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The Project: Link every Whirlpool factory and sales operation together with suppliers and key retail partners.

The Payoff: Whirlpool cut inventory as a percentage of sales from 15% in 1997 to 12% today.

The scene at Whirlpool (WHR) Corp. was as messy as a tubful of filthy laundry. This was the mid-'90s, and the appliance maker, after expanding around the globe, was stymied by hundreds of computer systems that couldn't talk with one another. Whirlpool couldn't figure out how many products to make or to hold in inventory. Today, there's far less guesswork at the $11.8 billion company. Nearly every Whirlpool site worldwide is linked by e-business software. This has helped cut inventories from 15% of sales in 1997 to 12% today. The laundry's smelling fresher. By Michael Arndt

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