Apps Remove Bottlenecks at Distillery

Established in 1856, McCormick Distilling Company is the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi River still operating in its original Weston, Missouri location. It produces distributors with premium brand spirits. While the company is rooted in tradition, it recognizes that old-fashioned paper processes hamper efficiency.

The business consists of several buildings spread over 80 acres, explained Phil Colclough, IT manager at McCormick, and the managers located in different buildings. Under their old system of requests for purchase orders, there was a significant amount of walking around, which could be pleasant on a nice day but not so much when the weather is inclement, not to mention the time-consuming nature of that manual transfer.

Betsey Thurlo, McCormick’s network administrator, said the paper-based process entailed filling out a Word doc with the particular expenditure request, then walking it over to whoever was the approver so that he could put on his signature physically. Then the signed paper had to be walked over to accounting, where it would be scanned and sent back with PO number on it. All that had to take place to obtain the PO before one was authorized to make the purchase.

Colclough confirmed that that was the standard practice because if such requests were “just emailed,” they “would get lost, and nothing would ever happen” due to the lack of accountability in digital format. To expedite the process, they knew that they needed to establish an automated workflow.

With the goal of taking paper processes to the cloud, providing audit trails and automating approval processes, McCormick searched for the right solution that would enable them to build the apps that fit their business needs. They found it in the Kintone platform.

The PaaS solution

They looked at three software solutions. Thurlo recalls that “some were very old school” with a clunky feel to them. Kintone’s graphical interface made it stand out from the competition. Also, they were granted a free trial period during which they were able to build the app they needed. She found it a “smooth and easy” experience to work with it.

As it is cloud-based, everything is done through the site, which is the portal for the applications for the end user. She said, it’s “all very drag and drop, pretty intuitive.”

It also has many flexible option, like the ability to copy an app already made if they don’t want to work from scratch, importing apps, importing templates, and importing columns from Excel. It also offers some app designs to start with that can be modified according to needs.

“One of the things that kind of drove us toward Kintone,” Colclough said, is that it opened up possibilities for apps. For example, they wanted to benefit from the functionality of a CRM, but it didn’t make sense for them to purchase it. Given “the nature of the alcohol business,” which limits their sales to distributors, he explained, they “have a small set of customers.” Now they “can do a lot of what CRMs do through Kintone.”

The user friendliness made possible by Kintone’s multi-channel deployment also played a role in their choice, Colclough said. “A lot of upper management definitely wanted something easy that they could use from their phones or wherever they were to easily approve or reject a request.” It only takes the click of a button.

The app they developed also made it easier for salespeople to put their reports together. Before they put in the app, they were entering data into Google docs and manually attaching photos and bringing worksheets together with Excel to track expenses. Now they can put it through the website or even the app on their phone, which make it much easier for them to consolidate it.

Having first used in January 2017, they were able to deploy in April. The delay was due to waiting on the approval, demo, and the official decision. But now, Colclough said, they “can churn out an application in as little as a couple of hours.”

Having the PaaS in place saves them having to buy different software packages or specific apps. They could just build what’s needed. Now they have apps deployed for accounting processes, expense reports, employee onboarding, maintenance and even media contact lists.

Ariella Brown