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Newman’s Own, Inc. Embraces Digital Transformation to Drive Impact

Updated: Apr 25

Aug 29, 2023 | Newman's Own Inc | Transformation | CIO | Leadership | By Kapil Nagpal and Priyanka Nagpal

Newman's Own embraces digital transformation to nourish communities
Newman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communities

Newman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communitiesNewman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communities.

Newman's Own, Inc. (NoI) is an American food company that uses all the money it receives from the sale of its products to nourish the lives of children who face adversity, support their families, and transform their communities. The company has a broad range of products and serves millions of customers across the country. In 1982, Paul Newman pioneered the idea of a philanthropic enterprise. Since then, Newman's Own Inc. has donated more than $600 million to good causes.

Newman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communitiesNewman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communities.

100% profits to help kids
100% profits to help kids

The mission is to transform the lives of children who face adversity

Born out of obsession
Paul Newman pioneered the concept of a philanthropic enterprise and founded Newman's Own in 1982

In 1980, driven by a spirit of generosity, Paul Newman initially created homemade salad dressing as gifts for friends. However, the demand grew and the venture turned into a successful business.

Newman found himself with $300,000 in profits. In a remarkable decision, he declared, "Let's give it all away", pioneering the concept of a philanthropic enterprise.

The Newman's Own, Inc. Foundation continues Paul's commitment to using all the money that it receives from the sale of its products to support children.

The Challenge

Angelo Fischetti, Chief Information Officer at Newman's Own, Inc. recognized the need to evolve the company's operations to meet the demands of the digital age. The renowned for-profit charity food company, faced the challenge of optimizing its operations, enhancing efficiency, and deepening its impact on the community.

"When I came on board in 2020, the company was very far behind from a technology perspective, still running as if it were in the 90s. Everything was on-premise, some systems were at the end of life and technology had not been significantly enhanced in several years. We had to attack all fronts simultaneously to support the business and to put us in a position where our tools were on par with our competitors in the market.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

Angelo wanted to leverage technology to improve the company's agility, decision-making, and overall competitiveness. The organization needed a solution that would streamline processes, provide visibility into critical operational aspects, and facilitate better resource management to support its philanthropic initiatives effectively.

Legacy systems
Legacy systems

Legacy systems and outdated infrastructure

One of the first challenges Angelo faced was the legacy systems and outdated infrastructure that hindered the company's ability to innovate and scale. Critical systems were on-premise, with some at the end of life and technology had not been touched in 12 years. Network file shares were being used for storage. The productivity tools were not where they needed to be with Office 365 and an integrated set of tools or the use of a common Content Management System.

Data management and manual business processes
Data management and manual business processes

Data management and manual business processes

The reliance on manual methods hindered efficiency, accuracy, and productivity across various operations. Data management proved to be a cumbersome task, with difficulties in data entry, storage, retrieval, and analysis. These challenges not only increased the risk of errors but also limited the ability to make informed decisions based on real-time insights.

"In the past, the supply chain team would reach out to a warehouse or manufacturer asking for data, and literally, someone at that plant would e-mail an Excel spreadsheet to someone in our business. The data was managed completely manually on their desktop. A lot of this data management could have been integrated with tools, which became the scope of our ERP program, reducing a significant amount of annual manual labor. ", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

Recognizing the need for improvement, Newman's Own, Inc. embarked on a digital transformation journey to automate processes, streamline data management, and unlock the full potential of our organization.

Limited decision-making capabilities
Limited decision-making capabilities

Limited decision-making capabilities

One of the key challenges was the reliance on outdated and disconnected applications. The systems in place were running as if it were still the 1990s, with on-premise infrastructure and outdated productivity tools. It was difficult for employees to collaborate effectively and access up-to-date information. Decision-making processes were slow and inefficient, relying on manual data collection and manipulation.

The absence of a centralized and streamlined project management approach added complexity to decision-making processes. Without a clear project management framework and governance structure, requests and priorities were not adequately managed or tracked.

This led to inconsistencies, delays, and a lack of transparency in decision-making.

Resistance to change
Resistance to change

Resistance to change

"Key systems were on-premise, and at or near end-of-life with years of technical debt to be addressed."

As with any organization, individuals within the company were accustomed to familiar processes and systems that had been in place for years. The prospect of adopting new technologies, modifying workflows, and embracing unfamiliar ways of working created resistance among employees.

Resource constraints
Resource constraints

Resource constraints

The organization faced resource constraints and had to prioritize its spending and innovation efforts.

The underinvestment in technology for years had accumulated technical debt, making it difficult to allocate resources toward digital initiatives.

Limited financial resources meant that decision-makers had to carefully prioritize their spending, often resulting in delays or compromises when it came to technology investments.

One takeaway for technology leaders

Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman's Own, Inc.
Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman's Own, Inc.
"Stay focused on the prize. Scope creep is where you get lost, and failures come in. Prioritize what's truly business-critical, seizing small wins while keeping complexity at bay.
Land the MVP, achieve go-live, and iterate rapidly. Success hinges on disciplined prioritization.",

The Solution

The digital transformation program started with assessing priorities in 2020, selecting vendors, redesigning the integration landscape in 2021, and implementing it in 2022. Some key highlights of the transformation impact:

Newman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communitiesNewman's Own, Inc. embraces digital transformation to nourish communities.
"Our budgeting approach was characterized by prudence, ensuring the careful selection of skilled contractors through a rigorous interview process. Equally paramount was our deliberate effort to involve the business stakeholders, ensuring their active participation and support throughout the transformation journey.",- Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman's Own, Inc.

Comprehensive assessment of current systems and prioritizing areas that required improvement

The organization lacked a comprehensive assessment of its systems. Without a clear understanding of its technology landscape, decision-makers had limited visibility into operational inefficiencies, hindering their ability to identify areas for optimization or innovation. Angelo aimed to optimize the use of limited resources and achieve high-value outcomes.

"We strategically engaged external resources and diligently crafted several financial options to align with the company's budgetary constraints.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

The company went through a comprehensive assessment of its systems and prioritized areas that required improvement. They focused on optimizing inventory management, improving demand forecasting, and enhancing customer service.

"Recognizing the long-standing underinvestment in technology, we meticulously addressed the accumulated technical debt by prioritizing its removal and replacement.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

Angelo adeptly turned the challenge of turnover to his advantage, leveraging it as an opportunity to drive meaningful change. Recognizing that new staff members were not bound by the historical norms and resistance to change, he harnessed their fresh perspectives and openness to innovation. By actively involving them in the transformation process, capitalized on their enthusiasm to embrace new technologies and methodologies.

"Generally the people here are now more open to change because they aren't tied to history, and we leverage that to our advantage. We created multiple change champions in each function for not only the application but for helping us roll out Office 365 in the productivity suite.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

Transforming Food for Good by leveraging ERP for efficient philanthropy

Newman's Own, Inc. embarked on a digital transformation journey. The successful implementation of an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system streamlined the company's operations and improved data accuracy. In addition, Angelo deployed analytics dashboards that enhanced the company's decision-making capabilities.

"Digital transformation is not just about technology; it's about enabling positive change and delivering value to our customers and community. At Newman's Own, Inc., our digital transformation journey has empowered us to embrace innovation, enhance operational efficiency, and deepen our impact. We are proud of the progress we have made and remain dedicated to leveraging technology to drive positive change in the world.",

The ERP go-live at Newman's Own was postponed to early 2023 to prioritize the simultaneous brand re-launch and ensure its successful execution. The postponement allowed the company to concentrate its resources and efforts on effectively repositioning the brand, ensuring a seamless transition for customers and stakeholders and strategic alignment of multiple initiatives to maximize their impact. This coordinated approach set the stage for a comprehensive and impactful transformation at Newman's Own, Inc.

Developing a cloud strategy

At Newman's Own, Inc. everything was on-premise, and there was no cloud strategy in place. After an extensive search across the products, Angelo selected Oracle NetSuite. This allowed Newman's Own to get out of their data center, to get into the cloud, reduced their cyber security risks, freed the company up from VPN and other desktop tools to get to the old systems, and brought up speed and efficiency with the latest technology,

"We had to attack the lack of application base immediately, to bring the application suite up to speed. In parallel, we also had to attack the problem of no productivity suite. I had to ensure that the office staff and the employees, work with more modern tools and could collaborate more closely. So I had to hit all fronts to improve the business to put us in a position where we could compete more in the market.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

Restructuring integration hub

The company focused on completely restructuring its integration hub.

"We had the old spaghetti diagram with crosstalk between systems. We completely rearchitected that to a cloud spoke and hub architecture and migrated many of the integrations to EDI or API’s. We are prepping our reporting tools and our data so that we can look forward to leveraging AI in the future.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman’s Own, Inc.

Building a culture of innovation

Let's give it all away
Let's give it all away

Digital transformation was instrumental in fostering a culture of innovation at Newman's Own. Embracing new technologies and digitizing their processes created a foundation for continuous improvement and innovation.

"Our teams are empowered to explore creative solutions, experiment with emerging technologies, and identify new ways to add value for our customers and stakeholders. Digital transformation has opened doors to innovation and positioned Newman's Own as a forward-thinking organization.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman's Own, Inc.

As an example, the marketing function at NoI adopted a new ideation process using AI as a partner, to not only look deeper at product ideas and customer personalization but also to look across it with a wider lens. When there is an option that looks interesting, they can go much deeper using emerging technologies.

The technology organization has also led several sessions with the business on how to use ChatGPT, Bing chat, Google Bard, and Copilot, when to leverage open-source tools, and the aspect of data protection.

"We have key people in the business that are driving the use of AI. Technology is giving the business teams the tools they need to start creating and be part of the innovation rather than technology driving it alone.", - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman's Own, Inc.

The company could not extract meaningful insights from its data, which limited its decision-making capabilities. They implemented Laminar IT analytics dashboards that provided the company with real-time insights into their data, allowing the management to make data-driven decisions, identify areas for improvement, and optimize the ERP implementation.

There was no rigor on project intake and prioritization, standardization, and no automation within the PMO function. The Laminar PMO dashboards gave the client real-time insight into key performance indicators on implementation, adoption, and system usage and helped identify areas for improvement. These dashboards were used by the leadership team as well as by the employees during the implementation process.

“Thanks to the Laminar analytics dashboards, we now have real-time visibility into our ERP implementation progress and performance, allowing us to make data-driven decisions and course correct quickly to ensure project success.”, - Angelo Fischetti, CIO at Newman's Own, Inc.

The implementation of innovation tools was seen as crucial for taking productivity to the next level and staying competitive in the market.


100% profits to help kids
100% profits to help kids

Newman's Own exemplifies the power of digital transformation to amplify the impact of a for-profit charity food company. The digital transformation led to significant improvements in areas such as cloud adoption, application rationalization, infrastructure optimization, and budget efficiency. Specific metrics and self-reported hours were collected to measure the impact. By embracing innovation and implementing a tailored ERP solution, they deepened their engagement with the community they serve. Through their commitment to making a difference, Newman's Own continues to nourish communities and inspire others to follow their philanthropic journey.

About Us

Gravitas Consulting – a boutique consulting firm specializing in bringing Insight to Oversight.

Our story began with the deep desire to drive tangible, visible, and measurable outcomes for clients. With that as our guiding beacon, we launched Gravitas Consulting – a boutique consulting firm specializing in bringing Insight to Oversight.

We help our clients scale and improve their businesses by the thoughtful application of Intelligent Information to guide decisions and actions. We leverage our data analytics and visualization, enterprise program and change management, and customer experience design expertise to provide leaders with the intelligence they need to do what they do best, even better.

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