MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The elaborate joint-industry organizational structure that has framed the sweeping Efficient Consumer Response initiative for almost two years will be fundamentally reshaped early next year.
With the final publication of all the ECR Best Practices reports, expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 1995, the vast network of subcommittees currently charged with investigating virtually every area of ECR Best Practices activities will be disbanded.
Instead, a new operating committee will be formed to oversee specific ECR-related issues requiring additional work. Also, a broad-based network of "user groups" is expected to be established to help companies tackle
key problems involved in implementing ECR programs. Details of the restructuring plan were pieced together at the Food Industry Productivity Conference here last week. The plan is scheduled to be discussed in detail and is expected to receive final approval at the next ECR Executive Committee meeting on Dec. 8, sources told SN.
"We have pretty much decided on our course of action, but it will not be finalized until the next ECR Executive Committee meeting," Ralph Drayer, vice president of product supply customer services at Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, told SN following a workshop presentation on the status of the ECR Best Practices Committee.
"The ECR Executive Committee will stay in its current capacity, and there will be a new operating committee. But there will not be as many people, as many committees or as many meetings. We [also] expect to create a series of user groups to help those companies beginning to implement some of these ECR practices learn from each other. The specific structure, though, is currently being worked on," Drayer said.
Drayer, and Donald Dufek, senior vice president of logistics at Kroger Co., Cincinnati, spoke at a workshop titled "The ECR Best Practices Committee Overview." Dufek and Drayer are co-chairmen of the Joint Industry ECR Best Practices Operating Committee, which will be phased out.
"We don't intend to let this thing die," Drayer said. "We have put too much work into it. But we clearly don't need all the subcommittees we currently have."
The new ECR structure will continue to operate under the overall direction of the ECR Executive Committee, which is made up of 34 executives from key participating trade associations and industry classes of trade.
The operating committee will be formed as an outgrowth of the current ECR Steering Committee and have about 12 members, Anne Lightburn, director of industry relations for the Food Marketing Institute, Washington, said when asked by SN at the conference.
The operating committee will have responsibility for identifying ECR-related areas -- such as planning conferences, launching educational and communications initiatives, and addressing issues involving perishables -- that require additional committee work. Once such areas are identified, a series of ECR task forces will be formed to address specific needs.
The task forces will, in essence, replace the current complex structure of subcommittees that were created to explore every aspect of ECR and develop comprehensive Best Practices reports. "The task forces differ in that they will be formed to address only specific remaining issues. Also, the idea of a task force is that it has a beginning and an end; it shouldn't go on indefinitely," Lightburn said.