The Project: A network linking 320 stores to take orders and alert store managers when they have overstocked.
The Payoff: Ordering errors are down 90%, while productivity gains allow managers to run twice as many shops.
That chocolate-glazed confection with green sprinkles on top is still the work of human hands at Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp. (KKD ) But a new Web system at the Winston-Salem (N.C.)-based chain is taking over lots of other chores, from tracking the doughnut mix to doling out the right colors of sprinkles. Frank A. Hood, chief information officer of the $492 million company, says the intranet reduces much of the grunt work for the employees, allowing them to focus on customer service. The system monitors managers' behavior, alerting them if they accidentally order 500 bags of doughnut mix instead of the regular five. If a store manager receives damaged goods, he can immediately notify the warehouse online to ship replacements.
This coordination has cut down on costly errors. The company is on track to record fewer than 3,000 problem orders this year, down from 26,000 in 2000. Productivity is going up: 10 district managers now handle 320-plus stores, up from 144 three years ago. They're mighty busy, but when it's time to make the doughnuts, they have all the computing help they need.
By Charles Haddad