The Government agency responsible for food standards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is using K2 Cloud to gather accurate information from around 200 meat production facilities. With faster access to up-to-date information, the organization can better monitor meat hygiene standards and intervene when necessary to ensure people can trust the food they buy.
A key role of the Food Standards Agency is to monitor standards at around 200 abattoirs (meat production facilities) across England and Wales. It needs to collect a vast amount of information from these premises about the health and welfare of animals, the condition of facilities and the safety of employees and then produce a range of reports, highlighting any incidents that might pose a concern. It is vital for the Food Standards Agency to be able to monitor regulatory compliance and detect incidents of disease as quickly as possible, so that it can take rapid action to protect public health.
Before the organization discovered K2, the routine collection and consolidation of data from abattoirs was time-consuming. The process relied on spreadsheets and documents, making it both inconsistent and inefficient. For instance, it took at least two days to combine 200 spreadsheets containing information required for the monthly contamination report alone. Moreover, a script that had been created to partially automate this process frequently produced error readings. The data had to be manually validated to make it accurate.
“All our effort went into collecting, consolidating and validating data, not into producing the reports themselves,” explains David Brown, Senior Application Manager at the Food Standards Agency. “The team that was doing this data collection work was getting larger and larger, but by the time the reports were compiled, they were already out-of-date.”
Using K2, the Food Standards Agency completely transformed the way it gathers information captured by its operational staff in abattoirs. The organization uses K2 SmartForms to ensure that all the required data is collected in a consistent format, at the right time, every time, and consolidated automatically. There are around thirty different K2 apps, covering everything from accidents and incidents to animal welfare and hygiene inspection results.
This use of K2 has made the collection of data quick and straightforward. As a result, reports can be produced in hours rather than days or weeks, giving managers a faster oversight of standards across the industry.
In addition to saving time, the use of K2 also led to “a dramatic improvement in the quality of data,” according to Brown. The Food Standards Agency became more confident in its data and consequently started to publish its audits as Open Data for the first time, in support of the UK Government’s Data Transparency agenda. Now, anyone can view Food Standards Agency audits and incorporate the data into new apps.
The team of eight people who previously worked full time collecting, collating and validating data have now been redeployed into other roles, where they are able to add more value to the organization and have more rewarding careers. “K2 provides us with up-to-date, accurate information when we need it,” Brown says. “We can therefore focus our time on creating reports that provide valuable management information about meat hygiene standards.”
Five years after it first started using K2 on premises, the Food Standards Agency made the decision to migrate to K2 Cloud as part of a wider project to consolidate and standardize its internal IT systems. The organization migrated around thirty existing K2-based applications from its own network to the K2 Cloud. As a software-asa-service (SaaS) solution, K2 Cloud frees up employees’ time, because they no longer have to worry about maintaining and upgrading on-premises software.
The migration to the Cloud has paved the way for the Food Standards Agency to start to use K2 SmartForms across the whole organization—not just for meat operations. For example, the Food Standards Agency plans to use K2 Cloud to redevelop several legacy processes, which are currently built in .NET. This development will reduce the organization’s reliance on expensive external consultants, saving money and allowing the flexibility to adapt its processes easily on demand. The Food Standards Agency is also exploring ways to use K2 Cloud to enhance some existing business-critical apps based on Microsoft PowerApps and Flow.
In addition, the Food Standards Agency plans to take advantage of its K2 Cloud deployment to develop mobile apps. These smartphone solutions may eventually reduce the need for broadband connectivity and reduce costs. Most importantly, the K2 mobile solutions will enable workers at abattoirs to capture data in a K2 SmartForm about what they see and submit it to the Food Standards Agency as soon as they see it, which is expected to lead to the collection of even more accurate information. Brown notes: “Using K2 mobile apps, people can record information more accurately, more immediately and more efficiently. It’s a better way of working.”
Summing it all up, he says: “Migrating from on-premises K2 software to K2 Cloud is opening up lots of new opportunities for Food Standards Agency. We expect to be able to enhance our existing K2-based apps and develop new ones to further improve the quality and efficiency of our data collection.”