test
01/10/2011

You know what you know

Economic upswing. Business is buzzing again – but the economic crisis has not been forgotten by German companies. Unlike in previous economic slumps, this time, all sectors of the industry have experienced changes that will be permanent.

[…]

Praise for the supplier

The majority of German business operations is revving up again. But the direction has changed. New products, new customer groups and new markets are aimed at now because they promise stability in turbulent times. Thus, the Fräger Group, engine drive specialists from Northern Hessen, founded a company for electric cars in the middle of the crisis and surprised renowned competitors within a few months. With this car, Fräger has won already, says Managing Director Andreas Graewingholt: "We show our customers how competent we are, and we distinguish ourselves as an attractive employer".

"While 2009 was primarily concerned with survival, growth strategies are now again in the foreground", says Oliver Knapp, partner at the strategy consultancy Roland Berger. Nearly 80 percent of the companies surveyed by Berger consultants want to step up their organic growth. At the same time, they don't allow purchasing, production and product portfolio any post-crisis breather.

Even if they want to primarily grow on their own in 2011: Nearly half of the managers is planning takeovers, joint ventures or strategic alliances – but different from before. Companies have become more careful. In the future, there's no need for an expensive takeover with huge integration expenditures. Subject-oriented collaboration will do just as well – such as e.g. car manufacturers are doing for platforms, motors or battery developments.

"But hardly any area has changed so lastingly by the economic crisis as the purchasing and procurement management", says Gerd Kerkhoff, head of the purchasing consultancy Kerkhoff Consulting from Düsseldorf. "Everybody realized how fast such a crisis can come, how deep it will go, that almost everybody is affected by it and that it can happen anytime again." Many businesses had run into trouble due to problems with suppliers or very tight just-in-time production concepts. "Instead of realizing price advantages and cost reduction in logistics with few suppliers through large quantities, companies will set themselves up much more broadly today", says Kerkhoff.

That brings about quite different effects on supply chain management: Several suppliers, stocks as buffers, production security – that will beat price as the criterion. Supplier optimization instead of terms optimization. "For some car manufacturers, having a stake in their suppliers is meanwhile considered a strategic option", says Kerkhoff. One variant: Manufacturers take over one part of financing – for example, the raw materials costs of their suppliers.

[…]