Norsk Kylling is in a fairly unique position after it acquired chicken incubator Hugaas Rugeri in 2016, as the company now owns the entire value chain of chicken production - from egg production, up to hatchery, broiler raising and the completion of various prepared chicken dishes.
However, up until recently the organisation did not have a modern ERP system and relied on manual processes and Excel spreadsheets to run the business. Retailer Rema bought Norsk Kylling in 2015 and since then has been developing and expanding the business, so that it can fulfil new quality requirements, laws and regulations. Part of this includes the construction of a new factory in Orkdal.
With all this in mind, Norsk Kylling knew that it needed to upgrade its business systems and early last year signed a deal with Infor to migrate over to its Food & Beverage CloudSuite. That project completed in August 2020, following some slight delays because of COVID-19, and the chicken producer is now seeking to take advantage of better access to data, automation and traceability capabilities.
We got the chance to speak to Norsk Kylling's CFO, Are Denstad, who said that the Infor system will give the company better control over the quality of its products. He said:
We own the whole value chain for food production. It's quite a unique set up to have that within the same company. We come from a situation where most of our daily operations and everything was done manually mainly in Excel. We didn't have a system that combined the whole value chain.
It was a connected value chain, given that it was the same company and the same people doing a lot of different operations. But you could also find the same number in a lot of different places, so the risk of human error was big. You had to punch in the same number here and the same number there - and that was the manual process that we wanted to get away from.
With animal welfare front of mind, Denstad added that traceability is going to be boosted going forward. He added:
Traceability is one key factor for doing the whole project, throughout the whole value chain. We are also looking to automate our processes, get rid of manual operations. Everyone having access to the same data and to increase the data quality - as well as being able to use the systems to drive continuous improvement projects based on the same data, will be key.
Infor won the contract, according to Denstad, against competition from over 20 other suppliers of ERP, with Columbus chosen as the implementation partner. Part of the reason for choosing Infor was its specialist vertical capabilities within food and beverage. Denstad said:
When we were in our RFP procurement process, we considered a lot of different solutions and ERP software to cover our needs. We ended up with Infor being the best one. We started with quite a wide net and then at each stage of the procurement process we took out more and more suppliers that didn't cover our needs.
What was important for us was mainly the technology, but we also had a lot of focus on the dynamics of the team that was going to support us. We needed them to understand our value chain and be confident that they would meet our expectations. Infor also had good customer references in similar categories. Also, how we experienced the usability of the solutions was important, which Infor was very good at.
Denstad explained that the project was probably aided by the fact that Norsk Kylling didn't have an existing ERP in place, so there was real ambition within the company to get its hands on a modern tool. In addition to this, Denstad said that the company is making a big push to the cloud, as it believes that software development isn't - and shouldn't be - its area of expertise. He explained:
I think it would have actually been more challenging if we had another ERP system - instead of going from Excel to our new system, where everyone had to learn the new way of doing it. The organisation has done a really good job of getting everyone motivated to use the new solutions, which has been crucial for our success. We have found a lot of new stars, which we didn't know about before - people who have taken on the responsibility and are playing their part in a big way on the implementation.
We also didn't want to develop our own solution. We wanted plug and play. We are not a company that should do a lot of software development, we wanted a simple solution that didn't need a lot of people to operate it. We didn't want an on premise solution from anyone. We are trying to lift everything to the cloud for what we are doing. It's much easier to get support and updates.
Denstad added that Norsk Kylling is expecting to benefit from cost savings going forward, not just because of efficiencies gained from reducing manual processes and better automation, but because of the potential for new ways of operating in the future.
In terms of the go-live in August, Denstad was pleased that on the same day the Infor Platform was turned on, Norsk Kylling was able to complete its existing delivery requirements. He said:
We had a successful implementation in August. It was a little bit delayed because of COVID-19, because we had to reallocate resources and things like that. But on the 10th August we went live, on a Monday. I think we had a few hours of delay on that first day, but we delivered our goods to our retailer customer that day and it was really successful.