Author: zinataAdmin

Know Your Customers

A leading citrus provider turned to Zinata for guidance on becoming more customer centric.


A company-wide initiative to internalize the Voice of the Customer (VOC) was identified as a vital step to becoming the top “partner of choice.” This was required to remain competitive and delight their customers and consumers every time.


Very little information about the customer was shared outside of the Sales department. Information gathering was not formalized or consistent. Very few in the organization really understood what was important to the customer. The organization lacked a cross functional approach to communicating and meeting customer expectations. An improvement initiative was required to gain a clear understanding of the needs of the customer and how to incorporate their voice into every aspect of the company.


Customer interviews were conducted gathering feedback on topics such a service, pricing, quality, communication, planning and account management. The customers were extremely candid and eager to provide their input. The collected information was collated and presented at a one-day executive workshop. Some of the feedback shared with the executive team was not a surprise, but many of the customer comments were not anticipated. It was the opportune time to implement an improvement plan to drive change.

The workshop process involved identifying value drivers that were important to the customer. Initiatives were brainstormed to leverage strengths, improve weaknesses and create new capabilities.

As a result the leadership was committed to transitioning the company from market focused to customer focused. To increase customer centricity across the organization, it was vital for all employees to understand and internalize the VOC.


The “Path to the Customer” was a change in strategy requiring the company to define a rallying cry for the organization. A detailed journey map was required for identifying organizational redesign, communication plans, measurements and the culture changes required to be successful.

The internal communication, collaboration, and strategic planning required to undertake the improvement initiative strengthened the company’s ability to engage with their customers effectively to ensure that they are truly heard, and their needs consistently met.

Take your vitamins

A leading vitamins and nutritional supplements company asks Zinata to put the “people and process” into their software technology process.


A market leader in nutritional supplements found itself with a complex web of systems, sites, and processes after a long period of growth through acquisition. Supply chains operated autonomously, order fill rates were unacceptable, and material shortages were common despite high inventories. Planning in the traditional sense was non-existent. The standard supply process was to resolve each issue through spreadsheets, e-mails and crisis calls one instance at a time. Something needed to be done to break the vicious cycle.

A new demand and planning software was in the works – but how to get from here to there without a serious crash and burn? There was already not enough hours in the day to run this chaotic business. While the organization was anxious for the new systems to roll out, carving out the time to learn, test, validate, migrate, and use this new system was barely a blip on the radar of those who needed it most.


When faced with a transition of this magnitude – simultaneously reengineering most aspects of the organization from a people, process, and systems perspective AND maintaining continuity of the day-to-day business – a clear plan of action had to be precisely planned and flawlessly executed. How do you eat an elephant? Take it one bite at a time. Build system and process capability and systematically grow human ability and habit to take advantage of it – at the proper pace. Too fast and people are overwhelmed, too slow and benefits are delayed.

Software was developed and integrated with existing systems. As the new software became operational, the developers taught people how to use the software (which buttons to push). Zinata led integrating the software and process into the business – addressing the why, when and where to push those buttons – in which system – at which time. Essentially, Zinata was asked to be the business integrator.


When Zinata engaged into this partnership, the team immediately integrated themselves into the business – working side by side with the supply chain teams to understand first-hand the processes in order to fully grasp the challenges. By integrating seamlessly, the on-site Zinata team established relationships, learned the lingo of the business and gained credibility by walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

A corporate S&OP process and new forecasting system came on-line and provided much needed future demand visibility. Zinata educated key leaders in supply chain concepts in a language familiar to them. An interim excel based tool was created integrating these forecasts with other disparate data needed to create production plans for manufacturing and packaging.

With an interim tool in place to keep the business running through transition, Zinata developed a “people” and “process” critical path schedule that matched up with the technology schedule. Zinata created a foundational learning series – providing best practice guidance on how to manage a supply chain using the new software, then extended to process training documents, enhanced user support, and the creation of a “triage” process for users to log software, process, and data defects. Lastly, Zinata developed a set of implementation metrics so everyone could follow progress and user maturity as they grew through the crawl, walk, and run phases.


Fill rates now regularly hit the 98% mark, inventories are based on need and material shortages are decreasing. The new planning software is up and running along with the new work processes that optimize its effectiveness. One-on-one knowledge transfer to key users has built permanent capability. The organization is stronger, more knowledgeable and more effective.

In sum, using this strategy, the implementation project was successful in large part because the consultant-client relationship was successful. The Zinata team was viewed not as an outside consultant but as an extension of the client team. As such, our recommendations and observations were viewed, not with the skepticism of another “theoretical” solution from a consultant that “won’t work here because…” but rather with the credibility afforded to a valued member of the team.

Holy Guacamole

A preeminent fruit producer asked Zinata to help guide it into a more fluid future. Here’s what happened.


The world’s leading producer, distributor and marketer of fresh Hass avocados needed help. It is a vertically integrated company whose focus is providing worldwide customers a year-round supply, global availability and various value-added services. Its troubles arose from rapid growth built on a homegrown information system that supported siloed functional operations. Zinata was asked to help re-map the business processes in order to help the company decide whether to drive future growth on the current information system or implement a new one.


Zinata proposed a broader view of the project – knowing that the work must start with a clear corporate (and supporting functional) vision of the future. Workshops were conducted first with the executive leadership team, then with functional leadership teams, to identify and acknowledge gaps in the current state, and to harness their dissatisfaction to create a clear, compelling vision of the future state they wished to reach.


Using standard Zinata processes and templates, the client was taught how to document their work processes at the functional level. By looking at each process through an input-process-output model, the team began to appreciate the connections between processes and functions. Zinata then brought multi-functional representatives together to draw the current and future states process maps. For the first time, people understood why their work was important to others and how their various parts in the process came together to complete the whole. This unleashed a powerful desire to solve all problems by working together using the best practice tools brought aboard by Zinata.


The corporate strategy is now more clearly articulated and communicated to the broader organization. A path forward to a new ERP system is in place. It includes new people capabilities and business work processes. Mid-level managers are energized and empowered to drive change now and well into the future by working together multi-functionally.

“Zinata is extremely responsive. They’ve done a tremendous job so far and have given us the tools and the confidence that we can get this done. They’ve followed through on every commitment.”
Company CEO

Drug problems

A global pharma leader turns to Zinata to help it bridge silos and speed up new product development.


The client, a large pharmaceutical company was stymied by increasing complexity in their R&D pipeline and an inefficient, outdated approach to technology transfer and new product development & introduction (NPDI). Management realized that current manual processes and siloed organizational structure across new product development and manufacturing were incapable of delivering the required speed-to-market, supply agility and product intelligence. In response, they’d launched several costly initiatives, each targeting a segment of the overall problem. Over time, it became clear that the initiatives’ deliverables were fragmented, sub-optimal and that overall progress was falling behind schedule.


Zinata was engaged to support the client’s initiatives and to deliver a seamless, integrated solution for NPDI from early-stage development through to product manufacturing. The client had identified key benefits upon which they desired the initiatives to deliver. They included improved product integrity and consistency; faster time-to-market; enhanced operational agility; improved product and process understanding; and improved analytics and visualization through digitization of key business processes and information. Understanding the overlapping initiative objectives and the underlying complexity of this bold transformation, Zinata and the client reframed the initiatives as a transformational program. We secured executive sponsorship to ensure cross-organizational alignment and to establish a single vision to enable the program’s successful deployment.


Zinata’s proposed solution focused on two main components: Standardization and Enterprise Recipe Management (ERM). The established Zinata Standards Framework and accelerators were augmented to suit the client, so they could be readily adopted across its businesses. Interviews and workshops were held to improve clarity of, and to define, the interfaces between the initiatives and functions. It became clear that ERM would provide the common and consistent language and process to knit together the silos, processes and initiatives into a harmonized program. The initiatives were synchronized to minimize redundant efforts and to capitalize on the standards framework and recipe management capabilities.


Since our deployment, the client has enjoyed much-strengthened collaboration between R&D and manufacturing through seamless information flows on the new product pipeline. Critical design decisions are now made with real-time input from key partners (R&D, manufacturing, quality, sourcing, etc.) in a collaborative spirit. The value of ERM and a standards framework to technology transfer has helped simplify the process while ensuring a high level of product quality. The client appreciates that adopting standards at the appropriate level and deploying ERM are supportive capabilities, even with their perspective that “all the products are different”. The team is now motivated and enthusiastic to progress all new products through this new, simplified process.