of Purchasing

Challenges and Solutions in the Integration of Purchasing


Locations abroad should give a company competitive advantages. For example, through proximity to the customer or through lower labor costs. In practice, however, different workflows and processes as well as a lack of transparency often lead to a high level of communication and administration work within the supply chain. We will use a concrete example to show you how our interim managers can lend a hand in such cases.

Challenges and Solutions in the Integration of Purchasing

The challenge beyond site boundaries: The different processes and procedures that have developed and are lived individually at the individual sites. As a result, supply chain management often fails due to a lack of transparency about available capacities and resources and a lack of central planning. 


Clear structures and rapid integration by interim managers

The interim manager was hired by a listed Swiss company to integrate the purchasing of the acquired family company. The family business, active in packaging, operates globally with production sites in China, India, Australia and the USA, Brazil and Mexico. 


Read the interview and find out how the company benefits from the interim manager in this specific case, what challenges exist and what measures the interim manager takes.


What is currently the biggest challenge in the supply chain?

The market per se! The uncertainties in the global supply chains, the exploding raw material prices, a lack of transport capacity in land and sea freight, the Covid issue in China, components that cannot be delivered because of the Ukraine war. But also the changed purchasing behavior: While purchasing power in China is declining due to Covid, India, Mexico and Arab countries are increasing.


Why were you brought in as an interim manager?

In order to integrate the purchased family business into the listed group in the area of purchasing. And quite specifically: to save CHF 8 million across all locations. 


How do you proceed?

A clear analysis of the problem is required. Moreover, a lot of flexibility and agility for the implementation is needed. But also imagination and looking at other perspectives, as well as a good understanding of management and leadership mechanisms in other cultures. My first concrete steps were:

  1. Acquiring spending visibility that is much more granular than due diligence.
  2. Find the decision makers. It is important to know who has what decision-making powers (formal and informal).
  3. Preventing the “brain drain” triggered by the current integration situation. Certain know-how cannot be replaced from one day to the next.
  4. Introduce clear project structures and carefully weigh the implementation of the measures. For the employees, the new tasks come on top of that. It also takes empathy to motivate people to spend their Saturdays studying contracts. 


Was sind die mittelfristigen Massnahmen?

  1. Beide Firmen sind in der Verpackungsmittelherstellung tätig. Mittelfristig geht es darum, die Hauptwarengruppen gemeinsam auszuschreiben, um grössere Auftragsvolumen generieren zu können. 
  2. Aktuell prüfe ich, wie die neue Einkaufsorganisation aussehen kann. Zum Beispiel: Wo benötigt es wie viele strategische Einkäufer, wie sind die Einkaufsorganisationen wo organisiert. Meine Empfehlung dazu geht an dann an das oberste Management. 
  3. Ausserdem sind wir zur Erkenntnis gekommen, dass es längerfristig neue Fertigungsbetriebe in den aufstrebenden Ländern braucht. Wir haben zwei Länder definiert, in denen wir neue Betriebe aufbauen werden. 


What added value do you offer as an interim manager in this specific case?

Certainly my high level of international competence. Different cultural conditions apply in the USA than in China or India. I know how to deal with them. Of course, also my professional competence in purchasing and in the procurement markets. As a senior manager, I can bring a certain calmness and pragmatism to the integration process. In addition, I am perceived as an external source of know-how: Anyone who has been in the supply chain for over 20 years receives a certain amount of attention. What should not be underestimated: As an interim manager, I can proactively avoid and de-escalate friction losses. So I also act as a mediator between the parties. I rely heavily on a solution-oriented approach and bring in other perspectives. What is also helpful: I am close to the employees, receive information from the field every day and move between the shop floor and the secretariat up to C-level management. I also get a feeling for the internal atmosphere. What is becoming more and more important, by the way, is recognizing future trends, especially in purchasing. The constant exchange with my network and other interim managers supports me accordingly.  


What have you achieved so far?

My mandate lasts six months. After a short time, we were already able to identify CHF 4 million of the specified savings target of CHF 8 million and hand it over to line management with specific measures. The decision for a new organizational structure for supply chain management in the USA was made. We have created communication platforms and also transferred them to the line functions. A process was introduced globally that creates transparency about the expenses independent of the system. Together with "Operations", we created a planning basis for the standardization of injection molding machines in order to secure cost advantages. 

Are you in a similar situation? Our interim managers for supply chain management convince with a wealth of experience from many different projects. They are experts in quickly analyzing processes and know how to optimally align them. Through their knowledge transfer, they are able to optimally adapt the supply chain to the highly competitive market.


 Contact us at or +41 (0)41 412 02 02.



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