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To identify ways to better provide rice growers with quick and easy access to key functions, SunRice collaborated with SAP and the SAP AppHaus Network partner Bourne Digital. They jointly created a new portal for their rice growers that offers an enhanced user experience digital self-service to build and strengthen their relationship with the grower community.

For SunRice, an Australian rice food company and leading branded exporter, innovation and collaboration are two of their values. Further, since its beginning in 1950, when early rice growers pooled funds to establish a co-operative, SunRice has had strong ties to growers. Today it works with a rice-growing community of more than 600 growers. With SAP’s support SunRice has extended existing systems to simplify, streamline, and enhance the user experience for rice growers and administrative staff.


How to improve the connection between growers and administration?

Growers had become frustrated with existing solutions which could not provide them quick and easy access to functions that are key to supporting the auxiliary business processes associated with growing rice:

  • First, there were difficulties accessing key industry documentation.

  • Second, where real-time information on harvest deliveries was key, growers could only access dated reports.

  • Third, there was limited mobile access to the portal, preventing users from performing tasks and reviewing information when in the field.

  • Fourth, the legacy solution didn’t provide an intuitive experience, leaving growers unable to find the correct information at the right time.

  • Fifth, it was also essential for the company to streamline administrative processes such as the existing process of creating a contract over the phone.

User-centric design process to involve all stakeholders

SunRice teamed up with SAP and the SAP AppHaus Network partner Bourne Digital to transform its growers’ portal and yield significant user experience improvements by extending existing systems using SAP® Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP).

Bourne Digital was responsible for the design of the user interface, the UX design, of the new solution. They conducted several remote Design Thinking sessions proceeding along SAP’s Human-Centered Approach to Innovation to define requirements for the envisioned solution.


Pictures: Bourne Digital at research on site 

To understand the needs of the end-user, the designers and a small subset of growers met and took a close look at a usual day in the life of a grower. This research helped to create several personas to understand existing pain points. This approach allowed for deeper, holistic insights into the current processes for both grower and admin tasks, their core frustrations and opportunities for improvement. Throughout the design-driven process, the designs were user-tested and iterated to address the common grower frustrations. Feedback from the end-users was implemented to refine the solution in alignment with best practices regarding accessibility and user experience.

A new intuitive and innovative portal with SAP Business Technology Platform

As a result, SunRice and Bourne Digital developed a new Grower Portal and an Admin Portal on SAP Business Technology Platform. This solution suite simplifies, streamlines, and enhances the growers’ and admins’ user experience. What’s more, the platform is built on an extensible architecture, thus allowing the solution to be further extended and enhanced. Through a user-centered approach to design and implementation, the new portal addressed user pain points in a targeted way. It offers the following opportunities:

  • A new Harvest Dashboard: Data visualization for harvest moisture, trash and dry weight to assist in making important decisions. Real-time updates for harvest deliveries to ensure growers are both informed and engaged.

  • Quick links to important information: Via the My Payments tile, growers can view (in near real time) their payments received and upcoming. They can also download their tax and delivery documents at their convenience.

  • Opt-in harvest delivery and other alerts: Help keep growers informed, giving them instant notification of delivery receival, which is particularly helpful when they are out in the field harvesting.

  • Mobility: Growers no longer need to wait to access the portal on their desktop, they can now access information and perform tasks all from their mobile devices.

  • Online Forms: Wherever they are, growers can now access and submit key forms such as Trading and Farm details leveraging SAP BTP’s workflow. For the Admin team, approvals using the SAP Fiori® app, “My Inbox,” are now a reality. Thus, approvals and updates can be made seamlessly.

  • Grower resources: Growers can easily access the most relevant and up-to-date information to assist them.

  • User-friendly Interface: The portal is built with SAP Fiori which allows for a dark mode screen to provide a better view in the sun.

"Our new Grower Portal gives our community of rice growers more control of their decision making. The harvest dashboard provides data visualization for harvest moisture, trash, and dry weight, while real-time updates allow them to track their progress." - Rob Walsh, Program Manager Digital Services, Grower Services and Agronomy, SunRice

Increased convenience and simplified work for growers

The primary focus of the new solution was to make growers’ lives easier through the regular operational and communication touchpoints that connect them to SunRice. The refreshed look and usability of the new portal have made information more accessible with clear user guidance, tabs, and dashboards for simple navigation. Growers no longer have to access the portal on their desktop, they can now access information and perform tasks all from their mobile devices. In particular, growers can now view delivery information and other critical data instantly, remotely and effortlessly and receive alerts direct to their phones for added mobility and convenience.

The Grower Portal was released just prior to the rice harvest season in early 2021. During this time:

  • 400+ growers accessed the portal during harvest.

  • 9,000+ harvest alerts sent to keep growers informed about their deliveries.
    Growers opt in to these alerts via the portal.

SunRice UI5 Admin Portal as the perfect counterpart

The Admin Portal is built using SAPUI5 and to be used by SunRice administrators for the following tasks:

  • Approve Grower & farm details changes

  • Create/approve contract requests

  • Post key messages to growers

  • Manage Grower Portal resources and forms

What’s next on the road?

New features such as contracts have already been added to the Grower and Admin Portals after the initial implementation. Contracts provide the ability for growers to apply for contracts in the Grower’s portal and the ability for admins to create and approve contracts in the Admin Portal.

SunRice is exploring further ways to improve the portal, including bringing enhanced reporting capabilities to the new system and continuing to gather feedback directly from growers to inform new changes, design edits, and added functionality. By putting growers at the heart of decision making, SunRice is driving new innovations that make a real difference for the grower community.