For companies in the food manufacturing and processing industry, there are a number of different elements that require investment as they continue to scale. There’s additional equipment to buy, facility expansion or hiring additional employees. What eventually comes across every company’s list, though, is some type of software update – something to integrate current systems into one streamlined platform.
This is not an easy process and companies often have a hard time pulling the trigger. The implementation process can be very long, current processes and systems may have to be modified to work in an integrated environment and the cost of software can be very high.
Additionally for food companies, there is the added concern of selecting a software that can meet the unique needs associated with food manufacturing operations. A generic system might not have the features and functionality required to support these specific processes.
With all these issues in mind, it’s important that when you begin the process of investigating a software solution for your company, you know exactly what you’re looking for: something with functionality that reflects the processes of your facility and that will continue being an asset over time, helping you reach your goals and realizing the potential for future growth.
Below, we highlight the benefits that integrated business software can have on your food manufacturing company.
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Generic solutions don’t solve complex problems
There are many different options available to companies when it comes to an integrated business solution. So much so that the research and selection process can become stressful and unnerving right off the bat. So many factors are in play: how much does it cost to implement? How are operations going to change? What role does the company behind the software play in the continued success of the platform?
While all of these questions are important, perhaps the most important one to consider when investigating different solutions is this: “Does this system have the unique functionality that I require to effectively run my facility?” This is the question that often leads many companies to seek out industry specific software solutions.
Think about your own food manufacturing facility. There are many operations like costing, inventory management, recipe management and traceability that do not exist in other industries. If you’re working with a generic provider, you’re stuck having to shoe horn your operations into their system or having to go through costly and difficult customization to get what you need.
JustFoodERP is a food industry specific system. It is built on the fundamental Microsoft Dynamics platform but expanded with the features and functionality associated with food manufacturing. This type of specialized system allows customers access to both generic functionality like financial management, sales, marketing and resource management as well as the food specific functionality your company requires. An industry specific system makes it easier to integrate all facility operations together and to maintain the processes that have brought your company so much of its success to begin with.
Food safety and compliance
You can’t put a price on food safety and compliance
As your business continues to scale, food safety and compliance begins to have a greater presence in your overall operations. For one, as your facility operations expand, there are a growing number of opportunities for oversight. Whether it’s a mix up in production scheduling or mislabeling materials, you’re at risk of product contamination or mismanaged output. Additionally, as you begin to work with bigger retailers, you are going to be required to comply with top global food safety regulations. In order to do this, you’ll need to show that you have the proper operations and processes in place to ensure the safety of your facility and outbound products.
With food specific integrated business software, functionality around quality, traceability, inventory management and production scheduling is already accounted for and built in. You’re able to move all of these operations into a single system, allowing for greater visibility into the different areas of production and narrowing your blind spots. With all production data living in one platform and informing each leg of the production process, you’re able to accurately schedule production, get alerted to issues before they get out of hand, act quickly to isolate contaminated products and inform your customers.
Streamline food supply chain operations
As a business grows, so can the margin of error associated with production. In food manufacturing facilities especially, production loss and waste can be a massive issue and can become a serious growing pain as a company scales its business.
When you are running operations like purchasing, inventory management, formulation and sales on separate, isolated systems, you open yourself up to potential errors and difficult transitions from one part of the manufacturing process to another. In most cases, companies have already established processes that work very well in each individual area using legacy software or spreadsheets. The problems may not come from the processes themselves, but from the isolation of those processes from one another.
With an integrated system, you’re able to work with the same metrics and numbers throughout the entire manufacturing process. Whatever information is logged from the initial purchasing/inbound material stage is factored in and accounted for throughout inventory management, processing, sales and shipment. You’re able to ensure that materials with similar shelf lives are being processed at the same time to cut down waste and free up additional warehousing space. You’re also able to more accurately forecast and plan ahead with your purchasing so you always have the materials needed to maintain sales orders and are not forced to halt production due to lack of materials.
360 degree visibility into all areas of the business
A lot of what we’ve discussed so far has to do with scaling a business and closing the gaps that can become more apparent as you expand operations. Of course, if a business continues to do well, the scaling never stops and there are always new blind spots popping up that need to be addressed.
The true, lasting benefit of food specific integrated business software is how it addresses growth. Once implemented, the system will grow with your business. With all the functionality and features associated with the food industry being built directly into the system, you can rest assured that as new needs become apparent, additional functionality will be present to address those needs.
Additionally, having all your data housed and living in one platform allows for more accurate reporting and business intelligence. From these insights, you’re able to track not only the areas that can be improved, but also the areas that you are seeing enormous success in. You can use this data to develop another product line, expand consumer markets or develop a new retailer partnership. And, knowing that all your business practices are already influencing one another, adding additional operations and processes to your system is intuitive and actionable.
In most cases, it’s taking the first few steps of the research process that can be the greatest barrier to getting started. In our experience working with food manufacturers, we’d recommend the following steps in beginning your search that will help you find the right solution for your business.
- Review the core operational functions of your business and the internal systems that you have already set up (e.g. how you track purchasing in excel, what you use to keep track of formulation/recipe management).
- Start reviewing the various software options available and see how they line up with your current systems.
- Talk with your peers to get a better understanding of how they handle integrating their operations to get a better understanding of what benefits or struggles you can expect.
- Reach out to vendors and ask specific questions about how they can address the unique operational processes of your business, how much custom development will be required and specific examples of success they’ve had with similar clients in the past.
If you’d like to learn more about what food companies need to expect from integrated business software, we’d suggest checking out our beginners guide to ERP software for food companies.
Ready for a specialized food ERP? Learn more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP JustFood Edition — a solution purpose-built to solve your challenges and propel your food business and digital transformation to the next level.