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How an energy company unlocked procurement potential through an API integration

Energy company STEAG tackles its procurement challenges with the help of DIG and Unite

By connecting Unite to DIG’s e-procurement platform, the energy company STEAG was able to optimise its C-part tail spend. As STEAG divides their business into two separate areas, the company needed to adapt its platform to meet new challenges. Today, STEAG utilises two organisationally independent procurement environments.

Unite Single Creditor Focus

Challenges for STEAG

  • Roll out standardised approval processes across all locations
  • Expand their assortment while avoiding punchouts
  • Lower the amount of creditors
  • Reduce maverick buying
  • Customise individual user rights
  • Save on process costs

STEAG have earned an international reputation as a safe energy provider over the span of 85 years. The Group’s large power plants are located on the rivers Rhine and Ruhr, in Saarland and in Saxony-Anhalt. It also operates more than 400 decentralised sites. STEAG offers full solutions for electricity and heat supply, from planning and developing to operating and marketing efficient power plants. Now the Group is taking a future-oriented approach by dividing its business into 2 units, Iqony and STEAG Power. “And that requires a spectacular adjustment of our e-procurement system,” says Jörg Zöhler, Head of Indirect Purchasing, Material Management and Processes at STEAG.

STEAG operates power plants, wind turbines and solar parks.
STEAG operates power plants, wind turbines and solar parks.

On-time implementation

From early October until 1 December 2022, the DIG team mirrored STEAG’s procurement system, says Head of Purchasing Processes and Performance, Klaus Merfeld: “To that end, we needed to copy our entire database and recreate all our mappings.” Now orders can easily be assigned to the right department via the company code. “This matters because it means different people are involved in the approval process. Having this opportunity also allowed us to standardise our approval process across all our locations.” Jörg further emphasised the tight turnaround time to make this change happen: “That’s also thanks to how well DIG and Unite worked together.”

Great usability is what makes Unite’s API stand out

Klaus feels he made the right choice with Unite’s marketplace: “OCI punchout wasn’t going to be an option for us because we wanted users to be able to search for products in our Power Order Shop – that’s what we call DIG’s customised e-procurement platform.” This is why Unite’s API was implemented: “The API gives our colleagues convenient access to external catalogues.” The high-performing data exchange is another plus, adds Jörg: “Now we can change orders without having to leave the platform. We’re also impressed with the high-speed data transfer, as it allows us to quickly access Unite’s large assortments.” The ability to seamlessly integrate Unite into the customised e-procurement platform is one benefit. “The Single Creditor option is the other,” says Jörg. “Having a go-to contact at Unite, less supplier admin work and tons of filtering options is what won us over!” Especially the latter matters to expert departments at STEAG, Klaus explains: “In the case of IT items or occupational safety equipment, we’re subject to specific standards, which means we can’t buy them via Unite.” Together with DIG, Unite was able to put requirements like that into place.

Optimising tail spend

Being able to automate procurement processes for consumables proved valuable once again when the energy sector was experiencing rising challenges as a result of the war in Ukraine. “It helped us drastically reduce the amount of free-text orders, which in turn reduced our colleagues’ workload,” says Jörg. “Next, we want to look into the Unite BusinessShop option that features customised assortments and negotiated prices.” An option that’s likely to further increase the marketplace’s total revenue share: “We offer 40 catalogues on the platform, but we do the bulk of our indirect purchasing through Unite.”

About STEAG

  • Sector: energy
  • Founded: 1937 in Essen
  • Headcount: 5,754
  • Number of DIG partner solution users: over 600
  • E-procurement order volume (2022): €12,300.000
  • E-procurement orders (2022): 46,953

Get in touch

Would you like to know more about how you can optimise your procurement processes with the Unite platform? We’re happy to walk you through it.