“ We love the platform and find it user friendly. We're happy with the finished product. ”
“In the past, I would have to follow up: can you please tell me what the forecast is? Have you ordered this ingredient? Can you build the BOM so that we know what it is? Have you created the work order? Do you have the artwork? I would go through the paper list and have to chase people down in the hallway or send them an email and then have to follow up on the email.”
Director of Commercialization at Great Kitchens, Barb Parks describes how she had to manage projects prior to implementing Centric PLM™. Parks says, “Now, I hit a button, and it sends out the tasks to everybody. It’s faster, it’s convenient.” How did the company get to this point?
Founded in 2000 and based in Romeoville, IL just southwest of Chicago, Great Kitchens is a pizza and flatbread company with flexible manufacturing lines to create a wide range of pizzas and flatbreads for their private-label customers. They serve most of the big names in all major North American channels: grocery, convenience stores, warehouse clubs, QSR, foodservice.
Being acquired by Brynwood Partners in December 2020 meant re-evaluating all their procedures. Steve Staniszewski, IT Director, says, “We had to dive into business practices, business goals and objectives moving forward, and the tools that would take us there. In the course of evaluating new ERP systems, it called out a gap with how we manage our product lifecycle, our R&D. We have so many different ingredients, our existing workflow is somewhat chopped up and data is stored so it’s chopped off. Our overall goal is to have that centralized workflow, to communicate, to know where things are in our process.”
Great Kitchens thus began a search for a PLM solution. Speed-to-market is paramount due to the nature of their business as a private-label provider. Extensive reviews were performed on the selected candidates. Staniszewski says, “What set Centric apart was the easy-to-use out of the box functionality that it is robust enough to give us everything we were looking for. And then, the speed of having it up and running in a short amount of time.”
Centric’s enthusiasm helped seal the deal. “It was overall how the team interacted and handled themselves—their excitement, their conviction and their knowledge of the product, plus their collaboration with us was very professional,” explains Staniszewski.
From initial contact to project kickoff was a blazing fast three weeks. The final implementation was also speedy; an intense six weeks that was completed on time and even under budget.
One area that Centric PLM has improved is regulatory. Parks notes, “We log many different tasks that we’re requesting the regulatory team to complete. You can track tasks and see how long it takes to complete each one. It eliminates having to go back and search through emails for the needed information; everything is in one central location.”
“Phase two that rolled out a few months ago, is the portion that directly affects my work,” says Parks. She holds up a paper spreadsheet covered with printed words, handwriting and highlighted blocks. “This is how I have been running my projects. When we hit milestones, I have to manually write down dates and any information. If anything changes, it is difficult to record it.”
Parks points out how easy it is for users themselves to make adjustments to the templates. No need to get IT or the vendor to reprogram anything. “If something needs to change on a template, I can go in and modify it on the spot. The other day, I needed to remove a task from a template for a specific customer, and I just went in and did it myself. It’s that simple.”
Parks relates an amusing anecdote. “We’ve talked to several other companies who are looking for PLM references, to give them our perspective on Centric Software. They always ask, ‘Are you comfortable using the help desk? Is the help desk responsive?’ What I tell them is, I don’t even know how to get to the help desk, because we’ve never had to contact them! That’s how few problems we have had with Centric.” She does add, “Only recently, after a year and a half, did we have an issue come up where we thought we should contact the help desk. We had to go back to our trainers to ask how to get in touch with the help desk because we didn’t know how to do that!”
Commercialization, regulatory, procurement, quality, R&D, operations and finance are all on PLM. Great Kitchen’s expectations were met: to have all information in one central location, organized and accessible. Efficiency has been driven into every step of product development with manual spreadsheets eliminated, for a full digital transformation of the commercialization flow.
From her end, Parks estimates that she personally saves weeks of active follow up per project. Parks remarks, “If I were to win the lottery one day and suddenly leave, somebody else could easily step up and take over in a heartbeat. And that’s a good thing.” Parks has praise for Centric PLM. “We love the platform and find it user friendly. We’re satisfied with the finished product.”