With its network of infrastructure spread all over the world sending and receiving information 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, the Internet may be the most complex supply chain devised by mankind. Since 1996, Atlanta-based Internap has been helping its customers around the world fit into the Internet’s global supply chain with a range of high-performance Internet infrastructure services, from cloud to colocation, that allow these organizations to connect to end-users with the greatest efficiency possible. Many of Internap’s customers are in industries – such as ecommerce, ad tech and online gaming, among others – that require the speed and reliability to process massive amounts of data in real time and the scalability to quickly and easily adapt to changing business and end user demands.
It’s no surprise, then, that Internap is acutely aware of the necessity for an optimized internal supply chain to turn up new capacity on demand. Internap has embarked on a journey to become a more dynamic and centralized procurement organization. As Senior Director of Procurement Adam Crowe explains, Internap has taken a long, hard look at its internal processes and found opportunities to streamline supply chain operations and better serve customers. “Over the past year, we’ve been working to fully integrate the supply chain at Internap,” Crowe says.
As the company looks forward to 2015, Internap is well on its way to a more integrated supply chain within its operations, and Crowe says the company is doing everything it can to ensure that every employee from top to bottom is fully invested in the process. With the progress the company has made so far, Internap is on track to finish 2015 with a more effective and efficient supply chain.
Before Crowe joined the company, Internap’s procurement model was more reactionary and based on daily requirements. Procurement was decentralized, meaning each business unit across the company was procuring only for itself. This led to redundancies and time wasted for managers within each business unit. The system also was essentially a manual process, which made for a very time-consuming process that had a high potential for errors. Crowe says there was a lot of room for improvement.
“Over the past 15 months, what we’ve been trying to do is bring it more into a centralized model and get internal customers as well as the suppliers involved,” Crowe says. In a centralized procurement model, Internap will be able to plan for demand well in advance and create a sourcing model that is more strategic in nature. Crowe says the aim is to create a model that allows the company’s suppliers and internal customers to collaborate on procurement.
A focus on Internap’s internal customers has been coded into the company’s procurement revitalization, and Crowe says the procurement system should serve the needs of those internal customers because it will “provide them with the service they need to be successful to our external customers.”
Another substantial element of the company’s supply chain transformation is automation, which Internap is implementing through an Oracle platform. Not only will the new automated system reduce errors, but it also will reduce the time employees spend on filling out orders.
“That’s going to free up a huge chunk of time for our people in the field,” Crowe says.
The biggest challenge Crowe and his team faced in implementing these sweeping changes to Internap’s procurement process has been a cultural one. “It’s been my experience that communicating the benefits of change is always key,” he says.
By laying out a multiphase plan that outlines the transformational process over three years, Internap has a strong tool for communicating the changes to employees and ensuring that everyone understands what is being done and why. Crowe says the company recently expanded the team implementing the changes so that it can more effectively implement the platforms and be “evangelists” for the system.
Crowe says the process is taking hold successfully so far, and already Internap has seen tighter process controls. With the more strategic procurement model in place, Crowe says, the company is seeing decisions being made that are good not just for one business unit but the entire company as a whole. He says based on his past experience, Internap is on the right track. “Having come from Honeywell, I am well-versed in what a tight process brings to the table,” Crowe says.