We went back to Blenheim for this one; our second viticulture manpower app!

GrapeWorx Marlborough is a contracting company that employs around 300 staff. They work in vineyards in the renowned wine making district of Marlborough, New Zealand. While they have a small permanent Kiwi contingent, the majority of staff come under the New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme (RSE). They are mostly recruited from Thailand and Papua New Guinea. When extra staff are required over the busiest months, backpackers from all over the world are employed on working holiday visas. GrapeWorx pride themselves on a stable experienced workforce with most RSE staff returning each season for the last 8 years. They perform tasks from new development through to harvest. This includes setting up new vineyards with posts, wires, and planting, pruning and wrapping, thinning, pest management, spraying, and finally harvesting the mature berries which are then made into wine.

GrapeWorx is a family run business, which used a manual process to run all recruitment, collect details in the vineyard. They then re-entered all that data into separate payroll and invoicing packages. This was complex and time consuming, involving numerous spreadsheets and triple-entry. Because it was extremely labour-intensive and prone to human error, the process was putting GrapeWorx’s competitive edge under threat. When the new Operations Manager, Tanya Pouwhare, arrived back in New Zealand to work in the family company, she knew there had to be a better way.

While doing some research she came across several options, but was impressed with an online case-study for a FileMaker-based viticulture manpower app, developed for one of GrapeWorx’s local competitors.

Tanya explains:

“I discussed FileMaker with Jono, the director of VinePower, he indicated that they were happy with the result, so I contacted FileMaker head office who put me onto Foundation Data.”

Foundation Data developed the VinePower project and were happy to talk to GrapeWorx. Rather than just buy the VinePower solution, Tanya asked Matthew Roscoe to fly down from Auckland to discuss their specific needs in more depth, so they could create a customised viticulture manpower app for GrapeWorx.

Tanya set up an initial meeting with the GrapeWorks directors, Mack and Susy Pouwhare, about what was possible and how it could work for their business:

“It didn’t take us long to see that Matthew knew what he was talking about, and believe Foundation could create exactly what our company needed, Matthew and I spent the rest of the afternoon getting started on the specification.”

What followed was a long exchange of detailed emails and phone calls over the next few months until Foundation provided a detailed specification and proposal. Several months later, a Foundation developer, flew down for a couple days to install and train core management staff on the operational processes.

viticulture manpower app interfaceThe result is a solution that includes a FileMaker Go iPad App that synchronises to an in-house FileMaker database, “BerryGood”. The database collects all recruitment information, prepares quotes, jobs, time sheets, invoices. It exports data to separate payroll and accounting systems. Although the two contracting businesses are in the same industry and town, GrapeWorx methodology for running the daily operations is very different.

According to Matthew:

“This is the beauty of combining an experienced developer with the rapid development capabilities of FileMaker. We can deliver a solution that not only ticks the boxes but works exactly the way the client needs it to and offers an excellent return on investment (ROI).”

The easy-to-use iPad app has been enthusiastically embraced by the field supervisors, and when the first full payroll batch was run it took 12 minutes instead of the previous 3 days of manual data entry. Invoices are now produced and sent to clients far sooner than previously possible, improving cash-flow. Key performance indicator (KPI) reports are already assisting with labour management and statutory reporting functions.

The last word belongs to Tanya:

“I really didn’t know exactly what we would end up with when we first started on this project. What we have is simply outstanding. We are 100% immersed in it and it has fast become a very important tool for the daily running of our business. It does everything we need it to, which is a true testament to your understanding of our business, all that detailed work done up front really paid off. The follow up service has also been top notch, we feel very supported with this system.”

Thank you to Tanya Powhare.

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