Customer Story

Nordward: Uniting four brands on one platform to deliver on a shared sustainability mission

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Nordward unites four seafood suppliers on Google Workspace, enabling 290 employees to collaborate across Scandinavia and deliver fresh seafood to customers using sustainable methods.

Google Cloud Results

Increases cross-team collaboration from 5% to 88%

• Supports collaborative working practices with cloud-based productivity tools that multiple users can access anywhere, simultaneously
• Fosters company culture by enabling all employees to communicate with minimal IT training and support
• Informs business processes in real time with data analytics and reports automatically created using Looker

“Nordward unites four brands on Google Workspace to ensure that everyone, anywhere, is aligned around product quality, production, handling, and environmental impact, maintaining close collaboration across our entire supply chain.” - Christian Ahlin, Group Head of IT, Nordward

The global population has doubled since the 1950s and is estimated to reach more than 10 billion within the next century. On one hand, this is celebrated as a testament to the many advancements in medicine and agricultural productivity of the past decades. On the other, growing population numbers demand an equal increase in consumption of food and resources at a speed which can endanger the world’s ecosystems. With this in mind, seafood supplier Nordward is on a mission to help feed the world with high-quality, nutritious food that doesn’t come at a cost to our seas.

Nordward is a coalition of four brands: Stockholm-based sushi expert Kvalitetsfisk, Swedish seafood wholesaler Fisk Idag, and Danish suppliers of seafood Fiskerikajen and FSG Foods. Together, they employ 290 people and provide fresh fish, seafood, and Asian food products for Scandinavian retailers ranging from one-person sushi shops to large Michelin-starred restaurants. Underpinning their operations is the shared goal to deliver the freshest possible products to customers, in the most efficient and sustainable ways.

In 2020, Christian Ahlin, Group Head of IT at Nordward, was charged with the task of helping the four brands to collaborate in order to boost their business capabilities. “The term ‘capability’ is important because it consists of people, processes, and IT,” says Christian. “Great things happen when those three gears start turning together.” So Christian and his team decided to modernize the on-premises collaboration tools used by each of the companies. They wanted to replace these tools with one cloud-based platform able to consolidate and secure their business capabilities and enable closer collaboration with their suppliers across the region. Nordward selected Google Workspace for the job.

“Nordward unites four brands on Google Workspace to ensure that everyone, anywhere, is aligned around product quality, production, handling, and environmental impact, maintaining close collaboration across our entire supply chain,” explains Christian.

Bringing a diverse and dispersed workforce closer together

“We set up Google Meets not only to conduct meetings but also for our offices in Guttenberg and Stockholm to see each others’ operations in real time. This has kept our company culture alive.” -- Christian Ahlin, Group Head of IT, Nordward

IT security is one of Norward’s key priorities when selecting the right technologies to support its business capabilities. That’s why Christian’s team first looked at Google for a set of tools able to support collaborative working practices across the coalition. “We have some very knowledgeable people distributed across our many sites, and our strength is that we’re close to our customers. But having a workforce spread out across different locations like ours can also make it more challenging to stay connected internally as a coalition. We selected Chromebooks to support their work on the ground because these are some of the most secure devices on the market today,” he explains.

Google Workspace was selected to bring Nordward’s workforce closer together in the cloud because it aligns with the coalition’s long-term vision for the business: “Our management teams want to turn Nordward into a cloud-first, data-driven company, and Google Workspace helps with that because it forces us to modernize our workflows,” explains Christian. “If we can collaborate in real time using Google Docs, there is no reason to exchange several versions of a document via email, which we might have done years ago. As an agile and open-minded company, we saw this transition as an opportunity to innovate the ways we work, not only our tools.”

To ensure a smooth rollout, Nordward relied on technical support from Online Partner, whose expertise helped Nordward to migrate user accounts from on-premises environments to Google Workspace over just one weekend. “We closed the office on a Friday using legacy solutions, and opened on Monday in the cloud, and everything just worked” says Christian.

While Online Partner focused on the technical side of migrating data, files, and user accounts, Christian and his team focused on making sure that colleagues were fully supported to switch to the new working practices. “We had a very good starting point: half of the company reported that they were already comfortable with Google Workspace because they used Gmail personally,” says Christian.

Still, to ensure that all employees could make the most of the new solutions, Nordward had a dedicated IT Experience Manager to train those whose primary tasks didn’t originally involve any IT tools whatsoever. Nordward’s aim was to leverage IT to help people whose day-to-day work is not tech related, such as fish-treatment experts working in fish processing plants, and to share their knowledge across the coalition. This way of working helped Nordward when the coronavirus pandemic prevented some employees from going to work. Fish-treatment experts who needed to self-isolate used Google Meet to livestream training sessions. This meant that other employees across different fish processing locations could carry on the work. Nordward ensured business continuity while protecting its staff, without compromising on quality.

Nordward also used Google Meet to create “virtual windows” during the pandemic lockdown to maintain close collaboration between offices. “We set up Google Meets not only to conduct meetings but also for our offices in Guttenberg and Stockholm to see each others’ operations in real time. This has kept our company culture alive,” Chrsitian explains.

Enabling more automation to super charge processes

As the effects of COVID-19 continued to be felt throughout 2020, business slowed down in Nordward’s sector. But Nordward used this time to revamp more internal processes by adopting modern technology solutions across more business areas. This led the coalition to transform its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, because it wanted to better leverage its existing data by migrating it from a locally hosted on-premises server to Google Cloud.

“We had a great dataset across our companies, but it was locked into our ERP which was slow and limited in terms of the creative analytics we could extract from it to inform our operations across many locations,” Christian explains of the decision. “Timing is crucial in our business, and we wanted to get the best possible latency in our warehouse to inform processes in real time. So I did a latency measurement from all our offices comparing major cloud providers and found that Google Cloud was the fastest.”

Now, Nordward uses BigQuery as its data warehouse and Cloud SQL to automate tasks such as database provisioning and storage capacity management. Additionally, Nordward leverages Looker to produce real-time analytics reports that support multiple business areas to make the most of the coalition’s data to improve operations.

“We’re bringing state-of-the-art technologies and processes to boost our capabilities and deliver on our mission. For example, we want our purchase departments to understand the needs of our customers so they can manage stock well. Part of our commitment to sustainability means buying the correct amount of fish to avoid any kind of waste. To do that efficiently, our sales people need visibility over what products have the shortest best-before date, and which customers buy what kind of products. We’d consider it a tragedy to get fish out of the sea only for it to become waste. Having up-to-date data that people can easily access helps us prevent waste,” says Christian.

Expanding the business while collaborating as a closely knit team

“Since bringing all employees on board with Google Workspace, we’ve reduced tech onboarding from two weeks to one hour. This will be key in supporting Nordward to double in size within the next four years.” -- Christian Ahlin, Group Head of IT, Nordward

Today, with all employees collaborating on Google Workspace, Christian sees a clear path for the business to continue its expansion: “Since bringing all employees on board with Google Workspace, we’ve reduced tech onboarding from two weeks to one hour. This will be key in supporting Nordward to double in size within the next four years,” he shares. “With Workspace and our modern ERP, everything is secure single sign-on which means we only need to create one account to onboard a new employee, and we also employ Google’s two-factor authentication system for further security. We have Google Meet hardware for meeting rooms and Chromebooks to set up our digital windows, so we can help them feel like they are part of the group immediately, from wherever they are.”

*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.

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About Online Partner

Online Partner specializes in helping Swedish customers to successfully implement Google Cloud solutions.