World Wide Technology and ClearOrbit: Enabling Supply Chain Collaboration

By Luis Blancas, Hau Lee
2006 | Case No. GS53
This case is about inter-firm IT-enabled supply chain collaboration and focuses on supplier-manufacturer collaboration. In order to assess collaboration from a holistic point of view, the case describes the distinct role played by the various parties involved in the collaborative effort: not only the manufacturer and its supply base, but also a consulting firm, a supply chain process outsourcing company, and a software provider. The case centers on the two latter companies—World Wide Technology (WWT), a $2 Billion supply chain process outsourcing company based in St. Louis, and ClearOrbit, a rapidly-growing software company based in Austin, TX. It narrates the story of a world-class automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) whose purchasing operations for maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) material had grown complex, costly, and error-prone. In mid-2004, and in partnership with a management consulting firm, WWT proposed an outsourcing program to the OEM - the consulting firm would perform strategic sourcing and WWT would manage the entire fulfillment cycle. A critical feature of this program was that it would be collaborative: WWT would exchange information in real time with the supply base in order to prevent costly incorrect deliveries and time-consuming reconciliation transactions. Early on in the program, however, it became apparent to WWT that delivering on the collaborative requirements of the program demanded the aid of specialized technological capabilities. WWT decided to partner with ClearOrbit, a company that had recently developed a product called Purchase Order Collaborator (POC), an Internet-based solution for companies to manage POs, deliveries, and invoices with a supply base regardless of size and technological resources available at each supplier. The case describes the challenges of design, implementation, and growth of the program.
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