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Axian Group: Let’s grow together
The story of Axian, the pan-African group, is above all the story of a French family of Indian origin, born on the Red island, who created a trading company in the 1930s which, almost a century later, became an international group based on five high-potential industries: telecoms with its emblematic Telma brand, energy with its hundred or so service stations in Madagascar, real estate, banking (particularly mobile banking) and fintech and open innovation. «We are developing our activities in Africa because they create growth and development there, as they did in Madagascar,» explains Philippe Prodhomme, the group’s financial director who initiated the Oxalys project.
«We help ensure the technological and financial inclusion of inhabitants by intervening in strategic sectors such as telecoms or energy, which require us to take up strategic challenges in terms of supply chain, notably by guaranteeing responsiveness and integrity in our supplier relations.» To cope with strong growth, in mid-2017, Philippe Prodhomme and his team decided to launch an RFI (Request For Information) to identify potential suppliers capable of enabling the company to improve the maturity of the procurement process.
The Oxalys Procurement solution was a structural project, supported by the business units. It has become a true backbone to enable our Procurement department to become more mature. We have improved productivity, traceability and reliability and we have a very broad functional coverage which provides a real advantage over our competitors.
We quickly chose to centralise the management of our Procurement processes in Oxalys while developing an interface with all of our ERPs to have greater visibility.
The challenges: guaranteeing the integrity of the procurement chain, from sourcing to payment of supplier invoices
The company already uses several ERP systems in its subsidiaries, which have procurement features, but which remain limited and do not make it possible to:
- Ensure the integrity of the procurement process,
- Ensure a high level of traceability throughout the process,
- Dematerialise flows, optimise validation processes,
- Provide suppliers with a service platform to better communicate with them and ensure better control of workflows.
In the long term, the idea is also to have a common supplier database for all the subsidiaries to have a common reference system.
In the RFI, Philippe and his team identified the potential offered by procurement solutions and one in particular caught their attention: Oxalys, which stood out due to its maturity and very convincing references. «We saw that we could have much broader functional coverage than we had imagined to manage high-volume procurement (which can reach up to 50 million euros for one of our telecom operations) and to have a real means of communicating with suppliers,» explains Philippe.
«We have decided to take a leap forward in innovation and equip ourselves with a complete suite that meets our challenges and more if we are so inclined! Supply chain responsiveness has become a major issue in our business sectors – it is vital for us. A lack of quality in the procurement chain can have a direct impact on our supplier relations but also on our overall performance and even the approval of our accounts.»
The plan: to make the Oxalys platform the central tool for coordinating the Procurement policy
As Philippe explains, «what made the difference between Oxalys and the other editors was their maturity and understanding of our problem». The Oxalys solution was therefore chosen, and the project started in March 2018. Two important questions then arose: identifying the pilot company and defining how the Procurement solution would work with the existing ERP. Although the interface with the ERP was also an important selection criteria, the fact remains that the method of coordinating Procurement between the ERP and the Procurement solution must be defined. Philippe quickly made the decision: «We quickly chose to centralise the management of our Procurement processes in Oxalys while developing an interface with all of our ERPs to have greater visibility. The Oxalys consultant then organised workshops with the teams to precisely define needs, and the solution was deployed in the TOM’s (Towerco of Madagascar) subsidiary of the group, lead company of the Tower Companies in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean.»
All processes in the procurement chain have been dematerialised right down to invoicing, and their automated recognition makes it possible to gain in productivity and make data entry more reliable. Philippe emphasises:
«The project was implemented out by the business units and the financial IS project manager with a great deal of determination and involvement, which led to the successful deployment of the pilot and the others subsidiaries.»
The benefits: a project that structures the entire value chain
Currently 6 companies and 100 users (operational staff, buyers, accountants and department managers) are already using the solution via a shared services center, and the benefits are already partly visible even if the vision of the entire value chain supported by Philippe Prodhomme is not yet complete:
«Paper has been eliminated, procurement requisitions and invoices are automatically reconciled, and the system ensures end-to-end dematerialised supplier invoice processing. We have made our procurement flows more reliable and gained in productivity and transparency.»
Indeed, no more thick initials and the risk of a supplier invoice being overlooked and not accounted for. Processes are more reliable thanks to the excellent traceability and automation offered by the Oxalys solution while calls for tender are also more transparent thanks to the sourcing platform designed to ensure end-to-end supplier self-care. Philippe Prodhomme is pleased with the first results and is already seeing the long-term benefits of such a project:
«This Procurement project with Oxalys will enable us to make significant changes to our practices in the Procurement and accounting functions, with the ultimate aim of having an aligned and global Finance/ Procurement version.»
Eventually, the solution will cover the entire process, from sourcing and integrating suppliers into a single database to the smart dematerialisation of invoices, while guaranteeing a strong relationship with suppliers based on responsiveness, efficiency and transparency. Philippe’s vision of supplier relations is based on a strong concept:
«The concept of supplier self-care is important as it enables a good supplier experience and a trusting relationship through faster payment times, productivity gains, the provision of regular content and information, the ability for our partners to reconcile data themselves via the supplier portal and ongoing evaluation by stakeholders in an ongoing improvement process.»
Prospects: towards a mature, global and aligned Finance/Procurement vision
Although the project went well and the collaboration with Oxalys was judged «excellent» by the teams, they faced some internal obstacles, a classic phase in any innovative project. «We had to deal with internal reticence due to fear of change and a lack of understanding of the advantages of a dedicated Procurement solution, but users are now very satisfied with the solution» explains Philippe. «We are entering phase 2 of the roll-out and we still have work to do in terms of information and education on the benefits of the solution to get the teams on board. Eventually, we will have more than 200 users in all subsidiaries, and it is important that they all sign up to the tool.»
Other developments are planned, such as the introduction of mobility with the possibility of placing orders and approvals on mobile terminals on construction sites, the introduction of more advanced reporting, a single database, advanced supplier scoring and the extension to Telma and Jovena, the two largest subsidiaries.