Smurfit-Stone Taps ePlus for Content Management

Packaging giant looks to automate aggregation, dissemination of its suppliers' catalog content

Herndon, VA  January 9, 2003  Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., an integrated manufacturer of paperboard- and paper-based packaging, is set to license content software from provider ePlus in a bid to automate the process of aggregating catalog content from its hundreds of suppliers.

Smurfit-Stone will license ePlus' Content+ to automate the process of aggregating its suppliers' catalog content, normalizing and managing that data, and delivering it to purchasers for easy access and searching.

This task has historically been painful due to the requirement of manually processing product content stored in multiple print and electronic formats. ePlus said that Content+ eliminates these problems with innovations such as its Common Language Generator, which automates the translation of plain text descriptions into enriched, parametrically searchable items.

In addition, the provider says that since its solution supports J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition), Smurfit-Stone will not need to install or upgrade software on end users' desktop machines. Instead, purchasers and suppliers can access, search and update catalog content through a Web browser from any computer.

Smurfit-Stone chose ePlus after an extensive evaluation of 10 providers based on 10 criteria, including ability to cleanse, host and search data. A second evaluation round focused on three providers, analyzing 120 criteria. Following that process, ePlus completed a successful three-month pilot program at more than a dozen Smurfit-Stone sites.

With the license of Content+, Smurfit-Stone will self-manage its product catalog content continuously using ePlus' catalog platform as a hosted hub. The hub is integrated with Smurfit-Stone's internal e-procurement application through XML. Smurfit-Stone will use Content+ to provide more than 1,600 suppliers with workflow and role-based processing and approvals for managing their proprietary data. Smurfit-Stone will retain change-management capabilities for security and control.

In addition, Smurfit-Stone will utilize the ePlus Supplier Portal to give its suppliers the ability to self-author their catalogs.

Once fully deployed through its enterprise, Smurfit-Stone will deploy Content+ to its approximately 300 facilities, where more than 2,000 users will be able to access the solution.

"Quality content is the foundation for successful e-business initiatives," noted John Haudrich, director of procurement process improvement at Smurfit-Stone. "Content+ provides Smurfit-Stone [with] a comprehensive method to properly manage all types of content, whether supplier, customer or maintenance management, on an enterprise basis."

In adopting the ePlus solution, Smurfit-Stone is looking for such benefits as the clear identification of products, properly classified for sourcing and reporting needs, which can help eliminate supplier overlap of commodities and help the company's buyers stick to contracted product catalogs and to preferred suppliers.

Smurfit-Stone also will be looking to the solution to provide accurate content to facilitate the company's strategic sourcing initiatives and spend analysis.