Before Claudine Ogilvie arrived at ASX-listed animal nutrition manufacturer, Ridley Corporation, projects were siloed with various business units, each using different frameworks for prioritisation, assessing return on investment, with different project management styles and methodologies.
Most projects included a technical aspect and engaged IT on an inconsistent basis and often late in the process. This hampered the organisation’s ability to gain visibility across its projects and ensure the most profitable initiatives ‘rose to the top’.
Ogilvie, in her first job as a CIO, changed all that. Ogilvie, who recently undertook the role of CIO at Jetstar, was brought into Ridley’s technology team to give it more commercial, strategic focus and better align IT to the business.
Ogilvie established a project management office to establish standards and templates for project management and frameworks for technology engagement.
She also worked with business units to formalise project portfolios and develop appropriate frameworks for stage-gating and portfolio management; and created a common platform to capture all information relating to initiatives.
Finally, Ogilvie used her team’s ITS steering committee as a governance platform to prioritise all business projects with any technological or IT involvement. The committee evolved into an ITS and Projects Steering Committee designed to establish a clear line of sight for executives, the board and other key stakeholders on all major projects and innovation initiatives across the business.
“This initiative transformed the way Ridley approached projects and innovation at an enterprise level, enabling more informed decision-making, an integrated involvement of IT, and more profitable capital allocation,” Ogilvie says.
Innovation is certainly something that has done well under Ogilvie’s leadership with several initiatives that have improved the customer experience.
One of these initiatives is ‘Feedmeters’, a project where Internet of Things technology is being used in silos to send information to Ridley’s operations team so they can accurately assess the need to replenish animal feed on farm.
Feed meters have not historically been used in the Australian dairy industry. To determine the quantity of feed or space in silos, farmers typically used fairly rudimentary techniques such as climbing on top of the silo and looking inside. They would also throw objects against the side of the silo and make a judgement based on the noise made.
The rudimentary nature of these techniques means the accuracy level of estimates is low – around 20 per cent. Running out of feed affects cow performance, causing a drop in milk production and lost milk income, and can also result in poor animal health if feed additives are being used to manage health issues, therefore affecting milk production and income.
This new technology provides farmers with improved feed measurements and accurate feed rates, milk production, integration with PL data, and improved silo hygiene resulting in less feed quality issues.
For Ridley, this technology improves supply chain efficiencies, freight utilisation, load and production scheduling, and helps to prevent return-feed (when more feed is delivered than a silo is capable of receiving).
Ogilvie and her team also leveraged partnerships to address industry and customer sustainability and productivity challenges. Ridley developed and commercialised Novacq – a novel ingredient in Aqua Feed that can substitute other traditional and less sustainable meals – with the CSIRO. Novacq is also capable of significantly improving growth rates (productivity) in prawn production.
“Ridley has been perfecting the technology required to refine harvested Novacq to continuously improve the performance and commercialisation of the product,” Ogilvie says.
Many of Ridley’s innovations emanate from strong industry relationships and partnerships with organisations like the CSIRO, and work around customer insights. The Feedmeters initiative was created by analysing customer data and discussions with potential providers.
“We leveraged the stronger relationships of our regional sales and operations teams, eventually establishing a collaborative supplier relationship – with the business, project management and IT – from inception, trial and more recently, to concept across the relevant farmer network,” says Ogilvie.
“Strong business sponsorship, ownership and support has been a key factor in the success of the project.”