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SharePoint Case Study: Organic Fruit Cooperative SharePoint Implementation With Inbuilt Intra-Commerce

An organic fruit organization had a very unique collaboration problem. Due to the company being a cooperative business, meaning owned and controlled by its member cooperatives that are in turn owned and controlled by individual farmers within a trade territory, dissemination of information throughout the various levels was vital. Importantly, compliancy is king within organic agriculture since it is regulated by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), and involves several factors, not simply limited to excluding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Organic agriculture is an integrated approach to active and observant management of a farming system. It begins with good soil management for nutrient cycling, productivity, and tilth. It involves an integrated, preventative approach to pest management to protect the health and productivity of the orchard. And this is not the entirety of relevant information that the various business units require. It includes marketing and economic concerns, orchard design, and cultural considerations, including crop varieties, site selection, site preparation, soil fertility, weed control, and pest management (insects, diseases, and vertebrates). All of these activities provide relevant, significant information that those in charge of spearheading the direction of the organization must leverage in order to make tactical business decisions.

ARB Security Solutions was approached to provide a SharePoint 2010 implementation that would allow these various levels of people to collaborate effectively to both distribute operational information regarding the state of the company as well as provide best practices to each other directly related to commodity production, such as preparation and fertility approaches. Since the members of the corporative also internally purchase various products from each other (primarily, products to provide operational pieces around filtration, pasteurization, and concentration) there was also a commerce piece that had to be integrated in order to provide full fidelity in terms of business operations.

From a high-level, the overall site taxonomy was vital for SharePoint adoption mostly due to company culture barriers. Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. Members allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership. Therefore, having visible return on investment for the initiative was crucial.

ARB Security Solutions, in the spirit of cultivation, implemented a self designing site taxonomy in order to support immediate governance and avoid future security mis-assignments. The holistic design was composed of two main parts. Firstly, there was an intuitive site design incorporated that didn’t focus on the company organization, but instead focused on the roles within the organizations. Thus, upon the main landing page for the SharePoint implementation as opposed to going through different divisions there were various avenues depending on the role that was played with the cooperative. While cooperatives are democratic as all members of a co-op are equal decision makers in the enterprise and employ the one-member, one vote, process of making decisions, each cooperative could be categorized by growing strategy, target crop, and placement within the farm. A farm hand, under these pretenses, should not be responsible for the fertility approaches leveraged, however the principal farmer would be. Thus each was presented with a different avenue within the portal. Once in a personalized section, in order to maintain a consistent roped in taxonomy not fill with empty placeholder sites, a custom site approval process was placed into effect. The site approval process automated often mis-configured settings such as those related to security, placing the creation data within an audit store in order to supplement current compliance tooling.

The implementation has been a resounding success, and has been engrained within normal operations within the organization.