Haworth began as a small family-owned business in Holland, Michigan, and has since evolved into a global leader in the contract furnishings industry with a focus on sustainability. To continue Haworth’s global expansion, an ideal future state vision was defined and key business strategies that would guide Haworth to achieving that vision were developed. Implementing an ERP software to further optimize operations was the next step toward achieving that vision. Haworth began taking steps to reach this goal in 2011, implementing SAP as the new ERP system. To reduce implementation risk and focus on key business strategies leading to company development, Haworth determined it needed to more effectively communicate and manage its members (employees) through better change management practices.


A study looking at change management found that 66% of change initiatives fail to achieve the desired outcome, and 57% of organizations experience a decline in workforce productivity during change management initiatives. Although Haworth had already composed a step by step plan to reach company-wide goals that would minimally effect workforce productivity, no mechanism was in place to enforce these changes. The theoretical next step in achieving Haworth’s defined future state vision was the decision to integrate an ERP software— this would reduce costs and streamline operations management. As implementation progressed, Haworth realized the gap between current and future state processes was too large to proceed with the developed SAP implementation plan. In one case, the gap in people readiness led to a plant-wide shut down for an extended period of time. To reduce risk of future interference in plant operations, Haworth shifted their implementation strategy to an inline corridor approach and formed the Haworth Business Implementation Team (BIT). While this BIT contained the foundational business, process, system, and manufacturing skillsets necessary for addressing site and people readiness, there was a gap in expertise around change management.

Haworth members (employees) needed to understand why the change was necessary, and how the change would affect them. They needed leaders to communicate better, to assure people readiness, and to ensure that members adhered to newly defined processes—especially in the realm of inventory control. Most importantly, they needed refined change management practices that would guide them in executing key business strategies to realize Haworth’s future state vision. As Jon Gauthier, a partner at SDI Performance details, “The big change wasn’t SAP, it was the Haworth supply chain vision, how they want to optimize operations and attain their future state vision—this is what had the greatest impact requiring the plants to change.” Before taking steps to reach their defined ideal future state, Haworth first had to address current state challenges.


Aware of the challenges before them, Haworth turned to address the big question: how to close the gap in current and future state vision?

Enter SDI Performance

SDI Performance was the perfect partner for the job. They first defined the change management process for leaders and members at Haworth, and then developed a change management “toolkit.” The toolkit included strategies for: understanding readiness and impact for change; engaging “executers” and plant leadership; fostering an understanding of why this change was necessary; defining each individual’s role in the change; describing specific communication and training strategies; and defining protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), thereby streamlining plant operations. Our on-site performance consultants then proceeded to take primary ownership of several important aspects including: processes documentation, gaps analysis, business and process improvement strategies to address current state challenges prior to SAP implementation, and support in the implementation effort itself.

In the next phase, SDI standardized change management processes in each plant, easing the implementation of key business strategies for Haworth and paving the path to the future state vision. Combined with the creation of a separate SDI Business Implementation Team, this caused change management to progress much more effectively. The SDI BIT supported inventory, purchasing, planning, and manufacturing by encouraging communication, furthering change management initiatives, smoothing current process flow, and defining future state mapping— as well as providing hypercare support after “go live” dates. At this point the initiative transformed from a deadline focused project to an ongoing engagement. SDI Performance was there to assist with more than your standard ERP implementation, they were there to close gaps, ramp up people and project readiness, and improve operations management.

The next stage of our engagement with Haworth was signaled by the establishment of SDI Performance team member, Don Gleason, as temporary plant manager for the Haworth Ludington plant. With a SDI Performance presence in plant level leadership, the actual plant manager was able to dedicate more time to SAP implementation and change management. Eventually, we transitioned to placing more emphasis on performing operational assessments and working with individual plants on everything from identifying gaps to assisting in specific plant projects. When asked about his strategy to understand individual plant needs, Don described his method of “…evaluating schedules, quality, costs, and inventory accuracy to create a scoreboard for each Haworth plant that demonstrates plant stability, productivity, process flow, and other areas of operation.” This scoreboard showed where plants were satisfying Haworth requirements and what key business strategies merited a greater focus.

SDI Performance team members were onsite to the extent that preserving an outside perspective and keeping from total immersion in Haworth’s plant culture became difficult. We retained our valuable outside perspective by taking a step back and re-analyzing the situation when necessary. Throughout this time, the SDI BIT shifted Haworth’s change approach to first focusing on plant readiness for change, then blueprinting the change, and finally realization of the change/go live with SAP. We developed a plan that staggered each plant’s progress through these stages, which caused change management and SAP implementation to progress much smoother and led the SDI BIT to better identify opportunities for readiness within plants.


SDI Performance has helped Haworth take change management in a different, more efficient direction. Not only is Haworth implementing SAP more effectively, but they are now able to better anticipate, address, and understand areas where potential challenges will arise before plant productivity is affected. SDI Performance has optimized plant operations and mitigated potential future risks stemming from changes in business processes like SAP implementation. Working with SDI Performance, Haworth now places more of an emphasis on change management initiatives. This has increased member discipline and engagement while also standardizing plant processes— leading to an overall increase in productivity. With the support of SDI Performance, Haworth has made and will continue to make substantial progress toward their future state goals. Jesse Pentecost, head of the Haworth BIT perfectly wraps up the experience of partnering with SDI Performance:

“[SDI Performance] showed expertise in each of these business groups [referring to Manufacturing/Quality, Inbound/Outbound/Inventory, and Supply Chain] to jump in quickly and learn the business so that we could close gaps between current state and future state to ensure smooth deployment of SAP. The ability of the team to react quickly and identify issues on the fly has been evident. The team has also been very supportive of ensuring success, often willing to work extended hours or off shifts… the ability to adapt to our new strategy and provide specific skillsets has proven invaluable to the project.”