Guild of Fine Food

Guild of Fine Food (GFF) is a British, family-owned company. It was founded by Bob Farrand in 1980. The company promotes producers and sellers of artisan food and drink across the UK. It runs the Great Taste Awards and the World Cheese Awards.

The Challenge

GFF had a central database built with Filemaker. They used the database to co-ordinate the operations of the business. This legacy system was no longer fit for purpose. It couldn’t be enhanced. It was beginning to hold the business back:

  • The data was not cloud-based. It couldn’t be connected to GFF’s other systems such as account systems and websites.
  • Duplicate data was held in separate systems.
  • Staff had to enter data manually.
  • There was no single version of the full facts when it came to making decisions.
Award entries transferred
Company records merged into 1 system
Databases merged into 1

Our Response

We started with the human perspective. By spending time in the business, we observed and talked to staff at every level. We gained an understanding of what was important day-to-day. We found out what worked well and where the database let them down. Then we reviewed the existing systems from a technical perspective.

Finally, we worked with the senior team to understand the ambition for the business and the business’ data requirement.

We challenged GFF to assess existing business processes. We wanted to ensure that the new system would deliver business and user improvements, not just a new version of their old system.


Data/ Web design and development/ Systems integration

We began by creating a proof of concept. This allowed us to test the data integration. We needed to ensure that data from various databases could be amalgamated and that the system would meet GFF’s needs.

When the text version was approved, we began the final data integration. This allowed us to create ‘one version of the truth’. The integrated database avoided data duplication and allowed for future data visualisation.

The Impact

The GFF staff had worked with the old system for many years. They needed a modern system that was easy to use and familiar. The new system presents data in a logical, user-friendly layout. This reduced training time and helped staff to adopt and accept the new system.

The new system created a buzz internally when it launched. Staff were eager to embrace it, largely because they had been closely involved in the process. As well as feeling familiar, it boosted their productivity.

The system is built in PHP using the widely adopted Laravel framework. While it’s bespoke, it’s also cost-effective to adapt as the needs of the business change.

We really appreciated AB’s approach to this project. The Guild has a unique business requirement and the team has interpreted this incredibly well, understanding the challenges and ensuring the system responds to them. ALAN, our new system, has been very well received.
John Farrand, Managing Director, Guild of Fine Food