Beyond Spreadsheets – Building a Successful Export Business for Kraft
Organizations around the globe continually face new challenges as they expand their businesses – and the Kraft Foods Group is no different. With a heritage that goes back more than 100 years, the company is one of the largest food and beverage companies in North America, with revenues of more than $18 billion annually.
When the CEO advocated that they needed to significantly grow their business, the company recognized it needed help with its export pricing tools. Anthony Marshall, a senior systems project manager at Kraft Foods, admits that using Excel as a key driver for coll aborating and ordering with customers was just not going to get the company to where it wanted to go.
Marshall and Kraft’s information systems (IS) group worked with Susan Bruggemann, the finance manager at Kraft Foods, and her team to address their export pricing needs. A key requirement was for a tool that would automate export pricing. To help achieve this goal, Marshall brought and a team of consultants from SAP Services that used a Design Thinking approach to develop the tool.
A more creative, visionary approach that’s all about people
Design thinking, by definition, helps companies with challenges that demand multidimensional solutions and require going beyond basic applications of current products and services. It’s a process that addresses everyday business problems and challenges – but it doesn’t stop there. This framework enables companies to gain a competitive advantage, stay relevant, and innovate without disruption.
Design thinking can often be more creative and user-centered than traditional design approaches – in fact, unlike analytical thinking, which is associated with the “breaking down” of ideas, design thinking is a creative process based on the “building up” of ideas.
Marshall and his team experienced this firsthand, as he notes that what he liked most about the SAP Services team is that they didn’t try to sell him a technology. “The design thinking workshop is not about technology,” says Marshall. “It is about process, it’s about people.” And for Marshall, it was more about building a journey to success starting with a vision of what the ideal export business model for Kraft would look like.
A collaborative process from start to finish
Bruggemann and her team brainstormed about the most important attributes that they’d like to see in the tool – and then SAP and Kraft’s IS group went off to design it. “We actually had a chance to be part of [the tool’s] design and provide feedback along the way. The development of this tool was more of a conversation,” says Bruggemann. “It was more of a give and take, rather than ‘here you go…good luck.’”
Faster, better results
Marshall and his team invited every key stakeholder to be involved in the process to ensure that the people that were going to use the tool got what they needed to help grow the business. “It is going to enable us to improve the speed of time to market and it will enable us to get information to customers faster,” Bruggemann notes. “It’s great and I feel like we have a much better tool as a result.”
Marshall adds that people feel highly confident of the accuracy of the orders being place because it’s driven by the company’s backend SAP infrastructure.
“SAP Services is all about people and connecting people to understand the business outcome they want to go after,” concludes Marshall. “This project was all about connecting the business side and the IS side.”
You can view the Kraft Foods video below or you can learn more about design thinking here:
true consulting with design thinking. thanks so much for sharing Andy Greig.
sounds like you got with Marshall a DT champion. can you share some more nuggets?
for example time effort of the project?
number of different people engaged?
what did you struggle with to get this project going?
what energized the team that worked on it?