Chris Osen, Vice President of Supply Management at Meadwestvaco (“MWV”) took the presentation baton from me at the NAPP Conference (after I took it from Bill Dempsey) and delivered a presentation entitled “Organizational Management for Success,” which discussed the complete organizational redesign that his team has managed over the past few years, including a shift to a center-led structure.

Meadwestvaco is a global leader in packaging solutions and Chris sits atop MWV’s Supply Chain Group which is comprised of three departments: Supply Chain Solutions, Supply Chain Administration, and Global Sourcing (think: procurement department). When his team began its journey, Chris put in place a few operating principles that he would use to guide his team as they simultaneously attacked the huge change management issues that had to be faced in the areas of people, process, and technology. The principles are:

  • Measure what’s important
  • Common goals drive common behavior
  • Common processes support collaboration
  • Own all information
  • Invest in training
  • Focus on the prize

Some of the initial challenges that Chris and his team faced were a lack of IT support for any process automation projects, very poor data quality, and a decentralized staff that lacked best practices. To combat these issues, Chris moved to a center-led structure and invested heavily in the training of his staff (he now has the largest departmental training budget in the company). He consolidated the spend data from nine distinct ERPs into a single Business Warehouse that uses one common SAP taxonomy. When IT resources were unable to support the deployment of solutions, including the Ariba Sourcing tool, Chris moved forward anyway, using his own staff to manage the deployment.

As Chris walked us through his blueprint for change, he highlighted the importance of the relationship his team has with finance (and he even referenced one of my reports and later showed me the copy he had with him, which made me smile) and how he wants to be audited several times each year to validate his group’s performance and ensure that their goals are still on target. He also discussed the new Supply Chain Assessment and Development Plan Process that has gotten his global team significantly more engaged in the ownership of processes and results. The weekly global sourcing call and the scorecard objectives for each member of the team have also driven performance as his team has been able to source 90% of addressable spend over the past 18 months.

Before concluding and almost as an afterthought, Chris shared his team’s success in moving their payables out from 22 days to 59 days outstanding and the tremendous impact it had on working capital. Well-“packaged” 😀 presentation, Chris!

Postscript: Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

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