Monday, February 17, 2014

Power User Training - What to Expect

Throughout the course of this project we've used some mysterious terminology and references that may, or may not, make sense to everyone. Our current project status puts us in the "Power User" training portion of the timeline. We defined what a power user is in our terms and translations blog:

Power User A person that is a master and champion of the process they handle. The Power User knows their job, how it is done, why it is done, and can provide training to others related to their job. A Power User may be, but not limited to a manager, supervisor, etc.

When we talk about power user training we are talking about training "Power Users" to be the trainers for our future. 

Power User Training Phase 1: 
Through the month of February we will be sitting down with Power Users to first go through all of our current processes and make sure we know how we will complete these same processes in eoStar. This is a critical step that is somewhat of an extension of the "Discovery" sessions we completed months ago. These are more discussions with little hands-on training, with the ultimate result of outlining, in a draft form, our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Having just finished up Power User Training Phase 1, we are now ready to sit down with people from our Functional Work Groups (all Power Users) and begin to work through the drafted SOPs. This is an opportunity for us to make sure that our SOPs are in good working order, and also a great time to get more people hands on experience in eoStar.

Power User Training Phase 2: 
Beginning in March, Phase 2 of Power User Training will commence, and this is where our Power Users will engage with eoStar at a whole new level. Phase 2 is an intense Hands On training that will put our Computers, Sales tablets, Warehouse Handhelds, Delivery Handhelds, and Mobile Printers in the hands of our Power Users, so that they can make sure all of our processes are completely documented in our SOPs, and that they actually work, during everyday trials on the devices just as they will be done when we Go-Live in May. 

For most of us, the Power User training will not affect our daily work. Instead, our Managers and Supervisors will be learning all of our new processes and procedures so well that they can then train us during End User Training in April. While this is a lot of pressure for Power Users, they will be our first line of defense for questions and issues when we Go-Live with eoStar in May, as well as be the Trainers and Masters of eoStar for their departments long after Go-Live.

If you are a Power User, good luck and work hard! If you are an End User, get ready because your time to learn and master is coming soon...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Introducing Work Groups

Each day many similar job functions are being completed at multiple locations across all of the Clark Companies. For example, at each location sales people are taking orders from customers, products are being delivered by drivers and at multiple locations inventory is being purchased for the warehouses. Today, how these jobs get done can vary greatly from location to location. In the future, with the implementation of Project North Star, we will need to have the processes required to complete these functions to be as consistent as possible at all locations.

Because we are doing the same functions differently at each location it is very difficult for one individual to identify a process that will work for everyone. To overcome this problem we have established “Functional Work Groups”. These work groups have been put together to address a specific function that is being completed at multiple locations. Individuals that make up these groups are not necessarily managers or supervisors. They are individuals that have a working knowledge of how the particular function is being completed at their location today. The goal of the working group is to put together a standard operating procedure that will accommodate the needs of each company.

The role of the working group goes beyond identifying and documenting our current processes and procedures. It will also be the group that will make recommendations for improvements to our processes in the future. The members of each working group will act as our channel of communication and be our source for training others that need to learn how to get their work completed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What in the world is a SOP

SOP is short for what is called a Standard Operating Procedure. It is a document that outlines the process and steps needed for getting your work done. With the implementation of our new finance and route accounting systems, now is an ideal time to look at our existing processes and get a true understand how we are getting things done.
Our company has been around for a long time. We have grown and have made acquisitions over the years and our processes have evolved. To understand many of our current processes you will need to talk to long-term employees. Through many years of experience they have gained the knowledge of “how things work” and know what needs to be done and when. Unfortunately, because most of this knowledge is only in the minds of individuals and is undocumented it cannot be easily shared with others.

Over the next several weeks we will be talking to many individuals and taking a close look at how work is getting completed at our company. We will be outlining our current processes, translating them into new processes, if necessary, and then writing SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures). These SOP’s will outline how this work will get done when we begin using the new system.
Our goal is to have SOP’s for all of our processes and procedures using our new system. By having this documentation individuals and departments will be able to take ownership for their processes and will be able to provide you with better and more efficient training on how you will complete your job using the new system.

You know best! So don’t be surprised if you are asked about how you do your job today!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our Systems will be integrated?

Most of us do our job each day never really thinking about how what we do will impact how others will get their job done. With the implementation of our new finance and route accounting systems our thinking will change.
Our new finance and route accounting system will be a fully integrated system. That means that information and data is shared back and forth between work areas and departments. The data that is generated by you when you are doing your job will be shared immediately with others. That makes our system a very strong and powerful business tool but only if the information is accurate.
Let’s take a look at an example of how information will be shared each day.
1.      Delivery truck arrives and shipment is received into inventory – real-time at the dock.

2.      Salesperson out in the field checks inventory for on-hand quantity – sees inventory real-time, places order.

3.      Order appears in office in order processing – real-time from salesperson’s entry.

4.      Order is processed and product is picked in warehouse – inventory depleted in real-time.

5.      Driver delivers products and takes payments – electronically in hand-held.

6.      Driver returns and strips truck – undelivered product goes back to inventory real-time.

7.      Damaged goods identified – product written off real-time.

8.      Drive settles route – account status updated in real-time.
This is only a small part of what happens each day at Clark Companies, but hopefully it helps you to see how activity in one department immediately impacts others.
In an integrated system everyone’s role is very important. The way each of us completes our jobs will have a direct impact others around us and will be key to the success of our company and our customers.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Exciting Opportunity

There is a lot of learning going on right now, and so much more to come. Within the scope of this project many of you will go from a pen a paper to handheld computers. When this project is complete our Sales Teams will be totally connected by mobile computing devices, Warehouse Teams will receive, pick, and load product with new technology, Delivery Teams will compute on the go with handheld computers and mobile printers, and our Service Teams will monitor and manage equipment issues from a mobile computing device. Information will be live and available to everyone that needs it, when they need it.

What does all this mean for me as an employee? It means that I will receive a ton of great training, and have the opportunity to use the top technology in the industry, every day. I'll be smarter, more efficient, and get to look deeper into my job functions focusing on continually improving them, and ultimately being a part of making our organization a model for the industry.
I believe we should all be excited about the investment our company is making in our systems, tools for the job, and more importantly the investment in  our people. The skills we will acquire will make us a more knowledgeable and dynamic group of individuals, and we get it all by just coming to work with a desire to get better and be better. There is an exciting opportunity being offered to us all.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Terms and Translations

You have likely heard a lot of different terms related to Project North Star, and this blog is here to help define everything. Below you will find some of the names and terms we'll be using, and an English translation of the same. Let us know if we missed anything...

Project North Star = Combined effort of The Coca-Cola Company and Independent Coke Bottlers to find, select, and implement a software platform that fits the needs of Coca-Cola system.

Rutherford & Associates = Software company selected by Coca-Cola for their eoStar Route Accounting Software, which includes all sales, delivery, warehouse, and inventory functions.

eoStar = This is the name of route accounting software that is offered by Rutherford and Associates. The software includes route accounting, warehouse management, production, mobility. This software is well known in the beer and soft drink industry.

GP (Microsoft Dynamics GP) = Microsoft Software package used for financial/accounting functions. It is also used to link to eoStar and push route accounting information to our financials.

BKD = Accounting/Consulting Firm that represents Microsoft Dynamics GP. BKD handles all discovery, configuration, and training for GP.

Discovery = The process of learning where the Software Companies and Clark Companies learn about each other and how to configure the software to provide the necessary solutions to meet our company goals.

Configuration = Process of Software Companies manually setting up the software to work the way we want it to work.

Go-Live = The date or time frame that we begin using the new software/hardware for daily operation.

Power User = A person that is a master and champion of the process they handle. The Power User knows their job, how it is done, why it is done, and can provide training to others related to their job. A Power User may be, but not limited to a manager, supervisor, etc.

Transitional Lead = A person that has been identified as a key resource and acts as the lead for communicating and training during software implementation. This is a person that has a good understanding and comfort level using current technology. This person can be at any level – not limited to managers or supervisors.

Project Manager (PM) = The individual responsible for the daily management and oversight of the Project North Star implementation. The Bottler PM will work in conjunction with the Rutherford PM and BKD PM to ensure the project is meeting all deadlines and progressing in accordance with the program’s objectives.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Project Progress Post

We've been making great progress with our project...but mostly behind the scenes. What you likely haven't seen is that there has been a massive amount of work being done for the last month and a half, and that we are about a month and a half from going live with our Financial Software, Microsoft GP. While this won't effect a large number of the people in our organization, I think it's important that everyone realize that we are making GREAT progress, and we are prepared to hit a major milestone in our project. It may not sound exciting, but I promise it is.

What many of you have seen is posters, tweets, and Facebook posts relating to the project, and how it will effect the rest of us. Our first real exposure to eoStar is beginning with Webinars (Internet based training seminars) which began a this week. As we progress through the webinar schedule over the next couple of months, many more of you will be asked to get involved, not only with the webinars, but also to start keeping up with your daily tasks. It's important that you be ready when called upon to answer questions about current processes and the good and less good, with those processes. Now is our time to keep up and speak up about our daily activity, so that our Managers can communicate that information in meetings to make sure we configure and use our new software and technology to best benefit us all...and don't worry, this is not just a "Managers" project. Every one of you will be involved in the training, implementation, and eventually be using this new technology everyday in the future.
Encourage those around you to follow our twitter and Facebook feeds/posts, and keep up with this blog. The more we all know about the project the better we'll be prepared when called upon to do our part.

Discovery is Now Taking Place

What do you mean by “discovery”? Much like Christopher Columbus seeking out a shorter and more efficient trade route to India, many employees at Clark have been going through the process of “discovering” and understanding how our processes and procedures have gotten to where they are at today. While we likely won’t get lost and accidentally discover what will become one of the most powerful and prosperous continents in the history of the world, we have been “discovering” new and better ways of doing business.
Discovery at Clark is a two-way street. Representatives from the software companies must learn about our business – both how we do business today and how we intend to do business in the future. At the same time our organization must learn about the software’s capabilities and understand how it will be used to help us achieve our business goals..

If you are around our Oakland, KY location you may have seen “Discovery  in Progress” signs on the conference room door. The sign indicates that discovery sessions are taking place for the North Star Project. These sessions have been taking place since August 28th and will continue over the coming weeks. Once the discovery sessions are complete, the software will need to be configured to meet our specific needs. During the software configuration you will likely see “Configuration in Progress” signs on the conference room door. Both Discovery and Configuration are very important steps in the implementation of Project North Star.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!

Don’t forget to follow our company Twitter feed! You will receive project updates, links to videos, blog entries and copies of our printed materials. If you want to be in the know – continue to read this blog and be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Follow this link: or search @clarkbeverage on Twitter.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Project Manager Intro

Let me introduce myself. I am Tim Zuccarell and I am the Clark Group Project Manager for Project North Star. I will be the primary point of contact for our companies, and will be leading the efforts of discovery, implementation and training on our new software systems. I’m very excited to be part of the Clark project team and working on a project that will drive our organization into the future with the best technology available. I’m looking forward to working with everyone on this exciting and challenging project.

Have questions or need help? As Project Manager my job is to help, so if there are any questions, concerns or needs please do not hesitate to communicate with me. Meanwhile, I hope you follow our Twitter feed and this blog for information about upcoming changes that will give us all the opportunity to move to the future together.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What is Project North Star?

Project North Star is the implementation of new software systems. It is a simple to use IT solution designed to provide independent bottlers like us with a platform to manage our business while improving our ability to respond to our customer’s changing needs. The North Star Project solution is made up of two software solutions. Dynamics GP from Microsoft and EoStar from Rutherford and Associates. Together, these software packages cover 1.) route accounting, 2.) warehouse management, 3.) mobility, 4.) human resources and 5.) financial management capabilities. Implementing the new system will give us the opportunity to upgrade and begin using the newest state-of-the-art technology.
Is the North Star Project only for soft drinks? What about the beer business ? The software company that Coca-Cola and the Coca-Cola bottlers selected to work with on this project is Rutherford & Associates. Rutherford’s product called eoStar was originally designed for the beer industry and is one of the industry’s top products. It has been used in the beer distribution business for years. Don’t be fooled by all of the soft drink talk. Project North Star is for all of the Clark companies and will be equally beneficial to us all!
Take a look at the video below. It’s a short video from Coca-Cola describing the benefits of the project and the potential of the new technology.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Our Vision for the Future

During the Project North Star kick-off meeting held on August 30th, Jimmy Briggs (COO of Clark Beverage Group) spoke about the Clark organization’s vision for the project. During his presentation to the group assembled, he spoke about why it is important that we take on this project and how it will positively impact our organization. Some of benefits he talked about were:

·         Reducing the risk associated with existing IT support

o   Today our systems operability relies on our IT department to maintain and keep updated.

o   In the future we will have the support of Microsoft and Rutherford to maintain our system.
·         Providing functionality not available with our current system

o   In the future we will be able to ask different things of our new system that we have not been able to focus enough  time on in our current system to get the same functionality.

o   The new system will offer live business information and has functionality that will significantly improve our efficiency.
·         Supports current and growing trends

o   In the future with our new software we will be even more competitive and challenging for the competition.

o   In the future with our new software we will require a more technology savvy workforce that will provide a competitive edge for our organization.
Jimmy encouraged everyone to take on this project and put our best efforts into implementing the new software, so that we can all gain from being a part of a more efficient organization. As with any change there will be some challenges, however as a group we will overcome the challenges and be stronger as a result.

 “To improve is to Change; to be perfect is to Change often.” - Winston Churchill


Project North Star Has Launched!

On August 30th we kicked-off a new and exciting project called Project North Star. Project North Star is the introduction and implementation of new financial and operational software systems into each of our companies: All3Sports, CC Clark, Clark Beverage Group and Clark Distributing Company. The updating of our software and hardware will launch our company into the world of modern business systems. Our existing systems have gotten us this far and now we will be utilizing the latest technology available to take our businesses to the next level.

This blog, along with our Twitter account (@clarkbeverage), posters and several other communication channels, will be used to keep the organization informed on the project’s vision and status. They will also be used to highlight exciting features of the new software and hardware that will help us do our jobs better and smarter!

Be sure to follow the project on Twitter, keep an eye out for posters and check back here often for updates. If you have any questions regarding the North Star Project or upcoming improvements please email them to