Harnessing Change: Transforming Procurement and Supply Chain at ADM

Stephanie Buck
Stephanie Buck
Content Marketing & Storytelling Manager, Coupa

Stephanie is passionate about storytelling and helping leaders, businesses, and organizations transform the way they connect with their customers, prospects, and others. At Coupa, she leads storytelling and content production efforts for supply chain. She brings over a decade of experience supporting marketing and communications with impact-oriented enterprises and mission-driven organizations. She earned her Master's degree from the London School of Economics and her Bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University. She grew up in the Chicago area, but currently calls Washington, D.C. home.

Read time: 8 mins
Harnessing Change: Transforming Procurement and Supply Chain at ADM

Leading an organization through change and coming out stronger on the other side is no easy feat. At Coupa Inspire 2023 in Las Vegas, Camille Batiste, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain and Procurement at ADM shared her story of leading in turbulent times. This Q&A is based on her remarks at the Supply Chain Summit in Las Vegas.

Camille leads ADM’s global supply chain function — including procurement, planning, and delivery optimization — and the company’s overarching business-transformation program. In January 2023, she took on the additional responsibility of establishing an end-to-end supply chain organization for ADM’s Nutrition business.

ADM’s mission is to unlock the power of nature to enrich the quality of life. The company’s product line includes everything from basics like flour and oil, all the way to innovative plant-based meat and dairy ingredients. They’re a leader in animal nutrition, offering a range of ingredients, flavors, and solutions both for livestock and pets. They’re also a major player in the health and well-being space, providing a vast range of supplements to meet the needs of consumers who are looking to live healthier lives.

The challenges of procurement transformation

Coupa: You joined ADM in 2017 to lead the procurement organization. What was the situation like when you landed there? 

CB: The procurement team was valuable to leadership: it’s a team of more than 330 professionals that manages over a million SKUs and 33,000 suppliers. But it was also known primarily as a purchasing function. The team had demonstrated some value, but there was work to do, and we wanted to help our leadership see it could be so much more.

Coupa: What were the biggest challenges you needed to address?

CB: We had a talented team of professionals who understood the company and industry, but we didn’t know how to move forward.

We needed to address some big issues such as not having clear global priorities, policies, and processes. We also had a decentralized structure, which meant anyone across the organization could purchase goods and services. No one knew who had the authority to sign contracts, and nobody knew how to follow those contracts. We also had data quality challenges, so it was hard to get the right information at the right time.

Coupa: How did you solve these challenges?

CB: First, we needed a bold vision for the future and a shared business goal. Second, we needed to have the right people, processes, and technology in place. Technology is a great value enabler when you have the right team and processes in place. It’s especially important with the complex supply chain environment we all face.

Transforming a vision into reality: the path to procure-to-pay automation

Coupa: Can you share a specific example of how you set that vision and moved forward?

CB: When I first started, I was named the Accountable Executive for Source to Pay. And I was approached by another leader who asked for my support in implementing an e-invoicing solution.

I said, “Okay, I think that's really a great step in the right direction. But have we ever considered an end-to-end solution? What if instead of just automating the payments, we automate the entire thing?”

To do that, however, we needed to go to a committee. So we presented the idea to the committee: to implement an end-to-end, procure-to-pay automated solution with electronic invoicing, electronic purchases, and so on. And the first answer I got was, “That doesn't exist.”

Well, I knew it did exist, and that it could be done. So I pressed them on it, and they told me, “Maybe, but it’s not in our roadmap.” After facing a lot of “no’s,” I realized I had to make the case from a different perspective.

Coupa: Even after so much resistance, you kept going. How did you eventually get leadership to come around?

CB: I decided to make a case study of it. I asked my assistant to learn how to enter a requisition to purchase a simple box of facial tissues and to record the experience. So, she found the closest person who knew how to do this kind of thing. They started working off of cheat sheets and codes and searching for the item, and it seemed like they were getting close. But then it all went wrong, and they had to do it all over again.

Can you even guess how long it took to successfully enter a request for a box of tissues?

Thirty-five minutes! It was painful to watch. And I recognized that if our leaders could see how painful it was to order a box of Kleenex, then it would show them how much more painful it would be to order a pump or a valve with specifications or even safety supplies.

That's how we were able to make the case that we needed to have a better solution in place. Together with our IT organization, we selected Coupa.

Coupa: Often in larger organizations, there can be a lot of friction points. Each group has different metrics they rely on and different targets they need to hit. How do you bring all these people together to foster change in your organization?

CB: The name of the game is collaboration. None of this works if we don't work together. We cannot sit in an organization and think, “Only my function needs to work to be successful.” Sometimes that means needing to intentionally bring teams together to have frank conversations and be willing to shift some things around.

At ADM, prior to January 2023, we had separate global operations, supply chain, and procurement organizations. But our customers see us all as one supply chain. So that means it’s critical to get our facts straight, to have a clear end-to-end supply chain. We brought these functions together in our Nutrition business, and within just a few months, we saw the conversation change and collaboration improve.

I’m not saying you need to completely change an organization’s structure to drive collaboration. But for ADM, we recognized that’s what we needed.

The role of metrics and shared objectives in business transformation

Coupa: What role do metrics and measurement play in improving collaboration at ADM?

CB: With my team, we’ve built and continue to use a balanced scorecard to make sure what we’re doing lines up with the business strategy. Each scorecard has different targets based on what that business wants to do. For example, if a business is in a turnaround situation, the targets might revolve around trying to reduce costs. If you’re in a growth situation, you have different targets. We establish those by business strategy.

Coupa: Once you establish better collaboration, how did you approach implementing solutions?

CB: Before implementation, we established some core goals for the platform. Our first priority was to make the solution simple to use, simple to implement, and powerful enough to take all of the non-value-added steps out of our procurement process. That meant we needed the end users to be able to see and buy what they wanted from the right supplier at the right price, and for the supplier to be paid on time for that purchase.

Improving efficiency and spend management: the benefits of transformation

Coupa: What were the benefits of making all these changes?

CB: We improved efficiencies and workflows and now have better visibility into our spend. We went from not knowing what Business Spend Management was to being able to better navigate the ups and downs of the supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic.

We created a seamless turnkey system where a box of tissues no longer takes 35 minutes to secure. Now, it takes seconds. We also made it easier for suppliers to submit invoices and get paid on time. We have better visibility of our spend and more sourcing options. For all procurement team members, we were able to create a more efficient, technology-enabled process, enabling our buyers to get promoted into new functional areas to deliver more value for us, our suppliers, and the company.

And by making it easy for suppliers to work with us, we were able to maintain a preferred status with our suppliers even through various pandemic-related constraints.

Recognition and future vision: ADM's procurement journey

Coupa: It seems like your team’s hard work paid off! In 2022, your procurement organization was recognized both by Coupa as a Spendsetter of the Year, and by the Institute for Supply Management as a 2022 Supply Chain Trailblazer of the year. How does that feel?

CB: These accolades are very gratifying. But the truly exciting thing about our journey to world-class is the way that we've been able to address the needs of our customers and other stakeholders.

Coupa: How are you using Coupa to enhance your supply chain design?

CB: While we’re still in the early stages, Coupa has helped us identify tens of millions of dollars in value that we can achieve by optimizing our supply chain. We have a global network of suppliers, distribution centers, and customers, and we regularly acquire new companies. ADM sometimes acquires as many as three or four companies a year, which all come with their own networks that need to be optimized. We're excited to mature this capability within our supply chain, and we're confident that with Coupa support and the team we’ve built at ADM that we're really going to see fantastic benefits over the next months and years.

Coupa: What are you most excited about as you look ahead at ADM’s partnership with Coupa?

CB: Coupa doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to capabilities and functionality, and that’s really meaningful to us. We're excited about the launch of Supply Chain Collaboration, which will continue to solidify the connection with key suppliers and provide greater real-time insights into supplier commitments and their performance. In this time of continuing supply chain disruptions and uncertainty, we need to be agile in how we serve our customers. This will be a game-changer for us.

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