One of Australia’s largest retailers was experiencing a significant number of product recalls and withdrawals and was under increasing threat of prosecution from the regulator. They were in the process of implementing a structured New Product Development (NPD) process to help address the product quality issues and wanted to support this with a software solution that would not only manage and enforce this process and the related product standards, but also ensure these products were sourced from quality and ethically compliant suppliers and factories.
The PLM solution required bringing together two software vendors covering Food and Non-Food development applying a single process that could be applied across all trading divisions in Australia and New Zealand and their sourcing operation in Hong Kong. CMG were asked to lead the design and implementation of this programme, bringing in a team of experienced subject matter experts from each of the key product areas.
The vision for the programme was anchored on three key objectives:
- Help ensure customers are offered the best choice of quality products at competitive prices without compromising safety and compliance
- Support the Merchandising team by providing a single centralised process for all development, monitoring and reporting of new own brand products
- Provide a single source of supplier, factory and audit information to reduce sourcing risk
The seven trading divisions within the group had until this point each had their own processes, standards and quality operations and implementation required a single solution that would meet the needs of each division. In addition, their systems operated across different ERP’s (including Oracle, SAP, MS Dynamics & bespoke platforms) with limited data integration and no supplier master data.
It was also necessary to implement the solution across both Food and Non-Food categories and as no single software vendor had an application that could achieve this the project required integration of the 2 best in class PLM vendors (Bamboo Rose and Micros) across the divisions.
The first stage of our approach was to validate the business case and ensure that the right level of funding was established alongside clarity of the benefits. We also ensured that the programme was driven from the business rather than technology perspective, putting the requirements of the customer at the core of the design.
The design of the core NPD process was critical to the success of the programme and CMG brought in a team of subject matter experts covering each of the product category areas who had deep understanding of the specific process requirements, an understanding of industry best practice and PLM solutions.
The immediate priority was to secure sourcing compliance and as a first stage we developed a data model that provided a single source of supplier information across the divisions. We then rapidly built the processes, standards and workflow required to ensure only suppliers and factories that were compliant from both quality and ethical perspectives were used. The detailed database containing all the required regulatory and technical standards that needed to be applied to each product category was then developed and built into the product development workflow, reducing the risk of quality failures.
The core NPD process was then defined and shaped to reflect the requirements of the different product categories and quality levels. The software solutions were then configured to reflect these requirements.
Ensuring a single source of the truth was only possible through technical integration across the division specific ERPs. To achieve this the team developed a middleware solution which effectively managed this integration and ensured compliance and business rules were maintained across the group.
We successfully integrated the two software solutions across the trading divisions, embedding the NPD process and reducing sourcing risk. Over the following period product failures significantly decreased and the implementation of the solution was the major factor in significantly reducing the anticipated fine from the regulator. The integration of the two software solutions was an industry first and set a benchmark for how an integrated PLM solution could be implemented across a multi-sector retailer.