Whirlpool Soothes Highs and Lows

By Lynn Haber  |  Posted 2006-12-06 Print this article Print

The global appliance maker finds a fix for low-tech and high-expectation customers with document automation.

Whirlpool, a $13 billion global manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, credits its success in the industry to innovation, a focus on customer needs, productivity and quality. So it's no surprise that when company executives looked in-house at Whirlpool's order-related business processes and recognized less-than-stellar practices, they set out to meet the challenge head-on.

"We wanted to get out of the paper-shuffling business and be in the value-add business," said Brian Murphy, director of e-services in Whirlpool's Global Information Systems development group, in Benton Harbor, Mich.

With the help of Esker's DeliveryWare 4.0 and Dolphin's SAP integration expertise, Whirlpool undertook a multifaceted document automation project that not only promises cost and time savings but also will facilitate a shift from no-value activities to revenue-generating activities.

"For us, one of the most important ROI [return on investment] benefits we'll realize is being able to add value to customer service, such as dealing with customer issues, facilitating faster delivery, growing the business and ensuring customer loyalty," said Murphy.

For IT partners Esker and Dolphin, the worldwide enterprise agreement with industry giant Whirlpool is a coup and among the largest projects taken on to date by each company.

"Esker's strength is providing a solution for document delivery by mapping business processes and reducing any pains the customer may have by streamlining and simplifying those processes. Dolphin knows how to leverage native technology in SAP and deliver business process optimization for SAP modules," said Michael Krust, vice president of sales at Dolphin, in San Mateo, Calif. "Together, we combine the best of both worlds."

On the receiving end of more than 2 billion order-related documents annually at Whirlpool's Knoxville, Tenn., facility—where Whirlpool's order entry department works with Whirlpool's contractor channel—Murphy saw the writing on the wall.

"We knew that the challenge of dealing with a lot of phone and fax orders was only going to grow with the recent purchase of Maytag Corp.," Murphy said. "Our goal became to automate as much as possible." Whirlpool's acquisition of Maytag was finalized in March.

According to Mike Wenzel, vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas at Esker's Madison, Wis., U.S. headquarters, Whirlpool's contractor channel includes builders, developers and suppliers whose business revolves around new or revitalized construction. Many of these organizations run relatively low-tech operations, and incoming orders are received via mail, phone, fax or electronically as e-mail attachments.

"Whirlpool struggled with having to do a lot of manual order entry," Wenzel said.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Whirlpool Soothes Highs and Lows.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.