Central Dairies

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Central Dairies Central Dairies is a Newfoundland based company in the dairy industry, and is a division of Farmers, which has its headquarters in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It produces and manufactures various dairy products such as fluid milk, ice cream (hard and soft mixes), as well as other brands of juices, drinks and yogurts (Tropicana, Yoplait). It has distribution centers across the island and also in Labrador. As an organization, Central Dairies employs approximately 125 people throughout Newfoundland, while corporately (including Farmers) they employ roughly 600 people. The interview for this report was held with Pamela Critch, Manager of Information Systems at the Central Dairies location in Donovans Industrial Park, Mount Pearl. There are currently two IT personnel located in Newfoundland, and eight IT staff in Nova Scotia at the corporate level.

Central Dairies has recently installed an Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP) throughout the organization that has a link to the head office in Nova Scotia.

Information can be shared freely from headquarters to the Newfoundland location fairly easily. Before the ERP was introduced, Central Dairies and Farmers were sharing information on two different operating systems, which made the conversion difficult.

As indicated by Ms. Critch, the timeliness of information is considered a top priority. Timeliness is critical to gathering up to date information and trying to make it useful to all employees. All individuals from the distributors to the general manager demand this information to carry out day-to-day business operations. When information is delivered efficiently to members of the organization, all business activities are able to run much more smoothly.

The second item on the list of IT related issues was that of computer hardware and staff resources available to distributors and employees. In order to perform their duties as efficiently as possible these employees require recent technology to coincide with that at the corporate level, as well as competition. Ms. Critch informed us that the organization is content at the present time; however, updated technology is available.

Third on the list of IT related issues for Central Dairies to take a look at internally is to develop a strategic plan that would be implemented if a shutdown should occur. Most organizations today are fairly dependent on information systems and Central Dairies is no exception. Ms. Critch stated, "A plan is needed to ensure that a major power failure or outage does not have a substantial effect on our day to day business operations." The product offered is highly perishable, and a shut down would cause significant costs to be incurred by the organization.

The next IT related issue deals with Central Dairies striving to remain in the position of industry leader within the province. When a company is the first to implement a policy or procedure to obtain a competitive advantage, consumers take notice and look upon this intuition favorably. Central Dairies was the first to provide their distributors across the island with handheld computers to invoice their customers on site. This, in turn, improved the speed of the accounting process. Lastly, Ms. Critch noted that the intranet available to employees of Central Dairies is not operating at full potential. Although not a major issue, as it does not have a direct impact on the ultimate consumer, it is one that requires some attention. Employees require up to date information on the ongoing events within the organization, and constant maintenance is a problem at the present time.