uses Microsoft 365 solutions to help farmers be more productive

Cultivating a vision to feed the future: Nutreco uses Microsoft 365 solutions to help farmers be more productive


With a corporate purpose of “Feeding the Future,” Nutreco is passionate about solving the issue of sustainable food production. The company estimates that to feed the global population in 2050, the world will need to produce 70 percent more food than it does today. To accomplish its purpose, the company is constantly striving for excellence.

“Today, Nutreco combines our expertise in producing animal feed with new, digitally driven solutions to help farmers optimize their production with a focus on health,” says Kees Bink, IT Director at Trouw Nutrition, Nutreco’s animal nutrition division. “We use a wealth of different Microsoft solutions to support farmers in becoming more sustainable.”

From dwindling resources to increasing consumer demands, farmers around the world face an assortment of challenges. Nutreco, a leader in animal nutrition and aquafeed, occupies a vital role in the global food chain—supporting farmers as they produce food for millions of people. Nutreco has two main divisions: Skretting, devoted to aquafeed, and Trouw Nutrition, focused on animal feed. Both divisions—and the 120 operating companies underneath them—focus on developing innovative feed technologies, premixes, and software solutions for farms on land.

Enhanced collaboration sets the stage for a workplace transformation with Microsoft 365

Across Nutreco, 12,100 employees work in more than 37 countries. For Erik Beckers, Chief Information Officer at Nutreco, fostering a culture of seamless collaboration is key to bringing valuable, data-driven insights directly to farmers. “In order to deliver a sustainable journey for our customers, we strive for cross-functional collaboration by leveraging cloud productivity tools. With Microsoft 365, we see more cross-functional collaboration driving productivity gains everywhere,” he says.

For years, Nutreco relied on Microsoft tools to get work done, but business leaders identified a gap between the potential benefits of the tools and their use across the organization. “We had invested in a rich suite of functionality, but weren’t using Microsoft 365 to its full potential,” says Bink. To close that gap, HR, Communications, and IT created the Smart Workplace Program. “We launched the Smart Workplace Program to help colleagues use Microsoft 365 to collaborate and manage their information more effectively, all from one central hub that works across devices,” says Bink. To kick-start the program, the team appointed 130 ambassadors and used Microsoft Teams live events to promote the Microsoft 365 tools.

Employees turned quickly to Microsoft Teams to get started with the new way of working. “In the past, we were quite inefficient in how we collaborated,” says Bink. “We sent lots of emails and we used file shares with documents—it was very difficult to get one version of the truth. Relying on audio or video calls only, there was very little real-time document collaboration. Using Teams encourages employees to collaborate in a modern way.”

Jump-starting a smart workplace with Microsoft 365

Just as the Smart Workplace Program was gaining momentum, COVID-19 forced Nutreco to send 7,000 office-based employees, a large portion of the workforce, home to work remotely for the first time. The success of the Smart Workplace Program can be measured in the relative ease with which employees adapted to working from home. “The demand to learn about Teams exploded,” says Bink. “We started with Teams live events to help everyone learn the foundations of Teams.” Over two sessions, 3,500 Nutreco employees tuned in. More live events followed, including sessions on OneDrive and SharePoint, and more advanced training on Teams. To support learning between sessions, Smart Workplace ambassadors created a Yammer community where employees could ask questions and get a rapid response from across the global business.

Today, just three months later, 90 percent of communication is done in Teams. Nutreco employees use Microsoft 365 tools to collaborate seamlessly across the organization and bring new insights to customers, faster. “Teams is where we gather for project planning, co-authoring documents, and sharing information internally and externally,” says Beckers. “We even record meetings and share the videos with participants afterward. We save time by collaborating seamlessly in Teams, especially because we are located all over the globe.” For the Skretting division, Teams acts as both a collaboration tool and a front-end portal for presenting information to customers via the company’s AquaSim solution. The tool, designed to help aqua farmers optimize performance by providing tailored advice, is built using Azure DevOps and presented in the Teams interface to empower farmers with precision insights and forecasting. It’s one example of how Nutreco employees use Microsoft tools to create innovative new digital solutions.

For company-wide town halls and conferences, Nutreco uses Teams live events to bring 8,000 people together for digital meetings that drive company culture. “We continue working productively despite COVID-19 because we have the Microsoft technology stack,” says Beckers. As a next step on the Smart Workplace roadmap, Nutreco is shutting down extraneous apps to encourage employees to work more securely and efficiently with Microsoft tools. “Our approach to apps within the Teams environment today is ‘Microsoft unless,’” says Bink. “There is a lot of value in standardizing on the same tools.”

The Smart Workplace Program and the use of Teams has paved the way for a hybrid work environment when Nutreco employees begin to return to the office, helping support flexibility and empower employees to be productive wherever they choose to work. “With the setup of the smart workplace, Nutreco is well positioned to support the ‘New Way of Working’ in which employees can either work at the office or at home and have the same seamless, smooth experience with proper security measures,” says Beckers. “With the Smart Workplace and the collaboration tools from Microsoft, we can work from any place at any time.”

Empowering sales with a holistic view of global customers using Dynamics 365 and Teams

For years, Nutreco struggled to implement an effective customer relationship management (CRM) solution for the global sales team. “We decided to implement the CRM solution in Microsoft Dynamics 365 as the backbone of our commercial excellence strategy,” says Philip Buist, Program Manager for CRM at Skretting. He reasoned that a new CRM solution would also help standardize the Nutreco sales community across operating companies and countries. “Our different operating companies were very fragmented,” says Hassan Skøien, Digital Innovation Manager at Skretting. “In some cases, different sales teams might be working on the same customer but not know it. With Dynamics 365, we standardized best practices and connected the global sales community with a more holistic view.”

The team responsible for implementing the new CRM solution hosted weekly Teams meetings with sales directors from various operating companies. “We implemented the Dynamics 365 solution based on the input of sales directors,” says Buist. “We used Teams meetings to facilitate this agile approach that responded directly to their business requirements.”

Accelerating CRM rollout in Dynamics 365 while saving costs with Teams

Once the new solution was ready, the IT team sent Microsoft Forms surveys to salespeople across its operating companies to gauge their familiarity and excitement about the new solution. “To streamline the rollout, we used Yammer to share videos and inspiring messages about Dynamics 365, and we published news via our corporate intranet in SharePoint. We used the whole Microsoft 365 solution to convey the messaging, build enthusiasm, and tailor our messages to individual operating companies and sales teams,” says Mikhail Smirnov, Program Manager at Skretting.

When COVID-19 travel restrictions put a stop to in-person meetings, Buist and his colleagues used Teams to host virtual training sessions for sales groups around the world. Digital meetings in Teams were as effective as in-person sessions, so the team accelerated the Dynamics 365 deployment. “We had planned for six operating companies, and we managed to roll out the solution to eight,” says Buist. “Using Teams, we saved time and money organizing our Dynamics 365 deployment and delivered the value of our CRM solution to the business faster than expected.”

Sales teams adopt a modern approach to gain customer insights

The new CRM solution began with a simple goal. “Our main drive was making sure that our sales colleagues could be as effective as possible,” says Skøien. To meet that goal, the Nutreco IT team looked to a number of Microsoft solutions. “When we were selecting a CRM solution, we were influenced by the way Microsoft technologies fit together,” remembers Buist. “We are now reaping the benefits of that approach.”

Today, Nutreco has Teams channels for top global customers and individual operating companies. Employees access CRM data in Dynamics 365, SharePoint documents, custom apps in Power Apps, and Power BI dashboards showing competitor information directly from Teams. Management beyond the sales community can use the solution to get the latest updates on a particular customer.

“In the past, providing information to people outside of the sales community was very clunky, but with Dynamics 365 and Teams, it’s available in one place,” says Skøien.

“Market intelligence reports containing competitor information have gone from a yearly, manual report to near real-time accessibility via Teams,” adds Buist. “Previously, we were dependent on external providers of market information; now it is totally automated in Dynamics 365 and easily accessible in Teams.”

Sales teams use Dynamics 365 and Teams to work together effectively, presenting a more polished impression to customers. “We are under tremendous pressure to reinvent ourselves in harsh times and be lean and effective,” says Skøien. “Teams and Dynamics 365 help us be the best version of ourselves for customers.”

Empowering citizen developers with Microsoft Power Platform and Teams

Along with the Smart Workplace Program, Nutreco launched a similar initiative designed to drive automation throughout the operating companies and empower employees with the tools they need to solve business problems with low-code and no-code solutions they design themselves. “The Smart Business Automation Program empowers citizen developers to utilize Microsoft Power Platform to work more effectively,” says Sjors Houben, Business IT Manager at Nutreco.

After successfully transitioning to Teams to facilitate remote work and conduct virtual meetings, Nutreco employees got to work creating apps in Power Apps to streamline their daily work. Following training sessions facilitated by Macaw, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, the Smart Business Automation Program was well underway. “Macaw was an accelerator in the initial stages of the Smart Business Automation Program,” says Houben. “They really empowered us with their expertise in Microsoft Power Platform, and they helped us set up virtual training sessions in Teams.”

One citizen developer created a warehouse application designed to help other technicians locate samples quickly. “A prototype of the app was created in a day,” says Houben. “With Microsoft Power Platform and Teams, it can go that fast.”

Today, Houben and his colleagues are creating an app catalog to distribute across Nutreco and are advocating the use of Microsoft Dataverse for Teams. “We are encouraging Dataverse for Teams going forward,” says Houben. “It’s a more interoperable approach that gives us the governance we need while enabling citizen developers to work in a sandboxed environment where they can do everything themselves.”

A workplace transformation with global impact

As the challenges faced by farmers around the world continue to evolve, Nutreco uses Microsoft 365 tools to evolve along with them. “To fulfill our purpose of Feeding the Future, we need the right digital tools to help us collaborate better and tackle the challenges faced by our industry,” says Beckers. “Microsoft has been key in ensuring we deliver that digital transformation so we can stay on the leading edge of animal nutrition.”

This case previously appeared on Microsoft’s website (2021).


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