Anglia Farmers is the largest agricultural purchasing group in the United Kingdom. Formed in 2003, the company is owned by 3,500 shareholding members (while also serving 14,000 non-shareholding members), and pools its resources to provide low-cost bulk purchases for farmers throughout the U.K. They cover the spectrum of farming needs, including items like agrochemicals, fuels, livestock products, and even smartphones and as it continues to grow, Anglia Farmers will continue introducing new programs such as grant application assistance and PR services.
As their operations rapidly grew from 30 employees to 150, Anglia Farmers moved to a new office space and quickly realized that the way they did things wouldn’t work. Face-to-face conversation became uncommon and emails proliferated — cluttering up inboxes throughout the company. Attempts were made to create a newsletter compiling relevant information, but by the time the team would have enough updates to collect, they would already be out of date.
In addition to this, they had one shared drive for their files, which quickly became extremely crowded with multiple versions of out-dated documents that were too much trouble to even sift through.
Samantha Barrell, a Process Improvement Manager in the Organizational Effectiveness Team, took the initiative to find the right solution to make Anglia Farmers more agile, collaborative, and unified.
"We’d outgrown the systems that had been put in place on a temporary basis 10 years ago. We realized that they needed a drastic overhaul."
Different options were pitched internally by various stakeholders; HR had their Access databases for company calendars, developers liked JIRA to track projects, but no suggestions seemed to be intuitive or comprehensive enough for the company’s needs as a whole. Samantha conducted an exhaustive online search for a solution. As she recalls: “We tried quite a few, and what we mainly found is that people would have a really smart website but when you demoed it, it was really old-fashioned and wasn’t that nice to use. We knew we wanted something that looked good but it also had to be easy to administer so we wouldn’t have to bombard IT to change things all of the time.” Once she found Igloo, her criteria were met.
“It was the easiest to use — particularly the drag-and-drop solutions. That was very important,” Barrell says. But it wasn’t just the intuitiveness and visual appeal that the company needed. They also needed to make sure there was a social aspect to the software. With newsfeeds, wikis, and people directories, they found a solution with Igloo that other intranets couldn’t provide.
Once the decision was made to go with Igloo, the team at Anglia Farmers got to work implementing it and, right away, felt extremely supported by Igloo’s staff, “The team was brilliant,” Barrell notes. They chose to ease the company into their new workplace destination, so they approached it in stages. Following implementation in December, and a training session in January, the first thing the team pushed live was a calendar for booking vacations. After years of adding steps to the process without any refinement, the simple act of booking vacation time became a convoluted process, with emails going back and forth between HR, managers, and the employees themselves. Now, with a straightforward system using the calendar function, employees could clearly see a quick reason to embrace their new intranet — breaking down some of the resistance that may have been there to begin with.
Since then, many employees have embraced the different knowledge management capabilities within Igloo, such as using newsfeeds and activity streams to keep people informed of company updates and automating collateral requests through a Forum widget and a template.
"Being able to post status updates and chatting was something we really wanted to go for. Although it was promised in some of the other intranets, it wasn’t as intuitive as it could have been."