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In 2005, Schick Wilkinson Sword launched a comprehensive analysis of its supply chain to identify where improvements were needed and to map a transformation strategy. The ensuing enterprise-wide project engaged all functional areas of the business and included worldwide installations of SAP and Manugistics technology.
The first stage, begun in 2005, involved structured interviews with top management within the organization, says C.K. Leung, director of the supply chain. "We wanted to understand how top management viewed the business going forward and, more importantly, what they expected from us," he says. The team also talked to marketing and sales people to understand expectations from the customer perspective, and to operations people to understand their views on supply chain performance. Regional managers and Finance also provided important input, Leung says."
This evaluation and analysis was done by a third party "to make sure the outcome was very objective," he says. A few observations stood out very quickly, says Leung. "It was clear that our supply chain had to do more, be more imaginative, be more flexible and do a better job of managing global inventory - and, or course, do all this at a lower cost."
Schick started a number of initiatives in different areas. A key effort was to strengthen the demand planning organization in all regions, including the recruitment of a number of demand planners. "With their help, we refined our demand planning processes, strengthened our forecasting protocol and began working more closely with supply planners. On the supply side, the company allocated dedicated resources to promote lean in all manufacturing facilities and it developed regional and global processes for sales and operations planning.
In conjunction with all of these efforts, Schick launched a company-wide implementation of Manugistics and SAP around the world. This was not just an IT project, Leung says. Teams covering all enterprise functions worked on the implementation, developing new business processes in many areas. "All these processes had to be reviewed and signed off on by the different business functions, because at the end of the day it would be these users who would be responsible for results. We had to make sure that whatever new business process or system that we implemented actually helped them achieve their goals," he says. "The users buy-in and commitment to execute the newly developed processes and protocols was very important to the success of our project."
Once established, ensuring that these new processes and protocols were followed was not always easy. "With our new processes, we obtained the beauty of responsiveness and speed of action," Leung says. "However, each individual had to follow protocol carefully. We invested a lot of effort to develop new processes, train people and refine processes again and again."
In one instance, Schick called all planners from all over the world back to U.S., "locked them in room and told them to resolve all issues face-to-face," Leung says. "In sum, the change management was a bigger challenge than we had anticipated. We learned by doing it."
The end results have proved the value of this effort, Leung says. "Customer service has improved a lot and we are maintaining it at a very high level. Our systems and supply chain are more integrated. We have more timely data and information so that we can make decisions quicker. Our inventory is trending down significantly, and revenue and profits are growing."
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