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Hitting the Ground Running: V-chain Helps ViaSat Streamline Processes

When Steve Thompson joined ViaSat Inc. as the vice president of information systems in mid-2005, he didn't worry about integrating the company's supply chain processes with its Oracle enterprise resource planning system. In July 2004, the $400-million manufacturer of satellite communications technologies began rolling out V-chain, which ViaSat uses to manage the exchange of scheduling as well as financial and inventory data between itself and 12-plus suppliers. Built with software from Irvine, Calif.-based RiverOne Inc., V-chain enables ViaSat to standardize processes. Everyone, for example, "processes a shipping order off the system in the same way," which facilitates business, says Ray Barger, ViaSat's director of procurement.

As the glue that allows ViaSat to streamline processes, V-chain is critical. And while Thompson had no role in implementing the initiative, he's relieved. When he arrived at ViaSat, IT didn't grow at the pace of the business. "It was ... a baptism by fire," he says. With V-chain complete, Thompson can devote more time to creating an online store and upgrading the Agile Software Corp. product lifecycle management system.

For Thompson, coming aboard after the implementation of V-chain offered a chance to learn how suppliers use the system. "I was learning rather than helping solve problems. That was time well spent."

Megan Santosus, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a features editor for Write to her at

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