3 Key Building Blocks of a Seed Business Management Solution
By Mike Dorris
Visibility, Traceability and Standardization
Determining the right amount of product to produce to meet customer demand means the difference between a profitable season or not. Today’s modern seed businesses are complex, with many moving parts. And to successfully manage an operation of this complexity requires a management solution that can provide data seedsmen can trust to be of use when making daily decisions.
For a management solution to work for a seed business it must have these 3 key building blocks: 1 data visibility, 2 traceability and 3 standardization throughout every segment of your business. So what do these terms mean in the seed business and why are they so important?
Visibility means being able to see the accumulated data of every part of your seed business and the underlying details. The goal is to have a system that congregates and integrates the data from every aspect of your business into one database. This can mean spending hours copying and manually manipulating multiple spreadsheets, or it can mean using a software package that covers all aspects of the seed business so the information is available at the touch of a button.
Traceability means being able to track a unit of seed in a specific seed lot from the invoice it was sold on all the way back to the field in which it was grown. It also means being able to identify specific seed lots and each production process that they were subjected to and what the outcomes of each process were (harvested seed was cleaned and 245 lbs. of screenings were collected and incinerated, resulting clean seed was split into two new seed lots with one lot being treated with “treatment A” and packaged in paper bags; the other seed lot was treated with “treatment B” and packaged in bulk boxes).
Standardization means data is entered and collected the same way in every segment of the business. It also means that each location does the same process the same way. Developing best practices throughout your business is a great way to start the march to standardization. Eliminating customized spreadsheets with formulas that each department or location devised internally is also necessary to moving toward standardization.
The next 3 posts cover visibility, traceability and standardization in greater detail.