Helping an industry leader transform its business

Our client’s need

With $5.3 billion in sales, multiple best-in-class brands, over 70 distribution centers and 30,000 reseller customers, Essendant is one of the nation’s leading wholesale distributors for business and facility essentials.

With market demand for traditional office products declining and customers purchasing a broader array of products online, Essendant recognized the need to change. To better serve customers, Essendant’s leadership decided to integrate and streamline their multiple businesses. A common  IT and operating platform was to be created to combine the two largest business units and become the solution to address the many challenges of today’s marketplace.

Essendant engaged Baker Tilly to work closely with program leadership to develop and implement an approach to support the transformation of the company to become the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials.

Baker Tilly solution

Baker Tilly brought the methodology and resources to help Essendant through their journey by tailoring change management and project management to align to the needs of the business.

The Baker Tilly approach considered the complex dimensions of the client’s business, the overall impact of the change, and the customer experience the client was trying to replicate. By balancing the client’s long term vision with the current operational capabilities, Baker Tilly was able to customize a solution to enable the client’s success.

Baker Tilly delivered project management expertise to provide structure to the activities to achieve their goals, and a process for raising and resolving issues and key decisions throughout the program.

Baker Tilly also provided change management to enable customers, suppliers and internal associates to understand and support the overall solution. A key and foundational plank of the program included executive sponsorship and cross-functional communications aligned to each step in the client’s change journey.

Results achieved

Essendant cited key elements of the Baker Tilly approach and execution as being instrumental in achieving success. “The Baker Tilly team was an essential part of the overall project team and provided their expertise to guide our change management efforts, managed numerous communications and challenged our traditional thinking. These efforts helped drive and deliver our goal of becoming the fastest, most convenient solution for workplace essentials,” says Janet Zelenka, Essendant SVP and CIO.

By partnering closely with Baker Tilly, Essendant was able to successfully convert 29 facilities to the common and IT operating platform on time and on budget. With the help of Baker Tilly project and change management, Essendant successfully prepared and on-boarded over 170 suppliers and 7,500 customers to the new platform.

Baker Tilly’s approach to project management included the identification, oversight and integration of numerous resources the client needed to prepare for, execute, sustain and adapt to change.

Baker Tilly worked side-by-side with client project owners to prepare a clear and compelling change story, and distribute it as part of an extensive communications plan featuring a road show to win stakeholder buy-in to the company’s strategy. Additionally, Baker Tilly developed and delivered original content associated with hundreds of communications that fostered understanding and commitment to business and technology change. Baker Tilly helped author a conversion guide for customers which detailed the change and explained how customer will do business on the new platform. 

“Baker Tilly’s change management tools and processes allowed us to successfully manage the expectation of our customers, suppliers, and associates throughout our journey to transform our business.  By using a methodology of viewing impacts ‘from the customer back’ we were able to effectively identify, communicate and train on enhancements to our systems, processes and policies to manage our stakeholders through their change curves,” says Janet Zelenka.

Other highlights included:

Analysis of issues and impacts
Baker Tilly’s analysis centered on partnering with the client to understand the requirements associated with comprehensive changes to business processes and policies related to critical areas such as item content, supply chain and customer experience. Once the requirements were understood, specific stakeholder needs were identified. Baker Tilly performed dozens of impact analyses on a diverse range of customer, technical, operational and business issues. This in-depth analysis established a solid platform for change execution.

Change preparedness including change event planning and execution
Using the results of its impact analyses, Baker Tilly worked with the client to develop a timeline for change that defined in detail those key change events associated with customer and facility conversion. Baker Tilly conducted change readiness assessments at intervals to assess and measure stakeholder receptivity to change.

Communications & Training
Using impact analyses to determine appropriate learning objectives, Baker Tilly collaborated with the client to build a complete suite of training and performance development modules for its national sales force, care organization, operations, suppliers and customers. The trainings focused on fostering understanding of the extensive capabilities of the common platform and ways to leverage it to unlock growth potential. 


For more information on this topic or to learn how Baker Tilly consultants can help your business, please contact our team.