Ampacet by MicrosoftCaseStudies


Ampacet, a specialty chemical manufacturer with 17 manufacturing sites and four research and development (R&D) facilities across the globe, is the world's leading volume provider of color and additive master-batch solutions for both rigid and flexible packaging. Its current ideation (idea generation process) wasted R&D resources due to unstructured and inconsistent submission, progression, and tracking of ideas across the company. To streamline resources and move profitable ideas to market faster, Ampacet deployed an Office Business Application (OBA), developed by DataLan, a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner. To open its ideation to more creative ideas, streamline and structure the review and progression of ideas, and provides rich business intelligence across the ideation pipeline. Ampacet expects the solution to sharply increase sales, while improving R&D productivity.

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									                                             Microsoft Office System
                                             Customer Solution Case Study

                                             Office Business Application for Ideation
                                             Speeds Profitable Ideas to Market

Overview                                     “We were impressed with how easy it was to express
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Manufacturing
                                             business processes that are inherently people-driven
                                             and collaborative, such as ideation, within the
Customer Profile
Ampacet is a specialty chemical
                                             workflow of SharePoint."
manufacturer with 17 manufacturing sites     Robin Williams, Director of Technology Services, DataLan
on four continents and four research and
development (R&D) facilities across the      Ampacet, a specialty chemical manufacturer with 17 manufacturing
                                             sites and four research and development (R&D) facilities across the
Business Situation                           globe, is the world's leading volume provider of color and additive
To increase its development of new,
profitable products, while reducing R&D      master-batch solutions for both rigid and flexible packaging. Its
costs, Ampacet needed a streamlined,         current idea generation process, or ideation, wasted R&D resources
standardized idea generation process.
                                             due to unstructured idea submission, inconsistent progression of
Solution                                     ideas, and an inability to track ideas across the company. To
Ampacet deployed an Office Business
Application (OBA), opening its ideation to   streamline R&D resources and move profitable ideas to market
more workers, while streamlining and         faster, Ampacet deployed an Office Business Application (OBA),
structuring the review, progression, and
visibility of ideas across the enterprise.   developed by DataLan, a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner. To
                                             open its ideation to more creative ideas, streamline and structure
 Increased sales from new products
                                             the review and progression of ideas, and provides rich business
 Improved R&D productivity                  intelligence across the ideation pipeline. Ampacet expects the
 Enhanced customer relationships
 More effective business decisions
                                             solution to sharply increase sales, while improving R&D
 Faster, more productive development        productivity.
Ampacet, based in Tarrytown, New York, is a      Limited resources for new ideas
specialty chemical manufacturer that is the      Ampacet had no standardized process to
world's leading volume provider of color and     encourage or capture ideas from its
additive master-batch solutions for both rigid   workforce. If a worker had an idea, the ill-
and flexible packaging applications ranging      defined process discouraged submission of
from toothpaste tubes to bread bags. The         the idea. If the worker did find a way to
company has 17 manufacturing sites on four       submit the idea, it could be lost between its
continents and four research and                 submission and review at the regular, but not
development (R&D) facilities across the globe    frequent meetings of the Research and
in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. With          Development (R&D) team. Additionally,
1,500 employees worldwide, the company           because the R&D team only reviewed ideas
earned 2005 revenue of about U.S. $660           at these meetings, the review of an idea that
million.                                         survived the process could be delayed for
                                                 weeks or more. Thus, the likelihood of an
Ideation Goals                                   idea making it from the mind of a worker to
Innovation is vital to the success and growth    the R&D team for consideration was low.
of Ampacet. Thus, the company draws upon         Equally importantly, there was no process in
the creativity of its workers to generate,       place to capture the ideas of Ampacet‟s
review, and advance new ideas for potential      customers, distributors, and suppliers, whose
Ampacet products and processes. To support       input is highly valued by Ampacet.
this innovation, Ampacet created channels
through which ideas could be contributed for     Because Ampacet realized the value of the
review and advancement. While many               ideas that were being untapped, lost, and
successful products were developed through       delayed, it desired a solution that would
these channels, Ampacet recognized that          create an easy way for all of its workers and
much more could be done to:                      its business partners and customers to
                                                 contribute ideas for immediate review and
   Capture and advance a greater number of      potential advancement.
    profitable ideas to production.
   Halt the expense of valuable resources       Unstructured and Disconnected Idea
    spent on less strategic ideas.               Submission and Review
                                                 Once submitted, ideas often became projects
Ideation Limits                                  through informal channels, such as phone
After extensive review, Ampacet identified       calls, Email messages, or other conversations
several factors which either inhibited the       which were often limited to a local region.
advancement of profitable ideas or led to the    This led to a duplication of effort on
waste of valuable resources on redundant         redundant ideas across regions, prolonged
and non-profitable ideas. These included:        investment in ideas needing prompt
                                                 curtailment, and insufficient investment in
   Limited resources for new ideas.             promising ideas that were mistakenly
   Unstructured and disconnected idea           dropped or delayed. In some cases, ideas
    submission.                                  that had already been deemed unsuitable by
   Inconsistent scoring and progression of      one group would be advanced by other
    ideas.                                       groups. Also, because there was no system to
   The inability to track or provide business   categorize each idea, it was difficult to assign
    intelligence across the ideation pipeline.
                                                 its review to the people who would be able to        Better incorporation of customer feedback
                                                 best determine its value.                             information in each phase of the product
                                                                                                       development process across the extended
                                                 Ampacet needed a solution that would                  company (KPI: customer satisfaction
                                                 eliminate wasted resources and lost ideas             score).
                                                 and would rapidly and automatically assign           Allocation of technology resources to the
                                                 its best people to determine the value of             right products with the highest likelihood of
                                                 each idea, based on its type and geography.           success and the greatest revenue potential
                                                                                                       (KPI: new, commercialized products).
                                                 Inconsistent Scoring and Progression of Ideas
                                                 Ampacet had no standardized process in            According to Dr. Victor J. Mimeault, Senior
                                                 place to ensure the efficient and adequate        Vice President, Technical & Strategic
                                                 review of ideas. This frequently resulted in      Procurement, Ampacet: “One of the critical
                                                 profitable ideas stalling or progressing too      success factors is more effective use of our
                                                 slowly and unprofitable ideas draining            global technical resources working on the
“The [OBA] allows us to                          resources and attention beyond the point at       right projects, resulting in a better return of
improve product                                  which they should have been dismissed.            our R&D dollars.”
                                                 Thus, Ampacet needed a solution that would
innovation by identifying                        provide a standard scoring method to quickly      Solution
the most promising                               and adequately determine the value of each        To improve its ideation and product
                                                 idea.                                             development processes, Ampacet chose to
product ideas from                                                                                 deploy an Office Business Application (OBA)
                                                 Inability to Track or Provide Business
around the world and                             Intelligence Across the Ideation Pipeline
                                                                                                   developed by DataLan, a Microsoft® Gold
                                                                                                   Certified partner. By building on the 2007
allocate global technical                        Because there was no visibility into its
                                                                                                   Microsoft Office system, DataLan was able to
                                                 ideation, Ampacet had no clear way of seeing
resources on projects                            what ideas were in its pipeline, nor of
                                                                                                   develop an OBA that:

that have the highest                            knowing how each idea was progressing. In
                                                                                                      Opens ideation to more workers, business
                                                 addition, there was no way for individuals to
likelihood of commercial                         view their tasks or be alerted to their
                                                                                                       partners, and customers.
                                                                                                      Streamlines and structures the review of
success.”                                        responsibilities on a particular idea in the
                                                                                                       new ideas.
                                                 process. Thus, Ampacet needed a solution
Dr. Victor J. Mimeault, Senior Vice President,                                                        Standardizes the progression of ideas
                                                 that would provide individuals, teams, and
Technical & Strategic Procurement, Ampacet                                                             across the organization.
                                                 executives with real-time access to the
                                                                                                      Provides visibility and improved business
                                                 business information they required.
                                                                                                       intelligence on ideas as they are advanced
                                                                                                       across the enterprise.
                                                 Critical Success Factors
                                                 To determine the success of the ideation that
                                                                                                   “The [OBA] allows us to improve product
                                                 Ampacet desired, it identified several critical
                                                                                                   innovation by identifying the most promising
                                                 success factors and associated key
                                                                                                   product ideas from around the world and
                                                 performance indicators (KPIs):
                                                                                                   allocate global technical resources on
                                                                                                   projects that have the highest likelihood of
                                                    Improved quantity and quality of new
                                                                                                   commercial success,” says Mimeault.
                                                     product ideas that are introduced into the
                                                     product development process (KPI: number
                                                     of new ideas collected).
                                                                                                   Open Ideation to Capture More Ideas
Figure 1 – Idea Collection Form     To encourage and harvest the creativity of all   know that when they submit an idea, their
    (left) and Idea Investigation   its workers and many of its business partners    contribution of that idea will be captured by
    Site (right)                    and customers, Ampacet now has a quick           the process for future recognition.
                                    and easy way for ideas to be submitted for
                                    review. Now, when an idea is conceived for a     Streamlined and Structured Process for
                                    new product or process, workers complete a       More Effective Review
                                    brief idea collection form (see Figure #1).      Once an idea is submitted, a workflow is
                                    This form can also be used to submit ideas       initiated to assign tasks and teams, move the
                                    from business partners and customers             ideation forward, and provide ongoing reports
                                    through Ampacet‟s Voice of the Customer          of its progress. This workflow capability is
                                    initiative.                                      based on Windows® Workflow Foundation, a
                                                                                     component of the Microsoft .NET Framework
                                    This custom form, developed with Microsoft       3.0, the managed code programming model
                                    Office InfoPath 2007, is available to workers    for Windows.
                                    via InfoPath Forms Services, running on
                                    Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. By      The first action within the workflow is the
                                    using InfoPath Forms Services, Ampacet is        generation of an Idea Investigation site (see
                                    able to provide every worker with access to      Figure #1). This site, a customized Microsoft
                                    the Web-enabled form without having to           Windows® SharePoint® Services template
                                    install InfoPath 2007 on the worker‟s            automatically:
                                                                                        Captures the XML data of the Idea
                                    So, now, wherever and whenever an idea is            Submission form and publishes it to the
                                    conceived, it can be immediately captured for        site via the Business Data Catalog service
                                    review and potential advancement,                    in SharePoint Server 2007.
                                    development, and profit. Additionally, workers
                                                                                        Standardized Process for More Effective
                                                                                        Idea Progression or Abandonment
                                                                                        Once a team has been assigned to review the
                                                                                        idea, rather than waiting for a meeting, or
                                                                                        having to determine the best way to review
                                                                                        the idea, the team is provided with a
                                                                                        customized InfoPath form to score the idea
                                                                                        on several specific, consistent factors,

                                                                                           Strategic fit: How does the idea fit within
                                                                                            the company?
                                                                                           Market attractiveness: How attractive
                                                                                            would the product be to customers?
                                                                                           Technical feasibility: Can the idea be

                                                                                        Similar to the idea collection form, the
                                                                                        scoring form is provided via InfoPath Forms
                                                                                        Services and the information from the form is
Figure 2 – Idea Development Site      Provides an environment for                      published to the site through the Business
                                       communication and collaboration on the           Data Catalog. The result is an environment
                                       specific idea.                                   that supports the open collaboration of ideas
                                      Assigns a team to review and collaborate         and an independent scoring mechanism.
                                       on the idea. This team is assigned based
                                       on custom rules triggered by the Idea            The application also incorporates a flexible
                                       Collection form. These include details such      scoring module which determines the
                                       as the type of idea and the location where       number of scores that are required, based on
                                       the idea was submitted. This assures that        the category of the idea. Once the required
                                       the team is in the right place with the right    scoring forms are collected, if an idea fails to
                                       expertise to provide the best review.            receive the necessary scores at this initial
                                      Sets security for the site, based on the         level or any subsequent level, it is
                                       roles of each assigned team member.              immediately abandoned. This quickly
                                      Sends notifications to assigned team             eliminates wasted resources and reallocates
                                       members, informing them of the idea, the         those resources to more strategic ideas.
                                       site, their roles, and any upcoming tasks.
                                      Creates a document library to provide            On the other hand, if an idea meets the
                                       teams from different facilities the ability to   scoring standard, a new page is added to the
                                       collaborate across Ampacet‟s globally            site to provide the environment for further
                                       dispersed facilities.                            collaboration and more thorough
                                                                                        investigation. At this point, new forms and
                                   Now, whenever and wherever an idea arises,           business rules are applied, and actions in
                                   the right people are immediately gathered to         Business Data Catalog initiate a new
                                   review that idea for ongoing consideration.          workflow through which the idea moves to
                                   Thus, the process is both global in reach, yet       the second ideation level.
                                   manageable from the desktop.
Figure 3 – Excecutive view of      Only if an idea survives the two review cycles     Visibility and Improved Business
    ideas in pipeline (left) and   within the idea development process, is it         Intelligence
    personal view of ideation      advanced to the more rigorous, Stage-Gate          Whereas previously, Ampacet had little
    tasks (right)                  product development methodology. At this           visibility into the idea process, nor any way to
                                   stage, a team site is created for the more         measure the effectiveness of the process,
                                   thorough steps and expanded input required         Ampacet now has a process that provides
                                   for the development process (see Figure 2).        real-time access to the information and
                                                                                      analysis individuals, teams, and executives
                                   To maintain continuity for tracking and            need to accomplish their work and make
                                   business intelligence, the new site refers         informed decisions.
                                   back to the initial idea site. While much of the
                                   basic workflow and scoring is similar, the         The OBA provides executives with in-depth,
                                   Stage-Gate team site provides for the              real-time analysis of new product ideas
                                   expanded communication and collaboration           throughout the idea generation process (see
                                   requirements to capture input across               Figure 3). In addition to pre-built reports,
                                   divisions and geography.                           including cycle times, portfolio analysis, and
                                                                                      risk/reward assessments, delivered via
                                   The Stage-Gate process includes four stages        Microsoft Office Excel Reporting Services,
                                   at which ideas are either advanced or              Ampacet also has the ability to create custom
                                   abandoned. These include:                          summary views to provide executives with the
                                                                                      specific insight and analysis that they require
                                      Product Investigation                          by using PivotTable® and PivotChart®
                                      Development (see Figure 2)                     dynamic views of Microsoft Office Excel 2007
                                      Testing and Validation                         spreadsheets.
                                      Launch and Post Imp Review
                                           Additionally, the expanded conditional           and data view web parts, using Microsoft
                                           formatting rules, extensibility, and             SharePoint Designer. This was possible due
                                           visualization capabilities of Excel 2007 make    to its interface for applying XSLT to the XML
                                           it possible to provide executives with views     data screens or web service calls and the
                                           such as heat maps, data bars, and                ability to quickly and easily create and alter
                                           performance indicator icons, leading to          custom actions.”
                                           improved analysis and decisions regarding
                                           ideas in process.                                Rob Jersey, Lead Developer, DataLan, adds
                                                                                            “Using SharePoint Designer we were also
                                           In addition to the visibility provided to R&D    able to develop workflows more quickly.
                                           management and executives, the solution          Thanks to its graphical rather than code
                                           also provides individuals with a                 environment, we were able to assign junior
                                           comprehensive view of their various tasks,       members of our team to develop many pieces
                                           contacts, and roles across any ideas to which    of the solution.”
                                           they have been assigned (see Figure 3).
“The Microsoft Office                                                                       In addition, DataLan also used Microsoft
SharePoint Server 2007                     Developing the Solution                          Visual Studio Tools for Office 2005 to refine
                                           According to John Arnold, Solution Architect,    and customize some of the actions and took
provides the perfect                       DataLan, “The Microsoft Office SharePoint        advantage of the ability to re-use workflows
platform that Ampacet                      Server 2007 provides the perfect platform        throughout the application.
                                           that Ampacet needs for improved Ideation,
needs for improved                         Stage-Gate product development, and              Excel Services: By using Microsoft Excel®
Ideation, Stage-Gate                       portfolio management and to support a            Services running on Office SharePoint Server
                                           culture of innovation.”                          2007, to the application provide employees
product development,                                                                        and executives with real-time, interactive
and portfolio                              The Business Data Catalog (BDC): The BDC         access to centrally located and maintained
                                           within SharePoint Server 2007 facilitates the    Microsoft Office Excel® 2007 spreadsheets.
management and to                          use of XML in the application and permits a      This insures that any calculations, metrics, or
support a culture of                       single repository of the XML content from the    analysis is being performed against the most
                                           idea collection and scoring InfoPath forms       up-to-date information.
innovation.”                               which can be reused as needed across the
John Arnold, Solution Architect, DataLan   enterprise and the idea generation process.      Benefits
                                                                                            The OBA provides Ampacet with a new level
                                           Content Types: Content Types differentiate       of structure for its idea-generation process by
                                           between types of documents and tasks and         encapsulating the business rules for effective
                                           thus improves the search and presentation of     ideation within the workflow and data
                                           data within the ideation and Stage-Gate sites.   management capabilities of SharePoint.
                                           They also improve security because
                                           permissions can easily be set based on           Business Benefits
                                           Content Types and user roles. Content Types      As a result, Ampacet anticipates significant
                                           are also key to providing the specific           benefits, including:
                                           information individual workers need to see
                                           within their personal view of ideation tasks.    Increased Sales from New Short-cycle
                                                                                            Products of up to $60 Million: By deploying
                                           Workflow: According to Robin Williams,           more efficient forms-based ideation and
                                           Director of Tech Services, DataLan, “We were     Stage-Gate processes, Ampacet anticipates
                                           able to develop almost all of the workflow       doubling the number of new short-cycle
                                              products it deploys each year. As more ideas     revenue and market share from the
                                              are captured, fewer resources are wasted on      development of new products, and we believe
                                              non-strategic ideas, and profitable ideas are    this new customized SharePoint solution will
                                              advanced more quickly, Ampacet expects to        enable us to accomplish these goals in a
                                              develop 12 to 15 more new products over the      shorter timeframe.”
                                              next three years, resulting in an increase in
                                              sales by $48 million to $60 million.             Developer Benefits
                                                                                               According to Dave Wallen, Business
                                              Increased Sales of Long-Cycle Products by        Development Director, DataLan Corporation,
                                              $350 Million over Ten Years: Many ideas          “You can build solutions with SharePoint
                                              Ampacet expects to develop will provide          Server 2007 and Windows SharePoint
                                              continuous improvement of existing products,     Services much faster than traditional
                                              providing an anticipated benefit of $350         development techniques because you can
                                              million over the next 10 years.                  work in an assemble-and-configure way. You
                                                                                               determine the capabilities and services you
“You can build solutions                      Improved R&D Productivity: Ampacet               want to utilize and do as much „development‟
with SharePoint Server                        anticipates that while the streamlined idea      as possible simply by configuring services
                                              generation process will significantly enhance    through browser-based administrative
2007 and Windows                              the effectiveness of its R&D, the costs across   pages.”
SharePoint Services                           the organization associated with that effort
                                              will be significantly reduced.                   Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer Speeds
much faster than                                                                               Development: The Ampacet OBA relies
traditional development                       Enhanced Customer Relationships: By              heavily on XML data. As they developed the
                                              inviting customers into its ideation, Ampacet    solution, DataLan developers were impressed
techniques because you                        is able to develop products that are more        with the interface SharePoint Designer has
can work in an                                responsive to its customers‟ needs and is        for applying XSLT to those XML data streams
                                              able to do so more quickly and efficiently by    or web service calls. According to Williams,
assemble-and-configure                        soliciting their input throughout the            “This significantly reduced the time it took to
way."                                         development process. In addition, by             develop the solution. The foundation of the
                                              incorporating customer input, Ampacet            solution and 80% of the functionality was
Dave Wallen, Business Development Director,   demonstrates its commitment to serving the       developed using SharePoint Designer, leaving
DataLan Corporation                           specific and changing needs of its customers.    only a 20% which required the use of Visual
                                                                                               Studio.” He continues, “The graphical
                                              More Effective Business Decisions: Thanks to     environment also allowed us to assign junior
                                              real-time, comprehensive views of ideas as       members of the team to do a much larger
                                              they advance across the enterprise, Ampacet      portion of the development than usual.”
                                              executives and R&D management will be able
                                              to make more effective business decisions,       New Workflow Possible, Faster: According to
                                              such as the allocation of resources to           Williams, “We were impressed with how easy
                                              advance particularly profitable ideas, the       it was to express business processes that are
                                              synchronization of resources to contribute in    inherently people-driven and collaborative,
                                              a timely fashion, and the anticipation of the    such as ideation, within the workflow of
                                              needs and opportunities of ideas on the          SharePoint. And, the ability to reuse rather
                                              horizon.                                         than reinvent workflows made the
                                                                                               development process much faster.”
                                              Mimeault concludes, “We have been
                                              searching for a way to improve both our
For More Information                                                  Microsoft Office System
For more information about Microsoft                                  The Microsoft Office system is the business
products and services, call the Microsoft                             world‟s chosen environment for information
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                                work, providing the programs, servers, and
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                                   services that help you succeed by
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-                               transforming information into impact.
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-
hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone                            For more information about the Microsoft
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in                               Office system, go to:
the United States or (905) 568-9641 in                      
Canada. Outside the 50 United States and
Canada, please contact your local
Microsoft subsidiary. To access information
using the World Wide Web, go to:

For more information about DataLan
products and services, call 914-288-0600
or visit the Web site at:

For more information about Ampacet
products and services, call 888-AMPACET
or visit the Web site at:

                                                                       Software and Services                            − Microsoft .NET Framework
                                                                          Products                                     − Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services
                                                                           − 2007 Microsoft Office System
                                                                           − Microsoft Office Excel 2007            Partners
                                                                           − Microsoft Office Excel Reporting          DataLan
                                                                           − Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007
                                                                           − Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer
                                                                           − Microsoft Office SharePoint Server
                                                                           − Microsoft Office Excel Reporting
© 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This case
study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO
                                                                          Technologies
Microsoft, InfoPath, .NET, the Office logo, PivotTable, PivotChart,
SharePoint, Visual Studio, Windows are either registered
trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the
United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are
property of their respective owners.

Document published April 2007

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