BI gives organic valley clear view into its business to grow operations

The world's largest farm cooperative uses business intelligence and information management solutions from SAP to better analyze supply and demand, respond to consumer trends

(PresseBox) ( LA FARGE, Wis., )
Companies both large and small are increasingly relying on business software to help them excel in competitive markets. As a prime example of this trend, Organic Valley Family of Farms is using business intelligence (BI) and information management (IM) solutions from SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) to integrate sales and financial data from non-SAP applications and sources, analyze the information, and optimize its operations to better meet the ever-changing supply and demand requirements of a business built on premium, highly perishable products. With flexible, open software from the SAP® BusinessObjects(TM) portfolio, the cooperative farming organization has been able to reduce supply overages on perishable goods by 25 percent, quickly identify and discontinue underperforming stock-keeping units (SKUs) and adjust its promotions for greater impact.

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With 1,400 farmer members in the United States and Canada, Organic Valley is the country's largest organic farmer cooperative. It oversees the organic food production of its member farms, supporting them in the business of sustainable agriculture and farm diversity, and is most well known for high-quality dairy and egg products. With margins commonly as thin as two percent in the agriculture industry and growth in the cooperative reaching 30 percent annually, Organic Valley needed a more sophisticated way to manage and consolidate its data, ensure the data was trustworthy and then report and analyze the information. Previously the company made do with spreadsheets to manage these processes, which was both time-consuming and error-prone.

The company reviewed the products of several different vendors and selected SAP BusinessObjects BI and IM solutions for the reporting, analysis and visualization functionality they offered, and their ability to support and integrate with Organic Valley's non-SAP transactional systems.

"Our legacy reporting mechanisms were no longer adequate, and the need for a new solution became more and more apparent to us," said George Neill, director of IT, Organic Valley Family of Farms. "Our CEO was going into board meetings with different figures from sales and finance, which was obviously very problematic for us. We needed to build a single, trustworthy repository for all our business data, and standardize our reporting on that. SAP BusinessObjects solutions have given us better access to consistent data for sales and expense reports, and users with varying technical skill levels have all benefited from the ease-of-use. Now we have one unified view of our financial and operational performance, and can make confident decisions based on accurate, consistent information."

Organic Valley relied on SAP® BusinessObjects(TM) Data Integrator software, which helps enable a complete, consolidated view into corporate information by merging data from the multiple sources. For Organic Valley, within one week of training, 60 percent of the framework for a major system integration had been built - saving the organization approximately six weeks of development and freeing up precious IT resources. With the IM framework in place, the company has been able to improve the timeliness and quality of data required to optimize its national supply chain.

BI and IM Enable Tighter Supply Chain

Perhaps most importantly, with reliable reporting Organic Valley has improved the satisfaction of both its end customers and cooperative members. The organization has been able to better track perishable products such as milk to help ensure they move from farms to processing plants as quickly as possible. Better forecasting has helped reduce average time in inventory by two days. In addition to internal use of reporting solutions, farmers will soon have easy access to beneficial data through an online portal.

SAP BusinessObjects BI and IM solutions bring accurate, timely data to Organic Valley users, for projects like ongoing marketing studies that focus on promotion effectiveness and buying trends for each product. Based on this insight, Organic Valley can determine and discontinue its weaker product lines and create strategies to bolster its best-sellers. Tracking analytics on freight costs and other key performance indicators (KPIs) also contribute to proactive supply chain strategies.

Incorporating these SAP solutions has enabled Organic Valley to clearly see important operational information, which has helped it increase profitability and grow the business. Organic Valley accomplished all of this while relying less on its IT resources - technical staff now spends 90 percent less time on BI initiatives.

"Organic Valley is a great example of how our BI and IM solutions can transform an organization and demonstrates how the benefits can ripple across the network of business partners to help everyone," said Marge Breya, executive vice president and general manager, Intelligence Platform Group and SAP NetWeaver Solution Management, SAP AG. "For food producers and suppliers, accurate and timely data makes the difference between profit and loss. Our solutions give companies like Organic Valley a clear and immediate picture of how their products are moving across the extended business network. With this insight customers can more effectively collaborate and improve efficiency across the supply chain."

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