Workflow Process

PMC Advisory Groups Streamlined for 2024

By Ben Craker, Portfolio Manager

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to do a post-mortem examination of the work and strategies of the previous 12 months, celebrate the victories, and course-correct that which has not lived up to its promise. As we dug in, having gathered feedback from members and staff, we found some of each pertaining to some of the organizational units within the Portfolio Management Center.

The Good: Our short, focused working group approach has been successful with multiple projects spinning up, delivering their resources, and winding down.

The Challenged: The concept of the advisory group has not been as consistently successful.

The original intent was for advisory groups to meet and lay out a more strategic plan or prioritization of working group topics in one of the identified areas going into 2023: Data Linking, Field Boundaries, Agrisemantics, and Animal Agriculture. Some of the groups have met regularly to discuss topics, while others haven’t met at all. The discussion topics also varied widely, but seldom has a plan been laid out or potential projects prioritized.

Additionally, when discussing what working groups are required there are discussions about what is needed from other Advisory Group areas but not much direct interaction between participants.

A good example of this was at the Annual Meeting. The group that had been working on the Scale Ticket identified the Contract message as the next logical topic to address. Meanwhile, in a different room at the same meeting, the Crop Nutrition Meetup was discussing the need to update the Contract message used by that industry segment. Elsewhere, some hallway discussion hinted at possibly reviewing the Contract message used in Crop Protection. While there may be different requirements across segments, it is likely there could be harmonized messages developed in one effort instead of spinning up three separate working groups to look at the same message.

Meeting in these silos means there are a couple people trying to bridge the discussions between these groups that often have aligned needs – or in some cases interdependencies – but little direct interaction. This led us to review the AgGateway Policies and Procedures document again, where we realized this challenge had already been addressed.

So, how will this be improved in 2024? The Portfolio Management Center Team was laid out as a group that would provide general guidance to the Portfolio Management Center across all subject areas. So, the plan is to consolidate the different advisory groups into the Portfolio Team to meet roughly quarterly to review the needs from different segments and regions, identify the interdependencies, and prioritize efforts. The central idea here is to get some cross pollination between industry segments, AgGateway regions, and the Advisory Group areas. This will also hopefully lead to broader participation in different working groups to ensure all segments are represented within a project since in today’s connected world there are few activities that don’t touch on multiple industry segments.

What does all this mean to you? Be on the lookout for further communication on the plan for 2024. We are setting up the Portfolio Team to have its first meeting in Q1 to lay out an initial roadmap for the year. If you were participating in any of the Advisory Groups you should be on the lookout for meetup announcements. The plan is to transition to one-off meetings to discuss specific topics. We want to maintain the discussion forum to dig into topics that are relevant to potential future working groups, but not ready to scope an effort yet. For example, a Data Linking list of discussion topics was started on the wiki – feel free to add your thoughts or questions to the list and be on the lookout for Meetup invites for each topic in the coming months.

If you have any feedback or questions, please drop me a line. I am always looking for member feedback on how we can improve the process for identifying needs and developing digital resources.