The produce sector faces a variety of unique operational challenges due to time constraints, delivery of the product and intricate processes they follow.
Some typical issues we have found with IT in the Produce Sector aren’t specifically to do with the technology and the fact that they are in the food industry. Instead, the problems are largely down to the unique demands placed upon those clients i.e 24/7 support or the fact all produce has to be delivered within a certain timeframe. The demands from their clients are immense.
Due to the complexities within the industry, some technology companies lack the understanding of their unique demands. For instance, a lot of IT companies proclaim they offer 24/7 service and they may well have somebody at the end of the phone who will jump out of bed to take a call at 1 am in the morning, but does that constitute true 24/7 support?
When the produce customer is struggling to get their orders out the door will someone rolling out the bed at 1 am really be able to deliver the very best support and the very best thinking to enable that client to become operational again?
Another consideration technology companies must consider is the complex processes those in the produce sector must follow. For example, if a call comes in during the night and the IT company does indeed have a 24/7 helpdesk, does the business have the right standards in place to ensure that helpdesk can even fix the issue at 1 am or at least provide a workaround? It comes down to unique standards that need to be implemented. For instance, should the internet go down, has the produce company been told they should have a failsafe – a second internet connection? If not, someone has to scramble to the site to try and cobble together the first one, which means lost communication, downtime, loss of earnings and in some cases wasted product.
As many companies within this sector work around the clock and downtime is minimal, the ability to deliver technological solutions and implementing them within a small window of opportunity is essential. Most produce companies can’t afford down-time and IT companies do not always appreciate that. It is essential to build in resilience from the start of the journey, to make sure they can future proof and plan for changes and upgrades needed in the future.
The process of onboarding clients in the produce sector and the development of incident response plans involves communication with key parties, auditing, and identification of technical blind spots in the organisation. The aim is to understand the system thoroughly, minimise downtime, to respond efficiently if downtime does occur, and to enable us to implement change swiftly.
When our engineers onboard such clients, as well as taking a thorough audit, they investigate potential weak links in the IT infrastructure, for example, a lack of backup power supplies or broadband connections. Any recommended improvements are then forwarded to the client.
The onboarding process also includes the formulation of processes that the client will routinely require, for example, the addition and removal of staff members (which is frequent in this sector). Having an in-depth process ensures we can all keep up.
We formulate POA plans in cooperation with the client, detailing what will occur in the event of a disaster recovery situation. The plans are centred around maintaining maximum uptime and prioritising the key delivery areas. We ensure we obtain a thorough picture of the organisation, including opening hours, key contacts, and available downtime for periodic software updates. These plans are regularly reviewed with the client.
If you’re in the produce sector and looking for IT support you can rely on, please get in touch with us to find out how we can help you. Call us on 01733 577055.