Food manufacturers face a unique set of challenges on top of the already existing pressure to produce quality products and provide impeccable service to customers. Of those challenges, food safety and cost reduction are leading pain points, as both can be costly from a financial and reputational perspective.

As a food and beverage production business grows and becomes more complex, the systems that once served it may not be up to standard. Pen and paper methods and small-scale accounting software may be more of a liability than a reliable approach. Plus, with consumers demanding to know more about where their food is coming from, traceability, transparency, and real-time data are critical.

These days there is a real need for technology to help manufacturing plants run smoother and smarter. Understanding when and why a company should invest in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system designed with efficiency, safety, accountability, and food manufacturing at the forefront, is necessary for growth.

In this article, we’re discussing the role a food-specific ERP plays in a food and beverage manufacturer’s daily operations and what to look for when adopting one or upgrading a current system.

What is a food-specific ERP software?

ERP software is a management tool that uses a system of integrated apps to optimize business operations. This software provides an all-encompassing look at how a company and its employees are performing in different components of the business in real-time. Typically, ERPs are categorized by size, technology, and industry.

However, not all ERP systems fit every type of manufacturer.

A food-specific ERP is designed to streamline processes unique to food and beverage manufacturers and bridge gaps in areas that traditional methods cannot. As the industry continues to grow, small and mid-size food and beverage manufacturers that once relied on spreadsheets and point solutions are finding they need something more integrated and automated to help minimize the risk of human error.

Food and beverage manufacturers have responsibilities unique to perishable products, like shelf-life, safe ingredients, consistency, and product safety. Also, food and beverage production companies must adhere to labeling and packaging requirements, manage recipes, maintain product quality, and implement safety precautions.

That’s a lot of moving parts to juggle, and traditional methods aren’t able to keep up with the demand and growth. ERP software designed for those purposes helps companies stay organized and competitive.

What are the major benefits of investing in food-specific ERP software?

According to Panorama Consulting Solutions, there are various reasons why companies choose to implement an ERP, the most valuable of which include improving business performance, reinforcing company growth, and reducing working capital. Regardless of the reason behind a company’s decision, one thing is certain: the companies that implement ERPs are seeing major success.

Main Street Gourmet is a frozen bakery manufacturer in Ohio. Before implementing JustFood, Main Street Gourmet was using various independent platforms to run their business, which resulted in data integration issues, forecasting problems, and friction between employees and processes.

Now, they are producers of custom baked goods for both national and specialty food stores thanks to the insights gained on their business operations, production, and warehouse processes with the JustFood ERP.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the significant benefits of integrating a food-specific ERP system.

Reduce costs

Food and beverage companies can cut down on operating expenses significantly with ERP software. The Aberdeen Group reports that small manufacturing plants are seeing a reduction in operating costs by 11% just by switching from a standalone solution to an ERP system. What’s more, companies are seeing an improvement in office processes by 77% and an increase in real-time data visibility by 48%.

Because companies are able to access a holistic view of how operations are performing with ERP software, they can quickly identify where cost and waste can be reduced. This advantage can set food and beverage manufacturers apart from their competition.

Optimize company operations

With food-specific ERP software, not only are food and beverage companies able to cut down on costs, but they can find other ways to improve company efficiency as a whole. According to the TEC ERP Software Facts & Stats 2018 database, companies who implement an ERP reduce process times, increase collaboration, and have access to enterprise-wide, real-time data—all of which are imperative to optimization.

As a company grows, the processes required to keep things running tend to become more complicated. ERP software ensures that all processes are running as they should be, and it helps to identify issues before they occur or spin out of control.

Increase flexibility

The same study from the Aberdeen Group reports that 96% of growing businesses who excel in their respective industries rely on an ERP system. What’s more, 95% of companies saw an improvement in their processes after adopting an ERP system.

The versatility of the ERP system means food and beverage companies can use a specialized ERP that works best for their individual needs, products, and goals. As a business grows, using a system that can scale and evolve with a company is ideal.

Food-specific ERP software is designed to help food and beverage companies grow, optimize, and manage business better. Implementing an ERP system, whether for the first time or upgrading an existing one, may seem intimidating or daunting, but the benefits far outweigh any short-term concerns.

What makes a great food-specific ERP software?

We know that ERP software is vital to the success and efficiency of food and beverage manufacturing companies, but what makes one ERP system better than another?

Let’s take a look at some of the critical indicators of a best-in-class ERP system.

End-to-end management

Managing the moving parts of a food and beverage company has never been easier thanks to cloud-based ERP software.

By moving data and workflows from multiple, independent platforms into a single cloud ERP, food and beverage manufacturers can better organize and access their data. That way, they can ensure superior data integrity, production management, quality control, forecasting, and more.

The right ERP software allows users to see all operations at a glance, as well as easily pull reports, locate lot numbers, and identify potential issues.

Real-time reporting capabilities and a centralized database

Competing in today’s modern manufacturing industry means having access to accurate data whenever it’s needed. Cloud-based ERP systems, like Aptean’s JustFood ERP software, allow users to automatically run reports, keep numbers updated, and access data anytime and anywhere with a fully-integrated software solution.

Also, instead of relying on employees to remember and retain information about the products and the plant as a whole, a food-specific ERP can keep manufacturing businesses’ institutional history and data organized and secure. That way the staff has access to all employees’ knowledge base—whether they’ve been working at a facility for a few months or a few years—all within the ERP.

Streamlined security measures

Not all security measures are the same across every ERP software. Opt for a system that offers straightforward authorizations and user permissions across the platform. This reduces the opportunity for a breach or any unauthorized access.

Intuitive user experience

Implementing a new system can be an intimidating process not just for executives but for floor workers as well. The right ERP system, however, should be easy to learn and intuitive to use for all employees, which will help reduce friction and minimize the learning curve.

If the system is intuitive to learn and use, it’s more likely that employees will stick to the protocol as outlined in the system instead of opting for shortcuts or falling back on outdated processes.

If the ERP software is easy to use, it’s more likely to be used correctly.

Invest in software that works for your company

It’s no secret that ERP software is a vital part of manufacturing operations. According to the ERP Software Market 2018 Global Trends report, the ERP software market is expected to reach a projected growth of 47 billion dollars by 2022. What’s more, nearly 50% of manufacturers are planning on or have already begun upgrading their ERP systems.

Food and beverage manufacturers need to consider the benefits of using a modern ERP system designed to improve the business as it relates to the company’s specific needs. The right food-specific system will provide transparency and accuracy through real-time data, an encompassing view of company operations, and by automating core company functions.

If you currently use an ERP software and haven’t updated it in a while, it may be time to audit your system and see if there is any room for improvement. And if you don’t have an ERP system yet, now is the perfect time to explore your options.

We can help you upgrade your current ERP system or implement a new solution fit for your company’s needs. Contact us today, and a member of our team will help you get started.