Farm management software (FMS) implementations for enterprises in the food and agriculture value chain are usually larger projects with a strategic goal to impact the way food is produced. Hearing the statistic that over 30% of signed software projects are canceled before they ever get completed (Source: Standish report) is shocking.
In order to make sure an FMS project is going according to plan, here are a few key learnings companies need to take into consideration:
1. Setting the right business expectations from an FMS project
Both, the FMS company and the company implementing an FMS solution need to agree on key goals before the project kicks off. Implementing an FMS solution solves a lot of challenges that companies working with farmers and manufacturers have, some of which are improving the value chain KPIs, profit, traceability and data centralization. Clear expectations keep both sides focused on the project success reminding them what is the problem they are solving and what value it is providing.
2. Standard vs. specific company needs
FMS helps with planning, monitoring and analyzing all activities manufacturers and farmers do, it does not replace a CRM system, accounting software or hardware and its role is not to be a single ultimate solution for all customer needs, but to be a central digital agriculture platform that integrates all Agtech solutions and data in one place. An FMS also collaborates with existing company business systems (ERP, accounting, CRM…), meaning, specific company needs can be covered through different integrations with specialized 3rd party solutions or FMS customizations (it’s important to be informed and understand costs of both).
3. Clear project scope based on expectations
Defining the right solution that solves business expectations is the key. The solution package consists of an FMS solution, customizations, 3rd party systems, and integrations. Defining a project scope helps to focus on priorities during the FMS research phase and, most importantly, during the whole duration of the implementation process.
4. Phased approach
Trying to implement an ideal solution at once, often faces a barrier not from the solution side, but from the change management side within the company, due to in-house resource capacity for execution and trying to implement too many new things at once. Companies that successfully implemented an FMS solution were doing the following steps:
- defining priorities for all requirements
- defining manageable phases organized per requirements’ priorities
- defining milestones and timeline.
Pursuing an entire project scope at once leads to failure because it is not manageable.
5. Top management strong strategic decision and dissemination for all people
Change management cannot be done without a strong decision from the top management and without everybody knowing why the project is important for the company. Change starts at the top and determination of the top management as well as direct project sponsorship of a Board Member, significantly helps with ensuring successful project implementation.
6. Project manager
FMS implementation projects have multiple steps, phases, and deliveries. That’s the reason why there must be a responsible person from both sides who will monitor the progress, discuss all ideas and steps internally, organize team meetings, provide summaries/updates and be a central point of communication.
7. Kickoff meeting
Organizing a good kickoff meeting where all key stakeholders from both sides are involved, from the top management to key operative personnel is a great project start.
In this meeting, the top management should define a clear focus of the project, expectations and overall importance for the business, and the project manager should explain all phases, key milestones, and first action steps.
8. Internal FMS champion
Recognizing which internal company’s employee (internal FMS champion) will be trained to be the knowledge center within the company is important for building trust within the team and encouraging them that they are capable of doing the project. A great approach is using the “train-the-trainer” method to educate all stakeholders within the company.
9. Regular steering committee meetings
Everyone needs to be on the same page. Ensuring biweekly/monthly meetings will result in having control over project execution and the possibility to address challenges timely, update all parties involved and avoid miscommunication.
10. A reliable FMS partner
Key things to have in mind when searching for an FMS provider partner is to find a reliable partner with a lot of know-how, experience, who understands the value chain, someone that has the ability to provide an integrated solution and is dedicating an Account Manager in order to support people continuously.
Nowadays, it is very expensive not to have an IT farm management solution, but at the same time, it can cost double the investment if companies choose the wrong partner to work with or even worse, make mistakes that lead to project failure.
If you are interested in learning more about AGRIVI implementation projects, contact us.