"The user-friendliness and inter-connectivity of the Microsoft platform was backed up by Cegeka’s trustworthiness and professionalism. Both were the clear choice in supporting our solution."
As an auction cooperative, BelOrta manages two sets of customer groups: the wholesalers, distributors, and retailers purchasing fresh produce, and the grower community who cultivate it. Managing these crucial relationships is critical in ensuring supply and sales.
Although the business has grown in line with its customer base, account management is still very siloed. Despite the fact the combined number of stakeholders exceeds 1650 different growers and vendors, there wasn’t a consistent, centrally accessible single source of ‘truth’ detailing customer interaction information that the entire organisation could access.
To work proactively on better relationship management with buyers and growers, BelOrta needed extra system support. Siloed thinking, in some instances, had a negative effect on communications with external stakeholders.
A typical scenario would involve the lack of communication between an account manager and a product specialist in relation to a single customer. For example, a grower might meet with an account manager one day to discuss timelines etc. The next day they’d have a second meeting with one of BelOrta’s product specialists who may well be looking for similar information . Without a robust customer system in place, unless they’d spoken to each other, there was no way of knowing about previous client interactions and agreed points of action.
With an operation of 350 people, the problem wasn’t getting any easier to manage. All interactions needed to be recorded and accessible to the rest of the business.
Following an internal workshop focusing on requirements – and with project direction from BelOrta’s management team – it was quickly decided that a CRM system was needed to help centralise data and improve how BelOrta looked after its growers and buyers.
After a number of discussions with separate IT providers, Cegeka held a presentation outlining how Microsoft products could support BelOrta’s goals. However, there were also several key requirements.
Firstly, the system had to be designed and built with an understanding of the food industry to ensure that it was completely fit for purpose. It also had to be easily adoptable and user-friendly. While not all of BelOrta’s staff are highly skilled in IT systems, many were already using Microsoft 365 products – meaning there would be a shorter learning curve. It also meant the CRM solution could easily integrate with existing systems too – and would have a positive impact on user adoption.
Due to Cegeka’s industry focus on “Food and Distribution”, the company was able to easily understand BelOrta’s business requirements and translated it into a design that was made tangible with a live demonstration.
The solution had to be integrated with BelOrta’s legacy systems – which is why Cegeka made use of Microsoft’s Azure Integration Services. As this could work as a hybrid system, it would leverage the hardware already in place, and offered the added benefit of being extremely scalable and secure.
While the COVID-19 lockdown didn’t impact the design and implementation, much of the planned user training had to be delivered online instead. But thanks to Cegeka, the Microsoft framework was able to support the 50 end users’ training – with added document control, transfer on SharePoint, and collaborative working on Teams.
The goal of the whole project was to create more intimacy and impact with clients. BelOrta is convinced this will be one of the major benefits derived from its new CRM system. While COVID-19 has made a direct comparison of historical stakeholder interaction difficult, the whole team is onboard with the system – which speaks volumes about belief in its benefits. Already staff at BelOrta have been sharing how they use the system with one another and this will feed back into how the system grows in the future.
Information can now be shared and seen throughout the business. And because the system is purely a CRM – and contains no operational components – the data is clear and concise. Going forward, the sharing of information and cross-pollination of ideas that comes from de-siloing data will be far easier: which will lead to even better customer engagement.
The central visibility of customers with a 360-degree view helps all the internal stakeholders who connect with a grower or buyer understand the status of that party specifically. This will allow for much more targeted communication as it can be aligned with the person’s history and current level of satisfaction.
The time between initial concept and delivery of the project has been short as BelOrta understood that the company needed something robust that its teams could learn as soon as possible.
In close cooperation with BelOrta, Cegeka was able to deliver the total solution on time, on budget and respecting the full scope of the project. Both partners are proud of being able to achieve this during COVID-times. Maintaining the existing relationships of a vast network of growers is the key to how BelOrta have found their success. Managing a cooperative of this scale requires good communication and with Cegeka’s help, BelOrta now has the perfect tool to continue to deliver.
“As an implementation partner, Cegeka is very dedicated. We signed the initial framework for the system on the day before Christmas and in the first week of January we had a kick-off meeting. We succeeded in delivering the project on schedule and within budget because Cegeka aligned with our goals and cooperated completely.”
- Sabine Devreese, Manager, Vegetable Division, BelOrta