Orchestra Networks got a chance to catch up with the always busy Jean-Yves Falque at Apgar consulting to discuss our joint project at Acolyance.
We would have enjoyed asking him more questions, but he only had time for eight questions.
1. Before we get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about Apgar consulting, how are things going with your new company?
Our “baby” is doing well thank you! I would give him a 9 in the Apgar scoring system!
More seriously, after almost 13 years in major management consulting companies, we decided to create Apgar Consulting because we wanted to put, on the market, a global set of expertises dedicated to supporting MDM integration projects based on EBX5.
We aim to be able to support a whole project (from scoping, functional requirement, architecture, delivery, change) while being better & faster than classical integration companies thanks to our fast tracks and our agile MDM methodology. Just today Apgar Consulting is 7 months old, with already 3 projects on going.
2. What can you tell us about Acolyance and their business?
Acolyance is one of France’s largest agricultural cooperatives with revenues of over €522M. They process more than 1.5 million metric tons of agricultural products annually, and serves a network of 3,500 agriculture members and 7,000 wine producers. They have two main lines of business: Agriculture and Distribution. Their agriculture line of business, is where they undertake all those activities that you’d typically find in any agricultural co-op. They market and sell the agricultural products of their members and they act as “central procurement” for both fertilizer and seeds. However, unique to Acolyance is their distribution line of business that provides products, services and equipment to gardeners, professional landscaping companies, wine producers and (of course) farmers. The tricky part is that between their two lines of business a member on the agricultural side might be customers in the other.
3. What are the master data challenges that organizations, such as Acolyance, which are in the agricultural sector need to address?
First, the agricultural sector is consolidating, companies like Acolyance are merging to survive. This means Acolyance’s master data are from different origins with various level of quality and there’s the perennial problem of integrating the continuously created new data as well. Second, Acolyance business is spread in several activities: cereal collecting, cereal reselling, seed supplying and farming material retailing. This means that a farmer can have several roles at a same time. This leads to strong data governance challenges to insure the efficiency of data creation processes and an overall high level of data quality.
4. Are there any unique challenges that Acolyance must handle because they are a membership driven organization?
Yes, the challenge comes with multiplying roles that a member (farmer) could have: customer, supplier, producer and member. The member’s information represents the key master data for almost every department within the organization. So you can imagine how challenging it can be to define a common governance process between Sales, Legal, Procurement and Finance!
5. You started the project implementation few months ago. Can you tell us where you are?
The project started early June. The solution was ready for UAT early September. We have just received the sign off from the business with a very small number of issues reported by the users. Key users were stunned to see an IT project meeting its deadline, with such a high level of quality! We are proud of this feedback!
Acolyance is now preparing its data for go-live. At the same time we are scoping phase 2, which consists in adding new functionalities and managing new master data.
6. Why do you think that the project is going so smoothly?
The magic recipe is the combination of several ingredients:
First the solution. EBX5 is a very mature MDM technology. Since 2006, I have had the opportunity to implement almost all the MDM software solutions of the European market and I can tell that EBX5 is a best in class: it provides all the functionalities we need, it is stable, it is easy to install and configure, it is very flexible, it is a true multidomain platform and, on top of that, the team is really cool and professional! Second is the Apgar MDM methodology…
7. Can you tells us about the Apgar’s approach to MDM?
After several years of implementing MDM projects using a classic methodology (e.g. waterfall), we found some limitations because data governance matters are often considered “obscure” by users. They are more used to dealing with business processes rather than with Master Data.
The “Apgar Pragmatic MDM methodology” leverages the flexibility of EBX5. It is a mix of Agile IT project methodology and industrial best practices like Kaizen and Lean Management. One aim is to gather business requirements by onboarding users directly in the tool without trying to multiply conceptual meetings. Another objective is to deliver the only necessary documentation to user sign-off and project team competency transfer.
As a result, when comes UAT, users are already familiar with the solution which, as you can imagine, ease its acceptance. We are also observing a significantly lower level of negative feedback when compared to a classic approach.
8. Where can people go to learn more about Apgar’s offering?
There’s the Apgar Consulting is about to publish its new website (www.apgar.fr and www.apgar-consulting.com) in the coming days. Stay tuned to our twitter account (@ApgarConsulting) or our LinkedIn Page (http://www.linkedin.com/company/apgar-consulting).