The business opportunity: from paper to tablet
With a Plate to Pasture strategy that focuses on consumers’ needs first and works back from there to deliver to them, Silver Fern Farms’ relationship with its farmer partners is all-important. Silver Fern Farms’ field-based Livestock Representatives are the key point of connection in this relationship, taking farmers’ stock booking orders and helping them to define their stock strategy.
“In the past our approach to capturing information from farmers was very ad hoc, manual and paper-based,” says Andy Perry, Silver Fern Farms’ Regional Livestock Manager. “The main issue we had was that this information was stored in the Livestock Reps’ “top two inches” or in their own paper diaries. We had a complete lack of visibility and, as a result, our back office systems and processes were disconnected and delayed, dependent on the farmer sending the contract back in the post, which could take up to a week.”
Silver Fern Farms needed to move from paper to tablet, creating an electronic diary and stock booking system for its 85 Livestock Representatives in their interactions with Silver Fern Farms’ 11,000 farmer partners, capturing vital information and providing it back to the business in near real-time.
Pasture is used by the entire organisation, giving Silver Fern Farms the timely business information needed to make informed decisions, such as how to optimise and configure plants based on the numbers of animals booked against certain contracts – and giving the sales team concrete business intelligence, and the confidence to make decisions based on real information.
The approach: a solution fit for the field
Adoption by the sales force – Silver Fern Farms’ Livestock Representatives – was essential to the success of Pasture. With an average age of 56, varying degrees of computer literacy, willingness and “well-worn livestock hands” navigating a touch-based interface, the solution needed to be user friendly, and the approach to designing it needed to be extremely user focused.
“We worked closely with Intergen’s user experience designers to create a system that would work in the field,” says Elliot Scott, Silver Fern Farms’ Project Manager for Pasture. “The outcome was a solution that is really intuitive.”
With a long-standing relationship with Intergen in place, and a strong commitment to Microsoft technologies across the enterprise, Silver Fern Farms turned to Intergen to build the Pasture application. With Windows 8 not available at time of development, Intergen took the Windows 7 operating system and designed an interface that fully embraced the tile-based Windows 8 design paradigm.
“As well as adopting a user-centred approach, another win for us was deciding to co-locate with Intergen, working side by side in the same location. There is nothing like physically being in the same place, and this was one of the reasons for the success of the project,” Elliot says.
With Pasture fully rolled out to “overwhelmingly positive” feedback, the business has one source of the truth. A “step change” for the organisation, Pasture gives Silver Fern Farms full visibility and accuracy of information, vastly improved forecasting and reporting capabilities and the ability to understand its business with far greater certainty, making informed decisions and reducing risk. As well as delivering significant time savings in the contract process – reducing the process from up to a week to almost immediate access to information – Pasture allows Silver Fern Farms to understand its farmers better than ever, thus strengthening the relationship with them, enabling more insightful and engaged customer service.
Matt Tulloch, Silver Fern Farms’ Process Improvement Manager, summarises the power of Pasture by recounting a recent experience: “The results from the field are speaking for themselves. In fact one of the Livestock Reps said to me the other day: ‘I went up the drive of a chap, created him as a supplier, signed him up with a special programme, did his booking and had the truck there to pick up his animals the next day.’ It doesn’t get better than that.”
The business case
With Silver Fern Farms’ most fundamental transactions – between its Livestock Representatives and its farmer partners – taking place in the field, the organisation needed a portable technology solution that would allow vital information to be captured, and made available to the organisation in near real-time, around a farmer’s kitchen table or in a paddock.
The business value
- Visibility, accuracy and timeliness of information, enabling greater business knowledge and more timely, insightful decision making
- Strengthened knowledge of and partnership with farmers
- Reduction of risk
- One source of the truth, with the near real-time information captured in the field used right across the organisation
- Greater understanding of business performance and profitability