Not Just Any Solution, But The Right One

Distributors with large and sophisticated supplier communities should seek productivity and automation solutions that drive profitable business relationships.

Owens & Minor (O&M) is a major player in healthcare distribution and supply chain management, with sales approaching $7B and 4,600 employees. The company is constantly challenged with improving time to ‘operationalize’ new suppliers, execute fluid trading-partner communications, and drive supply chain collaboration – all while maintaining a low cost-to serve customer operation in a high volume, slim margin business.

In this environment of continuous change, sizable healthcare distributors with large and sophisticated supplier communities are seeking productivity and automation solutions that drive profitable business relationships.

For O&M, RollStream responded to this need with an online solution that offered the community management capabilities of an enterprise portal solution, combined with immediate productivity and communication tools required for supplier mergers and acquisitions.

Among other things, Owens & Minor (O&M) is responsible for helping hospitals and healthcare providers serve patients with medical and surgical needs. With over 180,000 products and more than 1,200 suppliers, few organizations face the same challenge in supplier management and the need for life-saving responsiveness across their supply chain.

At the same time, O&M needs to control technology spending to protect margins, and has an intrinsic responsibility to safeguard against business continuity disruption.

Initially, O&M turned to RollStream to help create repeatable processes for implementing a new “Integrated Service Center” supply chain solution. Then, in the summer of 2006, O&M acquired the Acute Care business from one of its major competitors - McKesson.
This event was instrumental in highlighting the need for rapid supplier onboarding, communications, and enablement of a transitioning supply base.

O&M also recognized that continuous outreach programs to trading partners require massive internal collaboration and cooperation. By extending their RollStream community to several departments, distribution centers, and customers, O&M was able to achieve a newfound level of visibility and cooperation around its core programs, goals and objectives.


RollStream’s contact discovery and enhancement process revealed that up to 50% of O&M supplier contact data was incomplete or inaccurate. By leveraging RollStream's contact collection services, O&M improved data accuracy by 98%, and was able to garner multiple functional contacts per vendor. With this in place, O&M now reaches multiple business audiences within seconds – enabling successful rollout of operations programs and projects such as ePedigree, distribution center opening/closing, emergency response and supply chain collaboration. Using RollStream’s contact update features, O&M now ensures that their 3,000 contacts maintain their own information directly. O&M can then “tag” the contact with key supplier attributes such as sales data, SKU numbers and contract information, enabling strategic supplier management.


After completing its supplier contact discovery project, O&M was ready to grow their community. Their first need was to onboard over 220 suppliers transitioning to O&M as part of the McKesson Acute Care acquisition. Through RollStream, O&M achieved:

• repeatable workflow for new supplier onboarding.
• secure document sharing of files for supplier enablement
• smart distribution lists for supplier outreach communications
• visibility into all communications for tracking supplier response

Within days, suppliers were logging into their own personalized RollStream Web portal to get going. Subsequently, they took online training, securely shared business-critical files and documents, and provided real-time status on a task management dashboard back at O&M.


One of the early benefits of using RollStream is that it provides unique level of visibility to the progress of projects. O&M employees with permissions-based access to RollStream were able to log in and access up-to-the-minute reports regarding supplier activity. “Did they get it? Did they read it? Have they done it yet?”.

This visibility has become critical for organization-wide initiatives that require rapid action in several geographically dispersed business divisions. For example, RollStream was used to set up 400+ suppliers to channel product through a new distribution center in New Mexico. Both O&M Corporate and the local DC team were able to coordinate the outreach and enablement of the suppliers within a 6-hour lead time – saving several days of emergency actions and avoiding a major supply interruption to customers.

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