Mary Kay rejuvenates its supply chain

From ordering to manufacturing to inventory control, Mary Kay enjoys new visibility

Talk about an extreme makeover.

Things will never look the same at Mary Kay, one of the larger direct sellers of cosmetics and skin care products, thanks to a wholesale conversion to Web-based supply-chain management, plus a new portal with revamped financial reporting capabilities.

“Transactions now flow in real-time,” says Doug Voss, director of supply-chain systems, adding that supply-chain managers can now change inventory and distribution requirements daily rather than monthly. “Before, key information was maintained in several different places. That’s down to one.”

The hub of the streamlined operation is PeopleSoft’s EnterpriseOne ERP package, which is integrated with Manhattan Associates’ Warehouse Management and Trading Partner Management products. “Everything flows through EnterpriseOne,” Voss notes. “For supply-chain managers, it means working within a single integrated application, but under the lid we’re leveraging a number of best-of-breed applications.”

The system allowed the company to migrate from a pallet-based inventory control system to case-level tracking throughout the supply chain, which provides more granular inventory management, says Steve Crosnoe, a vice president at Hitachi Consulting, who helped supervise the implementation. The system also enables auto-replenishment of warehouse resources in eight distribution centers across the Unites States, complete with a new system to record labor hours.

Another benefit is real-time visibility into financial data — accessible through a portal powered by Microsoft’s SQL Server Reporting Services — which gives accounting executives up-to-the-minute information to take to the boardroom.

“From sales-order processing through manufacturing and inventory control, the transactions are tracked and visible by all department heads,” Crosnoe says. “The company has brought their vendors, suppliers, and partners a lot closer to their own systems, further enhancing inventory visibility across the supply chain.”

The project required extensive integration of real-time transactional information between new and legacy systems, calling for an IT support team of no less than 40 people to pull it off. Microsoft’s BizTalk provided the XML integration platform, Crosnoe says, with Microsoft’s SQL Server providing the data store.

Mary Kay’s IT team launched the project in 2002 and brought it live in May 2004. “With a project this size, it’s fair to say not all the dust has settled yet,” Voss says. “So far we’ve experienced excellent system availability and no major ‘gotchas,’ but there’s a lot of ongoing work.”

The undertaking is part of a larger effort to expand the company’s reach to new shores. “The nirvana is to set us up for advanced planning initiatives,” Voss says. “We’re taking a hard look at procurement costs of raw materials and looking at making decisions differently — from a global perspective. We couldn’t have done that with the previous systems.”

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