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Sakata Seed Corporation Weeds-Out Shadow IT With OutSystems

50 Applications
2 Developers
3 Years
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Sakata Seed’s small app development team could not meet the rising demand for bespoke application development. So, shadow IT had sprouted across numerous departments—presenting IT support headaches and data risks for the company.

Having adopted OutSystems in 2016, their two developers have turned-back the tide, delivering 50+ apps at a pace of one per month. And Sakata’s IT department now has a “can-do” reputation that has helped it weed-out shadow IT in favor of governed, high-quality application development.

  • Digital Core Systems
  • Field Service Optimization
  • Legacy Modernization
  • Mobile Applications
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Web Apps & Portals
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"A lot has changed thanks to OutSystems. Now user departments trust us and come to us. So, there’s much less risk of shadow IT. And we’ve even been honored with a company award."

Kenichi Minesawa IT Team Leader, Sakata Seed

Unable to Meet the Demand for Custom Apps, Shadow IT was Spreading Like Wildfire

Sakata Seed Corporation is a world leader in breeding and producing vegetable and ornamental seed and vegetative cuttings. Headquartered in Japan, Sakata has operations in 19 countries, and its seeds are used in countries right around the world.

Across its field operations, there were frequent demands for customized applications. Unfortunately, in Japan, its two-person application development team had to turn away the vast majority of requests. As a result, business departments had resorted to a “do-it-yourself” approach, mostly using Excel and Access.

More complex requirements often resulted in outsourced development, leading to slow response times for even the smallest fixes and enhancements.

“The reputation of our information systems department was in a downward spiral,” explains Kenichi Minesawa, IT Team Leader at Sakata Seed. “User departments stopped even consulting us, as they knew we could not respond quickly enough.”


Meanwhile, the risks of applications breaking and data errors were on the rise. “We took an inventory of IT assets and found dozens of systems we knew nothing about,” says Kenichi.

“We determined that to be agile while producing the best possible results with limited resources, we needed a modern application development platform that would support rapid in-house development by our existing IS resources.”

Kenichi Minesawa IT Team Leader, Sakata Seed

Sakata evaluated OutSystems and two low-code application development platforms. The company selected OutSystems because of the ease with which its developers could create engaging user experiences and its overall ease of use.

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Why Sakata chose OutSystems:
  • Speed-up development and improve agility
  • Improve UX
  • Deliver web and mobile applications

Turning the Tide on Shadow IT With a Bottom-up Approach

Sakata engaged OutSystems Delivery and Training partner ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) to train its two developers. In addition to the extensive free self-study training materials provided by OutSystems, CTC coached Sakata’s developers using a sample app that the developers had to rebuild on their own and have certified.

One of the first applications that Sakata’s developers delivered was a strategically important sales support system. All salespeople now use this for customer master data, quotations, and recording sales.

“This system is used by a large number of users,” explains Kenichi. “We wanted to start in a high impact area that would grab people’s attention. We knew that a vocal body of salespeople that would use this application every day, were likely to spread the word that IS actually can deliver great systems fast.”

This high-stakes approach has paid off as Kenichi explains:

“We’ve adopted a much more iterative and agile approach to development—build fast, release often, and use feedback to continually improve. Now we’re in constant dialogue with users, with lots of improvement suggestions and new ideas coming from the field.”

Kenichi Minesawa IT Team Leader, Sakata Seed

This kind of bottom-up approach to development has massively improved IS’s reputation with business departments. “It’s a positive feedback loop,” says Kenichi. “The more we work directly with users, the better we understand their requirements. So, we deliver better and faster results, which fosters trust and even more engagement.”

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ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (partner)

ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corp (CTC), a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation, provides and maintains computer network systems, information processing services, commissioned software development and...

Learn more about ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (partner)

Responsiveness Makes Trust Bloom for Sakata’s IS Team

Since adopting OutSystems in 2016, Sakata’s two developers have never been happier. They’ve delivered over fifty applications at a rate of one per month. This fast pace of development has restored the IS team’s reputation across the business.

“A lot has changed since we started developing on OutSystems,” explains Kenichi. “Now, user departments trust us and come to us. Before, people assumed we could not help, that we were too busy, or it would take too long. Now it’s quite the opposite—people assume we can help. So, there’s much less risk of shadow IT. And we’ve even been honored with a company award.”

“We even get thank you notes from employees, which makes us very happy. And we’ve achieved this with the same two developers we had before—the difference is they’re now using OutSystems.”

Kenichi Minesawa IT Team Leader, Sakata Seed

One of the contributors to Sakata’s increased speed of development is the reuse of code across applications. “A good example is a clock-in/clock-out system used at our research center,” explains Kenichi. “We replaced a legacy twenty-year-old system that we had been quoted several hundred thousand Yen to replace. Having built it on OutSystems, we were able to reuse modules when building several other systems, including visitor management, meeting room bookings, and an internal app for image sharing.”

Mobile app development is also on the rise at Sakata. “We’re currently developing a mobile application to check inventory levels. Other innovative projects include a knowledge management solution to retrieve unstructured data such as documents and images from a NoSQL database. Sakata’s developers are building the front-end with OutSystems.

Looking ahead, Sakata expects to integrate hundreds of applications into OutSystems and continue to eliminate duplicate and overlapping applications that had sprung up in different departments. The company sees OutSystems as central to its cloud migration objectives.

According to Kenichi, one of the most pleasing aspects of OutSystems has been how seldomly developers have needed to code. “One of the reasons we selected OutSystems was the ability to extend development with your own code,” says Kenichi. “But we’ve seldom needed to do that. Over 80 percent of our applications were built just using the standard OutSystems visual language and UI framework.”


Summarizing what has changed in the three years Sakata has been using OutSystems, Kenichi says, “We’ve been able to move away from end-user development towards uniform data management. We’ve eliminated data discrepancies and shut down many fragile applications. Now different departments are working together with more confidence that they’re looking at the same data when making decisions.”

Commenting on the newfound agility of Sakata’s IS department Kenichi has this advice for others that are not yet using similar modern development platforms:

“Some people worry that adopting a low-code application development approach will upset their future systems design plans. But, in the current uncertain business environment, agility and speed have never been more important. With OutSystems, we’ve managed to get the benefits of governance and agility together.”

Kenichi Minesawa IT Team Leader, Sakata Seed