7 min read
How Insect Technology Group automated procurement operations and got global control over spending
The global biotechnological company took its procurement workflow to the next level and enhanced spending transparency across various metrics just in a few months with Precoro.
Company: Insect Technology Group
Using Precoro since: Apr 2019
POs per month (av.): 190
Featuring: Jacques du Toit, Business Systems Manager
Check his blog with business, real estate, productivity, and life insights: www.jacquesdutoit.com
About Insect Technology Group
Insect Technology Group (now acquired by PreZero) is a global biotechnology company founded in 2008. The company is in the vanguard of the new nutrient recycling industry. Its three-core consumer-facing businesses mimic nature while using cutting-edge insect technology to upcycle a variety of waste streams. Organic material such as food waste is recycled at Insect Technology Group facilities into feed substrate and fed to black soldier fly larvae. These are then harvested to produce valuable end-products, including high-quality, sustainable protein for animal and aquaculture feed.
Insect Technology Group (under AgriProtein) opened its first commercial-scale facility in Cape Town back in 2015 with the capacity to process up to 100 tonnes of food waste per day. Today, the company plans to spread out across the globe with planned facilities in Europe, the United States, and Asia. The company has raised over $150 million to date; was named one of Time Magazine’s 50 Genius Companies of 2018; and has received positive press coverage from CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, The Economist, and The New York Times.
No wonder they are rapidly expanding and launching new farms, R&D labs, and offices all over the world.
ITG has used Precoro’s software since April 2019, so we contacted Jacques Du Toit, the business systems' manager, and asked him to describe any challenges they had before Precoro and whether they have been solved.
Q: What did your purchasing process look like before implementing Precoro?
JDT: We had a manual system that ran off of Google Sheets, whereby a staff member would request to spend money on a product or service, and their manager would approve it.
They would go hunting for a supplier and quotations and then send that off for approval via email. Once approved, it would generate a simple Excel document as a PO, which would be sent to finance for a deposit or pre-payment, as most of our expenditure was cash on delivery as opposed to accounts.
Once the order was placed and delivered, the received documentation would be sent to finance for any final settlement. We weren’t receiving any products or services consistently either.
Q: What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
JDT: The manual nature of our previous system made us look for something with a bit more workflow and automation. We have global operations, with the need for managers and executives to approve across multiple locations and legal entities.
We were also looking to better monitor spending by having a system that reduced the opportunity for error or unnecessary expenditures.
Q: What were the main pain points in your Google Sheets-based purchasing process?
JDT: Lack of transparency, lack of a formalized process from requisition to receipt, lack of adequate reporting by department, location, and GL code as our previous system didn’t cater to these fields.
We needed an easy to manage, streamlined process that was rule-based and governed by the specific department and GL code metrics. We were looking for something where approval could happen on the move and from anywhere in the world.
Q: What might have happened if you did not buy procurement software?
JDT: We would have still had an idea of total expenditure, but with no way of analyzing the data according to our needs. We would likely have wasted a lot of time with unclear rules and workflow.
Q: What were the requirements for future software?
JDT: We wanted a fully cloud-enabled SaaS solution that was affordable and flexible enough to handle our unique field reporting requirements.
Q: How long did it take to find a solution?
JDT: It took us about a month of research and brainstorming to ensure we had our internal needs clearly defined and matched to a system requirement. From there, we started engaging Precoro and other vendors (while also considering an in-house designed system). But, while we found solutions online speedily, it took a bit more time to evaluate them – about another month.
Q: What was the hardest thing for you or your colleagues while evaluating different vendors?
JDT: Sales pitches are great, but what really matters is how the rubber meets the road in terms of system capability and the vendor’s willingness to assist the customer in setting it up. When evaluating software, we wanted to see functionality in action but applied to OUR data and processes. So it was hard to evaluate some systems with just generic data and descriptions of functionality.
Q: What made Precoro stand out from the others?
JDT: The willingness to engage us and spend time with us to configure specific setups in Precoro, ensuring it could do what we needed it to do. It definitely made the sale and has ensured a good working relationship between Precoro and ourselves. And excellent customer support (both from our CSM and the support team) is highly valued – something you wish for before signing but can only evaluate after a few months. Precoro definitely ticks that box.
Q: How would you describe the overall onboarding process?
JDT: It was a pleasure to work with the Customer Success Manager that was assigned to us. A lot of time and effort was dedicated to taking us through the system, answering our many questions, and assisting us in setting up a test instance to ensure it could meet our needs. Certain needs weren’t met, but they weren’t dealbreakers.
Q: What did it look like for you and your colleagues?
JDT: I was responsible for setups and training globally. One key person at each global location was selected to assist with the rollout. Those people were helping me compile the necessary information, coordinate training sessions, consolidate questions, and troubleshoot issues to send to me to deal with or escalate.
Q: Who is using Precoro today?
JDT: We have one person per department at each global location who can raise a PR in the system. This PR goes to their direct manager for approval. Once approved, it either goes to a central buyer for that location or a specific buyer designated for that department.
Once the PO is ready, it gets sent for approval. Once approved, it goes to Finance — who doesn’t work in Precoro on a processing basis — and then is received by the receiving department (for products) or the site manager (in the case of services).
Q: How has Precoro changed your and your colleagues’ day-to-day job?
JDT: It has given everyone peace of mind that a trusted system will handle the procurement workflow with good audit capabilities. It has also given management much better insight into spending across a host of metrics.
Q: How have your metrics improved since you started using Precoro?
JDT: Time spent has been reduced. Our approval process is now transparent and rule-based, with the flexibility to handle uniqueness for some sites. Maverick spending has also been cut down since we have a fixed approval flow in place.
Q: After using Precoro for a while, you decided to add some new users. What motivated you to do so?
JDT: After adding our main operation in Cape Town, we added four additional global locations. We also added a Joint Venture partner on their separate instance. The motivation was to get everyone on board once we saw how well it worked in our first location.
Q: Is there any aspect or feature of Precoro that you rely on the most?
JDT: The easy to manage approval workflow and user management.
Q: Who would you advise Precoro to?
JDT: To any small or medium-sized organization looking for a cost-effective solution to manage their spending.
Precoro is a great system for growing organizations that want a procurement tool outside of their finance system. It can handle the entire p2p cycle. There were limitations when we initially became users. Still, many of those have been addressed, such as better budgeting capability and more flexible approval workflow to allow specific configurations for document custom fields or locations. With these improvements in place, we have a reliable spending tool.
Jacques du Toit, Business Systems Manager
By automating its procurement processes, Insect Technology Group gained transparency and coordinated and streamlined operations between various locations worldwide.
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