Croda International plc is a British specialty chemicals company based in Snaith, England. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Present in Brazil since 1974, today its manufacturing site at Campinas has approximately 140 employees. The site produces wool grease derivatives and a wide range of other products, including lanolin, esters, and refined oils, serving all of Croda’s market sectors. The site is also home to Brazil’s research and development, technical, sales, and marketing teams.
Our first interactions with CRODA started getting shaped during conversations about the ERP system’s customization. The company searched for a solution to help with the lack of employees’ involvement in recurring issues. With complex chemical production,
processes are the biting heart of CRODA’s products’ regulatory and quality aspects. A large part of the MOC (management of change), audits, and other operations was done through emails, conversations, and spreadsheets. Information was lost, it was unclear who was supposed to approve specific tasks, and some mistakes repeated year after year.
The need for digitalization was eminent when Performa_IT got into the scene. CRODA could not find an off-the-shelf solution to fit its unique needs, and customizing large ERP platforms was costly and time-consuming.
A custom solution seemed just right.
Based on Design Thinking, our team started by reframing the problem, meaning, digging deeper into how departments
communicated and how the information was naturally flowing. We discovered that not only Audit and MOC were on the spot, but also Risk Analysis, Procurement, BDS (behavior-based safety), among others. In any endeavor based on human-centered design, mapping everyone who is directly or
indirectly impacted by the problem is crucial for creating an inclusive solution.
In partnership with CRODA’s IT team, we sketched a few MVP options, one of the most challenging steps of any product design. We crafted a scope based on features for creating events, occurrences, and actions, a simple hierarchy that later showed useful for scaling the product.
The product allowed users to consult deadlines for tasks and see who was responsible for what, a simple concept but highly complex given CRODA processes and regulations compliance. The software is not a project management tool (for that, the market is well served already) but a means to manage change for short and long-term events throughout rules and approvals.
CRODA is a global enterprise with more than 4000 employees. One of the most fulfilling outcomes the Performa_IT team achieved was successfully conveying to
the CRODA team the essence of agile product development based on a lean approach to the MVP scope. Initially,
our partners were skeptical about not creating a one-year product roadmap and felt uncomfortable with Scrum and small (but constant) deliveries. After the MVP started evolving and the value emerged, the mental barriers collapsed, revealing efficiency and fast deliveries.
Together with the business owner of the application in the Quality department, CRODA’s IT team collaborates with
Performa_IT to groom the product backlog and conduct all Scrum ceremonies necessary to keep the rhythm of delivery.
Only in 2021 did the team push more than 11 considerable improvements to production.
Over 300 users use the solution through all departments. It can manage any type of action the company is conducting that might, or not, become a project in the future. CRODA can quickly identify improvement spaces and keep track of them with it. The system is open for the whole company, creating transparency, engagement and giving anyone the chance to say, “Hey, I see you are doing activity X to improve the process Z. Have you considered these two other departments in your plan?”. In a large corporation, transparent communication is king.
Past trials of improvements can also be quickly retrieved. If someone tried a new solution in the past and it didn’t work, the next person who might have a similar idea can save a tremendous amount of time by learning from others’ experiences.