When you’re in the business of growing fresh produce with a life cycle as short as 30 days, time is extremely valuable.
“We’re walking our fields every day and you need to be able to communicate the changes you’re seeing to the entire team,” explains Sean Duncan, Supply Chain Manager of Buckeye, Arizona-based Duncan Family Farms. That’s not all the team at Duncan has been communicating lately. Before it began discussions with Trimble Ag Software, this entrepreneurial company with a family feel had been considering improvements to its data capture process and farm record transparency. Duncan recently decided to work with Trimble to transition specific, mission critical processes from Excel to Trimble Ag Software, leveraging the cloud with online and mobile app functionality. They are in the testing and training phase and plan to begin implementation early fall.
“We’ve had all our teams involved at every step,” said Stephanie Pharris, Supply Chain Specialist. “There’s a lot of excitement around this.”
The decision to embark on this software overhaul started out as a simple plan to implement a barcode system, says Duncan. “This was happening at the same time as we were heading into our strategic planning meeting,” he recalls. “When we looked at our overall objectives, we saw an opportunity to align our narrowly focused barcode plan with a more broad data capture process.”
Simultaneously, the company’s executive team was exploring new strategies to better manage its expansion into new locations, and new crops.
“We needed to rely on new ways of managing the operations and providing the team with access to more data so it would be easier for them to make decisions at all levels,” says Duncan.
The company has long held a commitment to a management style that encourages decision-making at all levels of the organization. “It’s not just one person at the top here,” he notes. “We want team members closer to the field level to be able to make the right decisions in a timely manner, and to do that they need the right information.”
His team spent several months reviewing options, including Trimble. Duncan Farm’s production supervisor had previous experience with Trimble hardware and valued the quality and reliability.
Duncan decided to investigate. When some representatives came out to explain the software is capability and Trimble’s commitment to support and ongoing development, the company signed on.
“We really felt comfortable moving forward with Trimble,” Duncan explains. “We made a conscious decision internally to not get caught up with what was easiest, but rather to focus on who we felt aligned with. When Trimble came back and laid out a strategic direction for where they are headed on data management and precision ag, we were confident that it wouldn’t only meet our needs — it would be an ongoing conversation.”
Improving Visibility of Data
The visibility and accessibility of vital farm information is a top priority for Pharris. One of the expected outcomes of any software selection is that employees should no longer need to wait for their turn to enter farm records into a shared spreadsheet.
“Trimble’s mobile platform was a big part of the decision for us,” she says. “We wanted to have that real-time data where everyone was entering field activities as they were happening.”
One of the benefits the company foresees is using a software solution with online and mobile app capability will be a sharp reduction in number of hours employees spend on data entry. “Not using software means taking time away from where their talents and passions are,” says Duncan.
Assuring Food Safety
Duncan Family Farmís commitment to food safety is foundational to the company’s success. Currently, food safety audits are done manually and can be time consuming. Trimble Ag Software was seen as giving the team a deeper level of confidence in traceability records, which are transparent internally and easy to report out to customers and regulators.
“We need to see all the key factors at any moment, and quickly pull every activity that’s related to that field,” Duncan says of his expectations when selecting software. “Not only do we need to make sure it’s happening — we can also make sure we have the paper trail to show what’s happening. When you have that level of sophistication, it gives you a confidence that can be passed along to the external companies you’re selling to.”
As part of its offering, the Trimble Ag Software team has been working with Duncan to identify areas that need unique solutions. This kind of customization is particularly important to enterprise clients, says Trimble Ag Software Account Manager Lynn Godman. Clients get what they need sooner, they have more influence during the development process and they rest assured knowing these enhancements will be supported along with the rest of the software.
Supporting the Business
According to Matt Denninger, Director of Customer Engagement with Trimble Ag Business Solutions, having the right people supporting Duncan Family Farms throughout the process is important.
“We are excited to have this opportunity to be a part of Duncan’s strategy and future. Duncan’s openness helped us bring the right team members to the discussion before their decision and the best resources to support them afterwards. We are looking forward to assisting them as they continue to grow and adapt to their customers’ requirements.”
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