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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.