PLM - From Swimming in Spreadsheets to High-Performance Hub
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Pabst Brewing Company was managing a maze of spreadsheets for product development projects and retail chain account service tasks. A new project hub and spoke platform designed and built by PSC Group has streamlined communications, improved productivity, and provided visibility for all who need it in sales, marketing, and product management.

With over 30 unique beers in the Pabst Brewing Company portfolio, the sheer number of product changes, promotions, and innovations can be dizzying. New flavors and formulas are constantly being tested. Innovative packaging and label designs are regularly introduced.

Distributors and customers have unique promotions and pricing for their channels that must be kept straight.

As vice president of IT at Pabst, Jeremy Vance and his team are responsible for the systems that track and store these mission-critical details.

Vance knows the value of systems and structure. Before coming to Pabst three years ago, Vance spent four years in IT with an international manufacturer of pasta, where he was instrumental in developing a product lifecycle management platform.

When the opportunity to join the Pabst team presented itself, Vance admits he was drawn to the 177-year history of brewing and bottling one of the world’s most recognizable brands. But he was also attracted to the challenge: Pabst needed a product lifecycle management (PLM) platform for its product management and stakeholder relationships.

“Our product and customer data was everywhere, in multiple spreadsheets, with multiple versions, in multiple places,” said Vance. “We were also tracking state by state regulatory approvals manually, with executives at all levels updating calendars, making notes, and sharing new document versions constantly. The risk for errors was very high.”

The Pabst team selected PSC Group to replace the collection of spreadsheets with a product management and project management solution. Darryl Poore is the team leader at PSC and an industry expert on product lifecycle management. He led the initial implementation and continues to support ongoing upgrades and enhancements.

“I’ve worked with Darryl and the PSC team on past PLM projects so I knew what to expect,” says Vance. “They are thorough and methodical. They work quickly, and they work professionally. I can trust them to solve really complex and difficult product management problems.”

Poore and the PSC team recommended Aras Innovator, a web-based PLM platform that is flexible, scalable, and easy to deploy from an IT standpoint. PSC customized the solution to handle Pabst products, processes, pricing and promotions.

Building a Project Information Hub for Better Visibility, Reporting – and Throughput

The production and distribution of alcoholic beverages is a highly regulated and complex process. Federal and state rules require a process of review and approval for all elements of a beverage, from formulation, to packaging, to labeling. Previously, Pabst teams had to manually update spreadsheets and maps showing the approval stage of each product in each state. 

The Hub now has a project dashboard which displays the status of all product approval stages. And each project has its own Gantt chart and timeline, as well as room to store activities, tasks, deliverables, and roles.

The Hub also tracks reset window activities, referring to Pabst large retail chain customers who sell millions of dollars in Pabst products each year. The chain profile holds all information related to ad tracking, post-call communications, business plans, and market performance. 

“Our sales, marketing, and product management teams can now access everything they need in a matter of minutes,” says Vance. “Manual multiple entries are a thing of the past, and we’re not wasting time trying to figure out if we’re working with the right version or not.”

Vance said the Hub has also provided more transparency and trust among departments. Pabst teams can get more done, and customers get what they need to win in the marketplace.

“When everyone’s on the same project management page, mistakes are reduced, productivity goes up, and we can focus on customers more,” says Vance. “We’re a better partner for our chain customers when we bring better products and pricing to them.”

Pabst and PSC have plans for future enhancements that include additional national account scorecards, wholesaler/distributor reporting, and more focused account call recaps.

“Our most important goal is to help our customers sell more of our products in their stores,” says Vance. “And the project information Hub that PSC has built for us is helping us do just that. We’re faster, more responsive, and better prepared. It’s a competitive edge that is already making a huge difference in our business.”

 

Pains

Product, package, pricing and promotion information was previously stored in a network of detached spreadsheets.

Manually tracking and updating federal and state product approval stages was labor intensive.

The lack of visibility caused slow-downs and lost opportunities.

Gains

Pabst Brewing Company’s new project information Hub stores all product, packaging, pricing and promotions information in one searchable platform.

Pabst is saving hours, days, and weeks across sales, marketing, and product management teams in terms of tracking, reporting, and delivering on customer promises for new products.

Productivity is up and customers are getting better products and better service.

 

View: From Swimming in Spreadsheets to High-Performance Hub