electric mobility procurement case study, electra

7 min read

How Electra Implemented Precoro Soon After Establishment and Grew Ever Since

Learn how the French electric vehicle charging startup built a successful procurement process with purchasing software.

Marta Holyk
Marta Holyk

Company: Electra
Locations: France, Belgium, Italy
Industry: Electric mobility, environmental services
Website: https://www.go-electra.com/en/
Using Precoro since: May 2021
Users: 58
Client’s rating of Precoro: 9/10
Featuring: Rémi Lelarge, Head of Procurement & Logistics

Electra: Founded by electric mobility enthusiasts

Electra was founded in 2021 in Paris with a profound mission: to accelerate the transition towards electric vehicles and reduce pollution in urban areas. The idea for the company took shape amidst the initial COVID lockdown, as its founders witnessed the remarkable reduction in noise and pollution within their city. This eye-opening experience made them realize that reverting to the pre-crisis status quo was no longer an option.

According to the French law on mobility, by 2025, one out of every twenty parking spaces must be equipped for electric vehicle charging. Electra contributes to this goal by renting parking spaces from various establishments, including shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants, and open car parks, and installing fast charging stations at them for visitors to use.

Electra’s user-friendly app works like so:  When drivers need to charge their vehicle, the app takes into consideration their car specifications and the availability and power capacity of nearby charging stations in order to recommend the best option. Furthermore, drivers can reserve a charging slot so that they don't have to wait in line upon arrival. Users can receive timely notifications when the vehicle is fully charged and can even pay from the app.

Driven by a vision for a cleaner future, Electra's hardworking team aims to deploy an impressive network of 1,000 ultra-fast charging stations by 2030. Now Electra has offices in France, Belgium, and Italy, with Spain and Switzerland marking the next destinations on their expansion roadmap.

Rémi Lelarge, the Head of Procurement and Logistics at Electra, shared their story of building a comprehensive procurement process with Precoro. Mr. Lelarge is responsible for sourcing materials and services for constructing cutting-edge e-charging stations and overseeing the delivery logistics from suppliers to Electra's warehouse. Thus, he uses Precoro every day to request, approve, and track orders, so he was the perfect user to interview about his experience.

rémi lelarge, head of procurement and logistics

The startup that immediately chose Precoro

For the first few months after Electra was founded, like many startups, the team had a manual procurement process and used spreadsheets. Once the demand for e-charging stations rose together with the volume of procurement operations, the manual process became increasingly inefficient and time-consuming, and decision-makers observed a heightened risk of human errors.

Additionally, requesters had to physically approach the people responsible and spent a long time waiting for these in-person approvals, causing delays in the procurement workflow. Moreover, it was impossible to properly track orders and see which had been approved, sent to the supplier, or completely fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the absence of a centralized system made it challenging to understand the expenses associated with each material and supplier, leading to difficulties in cost control and inhibiting informed decision-making. And the manual tracking of financial metrics for investors proved to be a cumbersome process.

The need for improvement became obvious, so Electra decided to streamline its procurement operations with automated software. Interestingly, the company wasted no time searching for the perfect solution as its COO, Thomas Sarrazanas, immediately suggested Precoro.

Having previously worked at the photo printing company Cheerz, one of Precoro’s happy customers (find their success story with procurement automation here!), he had firsthand experience with the software and had no doubt Precoro would also be an excellent fit for Electra. The company wanted a user-friendly, straightforward solution with an appealing interface and comprehensive modules dedicated to purchase orders, invoices, receipts, and reports. Precoro covered all grounds, so the onboarding process began.

The onboarding process

At first, Electra configured three users who underwent standard onboarding. Because Thomas Sarrazanas was already familiar with the system, the whole implementation process went quickly and smoothly. However, Electra's team highlights that even for users who just got to know Precoro, the new process was very straightforward, and people could create a new PO in several clicks.

Precoro assigned a dedicated Customer Success Manager to help Electra with onboarding and training. Miia Korinchik helped the company configure the system according to their specific needs and quickly resolved any questions.

Electra's team noted that having great pre-support and training for staff streamlined the software implementation. After the first people were onboarded, the company continued to add new users to the system, and now at least 58 Electra employees use the tool.

Precoro: A “favorite tool” at work

Currently, Precoro is mainly used by Electra’s operations team to procure goods and services for e-charging stations. The finance department also utilizes the software to check expenses.

Mr. Lelarge configures new entities in the system, helps his colleagues adjust the documents if needed, and creates different procurement categories to see later how much money is spent on different materials (now Electra has 23 item categories created with the system's custom fields!).

"I'm a key user. So when anyone has questions, they ask for me, and I can help them to use the tool. Additionally, all the big purchase orders are negotiated by me, and I place the purchase orders as well. So I connect to Precoro every day – I think sometimes a few times per day – to track my PO. Or, when somebody asks me what was the price of the charger we bought six months ago, I can find it easily in Precoro. It's one of my favorite tools at work."

Rémi Lelarge, Head of Procurement & Logistics at Electra

According to Mr. Lelarge, the procurement process starts with looking for potential suppliers on the internet. Then he contacts them by mail or phone and asks for price quotes. After the vendors send their offers, Mr. Lelarge compares them and chooses the one that best  fits Electra's needs. He negotiates with this potential supplier to ensure expectations are clear on both sides. Finally, Mr. Lelarge creates a purchase order in Precoro to formalize the commitment between Electra and the supplier.

Mr. Lelarge also uses Precoro to track orders. Electra has 220 suppliers and makes plenty of orders, so it really helps that Mr. Lelarge can easily filter out POs and quickly check which orders have been approved, sent, billed, and received. Employees who make requests can also check at a glance whether their requests have been fulfilled, meaning all stakeholders have good visibility of the status of purchases. The company occasionally uses the invoice module in the system to receive, store, and track invoices from suppliers.

Additionally, Mr. Lelarge helps new hires start using Precoro by leading one-hour training sessions for them every three months. However, he points out that it's usually enough for new users to go through the default system tutorial that shows them how to request goods or services.

"Onboarding new users is easy, as they use Precoro mostly to place purchase orders. Auto training sessions work pretty well. Even from my experience, Precoro is really simple to use, especially compared to SAP software I worked with in my previous company."

Rémi Lelarge, Head of Procurement & Logistics at Electra

Final thoughts

When asked about Precoro's drawbacks, Mr. Lelarge says the only minor issue is that they cannot pay directly from within the tool. Instead, they have to use third-party tools to make payments and then manually enter that information in Precoro.

However, the positive features outweigh that small downside. For instance, Mr. Lelarge says he appreciates how easily and quickly he can find the needed PO in the system using filters such as PO status, department, location, purchaser, supplier, etc. Also, he notes that the PO template is very clear and simple to use.

Additionally, one of the most useful features, according to Mr. Lelarge, is reporting. It helps Electra see expenses related to each supplier and category. And it makes it easier to find the needed data related to a particular period.

"At my previous workplace, we used SAP [ERP software], and as a new procurement manager there,  I spent one year getting information on our expenditures with different suppliers and categories. It was very complicated because nobody knew how or where to find the data. When I joined Electra, after five days, I asked Thomas [Thomas Sarrazanas, Chief Network Operations Officer at Electra], 'Okay, how do I know what we actually spend?' and he showed me reporting in Precoro, and in five minutes, I got all the information. So yeah, it was very beneficial for me, and I saw the difference that Precoro makes.”

Rémi Lelarge, Head of Procurement & Logistics at Electra

Mr. Lelarge notes that he likes the ability to create custom reports. They are useful to both the procurement and the finance teams, who may ask about project costs in order to track the company's expenses. Electra's team has a code for each station and puts it in the purchase order so they can track precisely what was spent for each station using the reporting feature.

The procurement head says that such information is also valuable for investors, who must check the organization's profitability before making decisions. They need to know how the company works, its business plan, and its expenses in order to make a reliable forecast for return on investment. Precoro lets Electra easily retrieve all of this data and present it to all stakeholders.

Mr. Lelarge also speaks highly of Precoro’s reliable customer support, which continues even after training is completed. Any issues that may arise in the system are quickly addressed by the dedicated customer support agent who stays with clients throughout their journey in Precoro.

"Working with Miia [Customer Success Manager at Precoro] is so good. She’s very responsive, kind, and always available. Every time I ask her a request, I have a reply in less than 2-6 hours. And I think that she's like a very good teacher — patient to help me understand the tool and make all the necessary adjustments. So yes, it's been very good to work with Miia."

Rémi Lelarge, Head of Procurement & Logistics at Electra

Key Takeaways

Before Precoro:

  • Inconvenient manual PO creation
  • Lengthy approvals
  • Unclear order tracking

With Precoro:

  • Swift PO creation with drop-down menus and catalogs
  • Streamlined approvals
  • Simple order tracking
  • Structured and secured procurement documents
  • Insightful reporting
  • Easily retrievable financial data for investors
Case Studies

Marta Holyk

Content Writer at Precoro on a mission to help you explore procurement, spend management, and exciting journeys of companies in various industries on their way to the efficient procure-to-pay process.