#Sylvie Noel#Covéa Group

Covéa: Reaffirming the role of procurement

Sylvie Noel, Chief Procurement Officer, Covéa Insurance Group, details the company's drive for transparency amidst its digital transformation in order to truly professionalise procurement.

Covéa Insurance has built an excellent reputation over the last twenty years for its customer service and products. The insurance company was formed by the merger of three brands: Garantie Mutuelle des Fonctionnaires (GMF), Mutuelle d'assurance des artisans de France (MAAF) and Mutuelle du Mans Assurance (MMA). Today, the company holds a number of awards, including Personal Lines Claims Excellence of the Year 2019 (Insurance Times Claims Excellence Awards); and Best Use of Customer Service Technology 2019 (Modern Insurance Customer Service Excellence Awards) among others. 

As the company has grown, so has the need for a more seamless procurement process. “I initially came to the company to assist with the professionalisation of procurement at Covéa,” says Sylvie Noel, Chief Procurement Officer, “I created a proposal on how to improve procurement, called EMA: ensemble pour mieux acheter, which means ‘together to work better.’” Noel has been with Covéa for almost nine years, starting out as a consultant, before taking the role of CPO, which was created for her in July 2012. “In 2012 Covéa had over 12 members of staff specialised in procurement, working across different levels within our three brands and in our French subsidiary on procurement, internal procurement and IT.” Noel’s responsibility was to streamline this into a connected, standardised network with added value. She achieved this by digitising the entire process.

Digitising Procurement

“The process is now really slick. The digitalisation of procurement enables easy work cover in the event of sickness, but also the platform is wholly compliant. It provides a new perspective to procurement.” Noel and her team created the procurement function from scratch. Initially, she had worked across the process, on segmentation, building common language and legal. “Having worked across different parts of the company, we realised that we could make the process more sustainable, and so we took to the market to search for an appropriate tool that would help us achieve our goals of transparency and added value,” recalls Noel. She then began conversing with over 60 stakeholders about their views and fears regarding procurement, and began to build the platform from there. 

The platform was initially rolled out in 2013 to internal stakeholders and procurement before rollout to wider users. According to Noel, there were naturally some challenges during the 2013 rollout, which have since been overcome following the platform expansion. “We started with the procurement request, the workflow associated and a first wave of model of contracts. What we’re doing now is very different: we start with the budgets imported to the platform; any procurement request needs to have a budget line. Then, it either goes to the creation of a tender, or into catalogs.” Noel goes on to explain that if a tender is chosen, a group comprising all the required individuals - including procurement and legal - forms in order to process the tender’s dispatch to suppliers via the platform. “All the exchanges with parties occur solely within the platform, so we all have a very good view of the activity and it’s impossible now for anyone to be out of the loop,” she says. “We were proactive with our stakeholders, and responded to their suggestions which were present in the version of the platform we later rolled out.” 

From a change management perspective, this digitisation has been largely welcomed, as it has created clarity and ease of access to vital information at Covéa. But this may not always be the case and Noel asserts the need to listen to employee concerns and to work through them. “This is why we built the program in response to our stakeholders: not only to show them that this is a serious progression, but to ensure that any of their fears regarding the industry could be eliminated through the creation of the platform. It is also important to lead by example with confidence and reassurance,” she says. 

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Quotables

The unification of procurement through this platform enables us to speak with one voice

Sylvie Noel | Chief Procurement Officer, Covéa Group

In addition to this, big data is an integral component to the quality that Covéa strives for: “We are also still trying to ensure that all who are involved with the procurement process are aware of the importance of big data. We are constantly evaluating the quality of the overall process and upscaling it often to meet expectations. ”Noel shares that the company that assisted in the implementation of this transformation was Ivalua, who have been “the core skeleton to the process at Covéa,” and assisted in the streamlining of the function. The digitisation of procurement has had many benefits, “the unification of procurement through this platform enables us to speak with one voice,” Noel says, “this allows for a greater market presence and improved relations with our stakeholders and vendors.”  

Not only has the process added value and been well received by employees and stakeholders alike, but it has had excellent benefits in terms of sustainability: “In terms of our vision for sustainability, we are almost paperless and it’s compliant with regulation and auditable. Sustainability isn’t underlined as much as it should be,” Noel asserts.

A transparent future

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“As Covéa moves forward, customers will be at the center of all we do, and this is evident in our huge project transformation with added value and productivity,” says Noel. “Procurement will continue to be aligned with the business strategy of the group.” She is confident that both customers and employees will continue to see a growing level of transparency that will bring the business and stakeholders closer, while consolidating the valuable role that procurement plays within the company.

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