Using ERP to attract new customers in the consumer goods industry

Using ERP to attract new customers in the consumer goods industry

RSM’s familiarity with the dairy industry helped the farmer owned cooperative to meet sector-specific challenges

RSM US helped Tillamook County Creamery Association to implement a Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP system to facilitate its national expansion plans and meet increased consumer demand

Elly Yates-Roberts |

The farming industry has been one of the most advanced and innovative throughout history. Tillamook County Creamery Association – a farmer-owned cooperative based in Oregon, USA – epitomises the farming industry’s continued use of emerging technologies and processes to improve food production in many ways.  

The cooperative, which was established in 1909, is owned by approximately 80 farming families and is internationally recognised for its dairy products. Following many years of success, the organisation wanted to upgrade its legacy applications to support the digital transformation of its operations to connect its products with more consumers around the country. To do this, it collaborated with Microsoft cloud partner and technology advisory firm RSM US to migrate from an outdated system and multiple spreadsheets to an integrated cloud platform. 

According to Tillamook, a major reason for selecting RSM was its familiarity with and focus on the dairy industry. For example, RSM has received multiple awards from the International Dairy Foods Association for its technology solutions that support the industry. “We chose RSM because of its dairy industry knowledge and tools that focused on the dairy industry,” says Travis Pierce, director of IT at Tillamook. 

RSM helped Tillamook to implement cloud-based platform Microsoft Dynamics 365 and its own industry-specific solutions. During the implementation, Tillamook’s CFO and other team members worked with RSM to define a change management process to move to the new cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. This kept the dairy operation running smoothly and store shelves stocked while the new system was implemented. 

RSM’s Rapid Verification Model (RVM), a framework of implementation tasks, pre-configuration and industry-specific processes, enabled the Tillamook and RSM teams to quickly model the full solution across all business processes.  

Tillamook decided to deploy the solution at all plants simultaneously. As part of this single-deployment phase strategy, RSM also rolled out its Dairy Accelerator, a solution which addresses challenges unique to the dairy industry while ensuring compliance with substantial customer and regulatory requirements.  

The RVM toolset accelerated time to value by enabling the Tillamook team to quickly adopt the right mix of best practices that fit its needs. It also enabled Tillamook to fast-track its Dynamics 365 implementation, cutting overall deployment time by months and saving the cooperative time and money. 

“The RSM team hit the ground running and already spoke our language, which really minimised the learning curve,” says Pierce. “And the RSM Dairy Accelerator makes Dynamics 365 a truly comprehensive ERP solution for the dairy industry.” 

Implementing the new system with help from RSM enabled Tillamook’s remote workers to securely access its ERP system from home and use automated processes to manage the unexpected spike in demand while customers were sheltering during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

It also streamlined back-office processing, which enabled Tillamook to address several existing challenges. These included a lack of control and real-time reporting on dairy financials, manual processes for managing inventory and production, and limited visibility into operations. 

“With the Microsoft and RSM solutions, we’ve been able to address these problems and make accurate, real-time information about operations available to everyone who needs it,” says Pierce. “This not only makes us more productive and cost-effective, but also enables us to continue to improve the flexible Dynamics 365 system, adding more agility to engage with existing customers and gain new ones.”  

Tillamook now has a highly scalable ERP platform that has improved access to information for decisions and visibility to inventory, which are crucial to cost-effectively fulfilling demand on a national scale and during demand volatility. The platform can also accommodate the organisation’s growth strategy as it fulfils increased business demands and enters new markets. 

Best of all, the co-op families can keep farming as they have for generations with confidence that the by-products of their dedication attract new loyal customers every day. 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of  Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription

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