How Software Can Help You Solve Greenhouse Supply Chain Problems


Real-time inventory management in the greenhouse can help growers manage supply chain issues. Photo: Tree Technologies

One of the most important benefits of a proper software implementation is accuracy, and there is perhaps no other metric today in which accuracy matters more than inventory management.

“Everything in today’s supply chain-driven marketplace is interdependent, and if your inventory is inaccurate, it creates a domino effect,” says Matt Vollmer, CEO and President of Tree TechnologiesInc. “The cost of this inaccuracy is higher than ever, especially when you include the cost of labor, fuel and shipping.”

Of course, software investment often comes down to ROI, which Vollmer says starts with having a baseline of your quantifiable costs (inputs, etc.) and those intangible costs, such as job satisfaction employees.

“Poor inventory or data management can lead to inefficiency, which has a negative effect on morale,” Vollmer says. “The decision then becomes, how can you implement a solution that allows you to track the same amount of data or more for less cost, less time, and with more accuracy and speed so that you have the tools and knowledge you need to make good decisions.

Vollmer recommends starting by identifying your key metrics and the decisions you’re trying to make, then working back from there. He also says producers don’t have to do it alone.

“It can be helpful to work with a third party who understands your issues and can help you initiate the kind of changes that can help you make good data-driven business decisions,” Vollmer says. “An external provider can also help you put definable metrics in place and work with you to achieve the desired results.”

Another concern for growers is labor, Vollmer notes.

“A lot of our producers tell us they want to implement a solution, but they don’t have anyone who can champion the project because they’re running out of bandwidth,” Vollmer says. “Some of them actually decide to go out and hire an inventory manager. I don’t think it’s always necessary, but everyone has a different business situation, so it’s something to reflect.

Ultimately, Vollmer says it all comes down to prioritization and knowing how to recognize if inventory is your company’s biggest challenge.

“It may seem obvious, but if inventory is indeed your biggest problem, then you should take the time to figure out how to fix it,” he says. “Horticultural businesses often only have a small window of opportunity to implement a solution, and if that window closes, it’s too late.”

Data brings realism

According to John Beauford, president and chief technology officer, good record keeping can help producers with planning, inventory usage, future raw material orders and operations analysis to ensure profitability is reached or to help identify areas or products of concern that should be cut. Officer of Advanced Grower Solutions. He notes that record keeping also helps match the reality of your data with the reality of your operation.

“Good software and good data help get a bigger picture of a grower’s operation,” Beauford says of the benefits of software. “Good software gives growers the ability to combine key data sets for more informed analysis and better decision making. It can bring together the dissimilar sources and formats of payroll, production, inventory, cost, and sales analysis, for example, to see the combined picture. It is the juxtaposition and combination of these dissimilar data sources that can provide new insights for operational improvements.

Moving from data collection to meaningful decisions requires both system support and producer participation, says Beauford. The data collected must be clean and consistent, reflecting the reality of the recorded transaction. Collected data should be linked to other datasets and sources to build synthetic views. From the standard reports of collected data, measures and metrics should be consistently defined and calculated.

“The right tools can help automate the calculation and creation of derived data views to display key business metrics and historical time period comparisons,” says Beauford. “Tools that enable structured drilling can also help to obtain additional correlative information.”

Ideally, if a producer’s staff spends time recreating the same reports every week, every day, or every month, they are likely missing information,” Beauford warns.

“Use software to help automate mundane but important data manipulations and presentations and use the time saved to dig deeper into cause and effect and design improvements or fixes,” he says.

Picas Group Business Intelligence Screen Cap

Software companies like The Picas Group can help producers identify pain points, track information about them, and use that information to make decisions on everything from sales to supply chain. Photo: The Picas Group

What gets measured gets improved

Data collection is key, and if you’re not collecting data, you need to start there to have something to work with, says Ben Dill, software implementation specialist at The Picas Group (formerly Innovative Software Solutions ; read more here). Then you can talk about analyzing it, putting it in a dashboard, and finding ways to act on that data.

“A phrase I’ve heard many times before is that what gets measured gets better,” says Dill. “Once you have a measurement of something and collect data, you can now use it to improve something. We try to help producers identify those weak points, track the information and use this information to make decisions on everything from sales to supply chain.
Improving efficiency through software implementation can also extend to your entire team, including senior management.

“Everyone assumes that when you’re discussing efficiency, you naturally go for manual labor,” says Andrew Stallmer, brand developer at The Picas Group. “But the reality is that if you’re in a higher level position, you may have a number of tasks to complete in a day, and if you feel like you don’t have the resources to complete those tasks, they’re just put on the back burner and you do them when you can For the times when you feel like you don’t have the resources to get things done most of the time you probably have the resources they just aren’t allocated in the right way.The right software can help you take on some of those other tasks that you previously thought you didn’t have the resources to handle on your own.

Improve the decision-making process

According to Aaron Allison, co-founder of SBI software.

“It’s the flywheel of sales, and you have to make key cultures visible at the right time to sell the product,” he says.

Allison says SBI Software’s goal is to simplify producers’ tasks while using the software to help with turnover management.

“Software is key to business growth, and making it easier for users in the field is key to growing the business,” says Allison.

When it comes to using data to make informed decisions, Allison says the key is to create a personalized dashboard that shows high-level totals, while allowing users to drill down into crop details. and transaction-level details.

“Create custom dashboards by department that drive decisions within those departments, and create daily and long-term dashboards to improve business visibility,” says Allison.


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