How Picas Is Focused on Helping Growers Address Business Management Challenges


Picas software use via Innovative Software Solutions

Photo courtesy Picas Group

Innovative Software Solutions might not be a well-recognized title to growers within the controlled-environment business, however Picas definitely is. This is exactly why the corporate determined to change its official title to the Picas Group this previous 12 months.

Greenhouse Grower Senior Editor Brian Sparks caught up with two members of the Picas Group staff – Andrew Stallmer, Brand Developer, and Ben Dill, Software Implementation Specialist – to study extra in regards to the firm’s rebranding efforts, the significance of utilizing knowledge to make knowledgeable selections, and a number of the Picas Group’s choices.

Brian Sparks: Can you speak about the principle causes behind the corporate rebranding?

Andrew Stallmer: Picas is a identified model, however our earlier firm title was Innovative Software Solutions. So at its core, the title change eradicated slightly little bit of confusion. But extra importantly, we modified our title as a result of we wished to present ourselves the chance to achieve a bigger viewers inside the horticulture business, not simply growers who’re operating our software program however with any grower. Renaming ourselves to the Picas Group allowed us to benefit from a model that had already constructed a fame within the business and place us in a method that may be extra conducive to progress. Our imaginative and prescient is to be important to growers on this business by offering glorious software program, coupled with glorious service, and the title change permits us to extra successfully serve that imaginative and prescient.

The cause we selected the phrase “group” for our firm title is we wished to focus on the group side inside our firm and within the business. We need everyone who works with the Picas Group to really feel like they’re a part of our group/group. Growers have comparable wants and pursuits, and this promotes collaboration with each other in a gaggle/staff atmosphere.

Sparks: What are the providers you at present present?

Stallmer: There are three primary providers we will speak about: Picas BI (Business Intelligence), our IT service, and web site design. We felt like by way of the COVID-19 pandemic, we needed to pivot in sure areas and begin being artistic with what we have been providing to clients. Their wants have been shifting, and so they have been trying to grow to be as lean and environment friendly as attainable. We felt like we had loads of completely different talent units as an organization that we wished to benefit from, which is why we launched these providers. The web site design was one thing we already supplied, and the extra I used to be working on this area, the extra I spotted the impact {that a} highly effective web site can have. The horticulture business doesn’t have loads of sturdy web sites, and it felt like a service that loads of growers may benefit from. The goal is to permit growers to make the most of an internet site that may assist them in constructing out their model, showcasing product, and, if attainable, be an e-commerce answer.

Information Technology (IT) is one thing that we had been providing on an “ask us” foundation, and now we’re providing it to anyone within the business. It consists of community setup and administration, safety, worker coaching, and extra. Growers may be straightforward targets for individuals who have malicious intent, and more often than not aren’t ready to take on a hack or a breach of safety. It’s vital for growers to have steps in place to guard themselves, and that’s the objective of our IT service.

Business intelligence can be one thing that we proceed to construct out. We are actively constructing our personal staff of enterprise intelligence consultants, so we will in flip higher help the growers we work with. When I discuss to those growers, lots of people gather knowledge as a security web or to cowl their bases, however they’re not really making selections primarily based off that knowledge. Frankly, studying an Excel spreadsheet is boring and laborious, and may come throughout as simply one thing else on your to-do listing. Business Intelligence is a collection of graphs and dashboards, that  make it easier to make proactive versus reactive selections in your operation.

Sparks: You talked about e-commerce. Over the previous couple of years, there’s been a much bigger push for it. How vital is stock management to e-commerce?

Stallmer: Over the course of the pandemic, one of many issues that we have been capable of do is create a Shopify or an integration with Shopify and permit our clients to construct their very own web site that they will promote on, however that additionally speaks to the Picas system. When they promote one thing on their web site, it’s additionally been up to date in Picas, so there’s not confusion over what number of models have been really offered.

Dill: The crucial factor you talked about for e-commerce is maintaining with stock management. Our e-commerce integration began as a dealer integration, and that has expanded to integrations with field shops and chain shops, and now e-commerce websites. It’s actually all the identical sort of capabilities or mechanics, simply utilized to a special situation the place now it’s a shopper on an internet site, as a substitute of a staff of brokers promoting your product. We perceive the necessity for sustaining correct stock, which is why now we have made it a precedence to have these built-in options.

Sparks: Let’s return to your level about knowledge. There’s knowledge assortment, and there’s understanding what to do with it. Can you discuss in regards to the worth of constructing actionable selections primarily based on the info you’re amassing?

Dill: Collecting knowledge is crucial, and for those who’re not amassing knowledge, it’s worthwhile to begin there and have some knowledge to work with. Then we will speak about analyzing it, placing it right into a dashboard, and discovering methods to take motion from that knowledge. One phrase I’ve heard just a few occasions earlier than is, what will get measured will get improved. Once you’ve a measurement of one thing and are amassing knowledge, now you can use that to enhance one thing. At the Picas Group, we’re attempting to assist growers determine these ache factors, observe data from them, and use that data to make selections on something from gross sales to provide chain. There are all types of issues that individuals measure, and yearly it looks like there’s some new characteristic or performance we will add to Picas to present growers a brand new method to take a look at knowledge and make higher selections.

Sparks: What are a number of the most urgent issues growers are dealing with in the present day?

Dill: It’s undoubtedly labor and the provision chain, and find out how to handle them. For the provision chain, it’s extra vital than ever to know what you want, once you want it, the place’s it coming from, and the way a lot it’s going to value. With labor, it’s worthwhile to know the way many individuals assets you want, when do you want them, and what they’re presupposed to be doing.

Taking it a step additional, on this business we frequently consider labor as guide labor for planting and filling trays, caring for vegetation, pulling product and so on. There’s been an enormous push for automation, and there’s some superb know-how on the market. The subsequent tier of that’s automating your higher-level positions: your administration and your resolution makers. How can we make life simpler for these folks? If you understand the duties they’re doing, you’ll be able to leverage software program to make their lives simpler and take one thing they spend two or three hours quantity crunching or processing by way of, and generate a report to present no matter data they want. I’m excited to see the place we go together with that and what comes from that, as a result of on this labor market, it looks like positions at each stage are aggressive, and firms are struggling to retain folks at each stage. Along with the positive aspects that we’ve made on the guide labor aspect, the place are there positive aspects to be made on the subsequent higher-level tier of individuals? I believe now we have the precise staff in place to have the ability to take a critical have a look at that.

Stallmer: I believe it’s additionally fascinating as a result of everyone sort of assumes that once you’re discussing efficiencies, you naturally default to guide labor. But the truth is that for those who’re in a higher-level place, you could have X variety of duties to do in a day, and for those who really feel such as you don’t have the assets to get these duties executed, they’re simply being pushed to the again burner and also you’re getting them executed when you’ll be able to. Systems like Picas and different providers we provide will help you decide up these duties that have been on the again burner. For these occasions once you really feel such as you don’t have the assets to get issues executed, loads of the time you most likely do have the assets, they’re simply not being allotted the precise method. If you benefit from Picas or different software program instruments, you’ll be able to take on a few of these different duties that you just felt such as you beforehand didn’t have the assets to deal with your self.

Dill: Speaking from my very own earlier expertise working for a grower (Wagner Greenhouses) and managing folks, the precise know-how will help you intend and arrange properly prematurely and free you as much as do what you do greatest, and most get pleasure from doing, rising vegetation.  There are superb folks on this business who’ve constructed superb companies, however I believe on the coronary heart of this business is a love of vegetation, and we simply need to supply a chance for growers to get again to doing what they love.



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