Maersk CPO Steen Karstensen

How to Re-Energise Your Procurement Strategy In 100 Days

Steen Karstensen, CPO – Maersk, on re-energising your procurement strategy.

Maersk CPO Steen Karstensen

Steen was speaking at Procurement Leaders World Procurement Congress 15 in London.

At Maersk there is a vision, and that vision is represented by the following mantra: “Every dollar spent is spent professionally”.

Maersk believe that in order to be competitive and stay ahead of your contemporaries you need to constantly reinvent yourself. To that end the conglomerate follows a bi-yearly strategy: every second year it takes a long-term view of the business. Steen says that it’s imperative to keep momentum going – you’re either ahead of the game or dead in the water…

Maersk needed to ask “What would my successor do differently?” So we approached Rick Hughes, Procter & Gamble’s Chief Procurement Officer, to create a ‘CPO 100 day plan’. Rick would assess the organisation and come up with a list of actions.

Rick conducted a study that gathered a 360-degree view from Maersk management figures (CEO, COO, Group Strategy Officer), 30+ procurement staff and key suppliers. He brought with him a fresh, candid and apolitical mindset – he was the sort of person that could leverage insights from his vast experience, and had the appetite to change the business.

Maersk also approached the University of Bath to get a theoretical reading of the procurement strategy.

And what did they learn?

There were definite signs of “big corporate syndrome” – Maersk would need to take some of its own cost medicine. How? It would need to simplify work processes as well as organisation.

With the CAPEX Procurement model, the right structure was in place, but now was the time to deliver results.

In terms of category management there was a requirement to upgrade processes, roles and capabilities. Plus a call for investment of senior resources in SRM.

And finally it was noted that important procurement prerequisites were not properly in order, thus an obvious need to standardise and document all core processes going forward.

Success in all of these areas would only be truly possible with deep business integration. Having both the technical function and procurement community reporting into the same place encourages both alignment and innovation.

The challenges re-energised their strategy process and in-turn generated three main (actionable) take-aways:

1. Take a 360-degree view on the organisation

2. Be open to reveal and discuss weaknesses

3. Be bold on actions – also in previously failed areas.