“iManager helps get a grip on costs”

“The main advantage of HortiMaX’s iManager? It provides clear insight into our costs. That insight is essential to get a grip on costs and take control of them. If you want to keep the cost price low – and who doesn’t? – you need to know exactly what your costs are.” We spoke with Kees Goedendorp of Dutch tomato nursery Van der Voort. At the site in ’s-Gravenzande he took the time to share his experience working with iManager.

Goedendorp is human resources manager at Van der Voort and has worked there for nearly twenty years. The company is a member of the Prominent Growers’ Association and has locations in ’s-Gravenzande and Vierpolders. They grow large and medium-sized vine tomatoes on a total area of 18 hectares (44 acres). In addition to a team of four permanent employees, there are on average more than 30 temporary employees at work at the ’s-Gravenzande site.

Labor costs in focus
For Goedendorp there is no doubt: insight into employee performance is essential for effective business management today. “Labor costs weigh heavily, and iManager helps us gain insight into those figures. In the past, you walked through the greenhouse and got a decent picture of how everything was going. At a company as big as this one that’s no longer possible. You really need tools to help you.”

A satisfied employee is more productive
Goedendorp emphasizes that the time tracking is not meant to push the employees to be more productive. Laughingly, he says, “It’s not like I walk through the greenhouse with a whip. This simply provides clarity for both parties. It’s just as important for the employees; for example, they want to know what they need to do to qualify for a bonus.” When Goedendorp sees that an employee’s performance is lagging, he is happy to take the time to see whether he can help them. “Then I'll patiently show them how to do it again and explain how it can be done better, faster or more easily. You see that as they improve they enjoy the work more, and a satisfied employee is almost always a more productive employee.”

Source of information
With Productive labor tracking, employees enter their data on the terminals in the greenhouse. This information is immediately available to Goedendorp in clear reports. Before the break he checks over the figures, and with a few mouse clicks the information is presented on a big TV screen in the cafeteria. He feels it is important to always check the data carefully first. “I don’t want employees to be confronted with incorrect figures. Because you can be certain they look at those reports. At the same time, it’s also a useful source of information for me: if all the cutters are in the red, there is probably something wrong with what I agreed with them.”

Cost reduction
Since all the hours are accurately recorded, Goedendorp not only has real-time insight into the figures himself, but he also has a reliable and accurate list of the hours for the employment agency. “That really adds up to big savings,” he says. “Suppose every employee works five minutes less than agreed each day. With forty workers we’re talking about three hours a day, which is at least fifteen hours a week. It’s not hard to see what a difference that makes on a yearly basis...”

Boosting quality
Goedendorp says that the system can also help to increase the quality of the work. He explains that this involves an inspection tour of the greenhouse with a tablet in hand, taking a route suggested by the system. “Following a random route is actually quite important. Normally you would tend to follow a set routine or check up on certain workers more often. Inspecting in this way gives you a much fairer and thus more useful impression. I also like the fact that you enter your findings on the iPad as you go; that eliminates having to write it all down and type it in later. It surely also prevents many errors. And the days of pen and paper are now behind us anyway, don’t you think?”

Broken heads
Goedendorp likes the fact that Productive can be used in different ways. From time to time, for example, he will track the number of broken heads. “Then we give our twisters stickers. When they break a head, they affix a sticker with a sequential number and their personal ID code. By entering these numbers into iManager we get a clear overview of the number of breaks per twister. That kind of information can help you further optimize your operations.”

Child's play
Goedendorp is all smiles when talking about how user-friendly iManager is. “Child’s play,” he says. “We had a good introductory session when we started, and that was all we needed to get a good grasp of how it works. And if we have a problem it’s easy to reach the right person, and the people from HortiMaX help us resolve it quickly.” Nothing that could be improved? “Well, if you’re asking where there is room for improvement, the Polish translation of the instructions could be a bit better. Our Polish employees tell me there are some mistakes. They have a laugh about it now and then.” The HR manager at Van der Voort actually expects that HortiMaX will follow through on this suggestion. He knows from experience that they work hard to meet customers’ wishes. “It is simply a great company to do business with. “They truly know all the ins and outs of this sector. Moreover, they say they want to be a partner rather than just a supplier, and they make good on that promise.”

Productive TV
Van der Voort uses Productive TV from HortiMaX. This makes it easy to display the employee performance reports on a television screen. Van der Voort also uses this screen in the cafeteria to post birthdays and company announcements as well as photos of company parties.

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