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Custom Software Is a Competitive Advantage for Peterson Corn Genetics

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Peterson Corn Genetics worked with Far Reach to build out its digital product catalog where customers can view seed varieties and data as well as order test seeds. The company sees its custom software platform as a differentiator, allowing for better customer service and more efficient internal processes. 

So it’s no surprise that they’ve continued to add features and functionality into the platform to make team members’ and customers’ experiences better. 

“We’re very customer focused,” said Kevin Cavanaugh, President of Peterson Corn Genetics. “We want to be a trusted advisor, and this platform has helped us with that. Customers like using it, and we’ve had great feedback.”

Since its launch, Peterson Corn Genetics has added more new features to the system that increase revenue, improve user experience, and make data more accessible.

Genetic Royalty Reporting 

Peterson Corn Genetics gets paid royalties when customers license its hybrids. The process for paying royalties is based on a self-reporting system. In the days before its online system, Peterson Corn Genetics would send out paper forms for customers to fill out and pay. 

This process, to no one’s surprise, resulted in missed royalties—not out of malice but simply from human error. Peterson Corn Genetics’ customers would report on and pay for the hybrids they knew they used, but sometimes products were missed. 

By moving royalty reporting to the digital portal, Peterson Corn Genetics can provide customers with information about what hybrids they likely owe royalties on, resulting in fewer missed royalties and more revenue. 

“We collected probably $300,000 more in royalties that were owed to us once we went digital,” said Cavanaugh. “Our previous paper processes didn’t always catch it, and without a manual audit, we had no way of knowing.”

By pre-populating hybrids, customers have the full scope of information about what they may owe royalties on instead of having to rely on memory. 

Cavanaugh said, “Customers love it. It’s much more convenient for them, and they appreciate having the information pre-populated.” 

In the future, the process will be automated even further. Currently, the customer-facing process is digital, but the backend work is still manual. Peterson Corn Genetics plans to do a custom systems integration to connect its accounting system to the custom platform to further automate invoicing and payment collection. 

Purposeful UX

Clearly Peterson Corn Genetics cares about its customers, and that translates to building a friendly user experience (UX) in its custom portal. They’ve put a focus on small ways to make a big difference for users—both internal and external. 

Visual Separation for UAT Environment - As software developers, we’re used to working in different environments of a system—production, user acceptance testing (UAT), development, and local. But clients aren’t as used to that, so we made a small color change to make it obvious to Peterson Corn Genetics users which environment they’re in. It’s now easy to tell if you’re in UAT or production at a glance, helping to prevent things from happening in production that were meant for the test environment.

Intentional Labels - What does that button do? What’s going to happen if I click it? Those are common questions in custom software systems without clear labels. We are purposeful about creating and implementing clear, concise, descriptive text throughout custom software systems to help guide the user in small ways that make the system easier to use. 

Internal Help Screens - Peterson Corn Genetics’ IT team is passionate about making the platform user friendly, for internal as well as external users. There are help sections for each area of the system to help team members navigate and use whatever section they’re in. The Peterson Corn Genetics team keeps this documentation up to date. 

User Details at Admin Login - In most of the custom software platforms we develop, system administrators can “login” as any user in the system with the click of a button and access the system as if they were that user. This allows them to make account changes, troubleshoot issues, and more. Now, when an admin logs in as a user, they can see what permissions that user has, which makes the testing and troubleshooting process much easier at the user level.

Descriptive Search Field Text - In a data-driven system like this portal, the search function comes in handy in finding what you’re looking for. Instead of using generic labels like “search” for search bars and “choose” for dropdowns, we spent time creating intuitive descriptors to help users understand how to use each one to find what they need.

Custom software systems don’t need a huge UX budget to make tools easy to use. Focusing on high-value changes goes a long way, and having a development partner who understands that is important. 

Teaming up with a software development partner?

See our guide to help you find the right one.


Custom Reporting On Demand

Peterson Corn Genetics’ custom system tracks a lot of data, and it’s important that the team has access to that data to make decisions about the business and about the platform itself. 

Out of the box, in a system like this, clients would have to request reports from the Far Reach team each time they wanted information like:

  • Which hybrids are getting the most views in the catalog
  • Who has favorited which hybrids
  • Test seed orders vs. available inventory
  • And more

To streamline reporting and allow Peterson Corn Genetics to pull these reports on demand, we built a self-serve reporting tool right into the admin area. Now, Peterson Corn Genetics team members can run a report when they want and get the output right away instead of waiting for us to run the report for them. 

With this streamlined approach, reports are now real-time and always up-to-date instead of being a snapshot in time. Team members know that when they view a report in the portal, the data is reflecting everything up to that moment. 

“Before we had this custom system, we had to go through a complex reporting process in our sales system to see this type of data,” said Cavanaugh. “Now, we can access data-rich reports right in our dashboard.” 

Continuing to Invest

Peterson Corn Genetics is investing in this custom software platform for the long term. They have more ideas for features and improvements to continue to differentiate themselves from competitors. 

“Customers tell us we’re quickly passing our competitors in terms of customer support,” said Cavanaugh. “That would be a lot tougher without the software system, which is why we plan to continue to develop and invest in it as we grow.”

Does your organization need custom software to set yourself apart? Reach out.