Sheep breed selection software that is accessible, single platform and capable of being accessed across modern devices were key requirements for the client (Beef + Lamb Genetics) when commissioning Rezare for its nProve project.
New Zealand’s sheep breeding performance has been based on the Sheep Improvement Limited (SIL) database, with several selection tools using a Windows-only platform for generating reports for breeders.
“The client needed to transition away from aging legacy systems and to support today’s range of devices, moving from a Windows space to a web-based space” says John Davys, Rezare’s senior software developer.
This included providing a system that could meet the needs of farmers wanting to match their desired breeding traits with available breeders who met them.
For sheep breeders and (their bureaus), the system needs to be a tool that will enable them to smoothly upload flock data, and generate usable, customised reports on flock genetic traits and performance, in a timely manner.
Previous report generation had been clunky and time consuming.
“nProve’s design allows for more immediate queries. The old system used a report template which required a report to be ‘built’ and then emailed back to the client,” says John.
The report generating system on nProve enables users to customise the traits and parameters for reports, re-ordering, adding and personalising criteria into reports which are generated in mere seconds, via an intuitive interface.
It also includes a “quick view” generation ability, with dashboard type reports easily accessed and ideal for breeders who may not want to jump straight into data manipulation.
For commercial farmers seeking a suitable breeder whose sires offers specific traits, nProve also has a public industry facing online tool (see nprove.nz), that enables farmers to select those traits from the key areas of maternal, production and health traits.
The intuitive “sliders” and buttons make the exercise accessible and personalised, and an invaluable means for farmers to anonymously engage with available genetic options.
The development of nProve includes a gradual transition from the SIL database to the new nProve genetic database, something John likens to changing a car tyre while the car continues to keep moving.
David Campbell, B+LNZ Genetics IT Programme Manager head says Rezare’s developers went to great lengths to understand the interface sheep breeders needed.
“The design has empowered breeders to get the information they seek, and it’s done recognising their familiarity with other systems, such as hotel finders, where you can tailor your search quite specifically.”
A series of intensive workshops between Rezare and the client started from a literal blank page. This led into design sessions with the client, providing mock-ups which the client used in their workshops with breeders/bureaus to collect input.
This process was repeated with the mock-up being modified and new farmers bought in along the way to ensure the results remained relevant and fresh, regardless of expertise.
“As a client we also appreciated not having to explain the universe to Rezare people, they understand our industry and also were not afraid to bring any idea along they thought worth trying,” says David.
Rezare’s earlier familiarity with the SIL database and its intricacies, coupled with David’s understanding of software, and the wider B+LNZ Genetics team’s genetics expertise, proved to be an ideal combination for the project.
David says nProve’s design process and ultimate configuration also takes in to account the value delivered to industry by third-parties. Development kept them engaged in a process that despite the level of technology and data management has aimed to be more evolutionary than needlessly disruptive.
nProve has also been developed with the ability to integrate third party systems in mind, and the capacity to be adopted for use with other species.
With nProve now out with early adopters, David Campbell believes the project has delivered an accessible, powerful data tool whose ease of use belies the deep level of development and engagement that went on early in its life.
“Rezare have been brilliant to work with on this. The level of technical skills applied behind nProve has involved understanding and lots of complex concepts. We have had some really hard problems to solve, and throughout they have always jointly owned and solved those problems with us.”