Kraft Heinz has built a culture of continuous improvement in every aspect of its operating model, according to CEO Miquel Patricio. That improvement mindset is a big reason Kraft Heinz has managed through supply chain disruptions as well as raw material inflation.
Patricio said on the company's third quarter earnings conference call that Kraft Heinz is "a much stronger company than we were two years ago." Much of this strength is due to a transformation strategy focused on continual improvement, leveraging scale and adapting quickly to change across its supply chain, procurement and back office operations. "We have continued to build processes and capabilities across our value chain that will give us a competitive advantage going forward," said Patricio.
The process transformation at Kraft Heinz, a company with iconic brands such as Kraft, Heinz, Jell-O and Oscar Mayer, has been fun to watch. In this edition of A Closer Look, we spoke to Fernanda Freire, Associate Director at Kraft Heinz, about how the company has used Celonis’ process mining and execution management system to reveal hidden inefficiencies, gain transparency and improve its accounts payable processes in EMEA.
We’re used to seeing customers make major leaps fast in how they manage and optimize processes at Celonis. Fernanda Freire of Kraft Heinz is one of them. As Associate Director of Global Business Services and Process Mining, Freire and her team have driven a global shift in how processes are understood, executed, and optimized in a matter of months.
One of the biggest drivers behind Kraft Heinz’s adoption of the Celonis EMS was a need to dive into Accounts Receivable (A/R) activity and improve how cash discounts were offered and managed across the food and beverage company’s customer base.
“Celonis really helped us understand what our teams were doing,” said Freire. “We gained a lot of visibility into customer payment behavior, which has helped us renegotiate a lot of discounts, and optimize how new discounts are offered — recovering a lot of lost money in the process.”
“So far, we’ve already seen returns more than five times greater than what we invested into the use case, which has been fantastic.”
When Freire and her team started using the Celonis EMS, they had a good idea of the kind of inefficiencies they were looking to root out and remove. But, in doing so, they also came across some issues that would have otherwise remained invisible.
“Early on in our journey, we were defining the steps in one of our processes, and we discovered that one of our teams was populating a field in SAP that nobody else even knew about,” explained Freire. “They were putting in a huge amount of effort to share information that nobody had a use for. So, once we knew about it, we were able to completely skip that step and save that team a lot of time.”
Process Mining has helped Kraft Heinz to better understand customer payment behavior — and collect payments more effectively as a result.
“It’s easy to look back at your clients and see who hasn’t paid you,” said Freire. “But what’s harder is prioritizing between those clients, and seeing where you should act, and when.
“A lot of organizations have the data to understand that, but they’re not turning it into insights effectively”, she continued. “Process Mining with Celonis is helping us with that a lot. It’s helped our teams adopt a proactive collections approach, and reduce overdues by around 30%.”
Wrapping her session up with some final words of wisdom, Freire echoed a piece of advice many others also shared at World Tour 2021: Start small, then go big.
“Implement your solution, get to work on some big challenges that you know your organization is facing, help everybody learn throughout that process, then from there, go global,” she explained. “Every learner has different needs, so take things slowly, get everyone on board and up to speed, then expand Process Mining across your organization.”
Watch our full session with Freire from Celonis World Tour 2021 now to find out more about Kraft Heinz’s Celonis and process mining journey, and get more detail on how Freire has successfully created and led a high-impact process center of excellence at the global CPG giant.