How Zentis automates the processing of purchase orders

Zentis GmbH & Co. KG, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018, was once again able to prove its role as an innovative driving force for natural and enjoyable nutrition in 2020: Procurement establishes itself as an innovation driver by using Netfira’s software solution to automate operational procurement quickly and easily. The two cornerstones of the automation project are the simple digital supplier connection and automated processing of purchase order confirmations. 


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The initial situation

At Zentis, the purchasing department in Germany works with more than 1,150 suppliers. In 2019, more than 24,000 purchase orders with over 54,000 order items were created. Of these, 18% of suppliers account for around 80% of orders. Procurement is increasingly facing challenges. “In the past years, the general conditions for us in procurement have changed and this trend will have an even greater impact in the coming years,” knows Marcel Hilgert, Deputy Head of Indirect Procurement. A decisive factor is the continuously growing complexity. Customer requirements are becoming more and more specialised, which requires an increasing number of raw materials and materials. Global sourcing is indispensable and requires the management of complex supply chains. In response to the changes in the framework conditions and the resulting challenges for purchasing, potential for improvement was identified along the Purchase2Pay process. Zentis quickly realised that partial steps of this process needed to be automated.

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Please fill out the form below to access Zentis’ customer presentation at the 2020 BME Purchasing and Logistics Symposium. This video can only be provided in German.

Objectives of Zentis

Zentis chose order confirmations as the first sub-step to be automated. The efficiency of this sub-process was previously hampered, among other things, by the fact that there were four different purchasing areas within the company, some with different processes, as well as no uniform specifications for suppliers. The digitalisation of the processes should reduce the need for manual and multiple data entry and lead to more time allowing the Zentis team to use their time more efficiently. Moreover, the elimination of media discontinuities should result in a reduction of errors. It was also important to the Zentis procurement team that a simple and efficient supplier connection could be guaranteed. The suppliers should not incur any costs and they should not have to change their usual processes. In addition, the automated processing of order confirmations should take place within the familiar SAP environment and the software used should have a straightforward and user-friendly interface.

The Netfira Platform

Following a comprehensive selection process, Zentis opted to proceed with the software solution from Netfira. “The accuracy and future viability provided by Netfira’s AI-supported software were decisive factors for us in taking the next steps towards digitisation in our procurement department,” explains Patrick Tydex, Team Leader Operational Procurement. And there are further reasons for choosing the Netfira solution: “As a SaaS platform, it is characterised by flexibility and simplicity. The effort for internal IT is extremely low and the software can be seamlessly integrated into the existing ERP system environment,” Tydex continues.

Short project time and uncomplicated supplier connection

The digitalisation project was completed after only a few months. Netfira’s delivery team’s flexibility allowed the project to be resumed quickly following a delay due to a change in personnel in the Zentis IT team. Zentis and Netfira achieved one hundred percent automatic processing for order confirmations where there is no deviation. If there is a deviation, it is visualised transparently and a variety of processing options are offered directly in the application. In the two months following, Zentis connected 30 selected suppliers in an innovative way. A significant advantage is that the suppliers do not have to make any changes, and no effort is required from their side.

For the Zentis procurement team, the onboarding of a new supplier takes between 20 and 25 minutes. The process of connecting a new supplier starts by checking the last order confirmations for special features. Then the procurement team selects at least three representative order confirmations and one associated order. The order confirmations are trained with the Netfira onboarding app, checked and – if necessary – modified by the Netfira customer support. The time saved in operational procurement is already clearly noticeable. The processes are more uniform and transparent. Furthermore, there is now a standardised process in the four purchasing areas. Analogue checks of documents and items are no longer necessary, significantly reducing the manual workload required. As a result, the procurement department has more time to concentrate on more essential and value-adding tasks.

Global potential for the future

Zentis has taken an important step towards digitalised procurement with the automation of order confirmations. In 2021, more than 200 additional suppliers are to be connected and then further document types will be automated with the Netfira solution. Moreover, the digitalisation potential in the international subsidiaries of Zentis could lead to the global rollout of the Netfira system.

About Zentis

Founded in Aachen in 1893, Zentis GmbH & Co. KG today employs over 2100 people and posted a turnover of 670 million euros in 2019. Zentis is known, among other things, for its chocolate and marzipan specialities for the processing industry and retail trade, as well as for quality jams, jellies and sweet creams. The company is active in the business areas of fruit preparations, confectionery and sweet spreads. As a global presence, the family-owned company has sites in Poland,
Hungary, Russia and the USA in addition to its headquarters in Aachen.

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