Towards digital agriculture with Microsoft ERP Solution
Case study

Towards digital agriculture with Microsoft ERP Solution

5 min read Jan 30, 2019

Al Rawafed Serbia
Al Rawafed Serbia

Al Rawafed was founded with the aim of contributing to the advancement and development of agriculture in Serbia through investments in modern machinery, new logistics structure and the knowledge of the best domestic subject matter experts. Its main activity is the conventional and organic production of crops. In the area of Bačka, more precisely in the area of Sivac, Nova Gajdoba, Sonta, Karađorđevo and Bač the company cultivates 10.500 hectares of fertile soil.

Modern agriculture – a precondition for the success of “a factory under the sky”

Investments in modern machinery and irrigation systems, modernization and building of a logistics centre, the procurement of quality raw materials, constant investments and the increase in the employees' expert knowledge, the introduction of modern technologies – all of the above are necessary preconditions for the successful conducting of the company's complex business and the increase in the operational and economic efficiency.

As the areas under irrigations systems increase, so do the yields. In order to achieve the maximum results in their business, the company had to focus on the additional storage space and silos. Good management of the finished product, i.e. crops in the case of Al Rawafed, requires adequate logistics, warehousing, as well as timely market entry and sales.

Business Information structure which addresses specific business needs

All of the abovementioned implies not only the high quality and reliable monitoring of operational and financial investments, but also their outcomes. In order to succeed, the company had to set up its business information structure which would address the specific needs of agriculture industry and the very nature of its business, all with the aim of having an updated and comprehensive record of all its business activities.

"While considering different options, we have placed equal importance on the quality of a solution, as well as the knowledge of its implementer. What made our decision to opt for Microsft ERP solution built on the Azure platform easier was the fact that this is a globally proven solution, which has been continuously present for several decades, has a defined path of development and applies the world’s best practice. This provided us with the longterm security of investments. The focus of our business is the production of agricultural products, and, therefore, it is very important for us not to have to draw on funds and resources for the infrastructure and its maintenance, but instead to have all of this in the “cloud”, i.e. within an infrasturcture which somebody else is responsible for, which will not become obsolete, and whose capacities may be expanded in an easy way." - says Mirjana Jović, CFO at Al Rawafed Serbia.

The comprehensivesness of business activities which are inherently specific and never the same

The main task of this project was to encompass and monitor the planning of arable farming, the procurement of raw materials, as well as the production itself, which is "under the open sky" and is in itself never the same. All this involves the participation of a large number of people and material resources in a long and flexible chain of business activities, which have to be carried out in physically dispersed locations and within a clearly-defined deadline. Therefore, the record of business activities in the field had to be maximally facilitated and placed as close as possible to the place of origin in order for the information to be available in real time for the purpose of the quality decision making. In any case, this should not lead to a decrease in the scope and quality of information from the field.  

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What is specific about the agricultural industry is that production results come after a few months, or even after a year. This meant setting up a system that would accurately track costs to the lowest level, as well as monitor production results with all the specifics of mercantile crop products - quality, standards and quantity. On the other hand, we have a warehousing business that covers business activities from the entry of mercantile products, through storage to the delivery of products. All of these are the specifics typical of the agricultural industry and business of Al Rawafed, which we covered in the ERP implementation project. The company has invested heavily in machinery and irrigation systems. Therefore, a servicing system has been set up within the ERP solution, which ensures adequate monitoring of financial investments and performed service activities, all with the aim of measuring the profitability of further investment. Sales activities require fast action because of the change of prices on world stock markets. On the other hand, prices are conditioned by weather conditions. All of the above requires agreed sales to be implemented quickly - accompanying documentation, volume parities, etc.

Lastly, what was equally important for us was our partner’s knowledge of our business. BE-terna embarked on this journey not only as the solution’s implementer but also as an adviser on the journey of our business’s digitalization thanks to its knowledge and experience from the same or similar areas of business. After all, today we can say with certainty that we made the right decision both when it comes to the solution and its implementer.

Mirjana Jović, Al Rawafed Serbia, CFO and Project Leader

Business Information system in support of further growth and development of business

All of this resulted in a clearly defined data structure, which is used for analysis, decision-making and corporate reporting purposes. The ERP solution implementation project completes the first phase of digitization at Al Rawafed Serbia. This has created the conditions for the second phase of digitalization - raising business analysis to a higher level through quality and up-to-date data.

If we look at the business and information environment of Al Rawafed Serbia today, the pre-implementation situation, the set goals and the results achieved, we can conclude that this is a very successful project that was carried out within time and a financially defined framework. A very important fact is that the new business information system is not a brake, but a support for the further growth and development of Al Rawafed Serbia's business. 

Živoslav Damnjanović, BE-terna, Project Leader

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