• Real-time workforce planning at The Greenery

The Greenery is a supplier of vegetables, fruit, and mushrooms for international supermarket chains and wholesalers. Detailed workforce planning is crucial to process their fresh products on time. Real-time schedules in Anaplan accurately predict how much staff is needed per day and week. This provides both better insights and costs savings.

By Willem van Os, February 2021

Real-time workforce planning at The Greenery

The workforce planning of the distribution center is complex. “We are open 24/7; not only for storage and removal but also for packaging fruit and vegetables,” says Erwin in ‘t Veld of The Greenery about the reason for implementing Anaplan as a solution for workforce planning. The international company has 1,400 employees. “In particular, scaling up people is difficult to predict. You have to gather a lot of information for that, for which Excel functionalities are too limited. ” Therefore, Anaplan and Finext implemented real-time workforce planning at The Greenery.

Prediction of scalin staff

The Greenery, together with many growers and suppliers, supplies a daily fresh assortment of vegetables, fruit, and mushrooms to European retailers. The company is operating in 60 countries and is owned by the Coforta cooperative, in which more than 500 growers are united.

“Especially, scaling up people is difficult to predict,” Erwin continues. “Imagine questions such as ‘do we have enough staff’, ‘do people have to work longer’, ‘ do we have to request extra workforce from the employment agency’. Therefore, a lot of information has to be gathered, for which Excel is ultimately too limited.”

Proof of Concept Anaplan

When Erwin discovered Anaplan, it seems an interesting solution for workforce planning to him. A Proof of Concept (PoC) together with Finext confirms this expectation: “I particularly liked the real-time insight into the required capacity. The PoC was very positive; not only because we could see what Anaplan can do for us, but also because of the click with the consultants of Finext. We liked the collaboration.”

Besides real-time insight, the user-friendliness of Anaplan is another key factor. “Anaplan is very suitable for a co-build or coaching model, where people from the organization do a lot themselves and are therefore able to maintain the solution independently,” says Willem van Os, as a consultant at Finext closely involved with the PoC and the implementation of Anaplan.

This is a strong incentive for Erwin: “I strongly believe that you should bring these kinds of skills to your team, to get more out of the data. You are data-driven without being stuck in systems or having to set up procedures with IT or finance. You can get started yourself and immediately see the result.”

Real-time Workforce Planning per day and week

The implementation starts with setting up two different types of schedules: a staff schedule per day and a forecast per week. Erwin: “Before we invested in the new solution, we wanted to know how quickly we could recoup the licenses. Therefore, we have drawn up a list of 13 business cases.”

The first business case focuses on planning the workload over the day. “With planning per day, we can directly adjust to the number of people needed. It provides insight into how we are doing today, and whether we need to take action to get through today and tomorrow.”

The second business case revolves around a forecast report showing the amount of work per week. “With the weekly forecast, we can predict the occupation for the coming week,” says Erwin. “We do not want to be understaffed, but we certainly do not want to schedule too many people.”

Save on Personnel Costs

Planning in such detail sounds quite exceptional, but is necessary for companies where the staffing needs change daily or even hourly. “We work with fresh products that can suddenly be in great demand and the quality of which can deteriorate in a short time,” explains Erwin. “Therefore speed and flexibility are key in our business.”

Erwin is positive about the results of the planning solution: “We have a better understanding of what is ahead of our warehouse. Now that we see this in real-time, we can better translate it into our workforce. With this tighter and more detailed planning, we can realize savings as we deploy exactly enough manpower.”

The new schedules not only provide more insight; they are also a lot easier to make. “We save time on building reports and schedules, which allows us to plan more often.”

Schedules: import or create directly in Anaplan

During the implementation of the first two business cases, the next business cases are taken into account. For example, we have deliberately chosen to create more data connections with the source system than currently needed.

About The Greenery

  • International fruit, vegetable and mushroom company
  • Operational in 60 countries with 350 daily fresh Products
  • 1,400 employees

Another deliberate choice is to create schedules directly in Anaplan. “The alternative is to create the schedules in Excel and then import it into Anaplan, ”says Willem. “Using Anaplan straight away for scheduling requires a switch from the users, but it also saves them a lot of time. The schedules provide direct input for other calculations in Anaplan as well, making Anaplan the single source of truth.”

“Digital and agile are nice terms to mention and are on the wish list from many companies, but the big question is how to bring it into practice.”

Data-driven and agile

The implementation of the platform is in line with the strategy from The Greenery. “We would like to be more digital and become more agile. This step fits in well in that strategy, ”says Erwin.

Nevertheless, the desire for the workforce planning solution originated bottom-up: “Digital and agile are nice terms mention and are on the wish list of many companies, but the big question is how to bring it into practice,” says Erwin. The challenges around agile Workforce Planning are certainly there. “From supply chain, we started this project bottom-up; of course it matches with the strategy and it contributes to agility. Moreover, we become more data-driven. We hope that Anaplan now spreads like an oil spill and other departments will also work with the tool”.

Connecting with the schedules

In addition to the current list of 13 next steps, Erwin is also considering additional steps. “A logical next step is creating a link between the HR system and the schedules. That future connection is already there. This link is certainly not a replacement for the current HR system, in which people clock in and clock out, but it gives possibilities to match the schedules with the holidays. ”

More ideas probably follow from the next stages of implementing Anaplan across the company. “I had high expectations in advance, but they have certainly been fulfilled,” Erwin concludes.

Would you like to know more about Workforce Planning with Anaplan?

Are you curious about what Workforce Planning with Anaplan can do for your organization? Or would you like to know more about workforce planning at the greenery? Book a 30-minute Discovery Session with an Anaplan expert! We will answer all your questions, and you can indicate which components you would like to know more about. In this session, we will show you, among other things, what the challenges are in the planning process and how to ensure seamless collaboration between the business units.

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