What started as a pilot project in 2012 has developed over the years into network #east, an extremely successful forum for discussion.
The focus lies on regular opportunities to swap experiences and talk about joint customers as well as the potential for internal synergies. While the initial idea was to provide local managing directors with the opportunity to meet and learn more about the work of other Group divisions and companies, the focus has now increasingly shifted to the specialist departments. Heads of sales, logistics managers and finance specialists meet regularly to talk and discuss how best to leverage potential strategies. Customer visits are also used to present the entire voestalpine product portfolio, and actively explore opportunities for other Group companies, as well as introducing customers to colleagues.
This requires a basic understanding of the entire voestalpine Group product range, as well as knowing the relevant contact persons. This information is supplied on a collaboration platform which has now been designed specifically for this purpose, and with its own e-learning tool.
7 countries managers are responsible for a functioning network, with a managing director assigned to each country or region. The so-called country managers represent 15 countries*, 40 sites and around 2,300 employees. They organize meetings in their local area of responsibility, and coordinate across the regions at six-monthly country manager meetings. These meetings are often combined with a visit to a local voestalpine plant.
"These meetings are used to discuss best practice examples and opportunities for cooperating across countries. Of course it is also a chance to talk about economic developments and special projects."
Numerous opportunities for synergies
One example of internal synergies is the joint use of warehousing space and office premises. Many other smaller opportunities for reducing costs have also been implemented and include jointly negotiated deals for procuring energy, telephony, hotels, banking, and legal services, etc.
In terms of customer acquisition, innumerable examples demonstrate the power of networking. A prime example is the mutual opening of doors between heavy plate and welding customers which arose as a result of the alform welding system. This has a significant impact on revenue and results, although it’s not always easy to determine the precise value attributable to the network as other factors such as project business, price cycles, general economic trends, and contractual obligations, etc. also have an influence. “However, it can be confirmed that during the BY 2015/16 the network clearly helped generate additional revenue worth tens of millions of euros,” adds the network coordinator. One long-term and decisive value of network activities lies in the gradual development in corporate culture, away from a blinkered mindset and towards a unified and automatic approach of thinking and acting across divisions and companies.
*Bulgaria, Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Ukraine and Hungary.