Findus guarantees the interoperability of its information system using Talend Data Services Platform

The French leader in frozen products deploys a next-generation information system based on Talend Platform for Data Services through which all flow exchanges pass, whether between applications or with its partners
With Talend, we are buying peace of mind. Since deploying Talend, gone are the days of complaining about the slightest minute of unavailability of our information system.
Fabrice Nicolas, Head of IT operations

Findus France, a subsidiary of the Findus Group, is the leader in frozen products sold in supermarkets and hypermarkets with a turnover of €210 million (2013), totaling 8.6% of the value market share. It employs more than 300 people, including 200 at the factory in Boulogne-sur-Mer where 100% of breaded fish are processed and where the processing activities for 3,000 tons of natural fish as well as fish sold in sauce were relocated in 2013. Findus France is also distinguished by a strong innovation strategy with the launch of two collections each year, representing 30 to 40 new products.

Findus France is known for its stance concerning the Respect of Marine Resources with 100% of its fish supply coming from sustainable fisheries. All Findus products are cooked without food coloring, preservatives or palm oil. The removal of palm oil from all the products concerned, an undertaking that was initiated in 2007, was completed in 2012.

A new information system to ensure business growth

Findus works closely with players in the retail sector, both in France and abroad. Evolving exclusively in the area of ​​frozen products, the company must focus on being on expert in the entire cold chain, which has a significant impact on its information system, particularly in terms of traceability. Meanwhile, it has set ambitious development targets to maintain the fast growth rate set in recent years and supported by the launch of numerous innovations.

“To provide the means for its ambition, Findus decided to renovate its entire information system. This is a huge project at the heart of the company’s strategy, which is based on a management structure of which one of the key elements is flexibility. As part of our growth strategy, we are driven to incorporate new activities and it is essential that we can quickly connect to any new partners,” reflects Christophe Guillon, Director of Operations at Findus. “In this context, we implemented a new ERP and were looking for a next-generation solution showing promise for the future, capable of interconnecting our own computer systems with each other and those of our partners, as well as linking future systems that do not yet exist today.”

Findus wanted to implement a Business Activity Monitoring system to develop and disseminate operational dashboards that detail, in real-time, all inventory movement and logistics activities, orders and production. These dashboards are designed to alert and immediately respond to an incident, while helping IT staff control the interconnection of different systems. Eventually, their use will be extended to other services, such as logistics and sales administration, or to external partners.

Finally, Findus was looking for a solution that enabled the easy addition of interfaces without compromising the IT infrastructure and providing high availability to ensure the continuity of all IT services. Currently, over 30 management systems are interconnected and a dozen new applications are planned in the coming years. In all, the construction of the new interfaces will be spread over the course of 4 years.

Talend Data Services Platform: productivity gains valued at 20%

While at the beginning of the project Findus directed its research towards a traditional EAI tool, its innovative work led it to discover Talend's solutions. “Talend's solutions quickly grabbed our attention because they offer proven reliability, are supported by a large community and offer many connectors. Not knowing exactly which systems will require integration tomorrow, we wanted a solution that was flexible, sustainable and open. The purchase by Talend of Oakland Software followed by the release of features supporting the EDIFACT standard finally convinced us. We decided to implement Talend Data Services Platform, which provides both data integration and ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) functions,” explains Sébastien Ribou, Head of IT Studies.

Findus relied on its partner ACSEP (a logistics specialist that became a Talend partner via the Talend Alliance Program) to develop the first pilot to simultaneously test the validity of the Talend solution and to develop skills. Today, about 50 interapplication interfaces are under development, "Thanks to Talend, a productivity gain of around 20% in interface development was realized. In addition, we developed many reusable modules that will help us save even more development time,” raves Pascal Jouin, EDI Manager.

Beyond interapplication interfaces, Findus plans to develop other systems in the near future to enable dialog with its partners’ systems (shipments, orders, etc.) via EDI interchanges based on the GS1 standard (bar codes). “Our goal is to have a single solution to monitor all flows between our systems and those with our partners. These activities will not be outsourced given their critical nature: we want to maintain control over all our flow exchanges that are strategic for the company,” adds Laurent Lourenço, Director of Information Systems.

Flexibility, scalability and robustness

With fifty interfaces being finalized, Findus has reached the first of its goals: to ensure dialogue between its applications and with its partners. But there is still some way to go: more than 200 interfaces will be developed with Talend Data Services Platform. Aside from extracting sales data from the ERP and their integration into a BI data warehouse and sales forecasting system, Findus plans to develop a repository of items covering all of its systems (from the moment when a new item is created, it will automatically be picked up by other tools) and showcasing food-specific features. Other BI interfaces - financial forecasting and reporting for the Management Board - will also be created.

 “With Talend, we are buying peace of mind,” comments Fabrice Nicolas, Head of IT operations. “Since deploying Talend, gone are the days of complaining about the slightest minute of unavailability of our information system. Talend’s robustness and oversight functions of offer us a good error management system ensuring the resilience of our information system. Moreover, in operational terms, we benefit from higher levels of flexibility and scalability given the fact that we have the ability to easily add new connectors or create new interfaces. These operations are easy and safe in an almost "plug and play" mode.”

Beyond performance issues - a tune-up of the Talend solution configuration is already anticipated once all the interfaces have been developed - Findus now has a single solution to develop and manage its interfaces and also cover all of its information system.

“Finally, we are enjoying the power of the Talend ecosystem. For example, the EDI translator developed by the community has recently been incorporated in new versions of the Talend solutions. This strong point is a guarantee of sustainability, which is very important for us,” concludes Laurent Lourenço. “While we usually rather go through integrators to buy software, our experience with Talend has been conclusive. Its support is invaluable, especially for issues concerning high availability. A project that is as large and long as the one we have implemented must be secured with guarantees of both durability and performance.”