Roland Kefer has a firm grip on the company's procurement and the associated internal and external coordination. He talks about supply chain issues as well as other challenges and enriching experiences he gathers in his day-to-day work.
In your opinion, how has purchasing developed in recent years?
I’ve been working in purchasing/logistics for more than 20 years now and have therefore already experienced several changes. The set of requirements for this job has changed significantly. Globalization has transformed us from "classic order processors" to global procurement experts.
In addition, the range of tools for fulfilling the diverse purchasing tasks is constantly growing and offers enormous work simplifications.
However, these developments also harbor the danger of getting bogged down and losing one's grip on reality. In my view, a certain sensitivity is required in purchasing more than ever to deal with these changes in a strategically expedient way.
Supply bottlenecks have manifested themselves as an increasing challenge for companies. What are the causes of the current supply chain problems?
The last two years have shown how vulnerable a supply chain can be. When one wheel no longer meshes with the other, supply processes and just-in-time production are at risk.
While the Corona pandemic had already put us to the test before, the war in Ukraine further exacerbated the situation.
But “panic buying”, a general increase in demand, and the growing labor shortage also contribute to the current problem.
What is the impact of supply chain issues on IFE and its partners?
Like most companies, we have had and will have struggles with price increases and extended delivery times. We continue to work intensively to eliminate the bottlenecks through short- and long-term measures.
What has IFE already done to mitigate these problems as far as possible?
We have made every effort to find timely solutions with our suppliers. In retrospect, we succeeded quite well. But we also had to make some concessions, to be honest.
The main concern of our customers is currently to get reliable information about the expected delivery times. Proactive communication and constant information about delivery times mean additional effort, but this is a service that shows our customers that they can rely on us.
How long will the supply difficulties last?
Making a prediction on this subject is like looking into a crystal ball. The only certainty is that the supply chains will need a longer period of time to stabilize.
How do you think purchasing will develop in the future?
I already have the general impression that regionality and security of supply already play a greater role in procurement decisions.
In any case, these thoughts are particularly important for IFE: we have and will continue to focus on transparent and sustainable supply chains - as far as this is possible from an ecological and economic point of view.
Digitalization towards more and more self-services, procurement platforms and automation will also continue to advance in procurement and significantly influence customer communication.
What are your top 3 priorities as a purchasing manager? And why?
- Efficient processes - it just bothers me when something doesn't “run smoothly”.
- Careful supplier management - because we have to develop continuously to hold or even improve our position in the market!
- Creation and maintenance of an empowering working atmosphere - only as a team with strategic orientation we can fulfill our tasks in the best possible way.
And finally: What training path would you recommend to students if they would like to work in purchasing?
I particularly like the option of “apprenticeship with high school diploma”, as the knowledge transfer can be optimally combined with practical work. In my view, this creates a solid, holistic approach. But that doesn't mean that lateral entrants with a lot of commitment can't gain a foothold. After all, there is a wide range of further training opportunities in this field.
Thank you very much for the interview and the related insights into the exciting and numerous areas of activity in purchasing!