This blog post was written in collaboration between JustFood and Joe Velez, Senior Consultant at Ultra Consultants.

Ultra and JustFood have been working closely together with a couple food manufacturing companies. One to note is a global snack food company, one of the world’s largest producers of salted snack products in addition to branded, private-label packaged snacks.

The company had tried to solve their growth challenges through ERP before, without success. By the time they chose JustFood in the ERP selection process, they were considerably overdue for some upgrades. As a growing company with production facilities across the U.S., there were several things holding them back: legacy systems, inefficient processes and unreliable data, to name a few.

7 Common Concerns Among Food Manufacturing Companies

Through initial discussions between the company and JustFood and through later discovery sessions, a few priorities became clear. These priorities are extremely common among food manufacturing companies, and are recognized throughout the industry.

1. Desire for Single Version of the Truth

Food manufacturing companies need one reliable version of the truth. When JustFood became initially involved in this project, multiple facilities were using different methods of measuring and reporting. Each location was on its own schedule, and it wasn’t working.

To improve the situation, management realized they needed quicker access to more accurate data to help them make sense of the organization as a whole.

2. Decision Making Skills

With a new ERP solution, a company goal was to have the ability to execute faster and better decision making than with the current system and processes in place.

3. Standardization

It is common for major food manufacturing companies to have multiple locations in order to meet product demand across a wider geographical range.

The company in this case has multiple locations throughout the United States, therefore it is important for each site to have access to and show data within the same system. With the JustFood software, our client wanted to streamline best practices and  initiate common, standardized processes across business locations.

4. Enable Growth

We rarely meet a client who isn’t looking to significantly expand their business in some form. While this client is currently the largest manufacturer of their kind in the United States, they still wanted a solution that would enable them to grow to a desired size, and take into account potential future acquisitions.

5. Performance Measurement

Decision makers at the company had the requisite knowledge and desire to make aggressive, evidence-based decisions, but not the tools to make the necessary measurements. Measuring performance and analyzing the impact of changes was a dark art that didn’t always generate the best results.

6. Elimination of Inefficiencies

Process inefficiencies were rampant in several key processes. From production scheduling to financial reporting, there was too much duplication of effort and reliance on manual data entry. This characteristic of their current state was directly impeding output.

7. Recall & Traceability

It is essential for food manufacturing companies to have solid steps in place to help with recall and traceability. At our client, these procedures had not been developed to their optimal state. While the company had always been strong in this area, they recognized the value of making further investments to be on the cutting edge of food safety.

Project Background

Ultra Consultants is currently working with a mid-size food manufacturer headquartered in the Midwest on implementing the JustFood solution. The JustFood team of solution specialists has integrated itself with the project team and project management office (PMO) run by Ultra.

All of the items above are problems many food producers face. However, our client was a bit different in the fact that they also faced a unique production line constraint. They’d traditionally planned production by flavor clean-out (e.g. from regular to BBQ), but those plans were complicated by changeovers on the bagging machine.

Changing bag size was a time consuming process, and calculating the most efficient way of producing the required combinations of flavor and bag size was overwhelming. The client needed a system that could juggle the competing priorities and maximize productivity and throughput.

The promise of getting this issue addressed was one of the key drivers for selecting JustFood.

Project Overview

Below is some detail about the scope of this implementation:

Business Scope

The business footprint for this implementation consists of four manufacturing locations in the United States, in addition to a headquarters location. The entire US workforce will be converted during the implementation.

Climate

While the company has always high growth potential, their business operations have been hampered by disparate business systems across locations with inefficient processes which rely on one-off tools and manual intervention.

Functional Footprint

All end-to-end business processes are in scope with exception of CRM and Configuration Management.

Deployment

Our strategy is to deploy the new solution to the entire company in one business release across all locations. To ensure a robust solution that satisfies the business requirements across all location processes, a team of business process leads was identified with accountability across the enterprise.

In addition, a super-user structure has been implemented to reduce implementation risk and lock-in future state process maturity.

Objectives

During the initial phase of this implementation (Initiate) we defined a number of critical objectives for this implementation. These objectives (shown below) have driven all design, build and deployment activities.

So far, the joint Ultra and JustFood implementation team has progressed this project effort through the first three stages of an implementation project:

  • Intitiate: where the project is launched
  • Design: where design workshops are completed and future state process prints are defined
  • Build: where business solution components are developed, delivered and tested

We now are positioned for the Deploy phase and are conducting final acceptance testing with the business owners for a mid-Q2 2017 go-live.

Why It’s Important to Understand Client Operations

To solve the problems the client was facing, it was important for us to thoroughly understand the company and what makes them tick, including processes, culture and professional dynamic.

To achieve this understanding, JustFood collaborated with the client’s team of career food professionals. As analysts and implementers with their own first-hand food industry experience, the client resources were able to quickly identify the issues and begin finding ways for JustFood to solve them.

JustFood implementers worked with the team from the company and from Ultra to map out all the company processes and evaluate them. Some were strong and only needed to be applied in JustFood. Others needed improvement. The JustFood team’s familiarity with food industry best practices became invaluable in those cases.

According to JustFood Director of Project Management Jennifer Spanos, “We always take a consultative approach. We’ll work with customers to make sure things get done the way they expect. We don’t want to turn their worlds upside-down. But we’re also not afraid to challenge them when we think there may be a better way.”

In most areas, JustFood turned out to have the right features and functionality right out of the box.

“One of the things I love best about implementing JustFood,” said Jim Wilson, JustFood Project Manager on this project, “is that we usually end up doing very little customization. When you take a product that’s built for food and apply it to a food producer, it just works. There was very little missing out-of-the-box that we had to go and build. That makes things easier for everyone, not to mention quicker and cheaper.”

Custom Solution Additions

While the customer was able to start working with the JustFood solution out-of-the-box for the most part, there was one part that was built just for the company – a custom yield report. JustFood already had yield reporting features included, but the company wanted some critical yield metrics calculated and presented a certain way. JustFood developers delivered.

The solution to their challenging production line dilemma turned out to be manageable with features already part of the core software. Allergen management and auto-prioritization features were a perfect fit for the kind of multivariate decision-making the company engages in on a daily basis. Built-in drag-and-drop production scheduling made it easy to apply the insights.

The company is now well on its way to having the kind of cross-organizational visibility and analytics they need to take their company to the next level. Having already achieved status as the world’s largest producer in their industry despite using unreliable legacy software, leaders at the company expect their adoption of JustFood will dramatically accelerate their already impressive growth.

Benefits to Choosing JustFood

The JustFood approach and methodologies are integrated with the ERP platform they deliver, which is Microsoft Dyamics NAV. This setup delivers a clear value-add for the implementation project. Some of the value drivers behind JustFood include the following.

Knowledge of the Food Industry

Consultants at JustFood understand the food industry and are able to quickly understand current state shop floor process conditions, apply best practices and collaborate to define a high value future state solution. Their background in the food industry needs and typical solutions has been evident and has reduced the effort and time required to reach workable process designs.

Business Event Process Decomposition

Future state business process flows, which are derived during Ultra’s Business Process Improvement cycle, were easily supported by the JustFood Business Event process decomposition tools. These tools allowed the team to quickly define design workshop sequences, and process test plans that covered all critical process check-points.

Building on the Business Event structures, the project team and business process owners leveraged JustFood standard Business Event documentation templates to create end user documentation which serves as both solution documentation and training material for end users.

Because the design workshops were performed within the Business Event framework, the sessions produced the solution design, solution documentation and provided an education platform for super-users assigned.

Methodology

JustFood’s methodology is flexible and was easily integrated into the Ultra Implementation framework, allowing an efficient project governance approach and tactical flow

These highlights illustrate some of the value-added collaboration that Ultra and JustFood have achieved.  The JustFood team has been an effective partner for this implementation. As we seek to deliver business transformations for future clients in the food industry, Ultra’s strong relationship with JustFood will continue to strengthen and grow.

To learn more about Ultra Consultants, visit their website here..