Axian is a pan-African group that operates in five industries with high growth potential, namely real estate, telecoms, finance, energy and, open innovation and FinTech. Philippe Prodhomme, Group CFO, Axian Group, tells Intelligent CIO Africa, why the company recently implemented Oxalys’ Procurement digital solution to ensure integrity of the procurement process and a high level of traceability throughout the process. By Manda Banda.
As a pan-African conglomerate, Axian Group has presence in five industries with high growth potential, namely real estate, telecoms, finance, energy and, open innovation and FinTech.
Headquartered in Antananarivo, Madagascar, the Axian Group has operation in six countries across mainland Africa and the Indian Ocean, and acts in furtherance of social and economic growth in all markets where the group has a foothold.
The group’s 5,000 dedicated employees ensure that its brands—all of which are dedicated to the five crucial industries—have a sustainable, positive impact on the day-to-day lives of millions of Africans. Today, the Axian Group is also a UN Global Compact signatory and is committed to making its 10 principles an integral part of the present and future group operations.
Looking to cement it growth, having invested over US$1.1 billion over the last decade, the company uses disparate IT systems to manage it operations across Africa.
As a result, the Axian Group’s was looking at implementing the Oxalys digital procurement solution across the company’s operations and subsidiaries to consolidate its procurement processes.
Philippe Prodhomme, Group CFO, Axian Group, said the company already uses several ERP systems in its subsidiaries, which have procurement features, but remain limited and do not make it possible to: ensure the integrity of the procurement process, ensure a high level of traceability throughout the process, dematerialise flows, optimise validation processes and provide suppliers with a service platform to better communicate with them and ensure better control of workflows. “We quickly chose to centralise the management of our procurement processes in Oxalys while developing an interface with all of our ERP systems to have greater visibility,” he said. “We are experiencing strong growth in our business in Africa in strategic sectors such as telecoms or energy, which require us to take up strategic challenges in terms of supply chain, notably by guaranteeing the responsiveness and the integrity of the procurement chain, from sourcing to payment of supplier invoices. The idea with the Oxalys digital procurement solution is also to ensure end-to-end supplier self-care and to have a common supplier database for all the subsidiaries to have a common reference system.”
To cope with these challenges, in mid-2017, we decided to launch an request for information (RFI) to identify potential suppliers capable of enabling the company to improve the maturity of the procurement process.”
The Oxalys Procurement solution helps organisations big or small to digitalise their entire spend and procurement processes.
Having looked around for a suitable digital procurement solution, the Axian Group settled for Oxalys.
Prodhomme said in the RFI, the company identified the potential offered by procurement solutions and one in particular caught the team’s attention: Oxalys, which stood out due to its maturity and very convincing references. “We saw that we could have much broader functional coverage than we had imagined to manage high-volume procurement (which can reach up to 50 million euros for one of our telecom operations) and to have a real means of communicating with suppliers,” he said. “We decided to take a leap forward in innovation and equip ourselves with a complete suite that meets our challenges and more in the future.”
Given the size of Axian Group’s operations with branches in Madagascar, Senegal and Togo, the IT teams had to work with the Oxalys team of consultants prior to the project being rolled out.
According to Prodhomme, the Oxalys team of consultants organised workshops with the the Axian teams to precisely define needs. “The solution was deployed in the Towerco of Madagascar (TOM) subsidiary of the group, the lead company of the Tower Companies in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean. The project was implemented out by the business units and the financial IS project manager with a great deal of determination and involvement, which led to the successful deployment of the pilot and the other subsidiaries,” he added.
He explained that currently six companies and 100 users (operational staff, buyers, accountants and department managers) are already using the solution via a shared services centre. “The project went well and the collaboration with Oxalys was judged ‘excellent’ by the teams, they faced some internal obstacles, a classic phase in any innovative project. We had to deal with internal reticence due to fear of change and a lack of understanding of the advantages of a dedicated digital procurement solution,” he said.
Following the implementation, users are now very satisfied with the solution and the company is now entering phase two of the roll-out with information and education on the benefits of the solution to get the teams on board. “Eventually, we will have more than 200 users and the extension to Telma and Jovena, the two largest subsidiaries within the Axian Group,” he said.
The story of Axian, the pan-African group, is above all the story of a French family of Indian origin, born on the Red island, who created a trading company in the 1930s which, almost a century later, has become an international group based in five high-potential industries that include: telecoms with its emblematic Telma brand, energy with its hundred or so service stations in Madagascar, real estate, banking (particularly mobile banking) and FinTech and open innovation. “We are developing our activities in Africa because they create growth and development there, as they did in Madagascar. We help ensure the technological and financial inclusion of inhabitants by intervening in strategic sectors such as telecoms or energy,” he said.
The company employs 5,000 people, has a turnover of over one billion dollars through 25 subsidiaries and has a presence in Madagascar, Tanzania, Senegal, Togo, France (Reunion and Mayotte), the Comoros and is also expanding in Anglophone Africa.
The Oxalys digital procurement solutions project started at the beginning of April 2018 and the rollout took place over a period of five months.
“We didn’t work with a certified solution provider but directly with the Oxalys consultants in connection with the business units,” he said. “An assistant to the project owner is also supporting us in the production of the training guide and the interface between Oxalys with all our ERP and information system. We have also set up a shared services centre to make it easier for the different departments in the group to take over.”
Prodhomme explained that driving together the interface between Oxalys and the existing ERP systems of all the different subsidiaries and the harmonisation of the group’s information system with a common ERP proved to be one of the challenges the IT team encountered during the implementation of Oxalys digital procurement solution.
That said, Prodhomme enthused that following the implementation, paper has been eliminated, procurement requisitions and invoices are automatically reconciled and the system ensures end-to-end dematerialised supplier invoice processing. “We have made our procurement flows more reliable and gained in productivity and transparency thanks to the excellent traceability and automation offered by the Oxalys solution. Calls for tenders are also more transparent thanks to the sourcing platform designed to ensure end-to-end supplier self-care,” he said. “We have made significant changes to our practices in the Procurement and Accounting functions, with the ultimate aim of having an aligned and global Finance/ Procurement version.”
Prodhomme said one of the advantages of Oxalys software is the great capacity to adapt the setup to Axian Group’s specific needs.“Some administrator profiles were trained on the back office. The solution being very intuitive, only a few hours of training were necessary for the end users.”
Following the implementation of Oxalys digital procurement solution, the Axian Group is readying to implement the next stage of this project across many different subsidiaries.
“We are entering phase two of the rollout with information and education on the benefits of the solution to get the teams on board. Eventually, we will have more than 200 users in all subsidiaries,” he said. “Other developments are planned, such as the introduction of mobility with the possibility of placing orders and approvals on mobile terminals on construction sites, the introduction of more advanced reporting, a single database, advanced supplier scoring and the extension to Telma and Jovena, the two largest subsidiaries within the group.”
Anne-Emmanuelle Grené, Head, Oxalys South Africa, said: “Our relationship with our clients does not end with the deployment of any of our solutions. We will continue to support Axian over the long term as their procurement processes increase and strengthen.”
Grené said each year, Oxalys devotes 25% of the budget to research and development (R&D). “Axian, like all our customers, benefit from the latest technological developments and best business practices which include the standard features of the Oxalys software,” she said.
Although the project went according to plan, the Oxalys team of consultants did find some challenges with the project during rollout. “The large diversity of activities within the group and therefore, the typology of spend category covered by various branches of the Axian Group was a challenge. Add to that, interfacing with various ERP systems with Axian Group required us to adapt to various contexts and issues,” she said.Click below to share this article