Maravilha Farms is a major producer of berries, based in Portugal and Morocco. The company uses data to continuously improve its operations, but legacy processes and technology were leaving valuable insights trapped in disparate siloed systems. Working with OutSystems partner OutFit, Maravilha created a new app for field teams, that makes their work easier and equips farm managers with the real-time insights they need to maximize crop yields. With OutSystems, the company has laid the foundation for seamlessly connected IT across the enterprise.
Increased employee engagement
Enabled real-time insight delivery
“With OutSystems, we know we can deliver complex, state-of-the-art applications with a small team—allowing us to focus on the broader needs of our business, like growth and improving operational efficiency.”
How to Enable Productive, Data-Driven Farming?
Challenge - Maravilha Farms—a subsidiary of Reiter Affiliated Companies—grows berries in farms across Portugal and in Morocco. The company exports more than 4,000 tons of fruit each year.
Like most other industries, connected technology has transformed the world of agriculture in recent years—and Maravilha is highly aware of the impact that well-targeted, well-implemented technology can have on the working lives of its people, and the operation of its business.
“Every year, we gather feedback to understand our company’s technical needs,” explains IT manager Bruno Guerreiro. “Unfortunately, the process we had in place to gather input was far easier for back-office teams to engage with than for teams out in the field, so those teams started to get left behind.”
Teams in the field were using barcode-reading devices to assist with growing, packaging, and distribution. But those devices were offline, and data had to be manually collected from them each day. And in Morocco, the same processes were entirely paper-based.
This created a lot of manual data management work for the Maravilha team, and data was ending up in dispersed silos where nobody could use it effectively—limiting visibility of staff allocation, output levels, and crop yield.
“Because the system wasn’t working in real-time, the people gathering field data weren’t getting any insights from it,” explains Bruno. “It was informing the rest of the business, but the field teams weren’t able to learn anything from their own activity, and take the right actions at the right time to maintain output and productivity levels.”
This was indicative of a challenge right across the company. Data was being stored and analyzed in monolithic legacy systems that made it slow and difficult to process and share vital information. As Maravilha Farms devised a new company-wide digital transformation plan, it was clear this needed to change.
Build Rather Than Buy Proves a Fruitful Decision
Solution - Using feedback gathered from across the company over several years, Maravilha created a new vision of a stronger software layer that would connect all its systems and improve the flow of data across the organization. At the heart of this transformation would sit new apps designed to support Maravilha’s field workers.
But, these new apps couldn’t just be functional—they had to be intuitive enough for anyone to use, and deliver exceptional experiences that would keep employees at all levels engaged in their work. With its unique requirements mapped out, Maravilha began a rigorous selection process to find the ideal solution.
Initially, the team looked at numerous off-the-shelf agriculture solutions. “There are a lot of good tools out there for agriculture businesses, but they’re all packages and couldn’t meet all of our business needs,” says Bruno. “The packages we looked at lacked off-line working, and the ability to use mobile devices to edit data on the fly. Worse, they would have added yet more disconnected silos to our architecture, which was precisely what we were trying to get away from.”
It was clear that to get the perfect solution, Maravilha would need to develop it in-house. OutSystems quickly emerged as the ideal platform. “We went with OutSystems because it offered us an all-in-one platform that took away a lot of the complexity associated with infrastructure, frameworks, and traditional development,” explains Bruno. “Even more importantly, it would enable us to deliver interconnected apps with great UX, using limited development resources.”
“With OutSystems, we know we can have a small team delivering complex, state-of-the-art applications—allowing us to focus on the broader needs of our business, like growth and improving operational efficiency,” he adds. “We can leave the complex technical decisions from architecture to infrastructure on the OutSystems side, knowing that the scalability, performance, and security we need are guaranteed.”
Using OutSystems, the Maravilha team created a new Field Data Collector App, designed to remove the data collection and analysis challenges that had left its field teams without valuable insights. “Great UX was crucial for us, so we made sure the field teams were involved in the development process,” says Bruno. “Using a low-code approach enabled us to create something we knew they’d love before development even began.”
The app gives field teams the ability to collect and edit critical information in the field. Management now has close-to-real-time visibility of crop conditions, according to location, crop variety, and horticultural regime. Support for barcode scanning speeds up many aspects of data entry. The app is tailored precisely to Maravilha’s requirements, which wouldn’t have been possible using the packaged solutions the team evaluated.