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In a detailed analysis of the actual situation, Konica Minolta examined the current document volume for handling purchasing and sales processes at Metall-Chemie GmbH & Co. KG. Thanks to the potential for optimisation that was revealed, the specialist in industrial lubricants can now create a solid foundation for processes to achieve its aspirations for growth.
Metall-Chemie supplies lubricant manufacturers around the world with high-quality lubricant additives for oil-based and water-based applications. Until now, the existing team has been able to manage production and distribution from Hamburg. However, the aim is to increase the sales volume, which is expected to involve a wider product range and an increase in the number of employees. The company management sought external expertise to ensure that the information processes, too, would run like a “well-oiled machine”. “We wanted to optimise our document-based processes to facilitate our continued planned growth and were looking for the right partner to take on this task,” reported Laura Goebel, an employee in Purchasing and Sales at Metall-Chemie.
While talks with three other suppliers were each broken off after the first meeting, the managers from Metall-Chemie met with Konica Minolta several times before the contract was concluded. “Even during the preliminary talks, a dedicated contact and other subject-specific experts from Konica Minolta were always present to provide detailed information and ensure that no question went unanswered,” stated Inken Reichelt, who launched the project in her role as quality management manager. In order to obtain an overview at the very beginning of the project, the consultants considered all of the client's information processes. Following this, three project aims were formulated:
Since it quickly became clear that a detailed analysis of all information processes would be too extensive, the decision was made to focus the analysis on purchasing and sales.
Thanks to the professional analysis, the parties involved in the project became aware of the complexity of this isolated sub-aspect in virtually no time at all: Metall-Chemie is active on a global scale, which means that the processes differ greatly due to the various country-specific regulations. In addition, there are many varying customer-specific requirements, as illustrated by Reichelt: “Some customers want certain documents before delivery, others don’t want them until afterwards. Sometimes customers prefer original versions of shipping documents, but sending these is extremely complex and time-consuming.”
For each specialist area, the Konica Minolta team discussed specific topics in individual workshops with the relevant employees in charge of processes in order to accurately determine the type and duration of their activities. “For example, the expert consultants recorded how long it took for an order confirmation to enter the ERP system, accurate to the minute, or the time taken to draw up and print out documents and letters,” Goebel recalled. Involving various experts was not only helpful with regard to the precise time data they provided, but was also necessary for taking individual circumstances into account.
Following this, Metall-Chemie obtained a convincing overview of the information processes that had been analysed and their potential for optimisation. Flow charts were also used to illustrate the actual/target comparison in graphic form. The project managers from Metall-Chemie found Konica Minolta’s additional on-site presentation of results extremely helpful. “Face-to-face discussions did much more to make the topic of process optimisation the strategic focal point than could be achieved by receiving expertise in writing alone.
This also fostered a profound understanding among the company management of the added value provided by this topic that, put simply, sounded very simple at first,” stated Reichelt, who to begin with underestimated the complexity of this issue herself and was extremely pleased with Konica Minolta’s approach.
The consultancy project involved breaking down each process into its smallest work steps in order to illustrate the organisation of the process and the process timeline. After all, this is the only way to identify any weaknesses in a process and prioritise their optimisation. Overall, thanks to the process consultation, Metall-Chemie is now able to address the potential optimisation in terms of the company’s document-based processes in purchasing and sales. In addition, the knowledge and experience gained over the course of the project can also be transferred to other departments and projects.
Optimisation of document-based processes
Detailed analysis of the information processes in purchasing and sales
Knowledge relating to possibilities for improvement, solutions and the
cost and time requirements
Face-to-face discussions did much more to make the topic of process optimisation the strategic focal point than could be achieved by receiving expertise in writing alone. This also fostered a profound understanding among the company management of the added value provided by this topic that, put simply, sounded very simple at first
Quality Management Manager, Metall-Chemie GmbH & Co. KG