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GROWMARK: Automating efficient HR processes across the entire employee lifecycle

Explore Growmark’s journey with SAP

Serving farming businesses across the United States and Canada, cooperative GROWMARK Inc. has diverse employee populations based in numerous locations. Since 2011, the company has used SAP SuccessFactors solutions to integrate and automate processes across the entire employee lifecycle. As a result, GROWMARK can run efficient HR processes and attract and nurture the talent it needs to help its customers succeed – even while facing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


day to create a monitoring module to track COVID-19 vaccination status among employees.


reduction in the use of paper forms for surveys in learning activities.

Deb Meek
Senior Manager of HR Administration at GROWMARK Inc.

SAP SuccessFactors solutions enable efficient HR workflows and informed decision-making that help us respond quickly and effectively to support our members in a rapidly changing business environment.

The Objective

Managing a geographically dispersed employee base

The company’s employees are based across 30 different states in the United States and in locations across Canada. Along with supporting GROWMARK’s own workforce of 3,600, the company supports an additional 4,200 employees at its member companies for payroll. To provide consistent and efficient HR services to support its geographically dispersed operations, the company wanted to establish a centralised HR platform. 


“We wanted to replace paper-based tasks with automated processes,” says Deb Meek, senior manager of HR administration at GROWMARK. “In addition, we wanted to improve visibility across all our HR functions – from recruiting and talent management through performance management and compensation.”


The Solution

Transforming HR with an integrated and extensible approach

The company began with an implementation of SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting solutions in 2011. This was followed by deployments of SAP SuccessFactors Performance & Goals, SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development, and SAP SuccessFactors Compensation solutions. In 2016, the company added the SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central and SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central Payroll solutions. Finally, GROWMARK implemented the SAP SuccessFactors Learning solution in 2019. 


Extending the software to manage an effective response to COVID-19
As an important contributor to the food supply, GROWMARK was considered an essential business when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As such, the company needed to continue to support members while safeguarding the health of its employees. To help achieve this, GROWMARK developed an extension to SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central that used data directly from the employee profile to provide reporting on potential exposure to the virus and family leave needs.

Matt Nicolas
Director of HR Administration and Corporate Services at GROWMARK Inc.

We were attracted to the idea of a more cohesive system where processes are linked across different areas of HR. The fact that we could add different solutions as and when we needed them enabled us to build a platform that met our precise requirements.

The Result

Time and cost savings with improved HR planning and streamlined processes

By integrating processes across multiple HR areas, GROWMARK has improved overall visibility of information across the employee lifecycle, helping improve HR planning. Meanwhile, streamlined workflows and support for increased process automation mean that HR personnel can complete tasks faster.


“We’ve seen numerous efficiency gains thanks to SAP SuccessFactors solutions,” says Matt Nicolas, Director of HR Administration and Corporate Services at GROWMARK Inc. “Often, this is due to relatively minor things, such as eliminating the need to fill in a paper form for a particular task. However, these individual gains add up to represent significant cost and time savings.”


Keeping operations running in challenging times
Business continuity planning is well supported during the pandemic by the new extension for SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central. With cloud-based solutions and mobile access to processes, GROWMARK’s HR teams can access the information they need, even if they’re working from home. As a result, they can still complete business-critical tasks, such as running payroll, even when they’re not able to come into the office due to COVID-19 lockdown requirements.

Deb Meek
Senior Manager of HR Administration at GROWMARK Inc.

Now, HR managers at all GROWMARK sites can use real-time data with stories in the SAP SuccessFactors People Analytics solution to track incidents related to COVID-19 effectively. This means they can take appropriate steps to minimise employee exposure and manage staff planning to keep operations running.

Future Plans

Maximising the value gained from SAP SuccessFactors solutions

An important focus for the HR team is to optimise the use of its existing SAP SuccessFactors solutions. This year, the company has already seen a redeployment of SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development to share the functionality with a larger group of employees. Meanwhile, GROWMARK is developing a road map for how it can best take advantage of planned new features to be made available in forthcoming updates. It is also exploring the use of automatically generated documents in processes, such as employee transfers, helping ensure that managers have all the information they need to complete all required tasks effectively.


“We want to refine our current processes and procedures and make enhancements where we see opportunities for improvement,” confirms Meek. “By continuously evaluating and exploring new possibilities in this way, we can maximise the value delivered by the technology.”


Supporting decision-making in the post-COVID-19 era
Meanwhile, GROWMARK continues to harness its SAP SuccessFactors solutions to help its HR teams respond effectively to the COVID-19 situation. For example, the creation in less than a day of a tracking portal is enabling employees to inform the company when they have been vaccinated against the virus.


“Fast access to real-time tracking information is helping us develop and execute risk plans and change them rapidly as required,” concludes Nicolas. “This planning agility will help us react effectively to changing threat levels and will support informed decision-making as we address compliance requirements for return-to-work scenarios.”

SAP helps Growmark run better

Key business outcomes and benefits

  • Time and cost savings due to streamlined and automated HR processes
  • Decrease in time spent on administrative processes, freeing up staff to focus on higher-value activities
  • Improved decision-making as a result of easier, faster access to employee information
  • Agile staff planning based on detailed reporting on COVID-19 exposure among employees

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Founded in 1927 as a central resource for reliable, quality agronomic and fuel supplies, GROWMARK Inc. has a total of 48 member companies today. An agricultural cooperative serving cooperatives, the company provides fuels, lubricants, crop nutrients, crop protection products, seed, construction services, equipment, and grain marketing assistance. In addition, GROWMARK provides a host of services, from warehousing and logistics to training and marketing support.

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