Eric Schuetzler, Senior Director of Global Commercialization at Beam Suntory, is responsible for global project management and processes. In 2016, he and his team spearheaded the redesign of Beam Suntory's internal commercialization processes and the Planisware deployment.
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My name is Eric Schuetzler and I am the senior director of global commercialization at Beam Suntory.
Beam Suntory is the world's third-largest spirits company. And our mission is to craft the spirits brands that stir the world and we have about 4400 employees worldwide.
We are headquartered out of Chicago; we are a subsidiary of the Suntory Holdings Corporation. We represent about 20% of their annual sales every year.
One of the things that is a challenge for us is that, as we became a larger company with a much more stable portfolio of brands, you kind of need a better way to manage that portfolio of the projects, as well as the brands, and figure out what's the right thing to work on at the right time, with the right level of resources.
So, that was kind of the challenge set out by our executive leadership team, is ... how do we get more efficient now that we have ... we have scale on our side now? So, how can we leverage that scale and take it to a place where we're saying, "ok, these are the right projects," because there's always way more ideas than we can actually resource in any given period of time, so that's really what led to this initiative and, sort of, just improving on that journey of going from, essentially a start up model to a model where you're still innovative, you're still entrepreneurial, but you're doing it in a much more organized fashion.
The number one thing we liked about Planisware is that we could build the tool -- or build the platform -- to match the work that we have to do. Versus the other way around, which is what we historically had, which is … you have to kind of fit your way of working into what the system will allow.
We, very quickly, made our decision to move with Planisware and then we had about a year ... 10 months, let's say ... implementation plan timeline once we had sort of signed the contract and said, "this is what we're going to do." So, I do think, again, that we're a little bit on the long side relative to some of the recent customers, but because we wanted to integrate people and process change on top of platform change, we decided, "let's do it all at the same time," versus trying to manage two or three change management programs within a year. So, we said, "let's just do it all at once." Kind of a rip-the-band-aid approach.
Our change management was done almost exclusively internally with support from Planisware on helping us with some of the screenshots and some of the tools you can use for training. But, in terms of our change management plan, we utilized an internal change management expert to kind of consult and then we managed it out of the project management organization. So, I would tell you that that was the number one reason we had success go live, in my opinion ... is that we spent half our time in that project plan working on change management strategy.
We got really early buy in. We had two sponsors around. We had the CMO, so our chief marketing officer, and our chief supply chain officer who were our key sponsors and stakeholders. We engaged them very early. Email communications, you know, global town halls where they would mention, "this is coming, there's some work happening, here's why we're doing it." We had them also host, sort of, get-togethers, happy hours, where people could come and learn about the system.
And, again, not that people don't read an email from anyone else in the organization, but when it comes from the CMO, you tend to get a little bit more read, uh from the group. So, we were able to really even go and we would learn about ... we had click-through analytics, so we would be able to see, like, how many people have clicked through the message to see.
And, basically, at the end of our change management strategy, if you never have to touch Planisware, you heard about it at least four times. If you had to touch Planisware and you are an active user, you not only heard about it four times, but you had an overview session and a detailed training based on your role in the program and we invested heavily in both travel and people time to go to where our users were. So, we took the training to each individual, global location, instead of asking them to get on a phone call and pay attention for four hours, we went to them and lived in their space. So, to me, if I went back and did it all over again, that's the one thing I would not change. You know, we could all look back on things and say, "What would I change?" But I think focus on change management and organizational adoption was a huge piece of our implementation.
We developed the change management strategy right in line with our implementation. So, while we were doing the sprints with Planisware, we were learning about what were we actually going to implement, what the tool is going to look like and we were building the change management strategy at that time. Like I mentioned before, to have the early engagement with our senior leaders and have them to help us get the message out, that did require us being way earlier in the game than, you know, hey, we're about to go live, can someone send a message that there's about to be a change. We wanted to basically prime the pump. We wanted someone very high up -- and we did have other levels of communication, as well -- but we wanted someone high up to say, "we're going to make a change, which is going to require some change in the way you work, individually and this is why we're doing it." So, that way, it's not Eric or someone on Eric's team coming in and saying, "oh, you are going to have to change the way you work," and the first question someone's is going to ask is why. Whereas, it comes from a senior leader and it's more understood and expected, and then we have a more candid conversation around, "well, what is that going to take." That is a productive conversation, versus resistance to the change.
We use Planisware for all of our commercialization projects. So, a summary of that is, if it's a product going out the door to be sold to a consumer, it comes through the Planisware system. So, what that means for us is that we roughly have an average of 400-450 projects at any one time, active.And then we have a team of 24 project managers, two administrators in that group, that have administrative rights. And then we have an active user base of about 550 people. So, that could be someone who goes in once a month, it could be someone who goes in every day.
So, depending on their role in the organization and what they do on each project, their actual level of familiarity or, need to be in the system, changes.
The way Planisware has made our life a little bit easier, our work life a little bit better, is in partnership, with, again, those other two "p's" -- people, platform and process. Those three things together have made our life a lot easier and I think ... so, I look at the platform or Planisware as sort of the foundation of how we execute those things.
The people have to have the right skill set to manipulate the system, have the right skill set to drive the business decisions, however, that Planisware is a platform for us and I think what we're seeing is, again, early reads just driving a little bit more efficiency, we're able to get the right people in the right roles, lowering administrative work to really sort of "up" our talent level, in terms of "let's work on value added things" and I think when you look at process, it's enabled us to make our process exactly what we would like it to be because the system was flexible enough to represent that instead of us having to move to what the system said is possible.
Planisware is used every minute of every working day, I could say. I mean, there's not a time at this point where I don't walk by one of our project managers' desks and see Planisware up.
So, the general day looks like people come into the office or work from home, or wherever they are, and because we're in the SaaS application, they can access it anywhere they want and we don't have any issues.We did single sign on, so we have really easy access for people and it looks like, I get up in the morning, people go to Planisware. We're teaching a behavior of go into Planisware, check out your to do list, what do you have to do today. If you're a project manager, go into Planisware, look at your timelines, is anything scaring you, do you need to address something. Umm, really teaching that the tool is our one source of truth.
So, a daily use of Planisware is very high among a core group of users. If you are the user who's in it once a month, obviously you're not checking in every day, but then we have very key notification metrics to make sure that they do know when to go so I think that the daily life of Planisware in Beam Suntory, at this point, is it's an integrated piece of our daily life and it's just the way work gets done now. It's not the new tool anymore, it's how we project manage.