September 6, 2021

About the Digital Transformation of Procurement – interview with Laetitia Catrice

By Patrick Chabannes

“We are beings of relationships, carriers of signs and messages. Digital must give us the time to create the relationship with suppliers.”

Patrick Chabannes : What does the digital transformation of Purchasing mean to you?

Laetitia Catrice : For my part, I understand the Digital Procurement Transformation as the set of digital tools that enable the efficiency of processes and tasks to be improved; an efficiency that frees up time so that buyers can spend more time with suppliers and thus create value; a creation of value that is made possible thanks to human relationships, which cannot be digitised. And it is these alone that will promote co-development or innovation, sources of responsible performance at the service of business. We are beings of relationships, bearers of signs and messages. Digital technology must give us the time to create relationships with suppliers.

Patrick Chabannes : From the outset, you talk about creating value in a relationship with suppliers. What are the challenges facing the Sephora Collection Purchasing Department?

Laetitia Catrice : Sephora Collection’s Purchasing Department is aligned with the business challenges. Sephora Collection is part of the DNA of the Sephora brand: an inspiring brand with innovative, fun and value-bearing products marketed in omnichannel. The Procurement Department supports the strong digital evolution of the brand’s business model. In fact, to answer your previous question, Procurement Departement transforms itself if the company’s business transforms. Digital transformation is a business transformation in which Purchasing, as a support service, plays a full part.

“The availability of intelligible and contextualised information allows buyers to concentrate on interpreting and analysing the data.” 

Patrick Chabannes : You ask the question of efficiency and above all time saving. Where do you expect digital to lead? 

Laetitia Catrice : Digitalisation is a support for performance to refocus Purchasing on its fundamentals, i.e. data and information analysis, the relationship with suppliers and adaptation to the company’s business model.

Digital tools for breaking down costs or managing calls for tender are very useful. Performance management must benefit from the contributions of digital technology. Indeed, buyers often waste too much time gathering performance information when the value is in analysing the dashboard rather than updating it. Similarly, digital tools should enable TCO or TVO cost control by including indexation of raw material or freight prices, among other variables. The availability of intelligible and contextualised information allows buyers to concentrate on interpreting and analysing the data. 

Patrick Chabannes : You put a lot of emphasis on data analysis? Can you elaborate on your point of view?

Laetitia Catrice : It is important that performance dashboards are co-constructed with finance, procurement and IT to provide intuitive, reliable, mobile and easily customisable solutions. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. They are often wrong and inconsistencies are common. Let’s keep some distance, let’s interpret and analyse a representation of the reality offered by the dashboards. 

“And if we have to digitise the process, let’s digitise what will save time and efficiency to put the system at the service of people.

Patrick Chabannes : Hearing you talk about processes, I felt you were equivocal. It was as if processes were a necessary evil. What can you say about this?

Laetitia Catrice : Let’s be clear, it’s very important to describe and follow a process when you work in a team, especially in a large company like ours. But we should not waste time following a process that we have often detailed ourselves. We need to go back to basics by describing a macro-process that includes only the important, common, unavoidable, key steps. And if we have to digitise the process, let’s digitise what will save time and efficiency so that the system can serve people.

Patrick Chabannes : Could you give us a vision of the Buyers of tomorrow? Their roles? 

Laetitia Catrice : My conviction is that basically everyone does procurement because everyone has a budget. On the one hand, Buyers act directly on a perimeter, but the real gain lies in the acculturation of budgetary professions to Procurement, creating procurement referents. And to reach out to the business lines, you need time and to be sufficiently organised; you need to save time to find value elsewhere than in products that are already well negotiated. 

Digitalisation should enable the buyer of tomorrow to spend 50% of his time in alignment with the evolution of his company’s business model, 40% in his relationship with suppliers to drive innovation and the projects/products of tomorrow and 10% in preaching the Purchasing word to other functions. 

  • Laetitia Catrice is Procurement Director of Sephora Collection, Sephora
  • Interviewed by Patrick Chabannes, Cyrenac Conseil, for the Barometer on the Success of digitalization of Procurement