Positive partnership in agricultural systems
Holding millions of animal records for hundreds of animal breeding societies globally, including Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, brings some complex demands upon the company charged with holding, managing and accessing it.
The Agricultural Business Research Institute (ABRI) in New South Wales is a company owned by the University of New England with just that task.
ABRI provides livestock industries with a wide range of agribusiness information services. This includes servicing breed groups with recording and database services, with the official Estimated Breeding Values and Indexes used by most cattle breed groups as its core business service.
ABRI managing director Hugh Nivison says the challenge for the company is to continue to develop ways for client societies to interact with the data across three levels – staff, society members and accessing public.
To do that ABRI runs its own development team, bringing a deep level of knowledge about the systems and the industry it is servicing.
However the fluctuating work cycle of programme development can put pressure on in house resources from time to time. This presents the challenge of having to source development talent that not only understands ABRI’s complex data systems, but also the agricultural industry it services.
With its well established core of knowledgeable developers who have worked many years in the agri sector, Rezare ticked all the boxes for ABRI’s outsourced development needs.
A recent major ABRI project required redeveloping a system known as ILROnline. It aimed to make it a more dynamic system that enabled each society member to submit and retrieve data from the society database, in real time, and on their own terms. The redevelopment essentially reduces the double handling of data that flows between breeders, society admin staff and the upload to ABRI databases.
Work also included making the system mobile-friendly to adapt to the surge in smartphone and tablet use among clients.
With the ABRI team already deeply committed to developing an equine system over the next two years, Hugh cast about for a development company that he could engage with immediately to get the cattle focused software redevelopment project underway.
“We know there are plenty of companies that will do this sort of work, what we were trying to do was seek out a company that already had an agricultural understanding, and the context of where our business sat in that industry.”
“For us, the fact Rezare staff knew what a ‘weaning weight’ was for example, was important. It saves a lot of time not having to explain the entire industry to your development partner.”
ABRI is in the process of rolling out the first version of the redeveloped system to clients in Australia, United States and Canada on a trial basis, including the unique functionality requirements those clients had.
Hugh says the entire development and implementation of the redevelopment with Rezare has proven to be a valuable and productive partnership.
“They knew what we wanted to do, and we knew from the start what they were capable of, given their knowledge of the industry already.”
“We hope we have a long term relationship with Rezare, knowing there is someone there who understands our relatively complex systems is very useful when we don’t have the capacity ourselves for the task.”
“Developer tasks can be a bit up and down so having the team at Rezare there to call on to fill the gaps is very useful for us.”
With its particular knowledge requirements the agricultural sector can often be confounding to developers unfamiliar with its biological and farm system aspects, slowing down the entire process.
Rezare’s deep background in the agri sector helped pave the way for a relationship with ABRI that enabled both parties to hit the development ground running, with minimal down time learning the basics of the sector ABRI serves.
The meshing between ABRI’s team of knowledgeable and long serving developers and Rezare proved a smooth one, with the Rezare team helping to pull together some new system concepts, drawing on ABRI’s experience with the databases.
“That interaction has proven very positive, and very productive and we’ve certainly been happy with the work done so far.”