Customer Story

AVEVE Group: Coordinating an agricultural supplier with G Suite tools

aveve group hero image

By collaborating on Google Drive, Belgian market leader in agricultural supplies, AVEVE Group centralised and standardised processes at more than 50 businesses across 400 locations.

Google Cloud Results

€2 million a year projected productivity savings

• Delivers a single collaboration platform across 280 stores and 400 locations productivity

• Assists an 8% increase in group productivity in the first six months, according to end users

• Enables a projected €2 million productivity savings every year traveling

By buying and selling farm products and materials, Belgian agricultural supplier AVEVE Group helps guarantee good prices and a fair income for farmers. Created in 1901, today AVEVE operates a wide range of companies in animal nutrition and agricultural and horticultural supplies. Ranging from large factories to small businesses, AVEVE employs more than 1,800 people at more than 50 businesses. With more than 230 stores, AVEVE has the largest chain of garden centers in Belgium.

Now AVEVE is looking to bring this diverse group together in a centralised, standardised environment, as Bart Gouweloose, AVEVE’s IT Service Delivery Manager explains. “In the past, every branch and location would do its own thing. It was very silo based, with little communication between different parties. Now we’re pooling resources to do more with the same number of people. For example, rather than every company doing its own bookkeeping, we are moving to a shared service center to do the finances for the whole group. That demands a lot more communication between companies and means that having a good platform for collaboration is crucial for the future of the group.”

“We’re pooling resources to do more with the same number of people. That demands a lot more communication between companies and means that having a good platform for collaboration is crucial for the future of the group.” Bart Gouweloose, IT Service Delivery Manager, AVEVE Group

Creating a culture of collaboration

For any group of businesses, sharing resources is a smart way to make operations more efficient. At AVEVE, each of the group’s constituent companies operated independently, running its own administrative processes. To improve productivity, the group looked to create a unified communications platform, where information and resources could be centralised and freely shared. More than install a new email solution, AVEVE looked to create a cultural change.

To do that, AVEVE Group introduced G Suite. “Cost was an important factor in our decision,” says Bart. “We knew that we would have a complete set of functionalities at a fixed and predictable price that we could budget for over the years.” The savings extended well beyond IT maintenance and licensing, however. “We went out to our companies to ask them about their administrative processes and how they could be more productive and save time,” Bart continues. “We calculated that €2 million every year could be saved by the company through improved productivity with collaboration on G Suite.”

With Fourcast as an implementation partner, AVEVE migrated 220 stores in two months, before rolling out the tools to the rest of the group. Now the group’s entire file server stack and Sharepoint environment has been migrated to Google Drive, and because G Suite is accessed through a web browser, it is available to all AVEVE staff wherever they might need it. With Google Drive, teams can collaborate and connect more efficiently than ever before. For example, AVEVE’s finance department uses Google Sheets as a fast and accurate way to gather and share data without versioning issues. Rather than travel between the company’s 400 different locations, AVEVE staff report saving money and time by discussing business or organising training on Google Hangouts, using over 50 Google Chromeboxes for Meetings. Google Chromeboxes are also used for Google Digital signage devices in stores, with a view to becoming the group’s main digital signage platform.

“At our flour production plant, staff have a Google Chromebox in the communal dining room showing key production figures from the past day,” says Bart. “At the end of lunch they discuss productivity together and how to improve. That’s the kind of thing that’s happening more and more across the group. It’s a totally new way of engaging with our work.”

“By sitting together with end users and talking about their needs, we can build solutions for them using G Suite tools. Soon, all of our basic IT maintenance will have been outsourced and we will operate a business support desk instead, helping our businesses to work better.” Bart Gouweloose, IT Service Delivery Manager, AVEVE Group

Migrating workflows with AODocs

After switching to Gmail, AVEVE began the migration to Google Drive, keen to create a fertile collaboration environment. “We decided early on that we wanted to optimise security and collaboration on Google Drive,” says Bart. “That’s why we implemented AODocs, to manage workflows, decisions, and authorisation.”

“AODocs made it possible to migrate Sharepoint environments simply with all of their metadata and workflows,” says Bart. “That made it easy to migrate away from legacy systems and platforms, and the combination of Google Drive and AODocs has helped us to deliver the productivity solutions that are making such a difference to our approach to work.”

Building bespoke solutions

“In just six months,” says Bart, “our staff were seeing the advantages of G Suite, with an 8% gain in productivity across the group.” By the end of 2018, AVEVE aims to have more than 90% of its employees solely based in the G Suite environment. In the meantime, Bart and his team continue to work with the group’s diverse companies to develop G Suite use cases, such as at a business unit in Belgium, where employees are using Google Forms to simplify engagement with over 60 grain warehouses, a task that previously required extensive and time-consuming paperwork.

“By sitting together with end users and talking about their needs, we can build solutions for them using G Suite tools,” explains Bart. “This G Suite project was the first time our centralised IT team, together with Fourcast, focussed specifically on productivity. Soon, all of our basic IT maintenance will have been outsourced and we will operate a business support desk instead, helping our businesses to work better.”

Deployment Partner (G Suite authorized reseller)

Fourcast

Based in Brussels, Fourcast is a Google Cloud partner, helping companies to improve the way they work through Google Cloud products.