Efficiency improvement in building materials trading

Supported a building materials trading company to restructure a failing back office efficiency programme, delivering savings ahead of target.

Our restructured programme unlocked blockages by sequencing three consecutive streams, to first centralise functions, then harmonise and optimise processes, and finally automate manual process steps. The programme is on target to deliver 20-40% FTE reductions across finance departments, with our continued support.


Our client was the CFO of the largest operating company of a European building materials trading group, and had been responsible for a two year back-office efficiency improvement programme that had ultimately failed.

We were brought in to complete a diagnostic, verify the potential, and create a new programme to achieve the targeted savings. Subsequently, we were asked to oversee the implementation.


Our initial 4-week diagnosis established why the original programme had failed: a combination of errors in calculating savings potential, and problems with the sequencing of the programme. We developed the business case to for a reset and restart, which the board approved.

We restructured the programme into three new, sequenced streams and worked with in-house programme leadership to deliver: centralization of fragmented functions, harmonization and optimization of business processes, and deployment of selected OCR- and workflow-automation tools for highly manual process steps.


The project is still underway, and set to deliver ahead of schedule on the targeted 20-40% FTE reductions by department. Process error rates have already been reduced by over 50%, and throughput times significantly lowered. The next stage is to implement the automation, for which we are currently overseeing vendor selection.