Most ERP companies for the Food & Beverage industry are aware of the challenges that business owners face and so develop a product to eliminate their business pains. Within the food and beverage industry, there are industry-specific ERP systems that are better suited to a particular micro-vertical, for example, meat, fresh produce, ingredients and so on.
Prospective buyers should consider industry-specific ERP providers, as more often than not, they transpire to be the specialists that understand your exact business requirements and have the technical capabilities to make your operations more efficient.
Process Manufacturing Functionality
Food and Beverage companies need an ERP that is able to adapt to their specific manufacturing requirements. An ERP’s ability to manage the manufacturing process saves time and money by maximising staff hours. It ensures accuracy, gauges organisational productivity, identifies weaknesses and automates much of the supply chain. Throughout the production process ingredients, materials and resources need to be tracked and traced to give concise information on product and batch yield.
This area of a Food ERP is especially beneficial to businesses as it completes tasks such as production control, quality analysis and distribution schedule, which often consume and tie up many hours of staff time by manually inputting data.
- Production cost analysis
- Quality analysis
- Resource planning and management
- Job costing
Human Capital Requirements
ERP has huge human capital management capabilities and is one of the reasons many businesses invest in a system. Managers can plan and analyse human capital requirements easily and effectively with much of the system being automated – by automating tasks such as administration and tax calculations, ERP severely reduces the potential for human error, therefore, results in increased efficiency and fewer financial losses due to inaccuracy.
- Employee performance management
- Enterprise resource management
Sales & Inventory Management
A key requirement for any food or beverage manufacturer is to have sales and inventory management as part of their ERP. Having the ability to track, trace and locate inventory within a business is fundamental to overall operations. This Data is then linked with Sales order data so at any one time managers know what stock they have, where the stock is and what is required to replenish stock levels to the optimum amount. All of these function ultimately save business time whilst increasing data accuracy and business efficiency. Ideally, managers want this information displayed in easy to understand dashboard-style graphics so that real-time information is easily accessible at any point.
- Dashboard Analytics
- Custom Dashboards/Widgets
Promotions and offers are a key characteristic of the food & beverage sector, therefore, a requirement for an ERP. Every company has different buy-in and sell prices with multiple price lists allocated to different customers, therefore, the ERP a business chooses has to have the capabilities to offer advanced pricing and promotion functionality, based on time, customer group, product quantity and so on. Automating these processes against sale orders can help to free up resources and save time.
- Demand planning
- Order to dispatch process
Supply Chain Management
A robust Supply Chain Management System is of utmost importance to the success of companies operating in the food and beverage industry. By implementing ERP, Supply Chain Management is greatly improved as the system manages complex processes within procurement, distribution and planning.
- Production Performance data
Most businesses operating in the Food & Beverage sector will have van sales as part of their operations, especially SME’s that depend on independent retailers for a significant part of their business -where delivery drivers are out and sell on-the-fly. The requirement here is daily reconciliation with head office, from a debtor, stock credit, and cash management perspective. Stock is accounted for in real-time through handheld devices when the stock is sold from the van. Similarly, if the van driver’s mobile device doesn’t have a network connection, it has to reconcile sales data on return to head office, at the end of the day.
- On the fly sales
- Real-time stock updates via network
- End of day updates when mobile device returns to base
The ERP has to integrate seamlessly into an existing business model and where possible, get the most use out of existing factory floor hardware, for example, integration with handheld devices, bar-code devices, label printing and weighing. Connecting back office processes with shop floor processes offers food and beverage manufacturers the opportunity to leverage data from their operations and make decisions based on that data. Integration with Shop Floor devices completes the circle and truly extends the factory solution for the food and beverage industry.
- Hardware integration
- Mobile devices
- Barcode scanning
- Weighing scales
- High-speed label printers
Controlling the regulatory obligations in your food or beverage business can be a time consuming and detailed job, however, with the right ERP, a lot of regulatory control can be automated. Food and Beverage managers need to be able to track and trace all inventory items and ingredients at item and batch level in the event of a product recall.
- Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP)
- Product Recalls
Maintenance and Support
ERP Maintenance and Support is a big requirement of Food and Beverage companies. Ensure your ERP company is able to provide the technical support and the maintenance your system needs.
Ensure your ERP system provider is in the business for the long-term, which combats against the system going ‘out of date’ or ‘not being supported’. Like that, ensure your provider schedules regular updates as part of your support contract so that your software is always running the latest version, meaning your business is keeping up with the latest technology and manufacturing methodology.
- Remote login support
- Support desk availability
- System updates
- On-site maintenance and support
Visibility and User Experience
Transparency, visibility and UX are key when choosing an ERP for a food and beverage business. The system needs to be easily navigable so that users can quickly identify key areas that relate to their job.
Dashboards and Widgets play a big part here as they display key information to users in easy to understand graphic form. Ideally, this data should be updated in real-time to display the most up to date information, therefore, it would be wise to opt for a real-time ERP where data is updated instantaneously across the entire system.
- Key Information
In conclusion, there are a lot of requirements to meet the needs of Food and Beverage managers when choosing an ERP. Micro-vertical solutions can sometimes be a good fit but it’s wise to look at more generic ERP too, as they may be more flexible with add-on style solutions. Finally, choose an ERP that is able to grow with your company, powering you to scale on demand and add more licences as you see fit.
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