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Overberg Agri December 09 www. bus- ex. com 165 many calls and complex spreadsheets. Now they can get that information with just one phone call," he added. The company has even written a special QlikView model for its outreach representatives that can be accessed in real time on their laptops. " Because the stockholding and prices sometimes vary from branch to branch, the reps are now able to view the stock availability as well as the prices at each branch with the click of a button. This allows the reps to provide a better service to our clients, because the information they require is immediately available," he said. At a strategic level, the availability of instant information on stock turnover, stock on hand, available silo capacity, profitability analysis and market share means much better informed decision making along with early identification of problems and opportunities. Unlike ordinary commercial entities which are concerned purely with shareholder returns, Overberg Agri was originally a cooperative. This structure was dismantled as part of the far- reaching programme of economic and agricultural reform that has taken place in South Africa over the past two decades. However, Overberg's cooperative past has left a vital legacy. It means that 80 per cent of the company's shareholders are also clients. This causes an interesting dynamic as the long-term sustainability of clients' farms and their growth and prosperity is a vital interest. This must be balanced with a conventional corporate obligation to create wealth for shareholders. Wealth generation is achieved principally via the more recent industrial division which has strict, purely commercial objectives and includes a highly profitable lime mining operation and a pet food company. Pheiffer has shown that sustainability and the creation of wealth can be compatible objectives; now he is on the lookout for new opportunities and ways to expand the business. Although 90 per cent of the company's business is grain related, Pheiffer has never been afraid to take risks and likes to be known for thinking ' beyond the box'. However, he does not want to be drawn over specific plans for future development at this stage. " We have some very exciting developments in progress which we hope to make public over the next few months. I'm sorry I can't say any more than that at the present time," he stated. - Editorial research by Don Campbell while delivering to shareholders the returns they require. He believes that Overberg Agri's ability to understand its clients and customise services accordingly is one of the principal reasons why it has enjoyed so much success. A big leap forward has recently been made through a major investment in IT and the installation of QlikView business intelligence software across all operations. " This has made the entire decision making process much faster and more accurate, because we can see and analyse every detail of a client's relationship with us within a couple of clicks," said IT manager Johan Mouton. " We can now answer queries in hours that would have taken us days before. Not only that, the quality of the underlying data is improving all the time because QlikView exposes inaccuracies and inconsistencies very quickly." The system has delivered many benefits, but the biggest lies in the improvements it has made possible in delivering superior customer service- that is to say, a service which is better and quicker than competitors can provide. " Our clients need to know what we have in stock, what they bought from us, for how much and when. It used to take " The entire decision making process is now much faster and more accurate, because we can see and analyse every detail of a client's relationship with us within a couple of clicks"