Improving Your Food and Beverage Business with Real-Time Analytics
Improving Your Food and Beverage Business with Real-Time Analytics If you’re in the food and beverage industry, you’re faced with high expectations for quality, consistency and productivity. This extends beyond the quality of your products and how quickly you deliver them to customers to important company data and analytics. When you’re making decisions based on accurate, real-time data, you’re able to move your business forward and you avoid costly mistakes that can take time to bounce back from. Spreadsheets and reports — which long ago were the standard way of managing company data — are outdated. They aren’t the safest or most accurate way to store and keep track of business insights. Luckily, there are more robust solutions available today. Food-specific ERP software solutions give food and beverage companies the accurate data they need to transform their businesses. Let’s look into how your food and beverage business can improve the accuracy of your data and the decisions you make with a food-specific ERP software solution. Make Decisions Based on Facts, Not Intuition Many businesses have always relied on manual ways of storing company data like spreadsheets, Excel files and Word documents. While these methods have worked for some businesses in the past, it is incredibly risky. Files may exist on more than one computer, which opens up the possibility of data being out of date and inaccurate. If you realize that your information is incorrect, it becomes a game of having to rely on memory or intuition in order to update company records. An ERP solves this challenge, bringing all your company information together in one central location with real-time updates. Department members have access to accurate data that they can use without fear or worry that it may be incorrect. Your software should work for you, making everything easier. When it comes to data and analytics, you want facts, not fiction. Your business can’t thrive with inaccurate data. Once an ERP is in place, you don’t need to worry about the quality or accuracy of your data. From Overwhelming Data Collection to Specifically Targeted Analytics Many software solutions provide overwhelming amounts of data. The value of data is in your ability to analyze it and make decisions. With all of the time it takes searching through loads of data, metrics and information, you could actually be making decisions that will push your business forward. An ERP solution removes tedious tasks and pushes relevant information to the forefront. With a food-specific system that features business intelligence functionality, the heavy lifting is done for you. The system runs calculations and highlights data that is relevant to your needs and updated in real-time. This helps avoid wait times that typically occur when relying on your IT department to generate reports. Accurate insights are readily available with dashboards organized by areas of business, which ensures that the data you see is relevant to you. With real-time visibility, you have more time to evaluate and make all the necessary decisions based on those insights. Pre-Built and Customizable Dashboards One of the simplest ways your food and beverage business can improve its relationship with data and analytics is by making that information easily accessible within your solution. That’s where pre-built and customizable dashboards are critical. When your dashboards are organized by areas of business, users at all levels and across all departments can use information that is relevant to them, their needs and their roles. Most ERP systems are accessible on computers, tablets and smartphone devices. This gives any user the ability to easily access the right information, at the right time, on the right device. One of the great flaws of spreadsheets and disconnected systems is that there are too many opportunities for mistakes to happen. With a solution designed for the food and beverage industry, all of your important data is stored in one place, creating one source of truth. Moving On To Trustworthy Data Storage Moving away from spreadsheets, Excel files and sheets of paper that carry company data may be hard, especially if it’s how your company has always operated. But with the lack of security and accuracy that comes with an old way of managing data, businesses can never truly move forward and take advantage of benefits available in newer solutions. The benefits of using an ERP system for your food and beverage business are clear. By creating one central space for all relevant company information that is updated in real-time, you have access to data that is accurate and will allow you to make the best decisions for the future of your business. With industry competition on the rise, it is crucial to have the proper software in place to provide you with necessary data and insights so that your business can do more than just compete — it can succeed. For more information on how Aptean’s food and beverage solutions can provide your business with the visibility, tracking and control you need to take your business to the next level, reach out to us. We’d love to talk.
How to Measure Your ERP Implementation ROI
How to Measure Your ERP Implementation ROI Are you thinking of implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for your food production business? Before opting for a specific vendor, you need to make sure your ERP investment is worth it and will increase efficiency and automation inside your organization. If you calculate your possible return on investment (ROI) before you are live on your new ERP system, you’ll stand a better chance to get the most benefit out of it. Plus, your decision-making process will be more straightforward. Measuring your ERP ROI can be tricky since it accounts for much more than just the cost of the ERP solution and its benefits. So, how do you determine your company’s bottom line accurately? In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the aspects that can affect your ERP ROI to help you estimate it correctly. ERP ROI Analysis ERP project will be one of the most significant expenditures for your food manufacturing company. That’s why, before moving ahead and implementing a new ERP system, you should be aware of all the factors and benefits that will impact its value. ERP software will cover such parts of your business, like sales, marketing, operations, finances, planning, legal, accounting, and many more. If implemented wisely, an ERP solution can also improve and automate a lot of these processes. So, you must know what to look for in a food ERP solution. “Why a food production business needs an ERP? The same reason why all manufacturers need an ERP: Having an integrated system that ties together all aspects of the business together in an organized way will very likely improve the efficiency with which the business operates. This can have a direct impact on profitability. My feeling is that the greatest root causes of strife in a manufacturing organization are information deficits – Which customer has ordered what? How much raw materials do we have on hand? What is our cost of doing business? Every business that reaches a certain size and has hands-on involvement in the manufacture of their product eventually reaches a point where an ERP system offers a practical solution to improving business performance and profitability.” David Altemir, President/Senior Consultant at Altemir Consulting Let’s take a look at cost factors and implementation benefits you should consider when calculating your ERP ROI. The Cost of ERP Depending on a vendor and your business needs, the cost of the ERP solution (aka required investment) will vary, and you should fully understand and evaluate it beforehand. On-premise vs. cloud If your new ERP software is deployed on-premise, then you should expect to spend money on hardware, such as getting new servers and networking equipment. However, if you choose a cloud-based ERP solution, the hardware costs will be reduced significantly. For example, bcFood’s ERP system is based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central that brings all your business tasks, data, and reports to a single environment. Thus, you shouldn’t worry about unexpected hardware costs. Employee training A new ERP system requires your employees to be ready to navigate it and use it properly for the processes throughout your organization. Will you need to hire a coach/consultant to help your staff get used to the changes? Will it be necessary to buy extra promotional materials or hold training classes? Will you need to hire more managers to be able to streamline new production processes more effectively? Whatever the cost, you should count it towards the total price of your ERP. Implementation Choosing a suitable ERP system is the first step, but then you might need to add various customizations, configurations, deployment, and testing to the final cost. Whether you decide to pay overtime for your current employees to do it or hire an outsource company for that, you should still expect extra expenditures. Your ERP implementation budget might include: Installation Configuration Reporting User training Testing Go live preparation Go live Post-go-live support Month-end support, internet, etc Licensing Does the ERP software require a one-time fee or monthly cloud fees? What types of licenses will you need, and how many of them? You might come across the need to acquire more licenses than you thought initially. That’s why you should be ready for these expenses and try to define the number of users who’ll need full access to the functions of your new ERP system. Maintenance Even though buying ERP software is a one-time thing, you shouldn’t forget about the costs that come with its yearly maintenance and support. What type of support does your vendor provide? How much will your annual maintenance cost be? It’s critical that you include these expenses into the total cost of the ERP for your food production business. System upgrades The technology is evolving, and so is your ERP system. Before settling on a particular vendor, you should know how many upgrades they provide, and how much it will cost you. You wouldn’t want to use the outdated software as well as pay for expensive upgrades a few times per year. So, make sure you are aware of all the costs associated with your ERP system improvements. Now that you have a clear picture of the cost of your initial investment in an ERP solution, it’s time to count the value of the benefits ERP systems can bring to your food production business. “The ROI is a result of: Cost Savings – efficiencies gained through the elimination of duplicate entry, availability of real-time information, business analytics and the resulting improvement in management decisions Revenue Enhancement – better visibility into customer behavior, integration of CRM, prospect conversion, quoting, and conversion of quotes to orders, along with sales behavior analytics Compliance – reduction of effort spent on maintaining compliance in the areas of traceability, recall management, quality reporting, and maintaining quality standards resulting in higher customer satisfaction and lower returns.” Princess Ruff, Digital Marketing Strategist at The Attivo Group ERP Business Benefits The value of your ERP project is more subjective than its costs as there are a few things that are intangible and cannot be counted easily. So, let’s take a look at what benefits you can expect from ERP software implementation. Operating expenses With the help of an ERP system, you’ll be able to streamline and automate your business operations, and as a result, reduce operating costs. So, go ahead and calculate your new monthly operating expenses and compare them to the current number. Now, you have the first metric of your ERP value. Improved logistics ERP software can provide you with better ways of tracking deliveries and other operations much more efficiently. It means that you might boost your production and accelerate internal and external communication. For example, our bcFood ERP software provides you with excellent traceability and helps you make your food manufacturing business more transparent. Inventory management Usually, an ERP system will make inventory management a much easier process for your employees. It means that inventory checking will take less time, and you might save money on billable hours. Easier returns and recalls Having an ERP solution is critical for the food manufacturing industry. It lets you keep track of all the recalls and address them in a matter of minutes. This makes your business more reputable and saves you not only time but also money. Shorter sales cycle Keep all your customers in one system and be able to address their needs and concerns quickly. ERP system allows you to manage your buyers efficiently and grow more sales. If you leverage your ERP’s customer relationship management, you might see a drastic increase in revenue. Better supply chain management When calculating the value of your ERP system, you should also consider the reduced cost of goods. Thanks to the streamlined supply chain, you might find your enterprise manufacturing more goods and landing more contracts. bcFood’s ERP solution lets you keep track of all your contracts and provide your customers with the latest information about your products and deals. A better supply chain can impact your ERP return on investment in a very positive way. Now, let’s take a more in-depth look at the metrics that aren’t as easy to measure as the ones mentioned above. Staff retention If you take the time and effort to choose the right ERP solution for your food production business and implement it well, you can expect that it’ll make the daily lives of your employees less stressful. And if your staff starts loving their job more, there’s a bigger chance they’d want to stick in your company for a longer time. Automation is one of the best perks of ERP software, and it takes care of a lot of mundane tasks your employees don’t like doing. In short, an ERP system can make your enterprise a better place to be for your team members. Faster decision making With the help of better visibility, you’ll be able to make business decisions much faster and, consequently, contribute to its growth. Centralized documentation ERP software allows you to keep all the essential information and documentation in one safe place. Thanks to the modern cloud-based technology, you’ll be able to access your business documentation from anywhere and cut on work hours dedicated to documenting. How to Calculate Your ERP Return on Investment Now that you’ve got your ERP total cost and value, let’s see how you can measure the possible ROI of the ERP implementation. ERP ROI Calculator: ROI = [(Value of Investment – Cost of Investment) / Cost of investment] x 100% Or ROI = Net Benefits/Project Investment What does your ROI look like? Is it bigger or lower from what you expected? Maybe you can add more business benefits to the equation, like, for example, competitiveness. ERP can make your food production company more reputable in the eyes of customers and let you beat your competitors by having more time to focus on the quality of your products. Whatever your initial ERP ROI analysis turns out, remember that it’s not an overnight process. It might take years until you see your ERP return on investment grow. Yet, Enterprise Resource Planning software is a long-term investment that will help you bring your food manufacturing business to a new level. “The Return On Investment of an ERP implementation can only be calculated several years after its (successful) implementation and usage. First of all, calculate the cost of the ERP: not only taking into consideration external consulting but also your internal cost, which doesn’t stop at adding Full Time Equivalents together. You must also include all related costs, from the blueprint to management reporting, not forgetting post-implementation hyper care collateral costs. After each period – for example, a year, depending on your project goal, ask each Global Business Process Owner to provide an overview of pre-implementation overall cost/revenue per period and the current one. By checking these numbers, you will be able to assess the ROI. For example, if you used to spend $10M/year for raw materials purchasing, but with the help of you new ERP you negotiated new global contracts and cut down your procurement costs to $8M on Y1 and $7 on Y2, then at the end of year 2 you’ll have saved $5M. If your ERP implementation cost was below this saving, it has been worthy by year 2. If it is above, then you might have to wait longer to see a positive ROI or reconsider your choices.” Yoann Bierling, International Project Manager at New Simple As Possible ERP Also, you should understand that every business is different, and you should have a clear picture of your goals before you decide to spend money on any ERP solution. It will help you avoid paying for the ERP features that your business doesn’t need. Find the Right Vendor & Get Started Analyzing the ROI of ERP implementation isn’t an exact science, nor is it easy. Yet, it’s one of the most vital steps you should take before choosing your ERP vendor. At bcFood, we know that selecting the right ERP software for your business is a time-consuming process that requires a significant investment. That’s why we tailored our ERP solution specifically for food production businesses that want to become more efficient and see a positive ROI. Do you want to learn more about the benefits of ERP implementation for a food manufacturing enterprise and see whether it’ll be a good fit for your business? Then don’t hesitate to contact our ERP experts. We’ll be happy to help you have a clearer picture of your ERP return on investment.
How ERP Software Helps You Ensure Compliance in your Meat Processing Plant
How ERP Software Helps You Ensure Compliance in your Meat Processing Plant The food industry has faced many changes over the past decade. The introduction of global food supply chains, shifts in public mindset towards ideas of sustainability and healthy eating, and ever-changing government rules and regulations regarding food safety have forced food companies to meet these new demands or risk going out of business. While the entire food industry feels the pressure of these changes, meat processing companies are often some of the most vulnerable in terms of compliance, profitability and overall success. Meat processing is a complex business. Between meeting consumer and supplier demands, addressing safety and compliance concerns and dealing with the unique requirements of the industry itself – like catchweight, by-products, lean percentage, etc. – meat processors require a software solution that will support these unique issues instead of exacerbating them. That’s where an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution built for the food industry comes in. In terms of overall compliance in your meat processing plant, technology designed to address the distinct needs of meat processors (like the ability to comply with strict quality standards, track by-products bi-directionally through the production process and better manage delicate inventory) is required to meet the safety and quality standards consumers, suppliers and partners demand. Below, we outline how a food-specific ERP solution can help your meat processing company remain compliant and ensure success. Keep Up With Ever-Changing Rules and Regulations The meat industry faces some of the toughest rules and regulations when it comes to food safety – and for good reason. Contagious diseases like foot-and-mouth disease (which could cost producers and the public $188 billion if an outbreak occurs) and bacterial diseases like salmonella (which resulted in the recall of more than 12 million pounds of beef in 2018) are extremely dangerous and costly to both processors and the public.But with strict rules and regulations in place ensuring outbreaks like the above don’t occur, it can be difficult for meat processors to ensure compliance while attempting to run a profitable business. Fortunately, meat processors can rely on the functionality of a food-specific ERP to help.In order to comply with the USDA’s strict regulations around record keeping, for example, establishments that grind beef are required to maintain adequate records concerning suppliers and source materials for raw ground beef. Some of these records include supplier lot numbers and production dates, the names of all beef components being used and any materials carried over from production to the next, and the date and time when grinding equipment is cleaned and sanitized.An ERP for the food industry comes equipped with record keeping functionality that can help users maintain thorough documentation at every level of production. This makes pinpointing where in the supply chain a product, by-product or co-product is infinitely easier and will assist with your recall preparedness efforts. Accurately Track and Trace Raw Materials All food companies face strict traceability requirements from suppliers, customers, partners and governing bodies. While many meat processors in the past could get away with manual tracing and tracking efforts, the increasing demand for full traceability means that if your company doesn’t have the software in place to accurately manage recalls, you risk losing new business and existing customers.Lot traceability is inherent to almost all ERP solutions. But while a generic ERP will provide users with a snapshot of where a product is in its current state, leading ERP solutions with food-specific functionality will merge inventory records to give you a full end-to-end view of your entire production process. That means that you’ll have the ability to track raw materials from receiving into production, track finished goods from supplier receipt to customer invoice and identify the raw materials and resources that produced the finished products.This ability to track batch-specific quantities bi-directionally also ensures that meat processors have the ability to track and trace every ingredient used in the processing of a product, even if it’s a minuscule amount (like a spice, for example). This is imperative to meat processors who face increasing demands for 100% traceability and are required to perform mock recalls in minutes to adhere to customer requirements and certification audits. Comply with Quality Specifications Meat processors deal with a high-level of variability when it comes to making quality decisions. Unlike food processors or manufacturers in other sub-industries whose products receive either a pass or fail when a quality check is performed, the variability in quality conditions of a meat product makes the quality check process for meat processors unique and complex.Here’s an example: A sausage company looking to purchase trimmings has a specification in place that says it will accept products with a lean percentage from 59% to 64% and will reject or hold any receipt outside of this range. Because your company utilizes an ERP to effectively track the quality conditions of raw materials and finished goods, you supply this sausage company with trimmings with a 60% lean percentage, which falls right into the company’s specifications.Having the ability to quality check raw materials and finished goods based on supplier receipts, inventory, manufacturing and customer shipments ensures you’re able to measure and compare actual quality results to individual customer specification limits. An ERP tailored to the meat industry will come built with predefined industry-standard characteristics such as grade, fat or lean content. Having full visibility into available raw material inventory and characteristics ensures you can easily comply with customer-specific quality specifications. Manage Safety Amidst Global Issues As the novel coronavirus changes the way the world operates, it’s imperative that meat processors start thinking about what business will look like post-pandemic. It is likely that regulations and requirements set forth by governing bodies, suppliers and customers will demand that facility and worker safety be placed at the forefront of all operations, forcing meat processors to rethink the way their business functions. In response, processors may increase the scheduling frequency of their cleaning and maintenance processes, reduce the number of staff scheduled for various shifts, move operations to remote sites and much more. But without a system like an ERP in place to help manage these changes in operating procedures and ensure compliance, your meat company may not have the capacity to address these changes while still maintaining profitability.An ERP built for the food industry helps manage changes in scheduling and maintenance and provides you with the oversight you need to identify any bottlenecks and inefficiencies to ensure you’re still hitting profitable production targets. Warehouseing functionality built into an ERP also allows you to manage ever-changing customer order policies and new requirements of logistics partners. And in terms of inventory management post-pandemic, as global supply chain standards inevitably shift and fluctuate, an ERP with meat-specific functionality will ensure that the best inventory rotation methods and quality standards are always met. If you’re a meat processor struggling to comply with consumer demands, safety standards and quality specifications, Aptean’s suite of food and beverage products might be right for you. Aptean for Food and Beverage is designed to address the needs of food manufacturers and processors looking to accurately account for all raw material and finished products, increase visibility across departments and ensure success and continued growth. If you’d like to learn more about Aptean, reach out to us now.
Food Industry Challenges 2020: How bcFood Can Help
Food Industry Challenges 2020: How bcFood Can Help On top of already existing strict regulations and production hurdles, the food manufacturing industry faces a set of new challenges in the spotlight of a recent coronavirus outbreak. Food safety, traceability, and transparency will now be incremental for manufacturers who want to keep their business afloat. Both food distributors and customers are already becoming more demanding when it comes to the quality of the products they’re buying. They want to know the food is safe, free of allergens and pesticides, and where exactly it comes from. If you want your food manufacturing business to run smoothly in times of economic uncertainty and fierce competition, you should leverage the power of technology and real-time data. Investing in an enterprise resource planning system will help you grow your company’s efficiency, accountability, and safety. So, let’s explore the top challenges in the food manufacturing industry, and how bcFood can help overcome them in 2020. End-to-End Traceability Right now, consumers are interested in what goes in there food and where it comes from more than ever. That’s why the ingredient labeling has become one of the most critical stages of food packaging. It might sound simple, yet, it’s a big challenge for any food manufacturer. Without having accurate data records and spot-on supply chain management, it’s hard, if not impossible at all, to track both food origin and quality. How bcFood’s ERP solution can help you meet this consumer demand bcFood’s Advanced Lot Management feature will let you easily track the movement of items through the supply chain and perform quality testing. Plus, due to the increased number of product recalls because of the current situation, it’s essential to have a system that would help you execute them quickly and avoid money losses. Enhanced Inventory Management If not for the limited shelf time of food products, we wouldn’t be discussing this right now. Yet, it’ll still remain one of the significant food industry challenges in 2020. In fact, the food pathogen testing market is predicted to exceed 850 million tests by 2024. Since foodborne bacteria can affect both consumers’ health and your business reputation, it’s critical to implement proper measures to fight this problem. It means that your food manufacturing company needs advanced inventory management software to help you tackle this problem. How you can leverage bcFood’s ERP to overcome this challenge bcFood’s mobile warehouse management system (WMS) allows you to use handheld mobile units with barcode scanners to interact with your ERP system. Not only cuts it the old-school paper-based data entry but also eliminates errors. Our integration with bcMobile will bring mobility to your warehouse and provide you with a real-time picture of your inventory. 2020 is high time to trade a paper-based system for handheld mobile devices with barcode scanning functionality, isn’t it? Regulations and Quality Control Whether you like it or not, FDA, EPA, OSHA, and FTC will keep on making food regulations stricter. That’s why, as a food manufacturer, you have to obey these norms and ensure you maintain a hygienic manufacturing environment and produce healthy products with accurate labels. Often, not keeping up with the latest regulations leads to multiple recalls and budget damages. So, if you want to avoid that, you have to keep all your business operations as accurate as possible. How bcFood’s ERP solution can help you ensure your products meet all the required standards Our Quality Assurance and Quality Control systems will eliminate any mistakes or defects in your products as well as prevent the ones with defects from being released for use. When it comes to establishing airtight control standards, there’s no hit or miss. With bcFood’s ERP, you’ll be able to record every single quality testing activity that takes place in your company and use the historical data to prevent future regulatory issues. Food Allergen Labeling For years, the Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act has required food manufacturers to display all the main allergens, and it won’t change any time soon. Consumers are now more concerned about the healthiness and safety of the products they buy, and the demand for such “healthy-labeled” products will only grow. That’s why food manufacturers have no choice but to prove that their products are of high quality and made with natural ingredients. How bcFood can contribute to solving this problem bcFood’s Item Allergens feature will help you keep track of the item allergens that go into the products you manufacture. With our software, you can indicate which items in your inventory contain allergens (e.g., dairy, wheat, and shellfish) to ensure safety and compliance. Also, you’ll be able to group production activities by allergen type and then schedule them to specially-designated allergen lines. With unlimited setup options, bcFood gives you a chance to meet all the necessary regulatory requirements and make sure your consumers are safe. Recipe Management Strict control over recipes and formulas has always been one of the main concerns of food manufacturing companies. No one wants to have issues with tempered recipes and, as a result, unsatisfied consumers. Also, with the nation shifting to the healthier consumption culture, companies have to keep up with the demand and experiment with a variety of new recipes. It might mean getting more raw materials and establishing new connections with growers. So, how food manufacturing business can do it without spending tons of time and money? How bcFood’s ERP solution can help you satisfy consumer demand? bcFood expands upon the existing production functionality by giving you the ability to set up recipe and packaging bills of material (BOMs). It’ll help you define recipes according to standard batch sizes. Then you can enter contents as percentages of the total batch, making it easy to adjust and scale bills of material. You’ll also have a chance to scale up new recipes without interrupting the execution of the current ones. More Health-Consciousness Consumers With the increasing amount of food-related diseases and various disorders, consumers started paying more attention to their dietary habits. That’s why the demand for organic food products with no added preservatives is growing every day. As a food manufacturer, you might need to join the trend and start producing new nutrient-dense products, labeled ‘gluten-free’, ‘dairy-free’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘fat-free’, and so on. However, labeling products are only a small part of a challenge. The main one is getting hold of more organic ingredients and making new products taste good without using any harmful add-ons. How bcFood’s ERP solution can help you create new-generation products? If you’re a big food manufacturing enterprise, you know that dealing with multiple growers and keeping all the vital documentation can be quite a challenge. bcFood’s Grower Management allows you to set up all of the growers with whom you do business. Once you define your growers, you can use these records in related features such as commodity contracts and receipts. It gives you a chance to quickly establish relationships with new growers and expand your production without the hassle of bureaucracy. This feature also allows you to process activities in a way that reflects the realities of your business. Complex Trade Management With the new regulations being introduced every year and the current state of our economy, food trading will only become more demanding. Moreover, often, trade plans are multi-level schemes that require precise monitoring and constant updates. Trade agreements include variable prices, discounts, promotions, rebates, broker commissions and payables, royalties, and bill-backs. That’s why keeping track of all the changes is quite a complicated process. And trading in 2020 might become even more of a challenge in the food manufacturing industry. How bcFood can help you alleviate your trade management process Our Trade Management enables you to handle your trade agreements with customers and vendors, and keep all of them in one digital place. bcFood takes the complexity out of pricing, markup, and discount setup with simple trade management tools that allow you to implement all your pricing structures quickly. Using bcFood’s trade plan setup, you can gather claims from transactions, then periodically pay them out to the recipients you identify. Final Thoughts The food manufacturing industry is going to face quite a few challenges in the near future. They include ensuring new safety regulations and compliance, establishing transparent product traceability, implementing more robust inventory control, and producing more eco-friendly products. Thus, food manufacturers have to take advantage of technology to be able to keep up with the needs of the modern world and more health-oriented consumers. Overcoming these challenges might seem like a mission that cannot be accomplished. However, with the proper ERP software, food manufacturers stand a good chance of winning today’s marketplace and getting their innovative products in front of their customers as soon as possible. If you strive to grow your food manufacturing business and beat your competitors, we can help you implement new technologies by leveraging our powerful ERP solution. Contact us today, and a member of our team will help you get started.
How to Grow Your Food Production Business
How to Grow Your Food Production Business When it comes to growing a food production business, your goals should include not only boosting sales but also finding more efficient ways to deal with larger volumes of both raw materials and final products. You’ll also need to apply new strategies to regulate the production process, expand into new markets, and handle more sales. Do you want to make your food production business flourish? Here are four ways to do it with the help of an innovative ERP solution. “One specific aspect to consider when building and growing a food production business is the expertise of the team behind the product. The business’s leadership team must demonstrate that relevant evidence-based research has been utilized and applied in the development of the food product. Having a designated member of the team, like a registered dietitian, will be helpful to serve as a trusted expert in this area. Delivering a high-quality food product that’s created and supported by credentialed food professionals will lead to an increased level of trust with the customer.” Susan Stalte, MBA, RD, Founder of Dietitian Recruiting Ensure Compliance Food safety and quality control are an integral part of any food production business and should not be neglected. Complying with the latest food safety regulations will help you maintain your reputation among both distributors and consumers. It will also contribute to protecting bad products from entering the market. With bcFood’s quality assurance module, you’ll be able to record every quality testing activity that takes place in your company and take advantage of that information to ensure your product meets the highest standards. Having software that lets you identify and address food quality issues before they can harm your enterprise is a tremendous advantage for any food production company. Our ERP business solution will help you keep track of the newest food safety regulations and save time on implementing them throughout your organization. Establish Mobile-First Warehouses Manually counting and managing your inventory can take up a lot of time and effort that could be better served on more significant tasks. So what if we told you that we could help you automate this process? bcFood’s mobile warehouse management system (WMS) allows you to use handheld mobile units with barcode scanners to interact with your ERP system. It will let you eliminate data entry mistakes, as well as help your staff manage your warehouse better and faster. Plus, you’ll always have access to a clear and real-time picture of your inventory. What are the benefits of bcFood’s WMS? Firstly, it has an approachable interface. It can be personalized by role, controlling which tasks a given user can perform. You and your employees won’t have any trouble getting used to it. Secondly, it offers extensive compatibility. You can easily use it with both Android and Windows Mobile platforms from both current and past generations, meaning that if you already have handheld devices, you won’t need to spend money on new hardware to adjust to bcMobile. Lastly, it has a vast library of transactions. You have access to all major warehouse movements, including receipts, picks, and shipments. You’ll also be able to perform physical counts and get quick insight into specific items and lot records. If you manage to automate standard warehouse operations, you and your team will have more time to develop strategies that will help grow your business. Optimize Your Supply Chain Do you plan to grow your business? Then you need to think about how this growth will affect your supply chain. And of course, you’ll want to apply the most efficient strategies to be ready for these changes. If you want to speed up your company’s growth and retain your customers, you must respond quickly to changes in demand. Listening to a hunch or going with your gut may work from time to time, but as your business grows, we say you should give technology a shot and rely on data when it comes to making vital decisions. We can provide you with all the necessary tools and information to automate your food processing, manufacturing, and distribution processes. Let’s see how you can leverage our ERP solution to improve each of them: At the stage of food processing, you will be able to establish full traceability throughout the supply chain, meaning you can always track materials from their point of origin to their final destination. bcFood will also enable you to receive, move, and ship products in bulk quantities; monitor market price fluctuations; and precisely track the cost of processing. At the stage of food manufacturing, you will be able to ensure that all of your recipes allow for standard batch sizing and yield percentages. Our software will also store data about allergens and nutritional information to ensure you’re manufacturing products according to the highest standards of safety and compliance. You’ll also be able to set up and enter the results of quality testing and use scheduling tools that highlight equipment or labor capacities. At the stage of food distribution, you’ll be able to schedule and manage every receipt and shipment of products to and from your warehouse locations. Our ERP solution will enable you to factor charges (e.g., freight and fuel) into inventory costs; have a complete insight into pallet, tote, railcar, and shipping container contents; and track and store regulatory shipping documentation. Once you optimize your supply chain efficiency, you’ve taken a significant step towards increasing ROI and profitability for your food production business. Focus on Your Competitive Advantages Now that we’ve told you to adhere to compliance regulations, automate your processes, and bring standard and time-tested optimizations to your operations, we’re going to emphasize that, throughout all of these changes, never lose sight of what makes your business unique. There is a reason for why your customers and partners want to do business with you. Yes, you need to make changes to your existing business if you want to enjoy the next stage of growth, but don’t let them come at the cost of what made you such a success to begin with. bcFood contains tools that allow your ERP software to reflect the way you do business, not the other way around. These features include: Commodity Receiving When handling bulk quantities of commodities, you might face quite a few challenges. With the help of our platform, you’ll be able to address all of them. bcFood’s Commodity Receiving tools will let you: Simplify order entry by providing your users with a clean platform to record their activities. Trace your inventory back to its exact point of origin. Get accurate weight information by calculating the net weight of the product. Recipe and Packaging BOMs If you strive to obtain a clear picture of your manufacturing process, it can be useful to separate the production and packaging of a finished product into different processes. bcFood’s functionality will let you set up recipe and packaging bills of material (BOMs). You’ll also be able to: Create separate bills for material groupings. Define recipes according to standard batch sizes. Achieve better accuracy in determining production output quantities, including expected yields, scrap amounts, and anticipated losses Catch Weight In the food production industry, it’s convenient to maintain your inventory records according to two units of measure: the catch weight (unit by which the item is weighed and invoiced) and the standard weight (generally defined as the inventory unit). bcFood’s Catch Weight feature will let you: Record and keep catch weights for individual lot and license plate records throughout all major transactions. Ensure that entered catch weight values fall within a reasonable tolerance range. Make the recording of weights an automatic, error-free process by integrating bcFood with electronic scales. That said, establishing transparency throughout your organization and streamlining your supply chains will help you modernize your food production business and be in line with the upcoming industry trends. The Bottom Line The inherent challenges that face food production companies, such as managing a perishable inventory that can expire and become unusable, makes growing such businesses a sophisticated task. Increasing sales is always a top priority, but it shouldn’t be your only one. You also need to introduce efficiencies and processes that can support your growth. If you want to see your food production business bloom, you should first ensure you’re complying with all the necessary food safety regulations and produce high-quality products. Then it would be best if you tried to automate your supply chains and internal controls. Not only will this help you reach full transparency in your organization, but it will also free up time to solve more critical business problems. Are you ready to boost your food production business? bcFood’s ERP business solution will help you take advantage of technology and data to accept this challenge. Contact us today!
The Top Food Technology Trends for 2020
The Top Food Technology Trends for 2020 In the food industry, staying in step with technology has become essential for food businesses to improve processes such as labeling, lot traceability, food safety, and understanding general food trends. In this article, we’ve listed the top food technology trends for 2020, allowing your food company to be prepared for what’s to come. Food Safety Food safety isn’t exactly a new trend; there have always been many components to food safety that businesses need to be sure to keep an eye on. However, we expect the following aspects of safety and compliance to become especially impactful in the coming year: Traceability There is a big focus right now on the digitization of the food supply industry, and this trend is only going to continue. Much of this emphasis is on traceability and greater levels of transparency across the food supply chain. With a supplier network that has become increasingly global, food companies need to be able to detect changes and react quickly to things like health threats. We may very well see new technologies like blockchain play a bigger role in food traceability and transparency. Food businesses will also need to remain compliant, as the FDA continues to update its HACCP guidelines In addition, record-keeping will be required to be kept in an electronic format, as stipulated by the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Overall, food companies should expect to see the FDA placing greater importance on food safety requirements being technology-enabled. Organizations should try to adopt robust technology systems sooner rather than later so they have time to try out the right technologies as opposed to rushing just to remain compliant. Package Tracing Package tracing will be an important part of the traceability food technology trend. For some time, the rule of thumb has been that tracing is necessary for any packaging material that comes in direct contact with food products, but signs show that these requirements are being extended to additional packing levels. For example, if boxes of food are stacked on top of wooden pallets, those pallets must be inspected and tracked for things like insects. There will be an increased need for this in the future with food businesses. Labeling Did you know that one of the biggest reasons food companies fail food audits is because of unlisted allergens on food labels? This year, the FDA will be introducing new nutritional label standards that food businesses need to be aware of. They will include regulations such as: Shelf-life labeling New regulation on what can be labeled as “healthy” or “natural” on food Restrictive laws on meat terms usage for meat products Many of these changes are coming at the request of the general public. People today are scrutinizing food labels more carefully due to a lack of trust in the food industry (and its marketing) that has arisen in recent years. Food companies with clean labels will be better positioned for success. BE Food Labeling This January saw the implementation of the National Bioengineered (BE) Food Disclosure Standard, a federal law that regulates GMO food labeling. This law will bring a greater level of clarity and compliance in foods that have been genetically modified (in a way not obtained through nature or conventional breeding). Although BE disclosure information will not be mandatory until 2022, there is already an increased public demand for this information to appear on labels as soon as possible. Carbon Labeling Food practices in regard to sustainability and climate change will become ever more important this year (we have a section dedicated to this below). The public is quickly becoming selective about which companies they choose to purchase from based on sustainability practices. In the food industry, many companies have begun adding language to their products in regard to being carbon neutral. For food organizations hoping to keep up and maintain the trust of their consumers, adding carbon neutral language to their labeling systems would be a good idea. Voice Technology In an industry that is continually evolving and making rapid changes, companies are finding it hard to keep up with trends. But voice technology presents an opportunity for food businesses to stay relevant and be more agile. By allowing warehouse workers and other employees to record information to a software system without ever touching a keyboard or touchscreen, voice technology can help increase productivity. Modern business software has evolved to incorporate voice activated commands into areas such as inventory control, line-loading, transfers, and more. Voice technology will be a food technology trend we can expect to see many businesses adopt as a way to be more efficient in 2020. New Markets Due to Diet, Health, and Lifestyle Trends Today’s food consumer is more informed than ever. People have become increasingly selective in their food choices, whether those decisions be based on dietary, environmental, chemical, ideological, or other factors (or a combination of these). We will list some of these top diet and lifestyle food trends below, but on a general note regarding food technology trends, your food business needs to look to data mining technologies like Power BI and AI tools so you can better understand your market and adjust your business according to insights gained from such programs. Increase in Plant-Based Food and Diets People are increasingly turning to plant-based diets for ethical, dietary, and ecological reasons. This trend is not expected to slow down, as the rise of meat substitutes like Impossible and Beyond Meat make a splash in the market alongside dairy alternatives like almond, oat, and soy milk. We can also expect to see an increase in the number of plant-based food companies and existing food companies introducing new plant-based products. Cannabis Foods Although not approved nor regulated by the FDA, the cannabis industry is a completely new field that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Businesses will need to watch and keep up with any regulatory changes in regard to cannabinoids, as well as product types on the market in states where it’s legal. Labor Costs and Tracking With all the technologies and ways of capturing data that are available on the market, food companies are trying to get a more accurate picture of exact labor costs. As domestic and international governments impose a lot of tariffs on material costs and trading partners, it is going to be important for food businesses to find new ways to reduce costs. Taking advantage of tools and technologies that can track labor more accurately will be a big trend in 2020. Some areas that businesses can track are: Training hours Licensing Data inputs Hourly labor Overtime hours Direct v. indirect labor Sustainability and Waste The sense of public alarm over the state of the world’s climate has many people and governments pushing for more sustainable practices in the food industry. Large corporations like Wal-Mart have promised to ensure that all products it sells will include sustainable packaging, and more companies are expected to follow suit. There is an increased demand for companies to offer products packaged in reusable or recyclable materials. People are also asking that businesses large and small make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, from reducing road travel emissions, to implementing more sustainable agricultural practices, to cutting back on single-use plastics, and more. Consumers, in general, are expected to become more concerned with greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, minimal food processing, food waste, and food transportation. Businesses that can evolve to become more sustainable will be more likely to win over the hearts of global consumers. New technologies related to tracking and tracing food packaging will help facilitate this trend, allowing businesses to keep track of recycled content information, the number of times a container has been used, and chain-of-custody records to ensure the packaging has been kept “clean.” Increased Use of Mobile Devices The advent of food technology systems has made everything in the food industry more mobile, and this food technology trend will continue to spread in 2020. While this functionality has long been available in mobile warehouse management systems for things like inbound receipts, outbound shipments, and inventory movement, food businesses are wanting to add mobility to other areas of the business, too. Food companies want not just the warehouse staff to enter information through mobile devices, but other employees, as well. For example, the ability for the quality assurance team to record test results in real-time would be a tremendous benefit for many organizations. More businesses also want to make it simpler to access company data from outside the office, as well to help make processes move faster and become more on-the-go. Handling Overnight Growth In the day and age of social media influencers and celebrity endorsement flying across the internet like wildfire, it’s become a common phenomenon for small businesses to become incredibly popular overnight. A husband and wife business that was filling a small handful of orders per week can suddenly experience skyrocketing growth from a single endorsement on social media from someone with a large following. Businesses face many challenges here, but what they can use to buffer such growth are technology solutions like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). EDI can give businesses the ability to automate tasks, which enables them to handle rapid growth. Greater Adherence to Global Standards Because of the complex landscape of challenges in today’s food supply chain, many food retailers are calling for an increase in global food safety standards. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognizes a number of certified audit programs that address everything from packaging to food to materials to storage and distribution and much more. A call for greater transparency and more consistency in food safety across the globe is a food technology trend that will continue to grow in 2020 as the world becomes increasingly connected online. bcFood is a complete, robust ERP solution made specifically for the food industry. Food businesses no longer have to worry about staying on top of food technology trends, because bcFood will help them remain relevant and increase their productivity. Read more about the benefits of implementing ERP food software or contact us today to discover more about our tailored food business ERP software.
Food Safety in 2020: Everything You Need to Know
Food Safety in 2020: Everything You Need to Know With the increase of foodborne diseases and contamination, food regulations keep evolving, as well as customer expectations. That’s why food manufacturers and distributors should realize that food safety and quality have become a shared responsibility, not a competition. Do you want to be one step ahead of food safety regulations in 2020? Read on to learn how new technologies can help your organization comply with the new requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). What Is the FSMA and How Does It Impact the Food Industry? The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), one of the most critical reforms of food safety laws, was signed into law on January 4, 2011. Its primary focus is to ensure that food manufacturers and distributors proactively work to prevent food supply contamination, rather than just responding to issues after-the-fact. According to the FDA, “three of the rules created to implement FSMA – Preventive Controls for Human Foods, Preventive Controls for Animal Food, and the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs – require co-manufacturers that are receiving facilities and/or importers that produce food for the brand owners to approve suppliers and conduct certain supplier verification activities. These requirements are designed to ensure suppliers are addressing hazards requiring a supply-chain-applied control.” With a recent USDA report showing that more than half of the foods tested had pesticide residues, there’s no doubt that there is still much work to be done when it comes to making the goals of the FSMA a reality. Consequently, food industry executives have to make sure their enterprises are complying with the latest regulations to ensure food quality from farm to fork. 2020-2021 Compliance Dates to Remember: Type Details Compliance Date GFSI-based standard FSSC 22000 Version 5 Auditable from Jan. 1, 2020 U.S. FSMA Final Rules PRODUCE SAFETY rule compliance for all produce types (for all farm sizes); other produce (remaining water requirements for large farms); other produce (very small farms except certain water requirements) Jan. 27, 2020 FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM rule compliance for importers of animal food whose foreign supplier is a qualified facility (including very small businesses) subject to PCAF, PC but not CGMP requirements March 17, 2020 INTENTIONAL ADULTERATION rule for small businesses July 27, 2020 FOREIGN SUPPLIER VERIFICATION PROGRAM rule compliance for importers whose very small business foreign supplier is subject to the Produce Safety rule July 27, 2020 So, how will new food safety regulations impact food manufacturers, and what solutions are they planning on implementing to adhere to them? We’ve asked a few food industry experts to provide their insights, and here’s what they’ve got to say. “We anticipate that there will be a higher level of scrutiny on ingredients in 2020. Discount retailer Dollar Tree was warned by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month that over-the-counter drugs found in its stores were coming from suspect foreign manufacturers in China. As this unfortunate situation illustrates, there are significant concerns with the quality of food ingredients currently being imported into the U.S., and there is a flood of adulterated products entering the market from unknown sources. For example, some manufacturers are using fermented E. coli to accelerate the production of generic beta-Alanine. As an industry, we need to push for more scrutiny and transparency, not just because consumers are growing increasingly savvy about reading labels and understanding the origins of their food, but because of the inherent risk involved with allowing untested ingredients to enter the market. As manufacturing rules continue to be bent in the interest of higher profit margins, there is genuine cause for concern that it is only a matter of time until a perfectly avoidable consumer public health incident occurs. And if that transpires, the entire sports nutrition category will be tainted. We believe the FDA can and will have a dramatic positive effect on the quality of domestically sold dietary ingredients if they are proactive about issuing Import Alerts on materials that have not gone through the robust NDI filing process and achieved recognition by the Agency. We plan to work with the FDA and our industry in 2020 to assure American consumers that the products available to them are indeed safe.” Mark LeDoux, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Natural Alternatives International “FDA recently announced that it would not require compliance with the 2016 nutrition labeling rules until July 1, 2020, for specific companies. This will affect private label distributors more than the contract manufacturers because it is responsible for exchanging products directly with the consumers. FDA also states that the supplier of food ingredients will be responsible for the accuracy of information about products; this tends to make sure that suppliers should be compliant with regulations. Similarly, USDA is also offering a buffer period for enforcement of the bioengineering disclosure rule until January 1, 2020. These changes in law seem that it will not affect the business negatively. These regulations will bring more transparency in the food industry and will help consumers in finding accurate information about market product ingredients instead of the misleading promotional stats. To be fully compliant, companies need insight into their complete supply chain, from the base ingredient to finished packaged product. The food manufacturer or distributor needs to plan precisely and detailed, monitoring the execution and assessment of the quality.” CJ Xia, VP of Marketing & Sales at Boster Biological Technology If you’re a food safety, quality, and compliance executive, you won’t want to miss out on the premier food safety event, North American Food Safety & Quality 2020 (NAFS20), which will be held in Chicago on June 2-3, 2020. It will help you learn more about FSMA and be in the loop about the latest food safety regulations and system innovations. What is the Best Way to Invest in Modern Food Safety? Relying on the government to prevent foodborne diseases and contamination isn’t enough. If you want to keep both your business and your consumers safe, you have to turn to new technologies to always be one step ahead of the regulations. Here’s where ERP solutions come in handy. Our unique food ERP system, bcFood, will help you keep up with the current food safety regulations by using real-time data and implementing internal standards. Here’s how your enterprise can benefit from the bcFood ERP system: Create viable internal food safety rules Our ERP system’s features such as Advanced Lot Management, Hold Management, and Quality Assurance/Quality Control will ensure both your employees and suppliers are well aware of the internal standards you define. Since food contamination can happen during transportation, preparation, or while in storage, it’s crucial to establish mutually understood rules. Rely on the latest data to get the most useful insights To make data-driven decisions concerning food safety, you need to have access to real-time data. bcFood’s Crop Years, Lot on Line, Countries of Origin, and Item Nutrients/Allergens are just some of the features that provide you with the most necessary information to analyze your food production process efficiently and implement changes for further supply chain improvement. Stay consistent when implementing new standards It’s not hard to write the rules down. But how do you make sure everyone is following them? bcFood’s all-in-one ERP solution will help you keep both managers and suppliers accountable for sustaining regulatory compliance. Our Mobile Warehouse and Customer/Partner Portal will help you ensure your company implements all of the new regulations appropriately and follows them accordingly. Final Thoughts 2020 is already here, so food manufacturers and distributors should act fast when it comes to recording reliable food safety data. Complying with FSMA regulations, modernization of food production lines, regional food safety development, further adoption of hygienic design elements, and entering the “smart tech” food era are the top five trends that will influence the food industry this year. bcFood can help your organization outline, boost, and improve its food safety standards with the help of real-time data and process automations. Let modern technology be the driving force of your business. Learn more about the benefits of implementing our powerful all-in-one ERP solution and start creating a prevention-based food safety culture today.
How to Choose the Right ERP Vendor
How to Choose the Right ERP Vendor If your organization has taken the decision to adopt an ERP system to improve your business processes, then congratulations! You’ve already taken an important first step. Now comes the work of sifting through hundreds of different ERP solutions on the market and determining which one will best benefit your business based on goals and needs. But beware, this can add a lot of pressure to choose correctly (after all, a new ERP system is an important investment!). Luckily, we’ve compiled this guide on how to find the right ERP vendor for your business. Why finding the right ERP solution is important A good ERP solution can help your business with the following: Help you become more competitive Provide real-time insights into food warehouse processes Improve day-to-day operations Choosing an ERP vendor that will be the most helpful to your business is an important phase in the ERP implementation process and should be approached with care. You will find that many ERP vendors out there offer nearly identical solutions. This can make the selection process overwhelming. But on the other hand, it means that you have plenty of options to choose from! How to find the solution you need Choosing and implementing an ERP system is a large-scale undertaking. It’s vital that your business be prepared to dedicate a lot of time and resources to this project and that it not be treated as an afterthought if you truly want to reap all the possible benefits. Time to find a vendor you trust As the implementation process can be daunting, it’s very important to find an ERP vendor you can trust. Make sure you connect with a salesperson or account manager who is finely attuned to your exact needs and is available to answer any questions you may have. Define your company goals, budget, and timeline These days, there are ERP systems for nearly every type of industry, and the food supply chain business is no different. When trying to identify the right ERP vendor, it’s important that you first have internal meetings to decide on company goals, budget, and timeline. What might also be helpful is tracking your products through their entire lifecycle, from manufacturing to offering customer service (end-to-end). During that process, identify all of the steps involved and where an ERP solution would be most useful. Remember that ERP software may be used in several departments such as customer service, production, supply chain, and shipping. It’s imperative to think about not just the company’s goals, but the needs of different employees who will be using the software and the personal touch they will need from an ERP vendor. Criteria for ERP vendor selection Once you’ve identified all of your business needs and considered what you need from your new software, you can create a list of criteria that are important for you to have before finally choosing an ERP vendor. Remember, the vendor of the solution is just as important as the ERP system itself. When you look at your goals and requirements, also think about what kinds of features and functionality would best serve those needs. You may even try to sort these criteria into categories such as essential, important, and nice-to-have. Then, you can measure the ERP vendors you investigate against those criteria. To help you understand what some of these criteria may look like (and what we advise you add to your own list) here are some examples of what to look for in an ERP vendor: Support Many organizations that adopt an ERP solution end up experiencing the issue of little ongoing support. Once implementation is done, what kind of support does the ERP vendor offer? Are they going to be available for ongoing communication so that you can maximize the benefits of the software? Training and Documentation Does the ERP vendor offer training both during the initial installation as well as an added service in the future? As ERP solutions get updated regularly, plus, with typical employee turnover in an organization, it’s important to ask your ERP vendor what kind of training services they offer. Or, if you decide to train employees in-house, what sort of documentation and other self-training materials can the vendor provide? Reputation Perhaps before arranging a meeting with an ERP vendor, try searching for customer reviews online. This can provide you with a more honest look at what the vendor is like as well as give you an idea of whether there are any hidden costs that the vendor doesn’t readily advertise on their website. Just remember that with most ERP vendors, there will be a mix of both good and bad reviews. You want to be sure to ask more questions and/or be cautious when the reviews are mostly negative online with customers detailing several bad experiences with a certain vendor Once you know your criteria, you’ve set a standard for what kind of ERP vendor would be a good fit for your organization’s needs and how they can work with the rest of your business. Granted, you may not get every single item on your wishlist, but you can definitely come as close as possible when you know your requirements thoroughly. Even if something is missing, it’s always worth discussing with the vendor so that a potential solution can be found. Now, you can begin exploring ERP vendors and compiling a shortlist based on your company’s criteria of what will work the best. Then, it’s time to begin reaching out to different vendors to get more intimate information from each of them and ask important questions. Questions to ask an ERP vendor While most of the information and questions you ask an ERP vendor during the “discovery” process will likely be related to your criteria list, it’s also important to ask about things like what companies the ERP vendor is already serving (and case studies), their customer satisfaction levels, and their reputation in the industry. Here are some key questions you should ask when finding the right ERP solution: Can you offer a free demo and trial? The best way to know whether an ERP solution is right for your business is to take it for a test drive. It’s important that an ERP vendor be able to show you a live version of the software and also let you play around with it yourself so you can come back with more in-depth questions. How long will it take to implement this software? The quicker the implementation can be completed, the quicker your business can begin seeing profitable results. Once you’ve discussed your business needs and requirements, inquire about how long implementation might take given the size of your company. Be wary of implementation timelines that almost too good to be true: while you want to be up and running as soon as possible, this should not come at the cost of thoroughness. What do you offer in terms of support and training? You want to know how hands-on the ERP vendor is both during the implementation process and afterward in regard to updates and ongoing support. The last thing you want is to invest in an ERP solution, only to find that it’s hard to get help after implementation is complete. How does pricing work? During the criteria process you will likely have settled on a budget that your organization wants to stick with. Don’t be afraid to communicate your budget with an ERP vendor so that together you can figure out how to get the best solution and features for the best price. Can you provide references? It’s one thing to take a company’s word for it, and it’s another to hear from other clients how satisfied they have been with the ERP solution. It can also help you get valuable information from a reference who’s had a lot of time with the software. So ask for those references! How do upgrades work? It’s often a good sign when an ERP vendor regularly makes upgrades to their software because it means they are continually finding ways to make the product better. This also speaks to how flexible the software is, so be sure to ask about how the vendor handles upgrades. In addition to the above questions, here is a handy list of other questions you may consider asking during the research and discovery process: How many successful implementations have you performed? Have you worked with businesses similar to ours? Who is your ideal customer? How many full-time account managers do you have? Do you have a guarantee or warranty? How is the software licensed? How do you work to ensure customer satisfaction? How do you typically handle roadblocks with projects? How customizable is the software? How is your solution different from the competition? How is your solution specialized for my industry? How long will the implementation take in total? How quick is your response time to problems or questions? What are the future plans for the product? Is the solution scalable and to what degree? Conclusion Choosing an ERP vendor is no small task. It’s important that you are as prepared as possible and know fully what your business needs from an ERP vendor. Don’t be afraid of asking too many questions because an ERP solution is a big investment! You need to not only get the right type of software, but also the right representative who will bridge the divide between your business’ particular needs and the ERP solution. We invite you to consider bcFood as the ERP vendor for your food supply chain business. We have ample industry experience and understand the specific needs of those in the food industry. We offer accurate and real-time data as well as flexibility and scalability. Contact us today to schedule a meeting and demo of the software. We hope this article has proved insightful and provided you with the necessary tools to choose an ERP vendor.
What to Look for in a Food ERP Solution
What to Look for in a Food ERP Solution An ERP system is a powerful tool to help your food industry business execute daily activities, analyze business operations, and interpret data to optimize processes further. But are you perhaps not getting what you need out of your current ERP and looking to upgrade? Or maybe your business is growing, and you need to look at adopting an ERP system specific to the food industry. Either way, choosing an ERP system to integrate into your company is a complex task, and there can be many reasons why the current solution you have doesn’t work for your organization. In this article, we’ll teach you how to find the right ERP solution for your food industry business. There are a lot of decisions to make and multiple elements to consider when choosing a new ERP software. This guide will help you in your search for a new ERP solution that can fit your business so you can better reach your goals. Why You Might Need a New ERP Software If you are experiencing the following issues with your ERP software, it might be time to change to a more modern, robust solution: Information is not updating quick enough or in real time The current system is not scalable The system requires a lot of pricey maintenance The cost of the current ERP is not worth the results you’re getting out of the system Customers and/or employees can’t access the right information It doesn’t offer any integration with other tools The original vendor no longer supports the system, therefore there is no team to work on updating the technology; These are just a few of the many signs that your organization is in need of a new ERP system. Read on to learn factors to consider when choosing an ERP system. ERP Characteristics to Look For You want to make sure that the company goals and objectives remain at the forefront of your search for a new ERP system. It’s important to think about your goals in terms of: Growth – how can you increase your business with the current resources you have? Efficiency – how can you eliminate redundancy in your organization and roll multiple processes into one solution? Speed – how fast do you want to bring new services or products to market? Here are important characteristics and features of ERP systems to look for when choosing the right software for your industry: Vertical Focus Every company will need to cover the basics like accounting and marketing, but vertical focus refers to the elements that are specific to your industry or company. Look for a solution that’s built for your industry. Not just the functionality of the software, but also the expertise of the personnel. For example, bcFood was built on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central ERP to with enhancements specific to the needs of food companies. Flexibility While an industry-focused solution (point 1 above) will cover a lot of ground as far as your needs, there will always be items that are unique to your business. You want to look for a software that comes with flexibility built in so that it can be customized to the different ways your organization operates. Ease-of-use Converting your team to new software can be a bit of a process, so you want to ensure that onboarding for the new tool is as seamless as possible. Not only does a user-friendly software make the implementation process easier, but it also benefits your team in the long run when they have to adapt to updates to the system. When an ERP system is easy to use, the team will use the software more and they will be able to learn it much faster than with a non-user-friendly solution. A solution should be designed to make it as easy as possible for the user to perform tasks, and a big part of that is being familiar with similar software. For example, Microsoft Dynamics has the same look and feel as other Microsoft products, which are used universally, therefore employees will likely have an easier time getting used to the bcFood ERP system. Services When you get your list down to the final 2-3 ERP system candidates, you’ll most likely be looking at products with close to identical feature sets. This is where it’s important to have a checklist of all of your software needs (and even the nice-to-haves) to see which solution matches up to the best. Then, the differentiating factor should be the services side of things. Make sure you have a vendor with good implementation methodologies, integrity, and who is genuinely invested in your shared success as a business. Cost An ERP system is meant to help reduce overall costs for a company; it helps keep track of problems like delays, keeps members of the organization aligned, and eliminates duplication of work. There are two types of costs that matter when implementing a new ERP solution: upfront costs and ongoing costs. It’s important to remember that the most expensive solution might not be the right one for you. For example, some solutions might offer a huge array of features; however, if you don’t intimately understand the needs and goals of your business, you could end up paying extra for features that you will never use. Assessing the needs of your business and what you hope to get out of a solution is key when you speak with a representative of the software you’re looking into adopting. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions before you’ve decided on a software. You may think a solution has a low set-up cost, but later on, down the road, you could get trapped into having to pay for a lot of maintenance, or vice versa. Security You definitely want an ERP solution that has some of the best security measures. Whether you’re storing the data on your own servers or using a cloud solution, security should be a big item on your checklist when looking for a new ERP system. Scalability The scalability of an ERP matters a lot in terms of the costs of an ERP. You don’t want an ERP solution that can’t keep up with the growth of your business, so selecting software with the most updated technology is key. A scalable solution on the latest technology is a better investment as it keeps you up-to-date longer and won’t require you to to have to rush out an spend more time and money on something newer when your current software becomes obsolete. You might need to upgrade memory and storage requirements to match the growth of your business, therefore this is something you should have on your checklist when looking for a new ERP software. Time The time it takes to implement the new ERP solution can depend on many things, including: The size of the company The solution needed The team in charge of implementing the software How long it takes to create complex roadmaps Piloting the test phase to see how everything works The type and level of communication between implementation stakeholders Having a clear scope of expectations and timelines with regard to the project. In most cases, implementation can take anywhere from 9 to 12 months from beginning to end. Before you start your search for an ERP solution, it is critical that you honestly assess your organization’s infrastructure and determine that you have the necessary resources for implementing the new system. Now that you know what steps to take and what to look for when choosing an ERP system for your business, how do you start trying to find a vendor that can readily meet your needs? We’ll cover that in the next part of this guide on finding the right ERP solution for your business.
Catch Weight Management and the Food Industry
Catch Weight Management and the Food Industry If you’re in the food industry as a manufacturer or food processor, understanding catch weight is crucial to keeping your business afloat. It keeps your profits high, and your customers satisfied. Here’s what you need to know about catch weight management to make sure you’re doing it correctly. What is Catch Weight? In the food industry, “catch weight” refers to the exact weight of a food item. It’s used for pricing food items that vary in sizes such as meats, blocks of cheeses, fruits, and vegetables, and are typically sold in bulk. For example, you can find chicken breasts sold in packages of four at your local grocery store. But these packages won’t all be the same price because they have different weights. If all the packages were priced the same, one customer might end up with 23 ounces of chicken and another with 26 ounces for the same price. The packages of chicken are priced according to weight, so customers pay according to weight. Why Is It Important? Catch weight is essential for pricing, but you should also know the average weight of the food you manufacture, produce, or store. So, for example, if you’re the meat packing plant that packages those chicken breasts, you should use the average weight of a chicken breast. That will help you when you are making estimates about your supply. To differentiate between these two numbers, we will say “average weight” and “catch weight.” Sometimes average weight is also referred to as “nominal weight.” Where Did the Term “Catch Weight” Come From? The term “catch weight” has its origins in professional boxing and wrestling. Boxers and wrestlers are paired up according to their weights. However, athletes used to bulk up in the time leading up to a fight, giving them an unexpected weight advantage over their opponent. Some athletes ended up getting hurt because they were fighting someone who should have been in a weight class above them. To increase fairness, athletic associations started implementing catch weights. Because of these rules, wrestlers and boxers are now required to weigh-in right before getting in the ring. If they no longer qualify for a specific weight class, officials know right away. They can prevent athletes from getting injured due to weight discrepancy. Why is Catch Weight Management Important in the Food Industry? In the food industry, catch weight does not carry the same implications for health and safety that it does in professional sports. However, it impacts your time and money. Without proper catch weight food management, your business and its reputation will suffer. Food producers can track both the average weight of an item and catch weight of their items through catch weight management. Food processors and manufacturers should all have a working knowledge of catch weight management. Businesses who don’t use effective catch weight food management constantly fight off complaints. Getting Complaints & Losing Money – Problems with Pricing Based on Average Weight If you priced your food items based on average weight, there would be times when an item weighs significantly under or over the average weight. If the item is underweight, the customer or business you’re selling to will feel that they are getting ripped off. They’re paying for more food than they are actually getting. You’ll have to deal with their complaints and spend time resolving the error. Ultimately, you may lose their business and your good reputation. Many companies purposefully aim to produce products that weight slightly more than the listed weight. That allows them to have a buffer in case they fall short. Over time, those expenses add up, but it’s worth it to prevent a scenario where the customer feels you’re constantly shorting them. In any case, having proper catch weight food management in place will help you avoid costly errors. bcFood’s Catch Weight Module Tracking the catch weight of all your food items manually is costly. You’ll pay for countless hours of labor while also running the risk of costly human errors. With bcFood’s Catch Weight Module, you can sell your items by the case but price them by the pound. The software keeps track of both the average and the nominal weight of all your food items. You’re able to determine weight tolerance percentages for each of your food items. This way, you can always be sure that your catch weight values fall within a reasonable range of average weight. At times when you’re outside the tolerance percentage, you can adjust before the item ships. This consistency will increase your customer satisfaction! Our software is compatible with electronic scales, so you won’t even need to buy new equipment. Accurately recording catch and nominal weight is easy with our software. bcFood’s Catch Weight Module saves you time and money. It makes sure you are always being accurate and delivering exactly what your customers are paying for. Getting started is easy! We implement the software and train your employees on how to use it properly. Your whole company will adjust with ease. If you still have questions, we’re always just one phone call away. Contact bcFood to learn more about our effective catch weight management solution!
The Importance of License Plating For The Warehouse Environment
The Importance of License Plating For The Warehouse Environment License plating in the food supply chain refers to how inventory items are tracked throughout the warehouse environment. A license plate is a number assigned to each containment unit, which allows for better grouping and management of inventory. This, in turn, helps businesses in the food supply chain greatly improve operational efficiency by reducing the number of scans necessary to enter a transaction—allowing businesses to overcome a lot of common food supply chain challenges. In this post, we’ll talk about license plating in the warehouse, why it’s important, how it can help improve your food supply chain business and how the right software can help you implement better, more efficient license plating into your business. What is License Plating? While you may have an image of those hard plates that don the front and back of every car, license plating can actually be used for warehouse management and efficiency as well. With license plating, only a barcode is needed to scan and identify all of the product information. License plates are defined for different types of containers such as bins, totes, or railcars, though the most common term used is a pallet. The pallet becomes its own license plate record with the information about the items inside which can be detected with one single barcode scan. With license plates, a lot of different information can be associated with a license plate such as: Item Quantity Serial number Manufacture date Expiration date Lot number Location; and more. More inventory flows through warehouses now more than ever before, so having a system in which items can be traced and processes quickly, is important in making it easier than ever before to handle large amounts of inventory. Read on to discover more about how license plating can greatly improve your business in the food supply chain. How Can License Plating Help Your Business? The purpose of license plating in the food supply chain is to keep track of inventory by grouping and managing all of the items and pallets via license plate numbers throughout the food supply chain. License plate numbers distinguish each item for better lot management and traceability, and it also reduces the number of scans needed to enter a transaction. If you use an even more advanced version of license plating through a warehouse management software, you can further improve and track items in your warehouse. License plating lets you not only track groups of items by number, but it also can apply to the base distribution and the shop floor control. More specifically, license plating can help food supply chain businesses be more efficient in multiple ways, including: Receiving shipments faster by letting you enter license plate information ahead of time. Monitoring inventory items by license plate to detect any problems and proactively fix them. Identifying popular warehouse items to make sure routes for those items are fast and efficient. Tracking items in a pallet and ensuring everything is in the right place where it should be in the food supply chain process. Tracing containers, maximizing space in the warehouse, and improving load accuracy. Creating better customer satisfaction in tandem with faster updates as a result of being able to scan license plate numbers quickly. Improving load management functionality. Speeding up overall warehouse operations by minimizing manual data entry and eliminating human error. If you aren’t already implementing license plating into your business, it is well worth the investment. By using ERP software, you can facilitate license plating and make your food supply chain business much more efficient. With bcFood, you can create new license plate records in multiple ways and define the items in each record. Warehouse Management With bcFood’s License Plate Records bcFood software provides a way to set up licensing within your business’ food supply chain. You can set up licenses to represent pallets, totes, bins, or however you prefer to organize your inventory. Here are some of the most important features offered: Streamlined pallet movement – You can track in detail different items by variant, lot number, serial number, and weight to make it easier to move items through your warehouse without the need for manual data entry with Dynamics. Tailored configuration – You can configure your license plating the way you want to reflect the specific way your business stacks and stories items, and configure items in a way that is most convenient for your vendors and customers. Robust tools – The features accompanying bcFood’s software allow users to take advantage of many features including counting, building, transferring, merging, and separating license plates with little fuss. Now that you’ve learned more about license plating in the warehouse as it applies to the food supply chain, we’re here to answer any questions you have about implementing the right software for your business. Contact us today to speak about the best possible ERP solutions for your business. We hope this article has helped highlight the importance of license plating and how it can make your business better and build better trust with your customers.
Maintaining Your Grower Relationships The Right Way
Maintaining Your Grower Relationships The Right Way If you are involved in the food industry, the food supply chain, or both, it’s no secret that having proper accounting in place for food growers can be tough. In fact, one of the most complex aspects of the food supply chain is the one between the food processor and the growers who sell the product to those groups. One of the main reasons why this relationship and maintaining proper grower accounting is so difficult is because growing can often be unpredictable. As the final product quality and amount affect the payment, it’s impossible to have a consistent payment per quarter, month, etc. as each batch of product can look so different from the last. These are the issues we will address in this post. We will walk you through helpful tips on maintaining better relationships with growers and how grower accounting software can help your business. Why is Grower Management Important? If your company processes multiple agricultural products, then it is likely that you buy products from multiple growers. As we mentioned above, maintaining grower relationships and having the right payment system down can be tricky. Food growth is often unpredictable and requires a carefully thought out plan for payment to ensure you are getting the right price for the product while also not underpaying the grower. A robust grower management software allows you to set up accounts for every grower your company does business with and ensures a smoother relationship by: Allowing you to trace the products purchased from an individual grower. Making room for specific information to be entered such as the ranch, field, or block for a certain grower. Keeping close track of receipts and payment history with each grower. bcFood’s grower management and accounting tools make it much easier to maintain your grower relationships and ensure a smooth payment system is in place. Read more about this feature that we offer here. Tips for Maintaining Better Grower Relationships Grower accounting software is a crucial part of maintaining good grower relationships, and with the right technology for your business, here are some important tips that will further a positive relationship between grower and processor: Understand the grower An ability to empathize is vital for any relationship, and the processor-grower relationship is no different. Today, food growing and the technical parts of the food supply chain are much more complicated than ever before, and while taking account of each small detail can get overwhelming, it’s important to never forget the human people you’re dealing with at the end of the day. A good way to maintain a healthy relationship with your growers is to schedule regular meetings, preferably in person so you have a better mutual understanding of what each party is trying to accomplish and the different struggles your growers may be facing. Having these strong relationships not only benefits your relationships to growers but your overall business and customer relationships as well. Implement Consistent Processes The last thing you want to do is make up rules and procedures with a grower as you go along; this only adds to the confusion of an already complicated relationship. Be upfront right from the very beginning on what expectations are and create a plan that both your business and your growers can sign off on so you always have that as a reference moving forward with no exceptions. Scrutinize Where You Spend Your Time It can often feel like there is much to accomplish when it comes to grower accounting, which can get overwhelming. You also want to avoid getting lost in the redundant tasks that can come with this type of business. Using a grower accounting software can help you automate the everyday mundane tasks so you can put more of your energies toward cultivating better relationships within your own business and with your growers. If you’re feeling lost on where your priorities should lie, then consider carrying out an audit of the activities of your company—specifically with your grower management and relations. This helps you can a clear, overall view of tasks, how much time is spent on them and which items need fixing that you perhaps didn’t notice before. Doing this will allow you to prioritize better and put more of your time toward tasks that keep you and your employees engaged with the company. Invest in Being Efficient In the food supply chain, efficiency is of the utmost importance. Make so you allocate money to ensuring these relationships thrive and that there is clear communication. This could mean hiring an employee whose sole responsibility is to manage these relationships. You may also want to pay for a software that provides clear daily insight into whether goals are being met and/or if any problems need to be addressed. How Can a Grower Accounting & Management Software Help? bcFood’s software helps you seamlessly set up payment systems and get to the root of how your grower and payment activities are affecting the health of your business. Our software can: Setup each grower – Having a specific record tied to each grower makes it easy to pinpoint the origin of a commodity and connect it to a ranch, farm, and field and the grower associated with that group. Integrate vendors – You can easily link grower records to vendors while at the same time filter out growers and vendors to get the better visibility that you need. Segment commodity items – You can get granular with specific commodities you buy, such as specific crop years and different product types. Payment schedules – Lets you get in-depth with payments so that you can set up different payments for various harvests, final payments, progress payments, and loan payments. Flexible payouts – You can input multiple payees and also split up grower payments across entities. Quality testing rates – You can ensure a commodity’s testing results directly affect the final price you pay to a grower. With bcFood ERP to help you, many of the complexities of payment and grower management are removed from the processor-grower relationship, making it a much easier process to maintain grower relationships and pay growers efficiently. As a result, you can put your customers first because you’ve created streamlined internal processes with growers. Contact us today to speak about implementing our software in your business.
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- What to Look for in a Food ERP Solution July 16, 2019
- Catch Weight Management and the Food Industry June 10, 2019
- The Importance of License Plating For The Warehouse Environment May 20, 2019
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