The Horticulture Crops Development Authority (HCDA), a public sector government agency has been working in Kenya for more than 40 years. As a semi-governmental organisation, it's vested with the responsibility to facilitate, develop, promote, coordinate, and regulate the horticulture industry in Kenya, as well as licensing Kenya's farmers and Horticultural Exporters, from the very smallest of smallholders to the very largest of farms, it also offers guidance, assistance and marketing support.
This vision is simple but important -to be a globally competitive horticultural sector in Kenya. In growing a commercially-oriented horticulture industry through policy and technologies, the aim is to enhance and sustain socio-economic development in Kenya.
Getting this right offers many rewards, including food self-sufficiency, meeting rising food demand, driving exports, encouraging local and national economies, turning arid and semi-arid regions into productive areas and, by providing jobs and prosperity, alleviating poverty in Kenya.
HCDA has implemented Microsoft Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning solutions to ensure that all information available to them is harnessed to achieve their vital objectives.
HCDA has around 230 staff based in 24 regional offices spread throughout Kenya, today mainly based in the most productive parts of the country. One of their primary tasks is to licence all Horticultural farmers for a variety of outcomes, including domestic supply and for the lucrative export market.
Until recently, this was a largely manual operation, involving the generation of thousands of pieces of paper based documents that had to be examined, physically cross-checked within and between regions and thousands of statistics keyed into computers. It was a cumbersome, time consuming and resource intensive process.
Licencing process was taking a long time, hampering HCDA's aim of optimising agricultural efficiency.
Over the past five years, HCDA has been making significant progress in updating and automating its capabilities. A major component of this has been the adoption of a range of Microsoft technologies, including modern operating systems and software packages such as Windows and Microsoft Office.
During this period of system modernisation, HCDA has been working closely with Microsoft partner Coretec Systems, with the local systems and solutions company tailoring best of breed solutions to HCDA's unique needs. This is backed up by invaluable on-going support to help HCDA implement new technologies smoothly and to get the best out of the technology - and the people using it.
"The success of HCDA's business depends on the reliability, speed and integrity of its business technology and data" said Dr. Alfred Serem, Managing Director at HCDA
"Change, no matter how beneficial the result, needs careful management to ensure that our staff are comfortable and happy using new technologies," said Anne Gikonyo, General Marketing Manager at HCDA. "Microsoft and Coretec don't just sell products, they sell a service that includes training and frequent meetings to ensure that their solutions are delivering to our needs, that we're using all the features available to help us attain our objectives and keeping us appraised of the latest developments to see if new technologies can bring greater benefits."
Realising that ERP could offer wide-ranging efficiency, accuracy and time benefits; HCDA conducted a tender exercise to establish the best solution. Interest was high, with 14 companies responding to HCDA's request, but one very quickly emerged as the winner.
"It was clear, very early on, that Microsoft Dynamics NAV offered the solution we were looking for," said Anne Gikonyo. "Microsoft's partner, Coretec Systems, presented an ERP solution that met all of our needs and, indeed, offered us an opportunity to realise our full potential and mandate. As a Management board we realised that the solution offered was based on a Microsoft platform which to us was indeed a credible and trusted brand name - something we see as synonymous with cutting edge and high quality technology. Cost is very important to us, but although Microsoft solution was not the cheapest option, it offered the best solution which was a perfect fit to our requirements."
"Companies in today's competitive marketplace need agile, reliable IT environments to quickly, efficiently, and securely respond to business opportunities," said Esther Mukoya, Senior Systems Analyst at HCDA. "Coretec Systems really took a lot of effort to look into our requirements and needs and when they proposed the Microsoft Dynamics NAV to HCDA, it just seemed like perfect for us. This was due to the fact that HCDA used to have separate systems across different manufacturers with separate support contracts; we now have one unified database system, one contract, one vendor which meets all our needs."
Reduction of operating costs
The biggest benefit of the Navision ERP to HCDA is that it integrates business processes across departments onto a single enterprise-wide information system. The major benefits of ERP are improved coordination across functional departments and units as well as increased efficiencies of doing business. The immediate result is reduced operating costs, such as lower inventory control cost, lower production costs, lower marketing costs and lower help desk support costs.
Facilitation and ease of Day-to-Day Management
The other benefits resulting directly from implementation of the ERP systems is facilitation of day-to-day management. The implementation of ERP system nurtures the establishment of backbone data warehouses. ERP system also offers better accessibility to data so that management can readily access as well as availability of up-to-the-minute access to information for decision making and managerial control. Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP helps track actual costs of activities and perform activity based costing and budgeting.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV was rolled out to all 230 staff in May 2011 and in just two months was paying back on the HCDA's investment.
Checking the licencing status of a farm could, before Microsoft Dynamics NAV, take many hours. With the solution in place, everything that HCDA needs to know is available at the click of a button. "Time is the immediate payoff, it's a beautiful thing," said Dr. Alfred Serem. "Our employees are already seeing how Microsoft Dynamics is saving them so much time. Paper work is immediately reduced and work is suddenly much more enjoyable." Besides cutting down on the time taken to receive a service, the ERP system has greatly reduced graft because human contact is minimised. "It reduces direct contact with officials and services like export certificates cannot be duplicated" said Dr. Alfred Serem.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV is improving coordination, cooperation and linkage between HCDA's offices. Tasks that formerly would have demanded lengthy telephone calls and the sending of emails now happens automatically - again saving time. Cashiers, who once had to issue handwritten receipts, can now generate them accurately and automatically. The purchasing department, meanwhile, is able to make much better decisions now that all the information it needs is up-to-date and available instantaneously - and reducing paperwork is cutting costs.
Anne Gikonyo's message to organisations considering an ERP solution is clear, "Keeping down costs is important to us, but the benefits we've already reaped from Microsoft Dynamics NAV are high. Take the risk; it's definitely worth the investment."