November 25, 2016

We Ensure Market Access: The Business Value of Product Stewardship

Businesses rely on product stewardship for market access. When regulatory noncompliance delays product shipments, it directly affects the bottom line. But executives rarely see the business value of product stewardship. It’s up to product stewards to help them understand, said Mitch Fonda, global compliance and stewardship at Waters Corporation. He shared how his company integrates product stewardship by stressing the function’s business value.

First, product stewards must learn to talk differently about what they do. Business leaders aren’t interested in conversations about chemistry and materials. Nor do they care about the nuances of regulatory compliance. What they care about is getting products to market seamlessly. After talking to business leaders at Waters, Fonda and his colleagues had an epiphany. “All of this stuff to them is an import issue. They don’t care where it comes from. They can’t care about SDS or RoHs,” he said.

When products are stuck at borders, the company’s reputation and revenue is at stake. Preventing that scenario is the value proposition of product stewardship. “[Product stewardship] is how we get our goods unencumbered around the world, and it’s for every single country that we go in,” said Fonda.

To convince executives, Fonda showed them that a typical order can result in more than 80,000 border crossings, and more than 800,000 data points. He showed a map to illustrate how a product gets produced. When they asked about the data points, he showed a list of the regulations, health/safety permits, documentation, declarations and export controls involved.

Product stewardship at Waters is part of Global Operations as a reflection of its role in moving products around the world. Over time, Fonda’s group has become a knowledge center, connecting disparate groups that don’t typically work with each other, from engineering to procurement to marketing and sales, to legal. “We can talk to anyone anywhere about any product and we know as much or more than they do,” said Fonda.


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