“Due to the time savings we’ve seen with Winshuttle, I haven’t needed to add head count even as the company continues to expand.”
— Joseph Wieczorek, Director, Master Data Organization, Reynolds Leveraged Services
Founded in 1965 as Tenneco, Pactiv Corporation is the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of food packaging and foodservice products. The company supplies every major foodservice retailer and distributor in North America, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King.
Reynolds Consumer Products manufactures and sells aluminum foil, waste bags, food-storage bags, and disposable tableware in the consumer market under well-known brand names like Reynolds and Hefty.
Both companies are headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Reynolds Consumer is not in a one-size-fits-all business. When the company sends a shipment of Hefty® CinchSak garbage bags to different grocery chains, designers will often need to make minor changes to the packaging to meet each retailer’s requirements. Without custom alterations, a retailer’s labeling system might inadvertently conceal crucial product information.
Alterations like these are known as “like-item copies.” And for years, a like-item copy would require the creation of an entirely new product create request, no matter how minor the change. “Creating a new material master was such a cumbersome process,” says Joseph Wieczorek, Director of the Master Data Organization at Reynolds Leveraged Services. “It would require a multiple-step workflow, manually creating data on multiple screens across multiple departments. Engineering needed to work with procurement to buy the materials. Forecasting consulted with the product manager to determine where the materials would be manufactured. And everybody was gathering all of this information at the front of the process. As a result, it was taking us an average of 28 days to complete a single product creation request (PCR).”
In many cases, a four-week turnaround meant major losses in potential revenue. “Because we needed 28 days to get a like-item copy into the marketplace, we were missing opportunities and losing sales,” says Wieczorek. “We obviously needed to find a new way of doing things.”
Wieczorek and his team were already using Winshuttle Transaction to automate data entry into SAP, but they didn’t realize that Winshuttle technology could simplify the multi-step workflow creation of like-item copies, too. “Recently, our team attended a webinar on Winshuttle forms and workflow solutions,” he says. “We’d been trying a few different methods to accelerate the creation of like-item copies. For example, we attempted to use InfoPath in SharePoint, but that required too much custom development. Winshuttle automates a lot of the custom SharePoint development by providing a design platform with simple ‘drag-n-drop’ diagramming tools.”
Shortly after the Winshuttle webinar, Wieczorek sat down with the product management team for a brainstorming session. “After a lot of discussion, we realized that we might be doing things backwards,” he says. “Instead of gathering information at the front end and creating the item at the back end, why couldn’t we automate everything at the front end and execute at the back end? That way, the product managers could kick off the workflow, feed an electronic form into SAP, and adjust a few fields as necessary. We could then make the data available to the customer in just a few hours. Meanwhile, as the customer made the necessary preparations in their system, we could route the PCR through procurement, design, and engineering.”
With Winshuttle, each stakeholder receives an email showing what milestones to expect and department leads can monitor the status of any PCR in progress. When a milestone is due for completion, the person responsible simply clicks a link to approve an electronic form. “Before Winshuttle, a product manager would receive an email notification, log into Lotus Notes, search for the PCR number, then jump around from system to system to coordinate the efforts of each department,” says Wieczorek. “Now, everything they need to know is in a single email, and all actions can be executed by clicking the appropriate link.”
To help Wieczorek and his team design and implement an optimal workflow, Winshuttle suggested engaging with SPR Consulting, an award-winning provider of Microsoft professional services and a premier Winshuttle partner. SPR Consulting provides a mix of business and technical expertise around creating solutions using the Winshuttle/SharePoint platform for SAP customers. The consultants at SPR collaborated closely with stakeholders to design Winshuttle templates that would reflect every aspect of the PCR workflow. “We’re talking about the automation of an enormously complex process with major implications for the businesses,” says Wieczorek. “We needed to get this right, and SPR was up to the challenge.”
Using Winshuttle’s forms and workflow technology built on top of Microsoft’s SharePoint platform, the Pactiv team can now create a material master for a like-item copy in two weeks, not 28 days. “In some cases, our product managers can set up the material in as little as 10 minutes,” says Wieczorek. “We still need a few days to complete the execution workflow, of course. But more often than not, we can send product data to the customer on the same day as the request, which enables them to start forecasting right away.”
Product managers are thrilled with this leaner, faster approach to master data. Like-item copies comprise about 30 percent of all PCRs, so the new Winshuttle workflow enables the product management team to spend more time on strategic tasks, even at a time of major growth. “We’re always in acquisition mode,” says Wieczorek. “In the past, acquiring another company meant hiring more people to manage the inevitable influx of data. But due to the time savings we’ve seen with Winshuttle, I haven’t needed to add head count even as the company continues to expand.”
Those savings add up. Wieczorek estimates that by shortening the PCR process from 28 days to two hours, Reynolds Consumer and Pactiv have realized additional revenue during the first 10 months of deployment which would have not been recognized under the old system. “The fact is that we’re getting to market much faster, and that means additional revenue recognition opportunities. We’re also seeing productivity improvements on the order of 25,360 hours per year, which is equal to approximately $1.3 million in personnel costs. In addition to all that, we’re saving about $525,000 annually by booking receivables earlier than ever. So I guess you could say that we’ve seen much more than a return on our Winshuttle investment. We will see the return many, many times over.”
For Wieczorek and his team, the next challenge is to automate the creation of an entirely new material master—not a like-item copy. “If we’re going to produce a cup in a different plant, it might be possible to pull in a BOM from that plant and adjust it,” he says. “The possibilities are pretty exciting. And considering the benefits we’ve seen thus far, we’d be crazy if we weren’t actively looking for more ways to put Winshuttle to work.”