Two recent Technology OneSource case studies identify the challenges facing two chemical manufacturers and the steps taken by each company to resolve them.
I.T. case study: Camco Chemical Co.
During a period of growth—including expansion to a new location—Camco Chemicals looked to the future and chose managed I.T. services
A few years after Camco Chemical Co. switched from internal information technology support to managed I.T. services, the company’s business began a phase of rapid growth. Camco’s expansion created an environment of wide-scale changes. Business processes and employee work responsibilities shifted, and the company’s technology infrastructure had to keep up with the changes.
In 2011 Camco moved from a manufacturing application built on the closed-source operating system SCO UNIX to a new manufacturing software—Macola—that allows users to access the program on a Windows platform. At the same time, the company expanded into the building across the street from its original headquarters. Camco’s administrative and warehouse employees moved to the new building, and the number of application users doubled.
Simultaneously adding all new equipment— servers, SAN, PCs, wireless access points— would allow all users to fully utilize their new software, but also would add a new layer of complexity to the chemical manufacturers’ transition.
I.T. case study: OctoChem
I.T. snags slow growth of chemical samples fulfillment specialist OctoChem
After being in business 20-plus years, OctoChem “has grown exponentially over the past three years,” according to Denny Grant, the company’s general manager.
Mark Langston, OctoChem’s president, recalls the technology struggles brought about by rapid expansion–a reality often faced by chemical manufacturers. “We outgrew our legacy systems and resources quickly. Our physical technology in the building—servers, network software—we just outgrew it, and we did it very quickly.” The company’s growth coincided with another challenge: “At the same time, we lost our in-house employee who had supported our I.T. needs for years.”
After sharing that background, Mark reconsiders. “Technically, we outgrew our internal I.T. resources three years before all of that happened. As far as I’m concerned, we crippled our growth by holding off on better I.T. support. The position grew beyond our internal resources—we didn’t recognize that early enough.”
For a while, “we were spending all our time trying to recover from infrastructure problems. We created some customer dissatisfaction,” according to Denny. “It was a tremendous amount of downtime. Our systems were literally crashing on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times, which affected our ability to receive and process orders. This all went on for a few months before we were
able to get stabilized.”
Mark and Denny are both convinced OctoChem suffered an economic impact, but the company’s circumstances made it difficult to measure the loss. “As this was going on, our business was growing rapidly,” Mark recalls. “What we did lose was probably hidden because of our growth—we didn’t realize the extent of it.”
Mark remembers the effect on OctoChem’s payroll. “The amount of overtime we were running was unprecedented. We have 130,000 square feet of warehouse, and we were blindly looking for things.”
Denny agrees: “I was working seven days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day for several months. It was very discouraging for people. They were trying to do all the right things to make customers happy.”
“We had a huge challenge to keep staff from thinking this was a sinking ship,” Mark explains. “It wasn’t sinking—we were just running out of fingers to plug all the holes.”
See other recent managed I.T. services case studies.