In this Challenger Champion blog, we meet ERP Administrator at Omni Speciality Packaging, William Klotz.
Conversations about digital transformation usually end up focusing on the nuts and bolts of technological solutions. For William Klotz, ERP Administrator at Omni Specialty Packaging and the newest addition to the IFS Challenger Champion community, however, the human element is just as important as the technology.
Crossing the digital threshold
Based in Shreveport, Louisiana, Omni Specialty Packaging manufactures, markets, and distributes lubricants and chemicals to automotive and industrial markets in the United States and internationally.
With roots going back to the late 1970s, Omni didn’t grow up in the digital era. Whereas younger companies were born into a digitized world, mature companies like Omni needed to overcome an initial threshold of digitization before moving into the more advanced strategies of digital transformation. Joining the company in 2012, William recalls the company’s first steps to find and deploy a central ERP system.
“The company was growing, and the leadership fully realized that it needed modern technology to support that growth. As this meant literally going from filing cabinets full of paper forms to digital document management, there was a good deal of trepidation among the staff. Right from the outset, I understood that person-to-person coaching and encouragement would be just as important as the technology itself.”
Technology needs a good coach
With a knack for advising and coaching others, William is a self-professed influencer.
“I’ve taken several personality tests in my career and I always end up in the influencer/enforcer group. When I joined Omni, I had the opportunity to draw on this personality trait in different ways. Firstly, my team and I suggested the company should look at a broad ERP platform rather than a best-of-breed manufacturing solution, which was the intention when I joined. When the decision was made to go with IFS Applications—which I came across more or less by chance on a review website—I’ve also been able to work directly with our people and really develop my coaching skills to help users realize the benefit of working with the solution.”
And even though Omni’s digital journey hasn’t always been free of challenges, the company and its people have been able to realize some significant benefits.
“Just looking at the business side, we now have full control of our inventory, which means we are able to lower our stock levels while still being able to deliver to our customers. On the people side, we have been able to optimize user efficiency, which has made it possible to upskill our people and make work more varied and enjoyable.”
Adding value by subtracting complexity
Omni is currently in the final stages of upgrading their IFS platform to the latest version, a process that has given William reason to reflect on his recipe for successful digital transformation.
“My main ambition has always been to help people understand how technology can make a real difference in their daily work. To achieve this, I’ve relied on the tactic of removing complexities, starting with the user interface of the application. Even though the underlying processes and dependencies are complex, people work better when the interface they interact with is simple.”
Leveraging the IFS solution’s configurable user experience, William and his team has faced the challenge of complexity in a way that reduces the number of error-prone manual tasks.
“One great example is the improvements made in our shipping department, which has always been hamstrung by a large number of manual picking activities. Thanks to IFS’s scanning solution, warehouse staff will be able to just grab a handheld scanner and work off a system-generated task list. By introducing automation, we will be able to improve efficiency while at the same time helping people get more out of their work.”
Challenger or disruptor—a bone of contention
Looking at his many years as a champion for positive change, William is reluctant to identify with famous disruptors such as Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. Instead, when asked where he finds inspiration, William looks to his local community.
“Back in 2012, my wife and I adopted a dog from a local non-profit organization called Pet Savers, which was founded by a woman named Linda Shemwell. What I find inspiring about that is how she is able to develop a hugely successful pet shelter and adoption organization by coming up with innovative ways of raising funds, getting volunteers, and creating awareness. Running something like that is a big challenge and very difficult to do, but she is doing a fantastic job, which I find very inspiring.”
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