Practical Software Solutions: Modern Overhaul

For more than 40 years, Speedling, Inc., in Sun City, Fla., has been known as an innovator, producing high-quality, fast-growing ornamental, vegetable and forestry transplants. The company also produces retail-ready plants, offers a variety of horticultural supplies and has grown to eight locations in four states with a long-term presence in China.

When Speedling contacted Practical Software Solutions in May 2009, Speedling was using an outdated, heavily customized operating system that had become more of a burden than a tool. With so many products and facilities, Speedling had to streamline and simplify.

“The system can’t run the company; the company uses a system to run the business,” says Speedling CEO Greg Davis. “We needed a system that could track thousands of materials, recipes and finished products and highlight variances in real time. We committed to an ambitious, but well thought-out plan. Our team along with Practical has executed extremely well. There was pain, but the improvements in our ability to service our customers make it well worth the investment.”

Several of Speedling’s customers were running Practical’s Grower Vertical module to service big-box retailers. If the Sage ERP MAS 500 could handle retail supply, it could work for a young plant grower and grown-to-order operations. Speedling needed a tool to establish standards, collect data and highlight variances, all for the purpose of more control and ultimately better decisions.

For Speedling, it wasn’t just a software update. It was a review of all existing processes and a reengineering of its entire business. “The project’s goal wasn’t a new operating system. It was a more efficient business with more energy and information available to service customers,” Davis says.

Speedling put together a cross-functional team charged with 80 percent implementation in six months. The extremely short timeline was strategic. “We needed a clear break from status quo. Given enough time, we would have recreated what we already had,” says team leader Troy Wolfe. “Six months demanded we put the basic system together almost plug and play. It was intense, but Practical Software Solutions provided sensible resolutions and the return on investment has been and will continue to be very positive.”

Speedling is now able to customize by design rather than by necessity and with stability, sustainability and scalability in mind. Its “keep it simple” yet holistic approach allows growers in remote greenhouses using handheld tablets to update yields and production plans. The same information, along with availability and perpetual inventory for all locations, is likewise available to sales or purchasing departments in real time. Instead of a multitude of off-line tools that require independent maintenance, Speedling now has an integrated system tying purchases for seeds and hard goods to an actual order or project across the entire company.

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