How Whirlpool Planned The Digital Transformation of Their A/R Shared Services

What you’ll learn


  • How technology creates winning workplaces, provides a competitive advantage, and improves team productivity in order-to-cash
  • Blueprint your A/R automation with insights from Whirlpool: original plans, execution challenges, and final approach taken
  • Whirlpool’s 10 Steps Guide to drive digital transformation In A/R Shared Services

About Whirlpool And Their Shared Service Operations

Whirlpool is one of the world’s leading home appliances companies focused on innovation and winning the digital consumer journey. They decided to consolidate the EMEA finance operations from 4 shared services centers into 1 shared service facility after the acquisition of Indesit. Post-acquisition all the finance operations are managed from Lodz, Poland only.

Order-To-Cash Challenges Faced At Whirlpool

Before digital transformation stepped in to save the day, Whirlpool faced the following difficulties in order-to-cash management that decreased efficiency and negatively affected the bottom line:

Challenges faced by Whirlpool in order-to-cash processes: COVID Impact, ERP Migration, Less stability due to dynamic environment

Digital Transformation at Whirlpool

Whirlpool said ‘yes’ to digital transformation to smoothen all their challenges in order-to-cash processes to transform from a traditional home appliance company into a smart home company. Whirlpool’s vision is so as to evolve as a leader in the digital age.

“Our industry-leading position combined with our strategic digital transformation will drive additional benefits throughout our value chain, leading to significant value creation for our shareholders.”

– Marc Bitzer, Chairman and CEO, Whirlpool Corporation

10 Steps In Whirlpool’s A/R Digital Transformation Project

Here’s a ten-step guide that Whirlpool followed while driving digital transformation. These are necessary to be kept in mind before and during a transformation project in order to achieve a successful outcome.

10 steps involved in driving a digital transformation project: Identify processes, Vendor Evaluation, As-Is & To-Be analysis, Stakeholder Buy-in, Business Case Evaluation, Deployment Strategy, Change Management, Implementation Strategy, Post go-live performance, Future vision.

1. Deciding Which processes Should be Automated:

The answers to the following questions could help in identifying the processes:

  • Is it a transactional/rule-driven process?
  • Is there high volume of action items?
  • Is it a labor heavy process?
  • How are other companies in the market going about it?
  • Is there a likelihood for system change in the near future?

2. Finding The Right Vendor:

Once the processes to automate are identified, organizations should conduct research and evaluate solution options available in the market. They also need to involve key stakeholders in this process and build a coalition of senior leaders that can play a vital role in driving the project. Here’s a checklist that could be considered for selecting the perfect vendor:

  • Is it a transactional/rule-driven process?
  • Is there high volume of action items?
  • Is it a labor heavy process?
  • How are other companies in the market going about it?
  • Is there a likelihood for system change in the near future?

3. Assessment For As-Is and To-Be Analysis:

When embarking on the as-is & to-be analysis, it is important to remember that business process analysis does not exist in isolation. Instead of analysing one process, it is crucial to document and map all other related processes as well.

The as-is phase outlines the current state of business processes and any gaps or issues with the current mode of operation. Once it is mapped out, the to-be phase of the process can be framed.

4. Stakeholder Buy-In:

In order for Whirlpool to adopt digital transformation, buy-in was required not only from the C-suite but from colleagues and other stakeholders from IT too. These are the three stages to be considered in the process of getting the stakeholders on board:

  • Identification: The internal as well as external stakeholders involved should be identified.
  • Planning: The business case and benefits should be strategized and well documented while keeping their perspective in mind before getting presented.
  • Communication: The KPIs and metrics that would improve should be highlighted so as to make them understand what’s in it for them. All the developments and progress are communicated at all times.

5. Business Case Evaluation:

It’s hard to drive digital initiatives and business transformation without a proper business case. Stakeholders want to know what their investment is supposed to get them. Following are some best practices to be kept in mind

  • Share the business case with the project team and consulting vendor
  • Get commitment from IT, Business & Consulting Vendor to meet the ROI objectives
  • Is it a labor heavy process?
  • How are other companies in the market going about it?
  • Is there a likelihood for system change in the near future?

6. Pilot Deployment Strategy:

The implementation strategy at Whirlpool involved the following factors:

  • The order of implementation across different business units: from beginning till end was decided proactively.
  • They decided whether to implement across multiple geographies at once, or one at a time
  • They had strong contingency planning in place- eye was kept on anything that could go wrong and backup plans were designed to address those.

7. Change Management:

Many digital transformations projects fail because employees don’t support them. People are biased to stay the same and often struggle with change, even if they see the potential benefits. The action plan that worked for Whirlpool was to assess and identify the need for change and develop the change plans. Before implementing changes proper training must be conducted and post-implementation assessment and fine-tuning should be done.

8. Next Wave Implementation Strategy:

Apart from ideal plans for go-live, the following were considered by Whirlpool to ensure maximum results:

  • Few primary countries were targeted to start the implementation process and learn from
  • Accounts that were operating in multiple geographies were prioritized
  • They looked at the accounts with the lowest complexity with lots of line items to increase automation success rate

9. Tracking Post Go-Live Performance:

System failure, or a piece of the puzzle not working out, is a common scenario post-go-live and needs to be checked. Here’s are some best practices according to Whirlpool:

  • Track the number of items processed, keeping a close look at the success rate
  • Staying on top of the most critical issues during weekly and monthly meetings
  • Tracking the overall performance and the partnership between vendors & other parties involved

10. Having A Future Vision For Opportunities:

Digital transformation would build a holistic customer experience by breaking down the gaps between order-to-cash processes. Organizations should have an idea for future ventures with a bucket list of new operations and advanced technologies such as AI and natural language processing that could be included later with priority towards more standardization and simplification in order-to-cash processes.

Conclusion

Does your company experience difficulty in maintaining consistency across the board when collaborating with multiple BUs? While looking into roadblocks affecting better process visibility, Whirlpool struck a chord between Efficiency and Effectiveness while addressing a better business process. In dealing with a Shared Service Model for A/R processes, with operations around the globe, the evolution of visibility across BUs is a requisite. With a stringent plan for digital transformation, the error-prone manual operations model could be revised into a standardized, easy to access, and a consistent one. Right now digital transformation is the need of the hour and every organization now needs to follow the motto ‘Either Be The First or The Best’ while planning to take the route to digital transformation. Change is inevitable and sooner or later most of the businesses would definitely have to embrace these changes.

Check out the webinar below where experts from Whirlpool talk about their experience of implementing and using technology for order-to-cash, where they were before automation, and where they see themselves a few years down the line.

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