Greenworks Tools: How to support a growing business without a global IT team
This story is part of our #SupplyChainHero series where we shine a spotlight on supply chain leaders taking bold strides to make their supply chains smarter, more efficient and able to rapidly adjust as business needs evolve.
For businesses, fast growth on a global scale is a blessing. But if you can’t scale – and do so profitably – high global demand can become a curse. When Greenworks experienced rapid growth in its European and Asian markets, its IT department had to take a fresh look at how it tracked orders, service level agreements (SLAs) and regulatory and legal requirements to make sure these processes could continue to perform across multiple countries.
Eric Doty, Greenworks’ IT Manager for North America, explains how they were able to successfully address growing demand and become a leading global provider of battery-powered outdoor tools for both the homeowner and commercial markets. He shares his advice to companies of all sizes for achieving a strong global presence – without needing a global IT team.
What about Greenworks Tools’ success compelled you to reevaluate your approach to supply chain?
As we are expanding globally, we have a variety of legal requirements that we have to maintain, as well as keep systems operational – essentially 24×7. I can’t afford to hire a database administrator, a systems architect and a cloud architect for one application. But we have tight SLAs with a lot of customers where, if we don’t respond within a few hours, they may either cancel an order or fine us with a noncompliance charge. And we don’t like when either one of those things happen.
With a relatively small IT team, how are you able to provide the visibility and support the business needs?
Eliminating manual processes is huge. We needed a way to eliminate all the staff and infrastructure overhead and really focus on what we do — which is making power equipment. We’re not an IT company. We don’t want to be one. So we chose a solution to digitize and automate our B2B transactions, with a transaction intelligence capability to help us gain deeper insight into EDI processes and really get to the heart of the problem quickly.
The biggest benefit to me is that the business users get to cut me out of the loop entirely, and I’m alright with that. Now, I can just tell my business users that if they want to find a purchase order, they can just type ‘Show me Amazon purchase order 123’ and they can find it. It takes all the need for in-depth knowledge required out of EDI.
We also have a lot of customers that are smaller and send us paper purchase orders. We added a document conversion tool so we gain the efficiency of not having to monitor things. Purchase orders simply come in and it works. We no longer spend at least 160 hours a week entering data manually.
I chose the solution for its global availability. And it’s compliant, it’s hosted, it’s available and it allows us to be a global organization without having to staff a global IT team.
What advice would you share with colleagues faced with the challenge of global expansion?
A smarter supply chain means knowing where your stuff is, when it will be where it needs to be, and how to get it to where it needs to go. You need to put the power of that deep visibility into the hands of business users to provide the insights they need to make faster and more informed decisions, without the intervention of the IT team. When you can free up IT resources to do other things to better support the business, in some cases it’s going to mean the difference between offices being profitable and not profitable.
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