Euroports Belgium

Euroports Belgium, the Belgian branch of one of Europe’s main terminal operators, has switched to a company-wide procurement platform in order to automate its procurement processes. In order to gain better overview and control of the total spending of the Belgian organisation, Euroports Belgium decided to create a single uniform and integrated procurement process for the administration of orders, budget control and management of supplier contracts. The organisation therefore opted for the IT platform provided by Esize, supplier of Cloud Spend Management solutions. And so Euroports Belgium has a total solution for a complete and up-to-date view of operational purchasing, directly linked to the financial payment system.

Euroports is one of Europe’s main terminal operators, handling 45.8 million tons of processed goods in general cargo and dry bulk annually. The company operates 22 port terminals in Europe and 2 in China. The Belgian branch of the group is Euroports Belgium, with terminals and offices in Antwerp, Ghent, Liège and the surrounding area. In order to continue to uphold the high quality of services, the organisation continually works at further optimisation of the internal processes. That includes the procurement process. All departments and terminals of the Belgian organisation require goods and services in support of their work. Think in terms of leasing fork lift trucks for example, or maintenance of cranes.

“Until recently, some of our purchases were made via a maintenance system or by email or telephone, without any form of prior approval, price or budget control”, explains Gerd Blommaert, (interim) Purchasing Manager of Euroports Belgium. “Moreover, pricing agreements were made both locally and centrally, but were not communicated transparently enough. It sometimes occurred that staff placed orders for identical or similar items with various suppliers and for various prices. Another reason was that many product groups were not centrally recorded in catalogues or contract agreements. This situation certainly did not result in the best price from the best supplier. Last but not least, it was almost impossible to produce a report which provided insight into the orders which had been made or into our outstanding commitments. Collecting the correct data for market analysis was extremely time consuming and the procurement process was very difficult to steer. The procurement department could not prevent orders being placed outside of existing contracts or multiple contracts being undertaken with the same supplier.”

Esize provides Euroports Belgium with a procurement system which offers the possibility of catalogue based purchasing, among other things. This allows ordering to take place decentralised, but with centralised steering. From their own terminal, staff have access to the online tool and can place their orders directly from catalogues, which are then directly sent to the various centrally selected suppliers. The final goal is that all purchased services and goods will be sourced via the platform. The solution will provide ordering convenience at the departmental level and will give the procurement department direct insight into the volume of articles and services purchased, and the related spending.

Management information
Gerd Blommaert foresees better budget control, but also transparency and efficiency in the processes, as being the main advantages of the new working method. The predefined system design gives less risk of incorrect orders and subsequent invoices, while preventing unnecessary administrative work. Invoices can be processed more quickly and simply because they are automatically matched to the orders and received goods and services recorded in the system beforehand. Furthermore, the platform will allow the central procurement department to share new agreements with suppliers via catalogues with the organisation. Staff members therefore always have up-to-date and correct information on prices and suppliers. “By standardising our working processes, we also gain access to valuable management information, which helps us further optimise processes and to negotiate even more effectively with suppliers. And so the procurement process can contribute fully to the broader targets held by the company in general”, explains Gerd Blommaert.

The procurement platform is already in use in several company departments. The next step is to extend the system to include more users, products, services and suppliers. The final target is to roll out the system within all terminals and departments of Euroports Belgium. Paul van Rietschoten, Commercial Director of Esize, is very satisfied with the project and the co-operation: “Just like any organisation, Euroports Belgium is unique in the way it works. The company has progressed from fragmented processes to a single uniform methodology, and from diverse (or non-existent) applications to a single integrated solution. We regard the procurement and invoicing process to be an inextricably connected whole. By integrating the various software modules in a single solution, we help organisations by providing greater efficiency and insight into all their procurement and invoice processing activities. We do so nationally and internationally for customers in a wide range of sectors. Esize has strategically targeted Belgium as a growth market and this project is therefore certainly an important milestone for us!”