ADM takes process-oriented approach to IT modernization

Food ingredients supplier Archer Daniels Midland is consolidating IT systems as part of a transformation that includes standardizing many of its business processes worldwide.

Archer Daniels Midland is moving beyond its agricultural roots, and for the multinational food processer and supplier, IT is proving a key ingredient for its transformation.

For its first 110 years, ADM traded and processed agricultural products such as oilseeds, beans, and corn, transforming them into oils, flours, and syrups, but around 2014, the company began a series of acquisitions in food technology, taking it into the production of more high-tech ingredients for human and animal nutrition, including plant proteins, flavoring, natural coloring, and enzymes.

“We’re not just an ag company; we’re also a human and animal nutrition company now,” says CIO Kristy Folkwein, who joined ADM in 2016.

That move into specialty products called for a similar updating of the company’s IT systems — and a standardization of its business processes around the world. “We had a lot of different ways of doing commodity trading and invoicing. We had all this fragmentation,” she says.

After a century of growth, from its origins as a miller of linseed in Minneapolis to a multinational operating in more than 50 countries on six continents, ADM’s IT systems were in need of an overhaul. Prior to the wave of acquisitions, IT had not been an investment priority. “There was a lot of pen and paper and things built over time; very old systems: You name it, I probably had one,” says Folkwein. Among those treasures were a 1950s mainframe and a VAX.

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