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Customer Story

Reiter Affiliated Companies Supports Growth With Digital Transformation and Strategic Partnership

  • Challenge

    Boost business growth with efficient processes and increased automation.

  • Solution

    Partner with Hitachi Digital Services to implement Oracle Cloud HCM, upgrade Oracle EBS, and digitalize processes.

  • Outcome

    • Improved business agility and productivity with streamlined processes and greater automation.
    • Halved the time to hire and onboard many thousands of seasonal field staff.
    • Supports innovation and enables better decisions with rich business insights.
    • Risk mitigation and cost optimization.

Challenge

Promoting Growth Through Streamlined Business Processes

From blueberry pie to raspberry jam and from blackberry crumble to strawberry sundae, Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC), the world’s largest producer of fresh berries, has likely cultivated the key ingredients for these treats.

With operations spanning continents—North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia—RAC focuses primarily on agriculture. However, the company’s heartbeat is its people. As a family-owned enterprise, RAC is dedicated to fostering a culture of honesty, fairness, and respect and is committed to enriching the communities of its employees.

Boasting over a century’s legacy, RAC has grown and flourished, doubling in size over the past decade. This achievement sets the stage for an ambitious goal.

  • Replicate this growth in the next ten years.
  • Create robust systems and processes that are essential to support this expansion, and RAC is poised to meet this challenge head-on.

John Thompson, CIO at RAC, details the logistical challenges: “Managing thousands of seasonal employees—and anticipating significant increases—requires efficient onboarding and offboarding processes.” Despite using Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM), these systems were outdated, regionally limited, and underutilized, notably with entirely manual onboarding processes in Mexico.

This inconsistency resulted in multiple data sources and only static, localized reporting, impeding strategic decision-making. To drive growth, RAC is dedicated to eliminating its digital debt. Thompson leads a transformation aimed at streamlining, standardizing, and automating processes.

“While RAC boasts a highly competent IT team, our expertise lies in berry cultivation, not technology. Partnering with the right IT experts is essential to enhance our capabilities and adopt more progressive and agile business practices.”

“With many thousands of seasonal employees and the potential for that number to grow significantly, we need to be able to onboard and offboard workers efficiently. By upgrading our Oracle business systems, we’ve achieved our original goals around cost avoidance, eliminating complexity, and supporting growth with greater scalability. With automated processes, we can move employees to positions where they can add more value to the business, which in turn will aid growth. And, with Hitachi Digital Services by our side, we’re building the foundations we need to double in size.”

- John Thompson, CIO , RAC

Solution

A Strategic Partnership Optimizes Oracle Systems

Having worked with Hitachi Digital Services for the last 10 years to help maintain its Oracle-based systems, RAC turned to the long-term partner for help with its digital transformation. “We did our due diligence, but Hitachi Digital Services already understood our business, offered a compelling formal proposal, and had the skills and experience we needed,” explains Thompson. “Perhaps most importantly though, Hitachi Digital Services is a good cultural match, with values that align to our own.”

Hitachi Digital Services helped RAC upgrade its running end-of-life systems to the latest Oracle EBS and HCM Cloud versions. It also migrated RAC’s Oracle HCM Cloud system from an on-premise environment to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

The projects started in January 2020, with Oracle HCM and Oracle EBS Cloud going live in the production environment for the US and Mexico in July and September 2020, respectively. The COVID-19 lockdown didn’t slow the teams down. “We had to completely change the operating model two months into the project due to the pandemic,” explains Thompson. “Meetings then had to be virtual. But it didn’t slow us down too much – Hitachi Digital Services helped us maintain momentum.”

Additionally, Hitachi Digital Services provided program management and technical expertise, recommended best practices, helped avoid common pitfalls, and provided the team with the confidence to achieve its goals.“Hitachi Digital Services role is far more than just a systems integrator,” says Thompson. “The team took on a strategic role from the outset and is an active part of our steering committee, working closely with our leadership team to ensure the best project outcomes.”

Hitachi Digital Services continues to support RAC’s Oracle systems, providing problem resolution, continuous improvement and customizations so the company can maximize its investment in the solutions. As a strategic partner, Hitachi Digital Services is helping RAC shape the future of technology and plan its business systems for the next three to five years.

The next phase of projects involves rolling out Oracle HCM and the latest version of EBS for Canada, Europe and Africa. Once the entire organization is on the same toolset, RAC will be able to share information and best practices and align its processes. This will not only provide the management team with access to global business insights, but also make it easier for employees to move between regions within the company.

Outcome

Establishing an Agile Foundation to Innovate and Grow the Business

Both the Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle EBS projects were completed under budget. Their success has helped improve the general perception of the IT team at RAC, demonstrating that it is a true business enabler. “By upgrading our Oracle business systems, we’ve achieved our original goals around cost avoidance, eliminating complexity, and supporting growth with greater scalability,” confirms Thompson. “Moving to the cloud has also reduced our infrastructure requirements and frees up staff for other activities.”

RAC has already been able to improve its KPIs (key performance indicators) with Oracle HCM upgrades in place with the help of Hitachi Digital Services. For example, hiring and onboarding field employees now takes 15 to 30 minutes rather than 30 to 60 minutes. With many thousands of staff to administer every year, this makes a significant impact on the efficiency of RAC’s HR admin team. The richness of the real-time data that RAC can now access is a key business differentiator. With a better understanding of where people are, the management team can communicate more effectively to avoid labor deficits.

The EBS upgrade has also helped boost productivity. “With automated processes, we can move employees to positions where they can add more value to the business, which in turn will aid growth,” concludes Thompson. “With Hitachi Digital Services by our side, we’re building the foundations we need to double in size.”

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