IBM Corporation

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY
Company Division/Group: IBM Integrated Supply Chain
Company Description: IBM is a values-based enterprise of individuals who create & apply technology to make the world work better. Today, more than 400,000 IBM employees around the world invent and integrate hardware, software and services to help forward-thinking enterprises, institutions and people succeed on a smarter planet.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Support Team of the Year

Nomination Title: The IBM Federal Client & Sales Support

Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2013 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

The US Federal government is a valued customer of IBM in its various hardware, software, and services brands. In 2013 and 2014, the US Federal client and sales support team took on two projects to enhance our speed of execution and deliver higher value to our internal and external clients. In one project, we overcame challenges in staff reduction and a need for cycle time reduction by transforming manual processes into automated processes. The second project streamlined operations to further eliminate handoffs and reduce end-to-end cycle time.

Purchase order processing is the prime area that the team addressed with automation. Staff reductions in July 2013 left just one person to process all purchase orders during the US Federal fiscal year end. The existing process required email submission of all supporting documents in various formats. A team member manually reviewed and categorized the documents, triggered case tracking ID generation, created a purchase order log record, and assigned the order based on the appropriate brand, government agency, or contract. The end-to-end process was time consuming and labor intensive and was occasionally delayed by errors.

To automate these tasks, the client and sales support team created a portal. The team collaborated extensively with teams supporting upstream and downstream processes to develop the requirements and structure. They worked with tool developers on design, development, and implementation. The automation was developed and rolled out in these phases:

1.Automatic transmission of all the necessary documents pre-categorized for the case ID tracking. Upon order submission, the documents are logged automatically and a case ID is created.

2.PO log form creation and account assignment at submission. When an order is submitted through the portal, the required fields were mapped and the correct contract owner assigned, reducing assignment errors and allowing the order to flow to fulfillment immediately with no manual intervention.

The tools perform order processing around the clock, so work is not confined to a standard eight-hour workday. In the first month, 52% of all purchase orders flowed through the portal. Currently, 78% of all product orders are processed this way. Average cycle time has dropped from 11.6 hours in 2013 to 2 hours in 2014. Automation efforts are still ongoing; we project cycle time to shrink to minutes rather than hours after upgrades being implemented in November 2014.

The customer fulfillment backlog and solution contract management teams also benefitted from this automation. Earlier visibility to new purchase orders enables the contract owners to begin order processing sooner. Automatic notification reduces the need for manual outreach to identify purchase orders in queue for processing. The impact of this improvement is especially critical during the time-sensitive window in the hours leading up to quarter end. The teams could focus on processing orders rather than locating and tracking pending records.

In addition to introducing automation, we moved to a flexible teaming model that allows us to shift resources where needed during critical quarter-end peak demands. In February 2014, we conducted a workshop across three teams to identify overlaps and redundancies. Based on those recommendations, we consolidated workload under one team. Previously, one team submitted orders through the ordering interface to a separate team for processing. Now, the team member who does the first part of the process completes it. Through this effort, we have streamlined the process, allowing for a single point of contact, eliminated wait time, and reduced handoffs. Overall, we have gained a further reduction in end-to-end cycle time with no disruption to the business, no escalation from sales, and satisfaction survey results of over 97%.

The IBM US Federal client and sales support team has vastly improved service to our clients, both internal and external to IBM, by translating an in-depth understanding of the process into effective and efficient automation and streamlined operations for improved speed of execution.

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