All About Produce Tech

Produce audit apps are just one example of business process apps that help businesses save money and time, streamline processes, and capture valuable data. Hear about all the benefits and a few of the common features we see in these types of apps.

Full Transcript Below:

Andrew:

Standardizing it and also streamlining it and then taking that data and reporting it back via the cloud to their office.

Cris:

And now to be able to just beam that over the cloud, that obviously is going to save some time, which-

Andrew:

It sped up the time that the information would get back to the office.

Cris:

This helped them save money.

Cris:

All right. We had the opportunity to kind of talk about business process apps in general, in a previous video. And I wanted to dive a little bit deeper now because we actually have worked on a few different applications, but we worked on a produce audit application.

Andrew:

Yes.

Cris:

And so I kind of wanted to unpack that one a little bit more, hit on a few points of like, why it was useful for this particular client and clients in this space to build a produce audit app, and then also without giving away too much of the secret sauce, we’ll kind of talk about some key features that have been built across some of these applications.

Andrew:

Okay.

Cris:

So number one for us, and we can unpack this a little bit more, was with this produce audit app for the clients that we’ve worked with in the past, this helped them save money and saving money as with not only produce apps but pretty much lots of things that you build if you have an opportunity to save money, you kind of go for it. So unpack this produce audit app a little bit, kind of what it did and how we think we saved some money.

Andrew:

Sure. So the produce audit app was designed for inspections, expecting companies who go to packing houses, produce packing houses. And so the idea was they had a lot of pen and paper process. They had to go there and grade all the produce, see what standard it was up to. And the idea was that the stores that were purchasing this produce, they wanted an independent company to come in and say, yes, it is in fact of the quality that we are buying, kind of thing.

Cris:

Gotcha. Gotcha.

Andrew:

So they had a lot of clipboards and things like that they would use. We took all that, made an iPad app with the intention of not automating data collection, but I would say standardizing it and also streamlining it, and then taking that data and reporting it back via the cloud to their office. So they could generate the reports, get this data back to clients in a very usable manner.

Cris:

Gotcha. That makes sense. So obviously when you’re taking that process from pen and paper, for them, that’s a lot of human interaction with a lot of physical elements in the world that now, as I understood it, had to physically get back to an office to go to some sort of an admin or someone to actually input a lot of that data. And now to be able to just beam that over the cloud, that obviously is going to save some time, which I’d say is point number two, it saved them time, which in turn helped save money.

Cris:

So what other things did we do to kind of help save time through this process or what kind of things, overall, can help save time when you’re auditing these kinds of produce and general ag foods type stuff?

Andrew:

Well, by allowing them to enter this information into their mobile devices, I mean-

Cris:

In real-time.

Andrew:

In real-time, right?

Cris:

Yeah.

Andrew:

It sped up the time that the information would get back to the office. It just helped reduce error and things like that. It made sure that fields were filled out, that they didn’t have to go back because they forgot something that, things were within valid ranges. So it saved time by, I would say, removing some of the potential for error with the human element and also by just being able to transmit the data over the internet.

Cris:

Interesting. Interesting. Let’s unpack that number three a little bit, kind of fewer mistakes. What kind of things can you make mistakes in when you’re obviously doing an auditing process?

Andrew:

Right. Well, for one, I mean, it’s handwriting, right, so it could be unreadable.

Cris:

Oh yeah. Uh-huh.

Andrew:

So that’s completely possible. You could just be distracted and miss a step, transpose things into the wrong fields, different things like that. So when we’re dealing with an inspection form, what we’ll do is we’ll ask the client, what are the valid inputs for each particular field? Some of them are just freeform texts and they could be anything. Others are, no, this needs to be a grade between one and five.

Cris:

Okay.

Andrew:

And we can make sure that they do that. And with one of the projects we did, they actually wanted to be able to see how the grades were accumulating in real-time as they filled out the reports on the inspections.

Cris:

oh, interesting. Yeah.

Andrew:

And so, we were able to do that and say, here’s the adjusted numbers as you go through, where of course, if you’re doing that pen and paper, it would be impractical to go re-tally everything as you go to show progress, things like that.

Cris:

You can even, obviously when you’re dealing with a digital form, you can even, as we’ve all seen when you fill out form entries, have required fields and things like that.

Andrew:

Absolutely.

Cris:

And not, again, not that anyone is doing anything nefarious, but it’s like, you can actually enforce the people that are working within the application and are doing these audits and are looking over this produce to physically have to put in something into a particular field before the process is even going to push forward. Rather-

Andrew:

You can enforce the process.

Cris:

You can enforce the process. Exactly. Which in and of itself is going to create fewer mistakes for you. What about, you touched on data a little bit, what about number four? What do we think a good thing, number four, that we did for this client and why they kind of were like, yeah, we should probably make a produce audit app?

Andrew:

Well, it allows your data to be stored in a database that you own. So you essentially own your data at that point. Right?

Cris:

Okay.

Andrew:

Like, maybe you had your data in a filing cabinet or you had your data sprawling over a series of emails or PDFs, but now that it’s in your database, in one place, you own that data, you run analytics on it. You can do data mining. You could decide two years after the fact, hey, we want to find out what are these trends? We can go back and look at it. That would be basically impossible if it’s not in an electronic format.

Cris:

Yeah.

Andrew:

It would just sort of be based on someone’s experience and intuition rather than being able to actually mine this data. So being able to own your data is super valuable, both for historical data and just kind of new data coming through.

Cris:

That makes sense. And for ag specifically and even if you’re dealing with the produce audit app, depending on obviously if you’re going with something off the shelf or like in our case where we’re doing a custom-built, owning your data, obviously, because we custom built it, but even some of these apps that talk about all this ownership and stuff, at the end of the day, the company still owns your data and they’re marketing it out and they’re doing stuff with it. So being able to custom-build something and truly own your own data is a very big piece.

Andrew:

Definitely.

Cris:

Especially in the ag space because as I understand it, it is a very common practice to not necessarily have access to your data.

Cris:

So real quick, let’s hit about five features here that were kind of key features as we kind of broke this stuff out. So number one, we really touched on it already, so I don’t want to unpack it too much more, but we did standardize forms a lot, but let’s just unpack it very briefly.

Andrew:

Yeah. So if you’ve got forms that you fill out as part of your produce inspections, then that’s a pretty big cue that you’ve got to process, right? Like you’re filling this form from top to bottom. If there’s no form, if there’s no process, what are we trying to automate here? What are we trying to streamline? But if you’re dealing with forms, presumably those things are supposed to be filled out in a certain way, in a certain order, and then something done with that information.

Cris:

Gotcha. What about number two? What’s something we do in number two?

Andrew:

So another one would just be the ability to add notes, right?

Cris:

Okay. Yeah.

Andrew:

So there’s going to be the forms. There’s going to be always kind of those standard questions we ask, but there’s going to be exceptions to, or there might just be just a reason to note that there is an exception to the norm here. Part of the challenge with streamlining these processes is, the software will make the processes fairly rigid, which makes sure that they’re followed, but then we realize that there’s exceptions to the rules, right? And so, by allowing people to enter notes, they can just kind of document additional things, answer additional questions, write additional questions for someone back at the office. So, yeah, freeform notes are common.

Cris:

Yeah. So taking something that has always been a very like, ham in, hands in the dirt kind of process within ag and within produce specifically, kind of mechanize that and machine it a little bit and then be able to put the human element back with notes. That makes sense.

Andrew:

And we see a lot of like, we like to look at people’s filled out paper forms and we see a lot where there, yeah, there’s boxes checked, boxes filled out, but there’s always that like the little notes scribbled in the corner with the arrow that’s like this, this. So we realize that the form can’t account for everything. So.

Cris:

Gotcha. Gotcha. Then one big piece of this when you’re dealing with auditing produce is actually pictures because, yes, you can take all these elaborate notes on it, but to be able to actually document digitally in a picture form, okay, this is the actual batch of carrots or cucumbers or whatever it is. So attaching photos was a big piece for us to help with that audit trail and to help with visually keeping track of all this data and making sure it’s matching along the whole way through the process.

Andrew:

So maybe you cut open the orange, you take the different measurements, all those things, but then also you take a picture of it.

Cris:

Always need the picture.

Andrew:

Yeah.

Cris:

Number four, what do we do on number four?

Andrew:

So the ability to assign and manage jobs, in many cases, you’re assigning it to an inspector because we’re talking about produce inspection. So this is the person that’s responsible for it. That way when they bring up the app, they can see their pending things, the jobs that are due sooner than later, and things like that.

Cris:

Gotcha. And on that, when you’re dealing with an app like this, a business process app in general and specifically this audit app, it gives you the ability just through user login and that sort of thing to be able to, like you said, assign and manage, but also maybe there’s particular pieces of information that you wouldn’t normally have access to in the field because you didn’t have that physical paper form with you.

Andrew:

Right.

Cris:

Well, you can now actually get into the app and be able to kind of navigate to these sorts of things which is always helpful. So yeah, just managing roles, assigning jobs, and again, having access to all that data was a huge piece.

Cris:

Lastly, data, data specifically, and for this app, because we were out packing houses quite a bit, and just packing houses in general, if you’ve never been inside them, which you got to go inside, which was super fun.

Andrew:

They’re cold.

Cris:

They’re very cold. You’re inside of a giant refrigerator box, essentially. So you’re dealing with lots of metal. You’re dealing with very thick walls. You’re dealing with very low temperatures that involve the people in there, physically wearing gloves so you’re not dealing with frostbite and that kind of stuff. So being able to actually enter some data in, but also not be able to actually beam it to the cloud, as we talked very much about, having offline capability was paramount to this application and to being able to, I think, work a lot within the ag space.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed that conversation between Cris and Andrew, as they talked all about what a produce audit app, in particular, would look like. And this is just one way that business process apps can help an industry or help your business.

Alexandra:

If you have any questions at all, go ahead and leave them in the comment section and we will get right back to you. Also, don’t forget to check out our description box down below. We have a ton of really helpful links in there, including a link to our custom software guide. And that’ll give you a little bit of insight into what that process might look like.

Alexandra:

You can also check us out on bixly.com. Right at the top, there’s a button that says, start my roadmap. And that actually gets you a free 60-minute call with Cris to talk about your next project idea.

Alexandra:

Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.

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