Sargento Foods moves compliance content & workflow to Generis CARA Cloud for on-demand access, advanced lifecycle controls & flexible user experiences.
Darla NeargarthDirector – Enterprise Applications, Sargento Foods
Sargento at a glance
Sargento Foods Inc., based in Wisconsin, USA, is a food producer best known for its cheese. The family-run company dates back to 1953. Today it supplies shredded, sliced and snack cheese products, as well as ingredients and sauces to consumers the length and breadth of the US, as well as some regions of Mexico and Canada via grocery retailers.
The business employs around 2,500 people, over half working in manufacturing and the remainder in corporate/office roles, across five locations in the state of Wisconsin. The company employs a lean, agile IT department, and it relies on technology to organise and manage corporate and compliance-related content and related business processes.
Compliance content control
As a food manufacturer, Sargento Foods must maintain and demonstrate the highest standards of quality and food safety controls, and respond swiftly and efficiently to periodic audits.
Historically, the business has managed its corporate and compliance-related documentation separately, because of the additional requirements around compliance content. When the company began to move away from its original document management system, it wanted to gain more control over configuration, as well as the freedom to decouple the client and server – supporting a potential change of content repository in future.
It identified CARA from Generis, a flexible and integrated enterprise platform for managing documents, data and business processes which is widely used in regulated industries to provide end-to-end control and visibility of critical content in the context of everyday workflow.
At that point, Sargento Foods had 25,000-30,000 compliance documents to keep track of, not including the multiple versions of each item that existed. These files included specifications, recipes, formulae and records of standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“A compliance tool is mandatory for a business like ours, to manage critical and regulatory documents, ensure our production teams are aware of the latest manufacturing instructions, and for auditing purposes. The ability to easily call up the right documents and the latest activity also makes life easier for our Quality teams and helps control risk.”Darla Neargarth, Sargento Foods’ Director – Enterprise Applications
CARA provides a level of granularity and flexibility that wasn’t available with Sargento Foods’ previous content management system, which became especially important when Sargento Foods decided to migrate the back-end of its content management to the cloud via the Box SaaS service. This was as part of a strategic move away from on-premise infrastructure, which was consuming a lot of internal IT resources that Sargento Foods couldn’t spare.
“When we migrated all of our content out of our legacy content services platform, we needed an added layer of control for compliance-related content such as granular version control, content lifecycle management and enhanced workflow,” Darla explains. “We also needed advanced watermarking – which is really important to let employees know if the document they’re accessing is approved, confidential, whether it can be printed and shared with clients, and so on.”
With the cloud now central to Sargento Foods’ IT strategy, the company decided to upgrade to the latest, hosted, SaaS-based version of Generis CARA to maintain the same level of control it had enjoyed up to now.
“Since CARA Cloud already supported Box as the back-end content store, and since our employees already knew the CARA interface really well, it was the perfect choice to support our ongoing compliance needs. ” Darla notes. “We have developed a great relationship with Generis over the years. They’re fantastically quick at turning around user requests and adding them to their roadmap, which really helped in our decision to adopt their latest cloud solution.”
Easy configurability and effortless updates – lightening the IT burden
CARA’s easy configurability continues to be a huge advantage. “We gain a lot of flexibility using CARA, in terms of configuration and customisation, especially as a company of our size,” Darla says. “For instance, our user base comprises different personas – knowledge workers versus manufacturing personnel, and so on. For those who need minimal features and functions, we want to keep the user experience very simple and stripped back, and CARA allows us to easily switch off certain settings and create different experiences for each user group. Previous content systems we used haven’t supported that user interface/user experience flexibility – not without the work of a full-stack Java developer.
“We can roll out new functions and features really quickly, too. The overall time from initiation to go-live is substantially less than with previous tools. The combination of configurability with a cloud-based solution means we don’t have to spend time updating or maintaining systems, which lets us focus our time on delivering value-driven solutions for users.”
The fact that CARA supports workflow/business process management and content rendering with a single tool also simplifies the IT burden. “It reduces the work of our teams.” Darla explains. “In the past we had a separate server for the rendering part, and to run the business process management suite. Now, content rendering, workflow and BPM are packaged all in one.”
Next steps: training integration
Having already successfully moved its Specification and SOP documents to CARA Cloud, Sargento Foods is now responding to requests from its training coordinators to support manufacturing training documents.
“This will enable them to benefit from true lifecycle management and good governance, including the ability to clearly see which are the latest approved materials,” Darla explains. “The goal then is to link this with our learning management system, so that anyone across our manufacturing operations can access the final approved documents on demand before using new equipment or following a new process.
“It’s great that users are clearly seeing the benefits of CARA Cloud and exploring how they could apply these more widely. There’s a lot more we can do, and we look forward to maximising CARA’s potential.”