Case | HBS Case Collection | April 1989 (Revised March 1990)

Burlington Northern (B)

by Janice H. Hammond


Describes the experiences of a seasoned Burlington Northern (BN) sales representative after the introduction of ShipSmart, a decision support system developed by the BN to help its employees and customers analyze logistics problems. After a brief description of a logistics training program for sales representatives, the case describes an opportunity for new business for the BN (shipping beer from a brewery to beer distributors by rail, rather than truck) identified by the sales representative. Realizing the new business will require the coordination of logistics channel partners (the brewery, the distributors, and the railroad) as well as interfunctional coordination (between marketing, engineering, and operations) within the railroad. The sales representative weighs the complexities of the problem and considers the use of ShipSmart to demonstrate the value of switching to rail transport to the distributors and the brewery.

Keywords: Change Management; Expansion; Rail Transportation; Logistics; Distribution Channels; Truck Transportation; Innovation and Invention; Sales; Rail Industry; United States;


Hammond, Janice H. "Burlington Northern (B)." Harvard Business School Case 689-083, April 1989. (Revised March 1990.)