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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.
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 globe 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 Benefits 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. environment Situation 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: desktop. 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, including: 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 implemented? 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 www.microsoft.com/office Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com For more information about DataLan products and services, call 914-288-0600 or visit the Web site at: www.datalan.com For more information about Ampacet products and services, call 888-AMPACET or visit the Web site at: www.ampacet.com 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 Services − Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 − Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer − Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 − Microsoft Office Excel Reporting © 2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. This case Services study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. 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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