Complete Process Automation from Start to Finish: Automating an Entire Company for Faster, More Efficient Growth
Founded in 1981, Exacto has earned a reputation for advancing the science of adjuvants and developing innovative technologies that improve the economics of irrigation and pesticide applications. The company focuses on engineering solutions designed to optimize the conditions in which chemicals, water, and soils come together to create bountiful croplands and vibrant landscapes.
As it operates in a highly-regulated industry, Exacto wanted to improve organization, accountability, and compliance across the entire company. It considered the workflow management capabilities of its ERP system, but found it lacking. The company needed a way to move both internal and external requests through its processes in a timely manner while documenting each step along the way. In the end, the solution it chose would transform completely how the company operates across all departments.
Exacto sought a workflow management system that would automate all aspects of the company—the sales, technical, marketing, compliance, research, and operations departments.
After evaluating a number of options, Exacto chose Integrify, which provides form creation, routing definition, and tracking tools to those responsible for processing requests, minimizing data entry and simplifying requests for approval and fulfillment. The solution eliminates problems typically related to labor-intensive, manual processes, such as paper handling and email requests, and can reduce costs per transaction 60 to 90 percent as opposed to paper-based processes.
Recently, Exacto chose to move to the cloud version of Integrify to ensure system uptime for salespeople working remotely. The company is based in rural Sharon, Wis., and when weather and other factors caused internet problems, external salespeople were cut off from the Integrify system.
Integrify has become the field sales team’s gateway to all that they do, so Exacto needed them to have access to it at all times from any location.
All 60 employees use the Integrify system, which automates just about every request and task that comprise their day-to-day responsibilities: There are 35 separate requests types, and the system processes more than 250 requests each month. Unfortunately, they have no idea how this rate compares to the number of requests processed before implementing Integrify, since they previously had no way to track the workflow. Now, with Integrify, they can initiate, execute, track, and report on all requests made throughout the company.
Now, everything that they do, at some point or other, flows through Integrify.
Integrify’s workflow management simplifies the request process, ensuring quick completion of a task while offering transparency and visibility into the entire process.
Most recently, the Exacto team deployed Integrify to vet new product ideas, develop new formulas, and respond to customer and employee efficiency suggestions. In short, Integrify became a kind of digital, automated suggestion box for idea management.
Integrify provides a way for Exacto’s leadership team to capture all employee (and customer) ideas and track them through the evaluation process. When an employee has a suggestion, they generate a request called the Lead Generator. At that point, others within the organization can offer feedback on possible existing solutions, or, if one doesn’t already exist, move the suggestion forward in the development process. The marketing team meets to discuss the idea’s potential, presenting documentation and research supporting its viability. If it is determined that a market exists for such a product, the next step is scheduling a meeting with the research and development team to discuss logistics. The final step, if the team decides to move forward, is to move the process to Exacto’s lab to begin development and testing, and the project is funneled into Exacto’s new product request process.
“Integrify helps us keep track of these ideas as they turn into actual projects,” said Gilberto Pereda, application programmer and Integrify administrator. “This is incredibly useful when we have 10 or 15 ideas being discussed, and nothing is concrete. It helps everyone involved track where each idea is, how far along in the process it has moved, and its current status.”
Prior to implementing Integrify to track this process, Pereda describes the development of new ideas as being “very ad hoc,” with no standardized method for keeping all stakeholders abreast of the most recent developments.
“We are seeing more new ideas being put forward now, most likely because, previously, people weren’t clear on the avenue to follow to make a suggestion,” said Pereda. “If someone outside of the lab had a new idea—like a salesperson, for instance—they weren’t sure how to put it forward ‘officially’ for consideration. Now they know their ideas have a good chance of coming to fruition.”
Additionally, the new system provides a way of “memorializing” ideas and collating documentation regarding past decisions, so the team can assess the novelty of an idea as well as track those that were not pursued (and why those decisions were made). This resource saves significant man-hours in retreading well-worn paths.
“We’ve always had a lot of great ideas floating around out there, but we had no way to collect them, evaluate them, and assign them to a committee to vet,” said Pereda. “Now employees feel like they are being heard, and their ideas are being acted upon. Additionally, it gives the decision-makers a standardized process to follow so that every idea is given the same attention.”
In addition to tracking the requests, the greatest benefit Exacto has reaped is the ability to link requests and processes together throughout the company.
Integrify administrators have built on their original processes, so once they create a task, different channel processes feed into it. Some departments are heavier users than others, but nearly every single person in the company interacts with the tool.
Administrators can rapidly create processes that truly work the way Exacto’s business works. The system is designed for business users, requiring limited support by IT personnel. Integrify can be defined and deployed rapidly for one process, then extended to other processes across an enterprise.
Integrify has enabled Exacto to improve customer service because it keeps the staff accountable and organized. Integrify allows managers to use metrics to see how long a request sits with an employee, information used to help determine bonuses. The system gives them one more tool to evaluate performance and ensure superior customer service.
Additionally, Exacto has compiled a kind of encyclopedia of solutions, since the records of completed tasks help employees find previously used solutions when faced with a customer challenge. Administrators don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time because they have a record of all previous solutions. This dramatically improves development time since processes can easily be cloned and edited as needed.
Finally, Exacto has experienced improved employee engagement through its new Integrify-fueled idea-vetting system: Employees feel more involved in research and development, and more readily identify as stakeholders in growing the business because they can see their suggestions being considered, acted upon, and often realized by tracking their progress through the system.
After so much success with its early implementation of Integrify, Exacto continues to forge ahead. It now considers most new challenges through an Integrify-focused lens: Can the Integrify solution make a process more efficient and productive? If so, the company quickly stands up a new process within the Integrify solution.
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