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Experiential Learning Center

Projects ~ 2008

Centegra Health System

Centegra Health System http://centegra.org/ serves the greater McHenry County region of northern Illinois and is the county's largest employer with over 3,100 associates, 450 physicians, and nearly 500 volunteers. In addition to Emergency Services and Obstetrics, Centegra has over 30 sites and is recognized for cardiac care, cancer care, rehabilitation services, occupational health, behavioral health services, and the Centegra Health Bridge Fitness Center.

Centegra asked an ELC team to analyze its employee benefits packages to ensure its alignment into a health and wellness offering and its competitiveness with the packages offered by Fortune 100 organizations. The team conducted secondary research to benchmark Centegra's current offerings against award winning hospitals' health and wellness initiatives and examined costs. The team provided Centegra a wellness plan recommendation incorporating mind, body, and spirit aspects in support of a "we care" philosophy, an incentive plan and a plan to track success.


Photo of McDonald's Team McDonald's www.mcdonalds.com operates 31,000+ restaurants in over 120 countries. Its' success is based on a highly entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to excel at tailoring operations to fit the needs of each country/market. This level of autonomy requires agile and independent/decentralized decision making at the local level. McDonald's also understands there is great power and leverage in having a centralized view of the business, having standard key performance indicators and the ability to make fact based decisions. The Global Data Warehouse initiative has been charged to develop and implement global information management capabilities that can successfully enable decentralized decision making while centralizing the storage of global data. Key to the success of this program is to develop and implement strategies that allow each market to gain local insights into their operations using a centralized source of data. Given the differences in cultures, product offerings, languages, etc., it is envisioned that markets will have a wide range of variation in how they view analytics, however McDonald's proposes to source the data from a centrally hosted environment.

McDonald's engaged an ELC team to develop recommendations and strategies to implement a Global Data Warehouse with Analytics. To accomplish this, the ELC team examined the McDonald's organizational structure and culture, current business intelligence products in use, and the McDonald's market level buying process. The team conducted secondary research to learn best practices from other organizations in implementing global data warehouses. To manage the project in the sixteen week timeframe, the team limited their cultural research to China. The above research led the team to provide seven product and promotion recommendations and two culture specific recommendations to implement the Global Data Warehouse initiative.


McKesson www.mckesson.com is America's oldest and largest healthcare services company dating back more than 174 years. It is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America, delivering more than a third of all medicines used daily by pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes and doctors' offices. McKesson broke ground on a 56 million dollar Chicagoland Distribution Center (DC) in Aurora, Illinois in September 2007. They plan to move from the Carol Stream DC to the new DC in September 2009.

McKesson engaged the ELC team to analyze and compare transition plans for moving McKesson's Carol Stream DC to the new Chicagoland DC and to recommend a plan of action that will allow McKesson to maintain the highest customer service levels without interruption and to manage inventory, labor, transportation, and cost issues. Their analysis considered different scenarios for transitioning customers as well as estimates of labor and transportation costs for each scenario. Additionally, the team addressed the repeatability and scalability aspect of the recommended process.


OfficeMax is a leading supplier of office products including office supplies, paper, technology products and services, and furniture. The organization serves enterprise-level, mid-size and small businesses, and individual customers through direct sales, catalogs, the Internet and at nearly 1,000 superstores. OfficeMax recruited an ELC team to study its current supply chain process and look for ways to remove latency. The focus of the study was centered on one of the three OfficeMax distribution centers due to time constraints.

To study the supply chain, the ELC team interviewed several OfficeMax employees and analyzed various types of supply chain data. From their research, the ELC team made three recommendations to remove latency and provided implementation and test plans.


When Wal-Mart Realty group completes a construction project the general contractor provides large quantities of information related to the project. Information is submitted in a large three-ring binder and used by the contracts management team to determine if the project is completed and if payouts to the general contractor can occur. The information is also used by other departments to manage punch list items, warranty items and any accruals that are held back.

The Wal-Mart Realty group engaged an ELC team to create an electronic closing book. The ELC team accomplished this by:

  • Creating As-Is and To-Be process swim lane diagrams to identify improvements to the current manual system
  • Designing features, operations, screen layouts, functions and business rules
  • Building the technical architecture, database and a prototype electronic closing book using Adobe Flex
  • Testing the prototype thoroughly
  • Creating user documentation.

We Care Pregnancy Center

The We Care Pregnancy Center www.wecarepregnancycenter.org located in DeKalb, Illinois offers services and support to women experiencing unplanned pregnancies and post abortion. The We Care Pregnancy Center asked an ELC team to conduct research to determine the attitudes and beliefs towards unplanned pregnancies of males and females ages 18-25 in the DeKalb/Northern Illinois University community and recommend ways to increase awareness of the Clinic through an integrated marketing communication strategy. The team conducted a survey of the campus community with 774 respondents.

The results of the study provided a basis to create specifically targeted marketing materials and programs for the We Care Pregnancy Clinic. The team recommended three major initiatives:

  1. Form a partnership to create a special initiative to reach African-Americans in the DeKalb/NIU community to combat unhealthy sexual practices that can lead to unplanned pregnancies.
  2. Expand service offerings to men through dedicated marketing materials and counseling.
  3. Adopt an integrated marketing communications strategy to form a cohesive identity that communicates with the target market and causes them to notice, understand, and respond to the message.

This project is funded by the McKesson Corporation.

Fall 2008

Ailanto, LLC

Ailanto, LLC is a team of advanced integrative medical, nutritional and fitness professionals with over 75 years of combined clinical expertise and certifications in Regenerative Medicine and Nutritional Biochemistry, Exercise Kinesiology and Education. They aim to optimize health and healing using sound medicine, wholesome foods, fitness and holistic therapies. Ailanto, LLC asked an ELC team to create a strategic marketing plan for the medical nutrition and fitness component to their integrative medical practice. In addition, they asked the team to develop and create a brand for "common sense health."

In response, the ELC Ailanto, LLC team examined the current situation surrounding Ailanto Group's brand recognition and marketing efforts then offered these recommendations:

  1. Utilize the slogan, logo and design elements created by the team for a consistent brand image.
  2. Increase internet presence throughout the launch of the team's prototype website and a Google Ad words campaign.
  3. Implement a direct mail campaign.
  4. Streamline decision making using MS Excel and MS Access tools.
  5. Get involved in community speaking events.
  6. Increase the level of service with a consistent follow-up strategy.


The Caterpillar www.cat.com Aurora Plant asked an ELC team to identify customer perceptions of current and future 'green' technology in Caterpillar Large Wheel Loaders. To do this, the ELC team conducted a survey, analyzed the data and made marketing and engineering recommendations.


CullinaneMedia engaged an ELC team to create a plan, strategy and tools for marketing a book. Since the book focuses on digital technologies, such as blogs, podcasts, social networks, video, virtual worlds and Websites to promote the book and associated services, the team was asked to integrate these into the plan. In response, the team conducted research and developed the following recommendations:

  1. Use direct mail, e-mail advertising and promotions.
  2. Advertise through social networks targeting the same market as the book and with the greatest reach: LinkedIn, Facebook,Tumblr, StumblUpon and Delicious.
  3. Send a free copy to popular bloggers or individuals who completed a survey.
  4. Publish an e-book as well as a traditional book.
  5. Plan a book tour covering every major US city. Announce tour to local newspapers and radio stations.


Founded in 1887, Eby-Brown www.eby-brown.com is a privately held, thin layered and financially solid company dedicated to providing the best possible service to customers. They are the second largest tobacco, candy, convenience distributor in the US with $4.1 billion in sales; 12,000 retail locations served; 1,900,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space; 2,150 employee members; and seven distribution centers. Eby-Brown asked an ELC team to develop an automated process to address technology requests. The Eby-Brown team researched four software options then recommended and created a prototype using the chosen software platform.

Follett Higher Education Group

Follett Higher Education Group www.fheg.follett.comhas over 800 book stores in the US and Canada supported by over 800 associates in the home office. Their primary method of communication to the stores is through their internet site and e-mail. Follett asked an ELC team to research the effectiveness of their current system, the needs of their store managers and other technologies and communication vehicles available. The team conducted secondary research; primary research including phone interviews and an online survey; and comparative research of industry best practices. Short term and long term recommendations were developed as a result.


McDonald's www.mcdonalds.com/was looking for ways to reduce its environmental footprint. They asked an ELC team to deliver creative insight and potential solutions for waste reduction in the following areas:

  • Supply chain: Reduce landfill waste through packaging improvements and supplier standards.
  • Restaurant (Behind the Counter): Reduce energy consumption through various recycling and renewable technologies.
  • Restaurant (Customer Experience): Improve in-store 'Green Initiatives' through various efforts such as recycling stations and consumer awareness.

In response, the ELC team generated over 100 ideas to research and evaluate. The actionable ideas were classified and presented in five categories: Revitalize, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Renew.


The Wal-Mart Realty Division www.walmartrealty.com asked an ELC team to design a process for submitting and approving projects. The Realty Division uses MS SharePoint and asked the students to leverage this technology. In response, the team developed a fully automated Project Charter approval process within MS SharePoint Server 2007. The process allows Wal-Mart to consolidate related documents across common projects and streamline the approval process. The consolidation and new approval process eases the current bottlenecks offering greater efficiency throughout the Realty Division. The team also provided a developer's guide to assist Wal-Mart in recreating the system in MS SharePoint as well as a user's guide.

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