HilverdaFlorist scores during second implementation of Agriware 365

HilverdaFlorist, a leader in cut flowers and plants, merged two companies, implementing Agriware 365 to streamline diverse crop management and enhance efficiency

HilverdaFlorist scores during second implementation of Agriware 365

HilverdaFlorist scores during second implementation of Agriware 365

HilverdaFlorist scores during second implementation of Agriware 365

The Challenge

HilverdaFlorist required an efficient software system post-merger to manage diverse crops and replace their outdated system, ensuring business continuity and growth.

The Journey

Overcoming initial resistance and leveraging experience from the first phase, they smoothly integrated the system, focusing on key user involvement and efficient collaboration.

The Result

The transition facilitated better collaboration between departments and laid the groundwork for future efficiency improvements on the shop floor and in the merged entity's operations.

HilverdaFlorist is a market leader in the selection, breeding and propagation of unique varieties in cut flowers and pot and garden plants. Agriware customer HilverdaKooij merged with sister company Florist Holland in early 2020. As a result, HilverdaFlorist was founded. A year later, Agriware 365 was implemented for the new crops. We are talking with Erika Olberechts, IT project manager at HilverdaFlorist. Why did they choose Agriware 365? And: did they achieve their goal?

When did you start using Agriware?
"The first implementation started in September 2018 at HilverdaKooij, with go-live in September 2019. Then the merger with Florist Holland took place and the second implementation started in mid-2020 with go-live in March 2021. In both implementations I was the project manager at HilverdaFlorist," explains Erika Olberechts.

What was the reason for, at the time HilverdaKooij, to start working with Agriware?
"We were still working with an outdated system, the license expired and there was no more support. For the sake of continuity, it was very necessary to purchase a 'active' program. Apart from that, the goal is of course to work more and more efficiently and to grow as a company. Agriware is an extension built specifically for the agricultural sector. The core of the software is Microsoft, a "living" and therefore not a static basis. In addition, Agriware is based on standard software. The framework of Agriware is already well focused on horticultural companies, so there was little customization needed. Mprise Agriware is close to the growers and hears their needs. That's why Agriware was chosen at the time."

"A lot of knowledge and experience was recorded only inside people's heads and some employees had been working in a certain way for a long time."

How did you experience the initial implementation?
"The first implementation phase was very tough because everything was new," recalls Erika. "The biggest challenge was to get the people in the organization on board. That is always more difficult than you can estimate beforehand. This also has to do with the versatility of the organization, we have many different crops. A lot of knowledge and experience was recorded only in people's heads and some employees had been working in a certain way for a long time. It is a difficult message for them that things suddenly have to be different. The translation from this situation to the new one was difficult, but we learned a lot from this."

Were you able to put that experience to good use in the second implementation?
"Yes we did. With the second implementation, we knew very well how to go about it and what to avoid. So that went much more smoothly. It also helped that one part of the company was already working with the system. The merger had taken place between the two implementations, so even for the people who started working with Agriware with the new crops, Agriware was not completely new. We went live right before the gerbera high season, so that was exciting. But it all went very well, we were able to deliver everything. The rush was huge, but all in all we were able to grow and deliver many more plants than last year."

“The Agriware consultant just gets it. Not just the system, but also our processes and production.”

How do you like working with Agriware 365, has it brought you what you hoped for?
"We still have to work on that," Erika says, thoughtfully. "Agriware can do a lot. We are already noticing greater efficiency in a number of departments, and in others we still have to work towards it. It all takes time, especially in combination with a merger. The way of working of the two companies was different, so being able to work together in one way takes time."

What is the biggest difference from the way you worked before?
"Using Agriware requires more registration and the processes are tightly defined. That takes more time and discipline on the shop floor, but other departments, in turn, derive great benefit from it. Before, it was the other way around. Less registration, but more errors. There was no track & trace yet, but now everything must be exactly right. The transport and office departments see many benefits now that we are working with Agriware 365. The efficiency at the nursery itself still has to improve, but that also has to do with the fact that we are still busy merging two companies."

How did you experience the collaboration with the Agriware team?
"When management asked if I dared to do a second implementation with Mprise, it was a convincing 'yes!' A third time, I would do it exactly the same way and choose Agriware again," Erika says. "We were extremely happy with our consultant John Dillon. He just gets it. Not just the system, but also our processes and production. We also really asked for a sparring partner beforehand. Not just someone who does what we want, but someone who also has the courage to say that things can be done differently. Someone who can ask the 'why' question."

“In the second phase, we had a lot of focus on the key users. That was a good approach. This made the employees much more self-reliant”

Self-reliance is important
Project manager Richard also emphasized this: self-reliance was important. In addition, he kept a close eye on the planning. We eventually went live a month earlier than planned. What I really like about Mprise is that they didn't give us baked bread, but they taught us how to bake bread. We have learned a lot in the whole process. if something goes wrong we can often solve it ourselves." Erika laughs: "I as project manager am not indispensable either in this way, which is nice. Then I can also go on vacation once in a while!"

Are there things you would do differently next time?
"Actually no, the second approach was very good. As Johan Cruyff said, 'If you know what the club, players and coach want, then you have the complete picture.' We made the choice for more involvement of the key users to have a clear communication between all players. The support was much better the second time around. It started to live much earlier than the first time, when it was only after go-live. More testing, involving more people in the analysis phase, that's important. When you ask people to do something in addition to their daily work, it's sometimes difficult. Not every company has the capacity to give people time off. That would be at the expense of the daily work and that is often not possible. So this is very company-dependent. But we have found that it pays to bring more people into the process and to take the time for this. I think other Agriware customers will also benefit from this tip."

“What I like about Mprise is that they work as much as possible with standard software.”

Do you have any other tips for Mprise Agriware?
Erika, after thinking for a moment, "Implementations don't happen often at companies, it's something unique. Talk about what the risks can be and what you've seen at other companies. Draw on that practical experience. The club, coach and player: get all noses in the same direction, the customers can certainly benefit from this. The workshop for key users provided by Mprise Academy has also helped us a lot. Our experience is that employees who already knew the system could get the most out of it. This way it became a good combination of theory and practice and I would use this more often."

You mentioned that on the shop floor, efficiency still needs to improve. How do you envision the future?
Erika Olberechts: "We will certainly be able to do that. Agriware offers the tools to achieve that, it is up to us how we use them. What I like about Mprise is that they work as much as possible with standard software. That is a challenge with crops with very different characteristics, but it pays off because it is a sustainable solution. I am convinced that we can achieve efficiency on the shop floor using Agriware and look forward to the future with confidence!"

Project manager from Mprise Agriware, Richard Arends, looks back:
"Erika Olberechts was a very important 'puller & pusher' in both projects to achieve progress. Especially in the second project, she contributed a lot to getting both the implementation team and the internal organization on board with the new way of working. In every Agriware implementation this is an extremely important facet. The efforts of both Erika Olberechts and the HilverdaFlorist management have been crucial to the success of this implementation."

Martin Jensen Agriware HD

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