Two years into their digital roadmap, winner of the ‘Best Run’ category, SAP Innovation Awards 2018, continue to innovate from their digital core with SAP partner, Zag.
Ballance Agri-Nutrients (Ballance) is a New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative that helps its customers to farm more productively, profitably and sustainably. Its core business of fertiliser manufacturing, supply, sales and advice has developed to offer farmers a full range of science-backed nutrient products and services. Ballance covers the length of New Zealand, backed up by a network of rural merchant supply partners, service centres, consignment stores, manufacturing sites and its own agricultural aviation services.
In 2015, Ballance Agri-Nutrients appointed a new CIO to drive the creation and execution of a fresh digital strategy that could deliver competitive advantage. To secure the position as market leader, Ballance Agri-Nutrients were motivated to partner with an organisation that would help them execute their strategy efficiently and cost effectively. Ballance selected Zag (formerly Soltius) as their SAP implementation and technology partner after tendering in the market through an independent process.
Early in the relationship, Ballance undertook their first digital road mapping exercise with Zag. David Scullin, CDO for Ballance Agri-Nutrients, explains: “We invested in a road mapping exercise to make sure we could execute our digital strategy successfully and to understand what priorities we needed to highlight for the enablement of our business strategy”.
Our Customer Solutions team worked with Ballance to define their desired future digital state three years into the future, benchmarking against global industry standards and trends, SAP solution strategy and relevant complementary solutions. We reviewed existing business processes and information systems and worked collaboratively to identify opportunities for transformational change.
These initiatives are evaluated against an organisation’s strategic drivers, and mapped onto a digital transformation roadmap, considering aspects such as; commercial drivers, market uncertainties, technology enablers, financials, resource and partnering requirements, assumptions, knowledge gaps and risks.
For Ballance Agri-Nutrients, these initiatives are plotted across the five value-driving pillars of their digital strategy;
- Creating a great customer experience,
- Become a data integrator,
- Support knowledge growth,
- Simplify and optimise processes, and
- Maintain currency.
Across these pillars, the roadmap extends down to a level of technical solution capability aligned to the business problem it’s solving. “A road map is really an execution plan, with a high-level investment plan aligned to that, which we can socialise with the executive team and our board to ensure everyone understands where we’re heading over the short and long term” says Scullin.
Watch our video to see the benefits Ballance achieved from engaging with Zag to define their desired digital future, with digital road mapping.
The digital road mapping exercise helped Ballance to leverage their existing capability and identify new areas for transformational change. Scullin explains, “It was about building on our capability, upgrading it and enhancing it, as we realised SAP and S/4HANA aligned beautifully to our digital strategy and the innovation journey we wanted to go on”.
Some of the key achievements delivered from the initial digital road mapping exercises include:
- Creating a great Customer Experience
Successful implementation of a comprehensive omni-channel capability, branded as ‘MyBallance: Your Farm at your Fingertips’. The digital platform behind MyBallance comprises of SAP Hybris, Commerce and Marketing modules and Esri GIS, to create a beautifully consistent customer experience. This project won the prestigious ‘Best Run’ category at the global ‘SAP Innovation Awards 2018’ for exemplifying SAP’s ultimate vision of digital transformation.
- Support Knowledge Growth
A comprehensive approach to upgrading the Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics platform to the new HANA BI and BusinessObjects capability, which has allowed them to more efficiently turn data into information decisions.
- Process Simplification
Significant upgrade of the existing ERP ECC6 environment to SAP S/4HANA. Ballance was the first organisation in New Zealand to go-live with S/4HANA and to unleash the productivity and speed of decision making benefits. Ballance has also implemented mobile capability in the form of SAP Fiori and Neptune Software to simplify and mobilise key business processes for their users.
“I’m really excited about the digital future for Ballance, two years into our roadmap, we’ve got some beautiful, solid, mature foundations in place, with some great capability that we can innovate from. Our partners SAP and Zag bring the thought leadership, the implementation capability; and we bring the business problems that we want to solve – and together more is possible.” – David Scullin, CDO for Ballance Agri-Nutrients
DIGITAL ROADMAP REFRESH
In an era of unprecedented pace of change and boundless opportunity, roadmaps need to be adjusted to reflect the rapidly evolving digital environment.
“Recently my team worked closely with Zag in an offsite to refresh our roadmap, and quite honestly, I was impressed before we even started” states Scullin. “We work with Zag essentially because they are the best at what they do. They’ve got all the most credible people, they’re engaging, and they understand what we’re trying to achieve and how to best align with us” reiterates Tim Lloyd, Operations and Commercial Manager for Ballance.
As an experienced technologies consultancy and SAP provider, Zag can instinctively highlight the key SAP solutions, complementary partner solutions and other software, platforms and applications capable of solving business challenges for Ballance. Equipped with deep technical knowledge of the current architecture of the business, a good understanding of potential future landscape and the knowledge and capability to show the way between the two, Zag developed a clear roadmap detailing the most cost-effective solution investments that will enable Ballance realise their digital vision.
“Ultimately, our refreshed roadmap has given us clear direction on what our next steps are and how to truly achieve all the benefits that our digital future can hold for both Ballance and its shareholders” – Tim Lloyd, Operations and Commercial Manager for Ballance Agri-Nutrients
OUTCOME AND FEEDBACK
The feedback on the digital road mapping refresh from the business and executive teams was very positive. Scullin explains, “it was positive because they could see a clear execution plan that was enabling our digital and business strategy. It allowed them to visualise over the long term what we’ve got on, what impact it’s going to have on the business and what investment we need to realise that roadmap”.
“It was an inclusive and collaborative process that we worked together on, and really with an SAP partner like Zag, you feel like they’re part of your team, not an individual or separate vendor” summarises Scullin.