Standardization: A Key Building Block of a Seed Business Management Solution
By Mike Dorris
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.
Seed businesses we have talked to recently told us things like, “Our business has plants in multiple regions of the country and each one does the same process totally differently, plus reports on it in a completely different way. All of our locations act independently of each other – even down to having different versions of Excel. It takes lots of time and effort to confirm and consolidate that data into usable information at the main office.”
So how does one start the march toward standardization?
Consider putting together a team to review every process in every department at every location to see what works best. This team should be made up of staff from each location and be led by a manager. Their goal is to identify and document best practices for every process. Nothing can be held sacred, and “We’ve always done it that way” is NOT a reason to preclude a process from the review! After those best practices are identified, a plan should be devised that includes the processes to be implemented and the dates they will be implemented at each site. The original location where the specific best practice originated should be in charge of implementing it at the other sites and teaching them how to use it. Yes, this takes time away from their current jobs. And yes, it may be uncomfortable. But doing things the same way across all locations and business units guarantees data integrity, improves efficiencies and allows for employees to be moved from location to location to keep things up and running in an emergency.
Another way to provide standardization is to implement a software package that covers every aspect of your seed business across all locations. Customized spreadsheets containing formulas that each department or location have devised internally is NOT standardization. With each site using the same software, the same processes and the same data will be tracked and entered the same way. Using a centralized software program will eliminate the manual labor needed to check and manipulate each location’s data into usable information and will provide data integrity and continuity that is critical to operating today’s modern seed business.