Spirits Company Beam Turns Up the Heat


Spirits Company Beam Turns Up the Heat

By TMCnet Special Guest
Kevin Smith
  |  December 13, 2013

Beam Inc. has a 218-year history of making spirits, with premium brands such as Jim Beam Black and Maker’s Mark bourbon, Laphroaig scotch and Sauza tequila. Beam blends its rich heritage with the vigor of a startup. It has distilled its strategy for long-term, profitable growth into efficiency and best practices such as lean manufacturing, global procurement and global shared services. It’s proving to be a successful recipe for growth and innovation. Beam had $2.5 billion in net sales in 2012, its first full year as a pure-play spirits company.

A Formula for Shared Services

As part of its efficiency and best practices strategy, Beam created the Global Business Services group to provide human resources and financial transactional activities from a central hub in Louisville, Ky. The GBS is the primary point of contact for benefits, compensation, accounts payable, accounts receivable and other core business processes for Beam employees, customers and suppliers in North America, and the company plans to open additional GBS locations in Spain and Asia Pacific.

“With shared services, Beam can drive process efficiencies, ensure standardization and maximize service quality across its global operations,” says Susan Klein, senior director of the project management office at Beam. “We needed a shared service platform to use throughout the organization and across business functions.”

Business Value in the Cloud

Beam has used FrontRange’s on-premises HEAT Help Desk since 2003. More than 12 departments use the solution. So when the Global Business Services group began looking for a solution to support service management, it took a close look at FrontRange HEAT Cloud Service Management.

“I really liked the usability we have experienced with FrontRange’s Help Desk solution,” says Klein. “Great usability on a highly scalable, cloud-based platform swayed me to stay with FrontRange and migrate to HEAT Cloud.”

The flexibility and adaptability of the HEAT Cloud Platform was a natural fit with Beam’s application standardization and globalization objectives, and Beam migrated from the on-premises HEAT Help Desk to HEAT Cloud Service Management in late 2012.

HEAT Cloud Service Management is a highly extensible and configurable solution with an integrated workflow-based application platform that provides a single, consolidated view of information that’s relevant to Beam’s different locations, departments and users. Beam leverages the same workflow platform for human resources and financial transactions—incorporating other shared service workflows as the business demands. Workflows can be straightforward or highly customized to Beam’s processes.

“HEAT Cloud is an essential enabler for our GBS,” says Julie Commons, IT manager, support services at Beam. “HEAT Cloud is critical in our day-to-day operations and has increased the agility of our business to achieve shared services and greater efficiency.”

In addition to usability and flexibility of the cloud-based HEAT solution, Beam no longer needs to worry about upgrading, maintaining and supporting on-premises software. The cloud has enabled Beam to realize both capital and operational expense savings by eliminating the need for multiple servers.

“Previously, I was the only person supporting HEAT, and now I hardly spend any time at all on support,” says Commons.

Commons adds that that she hasn’t needed much interaction with FrontRange support since the move to the cloud, but the overall experience has been positive.

Smooth Move to the Cloud

Beam has seen a rapid time-to-benefit with HEAT Cloud. The GBS processes an average of 4,472 tickets per month.

The move to the cloud was smooth, and integration between HEAT Cloud and Beam’s enterprise applications was straightforward.

“We use HEAT in a way that integrates well with our other software, such as SAP (News - Alert),” says Klein.

Beam uses SAP as a master data source to store all of its vendor and customer information, which is then integrated and accessible within the HEAT Cloud solution. When a staff member in accounts payable, for instance, needs to set up a new vendor or issue a purchase order, he or she simply submits a ticket via HEAT Cloud, and the request is automatically routed and tracked. Accounts receivable workflows are also managed through HEAT Cloud, so staff can more easily track activities around credit and collections.

Integration with Microsoft (News - Alert) Active Directory ensures that employee information is always up-to-date. Annual health care enrollment is handled through HEAT Cloud, as are reimbursements, such as when an employee purchases Beam’s products at a store or restaurant.

Positive User Experience

More than 50 employees in the Louisville Global Business Services use HEAT Cloud and reaction has been positive.

“The migration activity and learning curve was simple, simple, simple,” says Commons.

HEAT Cloud comes with numerous out-of-the-box service management dashboards and reports, and Beam has also configured its own dashboards with an easy-to-use design module.

“It’s incredible how quickly people have become dependent on reporting and tracking activity through HEAT,” says Commons.

The company tracks metrics such as the time it takes to bring on a new hire or process a purchase order through HEAT Cloud and utilizes key performance indicator reports to help drive steering committee decisions every month.

Next Steps

With the smooth transition of moving finance and human resources to HEAT Cloud complete, Beam is already planning its next steps. First up is tighter integration with SAP.

“Some of our business processes are more detailed, so we’ll leverage the HEAT’s quick actions and workflow designer to extend our integration with SAP, so that we can provide notifications to employees based on certain actions,” says Commons.

As with many companies, mobile devices are playing a bigger role in the workflow at Beam, and with mobile support in HEAT Cloud, employees will be able to submit tickets and check status for their requests from Apple iPad and iPhone (News - Alert) mobile devices.

Kevin Smith, is vice president and general manager of the cloud business unit at FrontRange (www.frontrange.com). 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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