STRABAG is digitalising procurement with the transformation project "Strategic Procurement Solution" (SPS). We spoke to Germo Schroebler, Head of Digital Procurement, Central Division STRABAG Innovation & Digitalisation (SID) about the opportunities and challenges of Procurement 4.0.
Germo Schroebler
Germo Schroebler
Head of Digital Procurement

What goal is STRABAG pursuing with the development of a digital procurement portal?
There are several meta-goals, one of which is quite simply efficiency. We still have far too many manual processes with a correspondingly high level of effort and susceptibility to errors.

Because, for example, tenders and the corresponding offers are always set up very individually, that is in the nature of things. We are convinced that a portal-based collaboration with our suppliers will significantly increase efficiency.

What are you thinking of in particular?
We want to digitally reproduce pre-contractual regulations such as enquiries, offers, technical and contractual clarification as well as awarding. The logical second step would then be to enable the online handling of construction work as well as structured ordering processes and call-offs. But that would also be just the beginning.

What else is it about?
We want not only more efficient, but also simpler and fewer processes. We want to reduce redundant work steps that take up our experts’ time, or at best automate them, and also avoid multiple filing of documents – this brings us to another important goal of the digitalisation of procurement: transparency!

The complete overview of the procurement process?
We map all activities, documents and processes on a portal and thus obtain a quicker and easier overview of contracts, orders, our suppliers and their status. The portal also gives our suppliers a better overview of their offers, contracts and certificates – thus creating transparency from the tendering process to contract processing.

Does this mean that the digitalisation of procurement is also a key to the digitalisation of construction?
But this is only true if all activities are linked, if we dovetail the processes. Then procurement and planning are linked digitally, which enables even further expansion stages. However, this requires uniform service descriptions and their parameterisation in standardised technical attributes. It is not only about processing data such as price and quantity, but also about set-actual comparisons of technical scope, for example for automatically generated technical price comparison tables, the interlocking of digital contracts, model-based material call-offs and the paperless ordering and payment process.

What appeals to you personally about this project?
I find the idea fascinating to achieve transparency wherever we need it. That via the portal and standards we can obtain structured data that will help us achieve a major goal: strategic procurement.

What do you understand by strategic procurement?
Up to now, we have mainly procured on a project basis, and we do that really well. But imagine the possibilities that will open up in procurement if we have the necessary information across all divisions and projects, for example, to bundle demands or to offer suppliers reliable quantity forecasts in strategic negotiations.

But procurement is a highly complex and individual system, to what extent can it be standardised and unified?
That is the challenge. But we have to transfer the entire construction process into machine-processable processes and reproduce them digitally. Only then will we make it possible for a foreman to call up his material via an ordering app – and for the process to run digitally afterwards. The dialogue with our suppliers, the professional exchange and the building of trust – all of this will always be needed despite digitalisation.

What technical solutions do you rely on for implementation?
We decided early on not to do our own programming. We rely on best-in-class solutions, adapted to our needs. We also orient ourselves on established best-practice processes from other industries.

What makes you optimistic that the goal of a digital procurement platform for STRABAG will be achieved?
We have a lot of know-how in the Group, profound technical proficiency and broad knowledge of the associated products and supplier markets, as well as market access through business relationships with our suppliers. We are economically sound, financially strong and able to invest in our future. Last but not least, with the SID Division, we have a unit that can also advance such large, Group-wide development projects.

Germo Schroebler, Head of Digital Procurement, leads the digital transformation of procurement at STRABAG. His goal is the highest possible standardisation of all processes – as a prerequisite for achieving the goal of fully digital procurement 4.0.

The Digital Procurement Platform is planned in two stages:

Goal: Development of an end-to-end digital procurement process by the second half of 2022. In terms of content, the focus is on the document level; geographically, the markets of Germany, Austria, Central and Eastern Europe are envisaged.

In further projects, additional applications will be developed and specialized departments will be linked.

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