SIA Agrera is a Latvian company that is engaged in the retail sale of raw materials (feed, feed additives, special detergents, agricultural equipment, various services, and more) that are necessary for the manufacture of agricultural products. The company's clients are legal entities and agricultural farms throughout the whole of Latvia, as well as in Lithuania and Ukraine. Agrera's annual turnover is 3-4 million lats, and they currently employ 18 people.
In the industry within which the company works, it is important to plan for the demand of products and services so that they may be delivered to clients when needed and to more efficiently allocate the company's financial resources. Until now, for these purposes, Agrera had used the Lursoft created software Grāls, which essentially is accounting software and does not allow to manage and plan activities.
To better organize and plan the company's business activities, to manage information about clients, product groups, and their geographical location, and to analyze long-term performance, the retail company Agrera wanted to implement an IT solution that is adaptable to the industry's specific requirements and is able to provide the above mentioned functions. Likewise, it was important for the company that the selected solution would provide additional functionality, wouldn't be difficult to use, would be reliable, and would execute work quickly.
"Computer skills within our company vary drastically, and that makes using a single solution difficult. Therefore, it is important for us that using the solution would be easy, not burden the work of sellers, and not require much time for employee training," explains Peteris Dambergs, Agrera Board Chairman.
Before making a decision, Agrera examined the solutions of several Latvian and foreign software manufacturers and also considered the possibility of creating their own management system. During the process, solutions such as New Horizon, Ozols, Terra Soft, and various internet-based solutions were looked at.
"When considering the possibilities, we concluded that an internationally proven and secure solution was desired. Locally manufactured software can lack manufacturer support, there is always the risk that a small company might simply decide to suspend their operations, and then we would have to start everything from the beginning," comments P.Dambergs.
Specifically in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution, Agrera recognized the most benefits: the developer is international, stable, rich in resources and experience, it is possible to choose between several providers of the solution, it is a familiar virtual environment, and the software is compatible with other Microsoft solutions. As an industry specific requirement, the company emphasizes the ability to work in offline mode, because most of the work with clients happens in rural regions with weak internet coverage. Likewise, the company notes the familiar working environment as a benefit, as employees have already used other Microsoft products in their daily work, such as, Outlook for e-mail correspondence.
The client management solution was implemented in Agrera by the Microsoft Gold-certified partner SIA Elva Baltic, who specializes in implementing and servicing the Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics AX, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM accounting and business management systems. Elva Baltic has proven their competence in more than 300 realized projects in Latvia and is currently rapidly expanding also in Lithuania and Estonia.
In accordance with Agrera's business specifics and needs, Elva Baltic implemented and adapted the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 client management solution and also performs its maintenance. The solution has integration with Microsoft Dynamics NAV embedded within it, synchronizing products, clients, vendors, and orders with control mechanisms for product stock. Benefits
By implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the main goal of the agricultural raw materials retailer Agrera was to launch a high-quality collection of information regarding their business. The company's head indicates that he has seen many potential benefits in it, ranging from more successful work with vendors to better internal organization within the company itself.
"In truth, we did also encounter some unexpected difficulties while realizing our plans, for example, the human factor. We wanted the system to immediately work as we expected, of course in reality, time revealed various things that needed to be adjusted. Likewise, the quality of information registered is dependent on whether our vendors know how to correctly enter it," tells Peteris Dambergs.
The company has been using Microsoft Dynamics CRM for nearly a year and admits that actual improvements will only be felt over a longer period of time. "Sellers have gotten used to working with the system, it has been adapted, and little by little, we are already getting quality information," indicates the head of the company. He also notes aspects in which he sees tangible benefits:
A complete information accounting system has been created
Extensive information about transactions is entered into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution — client, vendor, products, quantity, time, place, amount, comments, etc. The Agrera manager admits, that until now, it has been very difficult to manage a business and make decisions with limited information.
"As most of our clients are located in rural regions, we spend much time on the road. By grouping information about clients, we can predict when we might have to visit the client and can efficiently plan our routes. Also, we will better know when and what to offer specific clients, respectively promoting sale volumes," tells Dambergs.
Agrera works with many agricultural and livestock raw material stores in Riga, Daugavpils, Valmiera, Cesis, Preili, and Liepaja, as well as with clients in rural regions. For a company of such profile, product order and delivery logistics are an especially important component for creating a successful business, and better information will help to more efficiently organize these processes.
Division of internal work
In addition to direct sales, Agrera actively participates and organizes various events, presentations, and educational seminars related to livestock and agriculture. In such cases, it is necessary to clearly and transparently assign responsibilities and accountability for the specifics of each individual event. For this purpose, the company uses the CRM software's "Marketing" section and its campaign management function that allows delegation of work, selection of the most suitable audience, and sending e-mails to recipients.