Neenah Paper shuffles IT after split from Kimberly-Clark

Severed from its corporate parent, Neenah Paper Inc. is building an IT infrastructure starting with essential applications like HR, accounting and supply chain.

Alpharetta, Ga.-based Neenah split from paper products giant Kimberly-Clark

last December. Kimberly-Clark was in the midst of its own SAP deployment, but, following a competitive bid process, Neenah decided to start anew with Oracle’s 11i suite of applications.

“There was really a green field opportunity. We had to get off the systems that we were on with Kimberly-Clark,” said Jim Mooney, Neenah’s director of IT. “We really took the opportunity to step back and look at (bringing the business) together on one environment.”

Neenah selected Perot Systems to handle deployment of the Oracle applications, which will be completed over the next few years in a three-phase program. First will be the aforementioned HR, accounting and supply chain pieces; second will be manufacturing tools; and third will be Neenah’s operations in Canada.

It was essential to start with applications critical to Neenah’s business and to establish the company as an IT entity separate from its former corporate parent, said Chris Dame, project manager at Plano, Tex.-based Perot Systems.

“Neenah Paper was at the mercy of the way Kimberly-Clark did business,” said Dame. “Now that Neenah Paper is their own company, they can certainly work towards streamlining their business processes, redefining them towards what makes sense for their business and not a multi-billion dollar company’s business.”

Neenah operates two pulp mills in Canada: Terrace Bay, Ont.; and Picto, N.S. Those and other facilities in Canada are the last phase of the operation because they were never fully integrated with Kimberly-Clark’s IT infrastructure to begin with, said Mooney.

In Canada, the company was working with a mixture of Avantis and Infinium software. “Both of those platforms we had let fall way behind in maintenance and updates,” he said.

The Canadian operations will make the transition to Oracle applications sometime in 2007. All three phases are being planned concurrently to ensure that all the pieces fit together when the final deadline is completed. “We’re absolutely taking the Canadian operations into consideration (now) if for no other reason than to make sure that we’re not designing anything within the Oracle applications without taking into consideration the way things will need to be done in the third phase,” said Dame.

“There business processes are begging to be redefined,” he added, noting that the company will be able to reinvent itself purely by being a much smaller business compared with Kimberly-Clark.

Tony Kopyar, Oracle practice leader for Perot Systems, said, “They’re going to be able to gain efficiencies from having processes that fit the size of business that they’re in.”

According to Mooney, Neenah will be able to lean on Kimberly-Clark for IT support for a while before moving to a self-management model. A hardware upgrade may follow in time, but there is no specific schedule planned yet.

A change management team with Neenah is in the midst of figuring out the training requirements for the software upgrade, which could be substantial, he said, and the actual training will likely be handled by a mix of internal and external resources.

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