Digitising leader standard work at Cargill

Executive summary

Cargill, a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial products across the globe, teamed up with CCi in 2017 to launch the TRACC digital integrative improvement solution across their global operations organisation to optimise their production systems. With a deep understanding of the importance of continuously improving processes to increase business results, the company knew that Leader Standard Work (LSW) was fundamental to developing their world-class operations by reinforcing and sustaining improvements in culture, performance and practices. They already had a manual LSW process in place; but as part of their Smart Manufacturing initiative, Cargill approached CCi to assist with digitising the LSW process. The result was the TRACC LSW Application (app) that has proven to be fundamental to setting the discipline, pace and cadence of Cargill’s global grain operations.

  • Managers could oversee work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic thus contributing to business continuity as production goals were met
  • Visual management was enhanced to drive aligned and agreed upon results
  • Productivity improved by reducing follow-up emails and meetings
  • Work practices were standardised across Cargill’s global operations leading to consistency and reliability in operations
  • Some of the app user benefits experienced include:
    • 73% of users understand how their tasks link to the organisation’s best practice requirements
    • 70% of users understand how their tasks relate to the business strategy
    • 67% of users say the application is easy to use

Conflicting priorities: Multiple conflicting priorities from different functions, such as EHS and HR, were overwhelming Cargill’s operations teams. Employees struggled to manage their workload and track progress, and they missed important tasks. They also struggled to understand the business priorities and they found it difficult to link their activities to Cargill’s objectives.

A manual process: As part of Cargill’s continuous improvement journey, the organisation initially deployed a manual leader standard work process using Excel and SharePoint folders. However, this presented challenges including multiple versions and storage locations, inaccurate data, accessibility issues and inefficient reporting.


A digital solution: The launch of the Smart Manufacturing initiative focused on digitising paper systems, creating automated dashboards and using technology to increase productivity in the workplace. Cargill wanted to incorporate LSW, so they approached CCi to assist with digitising the LSW process.

An initiative of this magnitude made it critical to get the right people around the table in order to develop a digital solution to fill a vital business need, while ensuring the promotion and adoption of the system for long-term sustainability and usage. The project was subsequently launched in partnership with Cargill, CCi and Three Bridge Consultants.


Leader standard work


Following a user-centred design approach that ensured involvement from all stakeholders, including the end user, the partnership set out to develop the TRACC Leader Standard Work Application. The objective of the development project was to create a digital system to support the daily work practices that could be used globally by all levels of leadership.

Project scope: Cargill had configured the TRACC system to support its business requirements at the corporate and business unit levels, and was now looking to add LSW to its standards and practices. This included first launching the app simultaneously in three regions — North America, Latin America and APAC — at Cargill’s 250 small grain elevators spread over 20 countries. These facilities comprise between 1 and 50 employees, with the average size being 20.

A cross-functional global project team from each of the regions that included representatives from both Cargill and CCi was established to define and execute on key project deliverables.

Leader standard work

A training and communication plan: A critical element of the roll-out was ensuring that the training and communication plan clearly outlined the need for the application as well as expected benefits. Regional leadership supported the process and created buy-in by leading the kickoff sessions in each region and communicating the importance of digitally connected LSW.


“I would say transparent communication is a critical success factor. When we created the focus groups to collect all the information, we had all the functions represented. We explained the benefits to the users and involved them in the decisions.”
Antonella Zibetti, Cargill Product Owner


Governance structures and task prioritisation: The developers established governance structures to manage the LSW process within Cargill. Representatives from multiple functions were brought together to identify the critical tasks to include in the application. All the tasks were identified and prioritised, and responsibilities were assigned. Each business unit signed off the final list of tasks.

Customisation: Leaders authorised employees to only complete tasks listed in the LSW Application. If a job was not listed, it was submitted for review by the leadership team for inclusion to ensure standardisation and adoption. Initially, managers only created generic task lists, but these were subsequently customised for each region within Cargill and adapted to suit their needs through the regional governance structures.


“We believe that the LSW Application is fundamental to setting the discipline, pace and cadence of our operations.”
Alejandro Barreiro, Corporate Reliability and Production Excellence Leader
– Global Operations, Cargill


Key success factors

“We allocated a governance team for each region who defined what needed doing. We then started prioritising and adding activities to the app. This means that plant managers know exactly what needs to be done, and they can decline work not listed in the LSW Application. Operators know that if something isn’t in the LSW tool, it’s not something they should be doing. Instead, they must go back and get approval before doing that piece of work,” says Antonella Zibetti, Cargill Product Owner.

In addition to having a governance team in place, training sessions were critical to ensure adoption and usage. One of the key topics was reinforcing that the application was to help them with their work, rather than a ‘big brother’ method of watching over them as they conducted their tasks. For those who were not familiar with digital applications, key users within their respective teams were identified to be on hand to help answer questions and reinforce what was covered at the training sessions. This helped to drive adoption and ensure continued usage.

Long-term Results

The impact of the LSW Application was felt throughout Cargill. The app was launched six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the biggest benefits was the ability of managers to oversee work remotely from home during the lockdown. They were able to manage their teams via the completion rate and could reduce the volume of follow-up emails and meetings. Governance flow was also optimised since site leadership teams could now focus on their top priorities by scheduling the appropriate work into the correct time frames.

As the tool supported moving away from paper to a digital platform, it also improved visual management for managers away from the field. They could now use the dashboard in the reporting tab in their weekly meetings.



Since the introduction of the LSW Application, 73% of users now understand how their tasks link to the organisation’s best practice requirements and 70% understand how their tasks relate to the business strategy. In addition, 67% of users say the application is easy to use.


“Once the leaders know that what they are doing is necessary, they don’t need a manager every day. They are mature enough to complete their tasks. They know what they have to do, and they show this by completing the tasks day-to-day within the LSW Application.”
Antonella Zibetti, Cargill Product Owner


Making everyone part of the digitisation initiative also strengthened trust between the regional operations teams.

Some of the expected targeted benefits include:

  • Less safety incidents
  • Less quality non-conformances
  • More effective prioritisation of work More effective prioritisation of work
  • Faster retrieval of job-related information (e.g. standard operating procedures)
  • Faster onboarding process for new employees
  • Lower volume of emails
  • Empowering employees to say ‘no’ to non-value-adding requests


Download the how-to guide Leader standard work for executive leadership to learn more about leading your organisation to world-class success.

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Company Background

With 155 000 employees across 70 countries, Cargill’s purpose is to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Every day, they connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. They combine 156 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Side-by-side, they are building a stronger, sustainable future for agriculture.


This resource has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice. Competitive Capabilities International (CCi) does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this resource or for any decision based on it.