[5 minute read]

Stratos has several years' experience in writing custom software for the Seed, Grain and Agribusiness industries using our minimal risk Stratos streamlined development processes.

Through this experience, we have seen how custom software has allowed organisations to capture their unique competitive advantages.

Stratos has deep industry knowledge

Stratos has deep knowledge of the business processes within the Grain, Seed and Agribusiness industries.

There are many disparate processes and activities that are not supported in a typical ERP system.

Example processes and activities include:

  • Crop management: labour and materials input tracking; tracking crop management activities such as spraying or netting; crop rotation; yield tracking; profitability analysis; performance against contracts;
  • Seed Traceability from breeders seed through to final commercial sale:  Lot tracking, lot number tracing;
  • Recording and tracking laboratory test information against inventory and seed crops
  • Mobile applications: Recording crop information and providing real time data to agronomists
  • Inventory management tailored to the industry: Barcode scanning; Tracking raw materials to finished goods; integrating laboratory test results with lots; lot quality assurance; weighbridge integration;
  • Farm and crop mapping: GPS paddock mapping for better situational awareness, paddock cropping history, easier job assignment and performance management;
  • Regulatory compliance;
  • Plant breeding;
  • Integrated contract management between growers, brokers and other industry participants
  • Management of third party stocks and storage charges
  • Seed processing management and scheduling: blending, cleaning, treating, coating, job management, and capacity planning.
  • Integrated Shipping documentation
  • Web Portals to provide information to growers and other contracted parties.
  • Tracking historical crop and seed production

Stratos has implemented custom software systems relating to all these operational areas.

Over time, we have developed a deep knowledge of industry cause and effect relationships, the individual pieces of information that are required to complete transactions, and what the purposes of each piece of information might be.

Such deep knowledge means that:

  • New clients gain greater value because they don't have to start from the beginning in bringing us up to speed on the business problems they wish to solve with technology.
  • Development projects carry less risk because there is less chance of misunderstanding client requirements.
  • We are already familiar with the interfaces of common but disparate information systems which must be integrated to avoid manual re-keying.

Desktop Spreadsheets and Databases

Since these industry specific processes are not commonly supported by an off the shelf ERP system, individual staff members will develop custom desktop spreadsheets and database applications to help carry out their duties.

Unfortunately, such spreadsheets and databases are often poorly documented and are not integrated with any other process.

Consequently, if the author is away for any reason, such as illness, seeing customers or they may have even moved onto another organisation, then business is disrupted because no one else knows how to use the spreadsheet or application.

In the case of the author having moved on, the business faces the risk that the know-how built into the desktop spreadsheet or database maybe lost completely, requiring their replacement to either write their own spreadsheet or database or continue with a manual paper based method.

Since desktop spreadsheets and databases aren't usually integrated to any other systems, the information required to use the system will often be manually keyed into the spreadsheet, and then the results may also need to be manually re-keyed into something else.

Each time manual re-keying is required, the risk of error grows.

Avoiding ERP Lock-In and the Development of Valuable IP

At the same time, we have customers who, over many years, have replaced their ERP systems multiple times.

These transitions are usually for valid reasons; the technology platform on which the original ERP was built has reached its end of life; or the evolution of the ERP has taken a direction that no longer suits its needs.

Each time a new ERP has been implemented, their ERP vendor has kindly offered to customise the new system to better suit their needs.

But the customisation tools used are usually proprietary and the resultant customisations cannot be adapted to another ERP system.

These customisations often embody the unique business processes of these firms that make them competitive within their respective industries.

Put together, in changing ERP systems, the competitive advantages built into the customisations mean that customisations must be made to the new ERP system.

The lack of portability of the previous customisations mean that customisations for the new ERP systems must be built once again from scratch.

For these reasons, we recommend that such customisations are built outside of the ERP system, using industry standard tools and technology platforms, and the customisations are more loosely integrated with an ERP system.

By doing so, clients

  • Have better control over the future direction of their customisations;
  • Have created their own intellectual property which can be carried on their balance sheets as an asset;
  • Strengthen their negotiating power in a merger or acquisition discussion because if the new parent wants to retain their own ERP system, the target firm's customisations can easily be integrated with another ERP;
  • Business processes captured in custom software means that the entire work flow is captured and presented as a series of easily followed steps.  This makes on-boarding new staff much easier and they are productive rises much more quickly.

The Stratos Way

Stratos has created its own method for software development. It involves

  1. Gaining a deep understanding of a business problem before development begins through thorough business analysis;
  2. Confirming whether custom software development is the best tool to solve the problem;
  3. Taking an Agile approach to design and development;
  4. Bringing our deep knowledge of the industry and commercial into the design process;
  5. Keeping close communications with clients so that timely decisions are made as new information is discovered as the development progresses.
  6. Maintaining a close watch on time and resources against budget and scheduling expectations.

Many businesses hire Stratos because we are leaders in implementing new technologies that are more efficient and provide modern presentation layers to give beautiful environments for our clients to work with.

As part of cultivating the use of new technologies, Stratos takes an active role in fostering industry learning experiences where developers, technologists and other industry participants can gather to present and discuss their experiences.

Find out more

If you'd like to find out more,

CLICK HERE to read more about how other agribusinesses have partnered with us to build efficiencies and competitive advantage; or

EMAIL US and we'll get back to you to discuss how we can help.