Until recently, this information was gathered by EMs using a pen and clipboard. The manual effort required to fill out these forms meant that errors could easily be made as EMs repeated the task dozens of times each day. Another staff member was then required to manually re-enter the information into the Beef + Lamb New Zealand database, opening further opportunity for error in information transfer.
It also meant that there was less time for members to engage with the Fieldays event. While it was helpful to use these events as an opportunity to update farmer databases, paperwork was never intended as the primary attraction.
Intergen, which already hosts Beef + Lamb’s website, developed a bespoke HTML5 software suite that now allows EMs to use iPads to gather attendee data in the field. The data collection app was designed to be used with or without an internet connection, allowing for total mobility and remote access.
Typically, EMs will attend a Fieldays event with two iPads, which are passed around attendees to enter their own details. If they match contact data pre-loaded onto the iPad, an autocomplete function will populate the remaining fields for them. For a new member, the ‘i-form’ notifies them if they’ve missed a required field. This cuts down on waiting times and increases the accuracy of information gathered.
After each event, the iPad is taken back to the office, where the collected data is uploaded onto the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Microsoft Dynamics CRM system.
Feedback from staff and farmers has been uniformly positive.
The new system streamlines processes between the field and the office, capturing accurate information more quickly and automatically updating databases to match. It is now much easier to send relevant, targeted information to specific farmers.
The intelligent software on the CRM system can retrieve and sort data collected in the field as needed, with categories pertaining to finance, region and farm size among others. Record verification can also be achieved by avoiding duplication between contacts with minor name variations.
By reducing the administration time of this task, the technology gives the EMs more freedom for personal interaction, enabling Beef + Lamb New Zealdand to offer more services and more perceived value to farmers.