Conveyor belt at a manufacturing plant
Case Study

Helping an industry leader transform its business

Essendant engaged Baker Tilly Digital to develop and implement an approach to help drive transformation of the company as the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials.
Conveyor belt at a manufacturing plant
Case Study

Helping an industry leader transform its business

Essendant engaged Baker Tilly Digital to develop and implement an approach to help drive transformation of the company as the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials.

Client background

Essendant is one of the nation’s leading wholesale distributors for business and facility essentials, with $5.3 billion in sales, multiple best-in-class brands, over 70 distribution centers and 30,000 reseller customers.

The business challenge

With market demand for traditional office products declining and customers purchasing a broader array of products online, Essendant recognized the need to change. To better serve customers, Essendant’s leadership decided to integrate and streamline their multiple businesses. A common IT and operating platform needed to be created to combine the two largest business units and solve the many challenges of today’s marketplace.

Strategy and solution

Essendant engaged Baker Tilly Digital to work closely with program leadership to develop and implement an approach to support the transformation of the company to become the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials.

Our analysis centered on partnering with the client to understand the requirements associated with comprehensive changes to business processes and policies related to critical areas such as item content, supply chain and customer experience. Once the requirements were understood, specific stakeholder needs were identified. Dozens of impact analyses were performed on a diverse range of customer, technical, operational and business issues. This in-depth analysis established a solid platform for change execution.

Baker Tilly Digital brought the methodology and resources to help Essendant through their transformation journey by tailoring change management and project management to align to the needs of the business. The complex dimensions of the client’s business were considered, along with the overall impact of the change and the customer experience the client was trying to replicate. By balancing the client’s long-term vision with the current operational capabilities, we were able to customize a solution to enable the client’s success.

We delivered project management expertise to provide structure to the activities to achieve the client’s goals, and a process for raising and resolving issues and key decisions throughout the program. This change management enabled customers, suppliers and internal associates to understand and support the overall solution. A key and foundational plank of the program included executive sponsorship and cross-functional communications aligned to each step in the client’s journey.

Essendant cited key elements of the approach and execution as being instrumental in achieving success.

The Baker Tilly team was an essential part of the overall project team and provided their expertise to guide our change management efforts, managed numerous communications and challenged our traditional thinking. These efforts helped drive and deliver our goal of becoming the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials.
Janet Zelenka, Essendant SVP and CIO

Our approach to project management included the identification, oversight and integration of numerous resources the client needed to prepare for, execute, sustain and adapt to change. We worked side-by-side with client project owners to prepare a clear and compelling change story and distribute it as part of an extensive communications plan, featuring a road show, to win stakeholder buy-in to the company’s strategy. Additionally, we developed and delivered original content associated with hundreds of communications that fostered understanding and commitment to business and technology change.

Baker Tilly Digital also helped author a conversion guide for customers, which detailed the change and explained how customers will do business on the new platform.

As a result of our approach, Essendant was able to successfully:

  • Convert 29 facilities to the common and IT operating platform on time and on budget
  • Prepare and on-board over 170 suppliers and 7,500 customers to the new platform
  • Build a complete suite of training and performance development modules for its national sales force, care organization, operations, suppliers and customers
  • Develop a timeline for change that defined in detail key change events associated with customer and facility conversion
Baker Tilly’s change management tools and processes allowed us to successfully manage the expectation of our customers, suppliers, and associates throughout our journey to transform our business. By using a methodology of viewing impacts ‘from the customer back’ we were able to effectively identify, communicate and train on enhancements to our systems, processes and policies to manage our stakeholders through their change curves.
Janet Zelenka