Your Questions, Answered: Choosing a New ERP for Your Food & Beverage Business

Trends come and go, but their impact on you and your ability to run an efficient and profitable business remain. For example, ongoing pandemic-fueled supply chain issues, the continued emphasis on sustainability and the increasing popularity of plant-based and functional food products are just a few 2022 food and beverage trends that continue to strongly influence your food and beverage manufacturing business decision making in 2023. And when you combine these impactful trends with the continuing labor shortages and rising inflation, you have a lot on your plate.

The question is, can your disconnected, aging business management solutions help you handle these—and situations like these—in the future?

It’s debatable.

But what’s not debatable is the fact that a modern, comprehensive and industry-specific Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution like FoodBusiness ERP (built-in Sage X3 and configured by NexTec Group) can.  

If you’re not sure what an ERP solution is (and does) and how an ERP implementation will affect your business, then the following ERP FAQs will help.

1. What is ERP software and what are its benefits?

In a nutshell, ERP software is software that connects your business end-to-end, facilitating the stream of information flowing from—and to—every department. An ERP solution acts as the central database for your entire organization. It enables your staff to access the same updated, accurate information at the same time, supporting company-wide collaboration and data-driven business decisions.

With industry-specific ERP software, or food software, you can manage all areas of your food and beverage business, including production, operations, finance, food safety, compliance and recall management from a single system.

You can also:

  • Manage multi-company finance and operations in one solution
  • Support your SQF, BRCGS, FSMA, GMP, HACCP and HARCP compliance standards
  • Ensure safety with full lot/serial traceability, product recall management and comprehensive allergen tracking
  • Simplify production scheduling and minimize production line setup
  • Manage multi-facility operations and improve inventory management

FoodBusiness ERP customer Joseph Wiley, MIS Director, Elmer Candy, has experienced the benefits of food business software firsthand and says, “We’ve gone from a centralized to a decentralized model of data collection. Before, everything was written down and passed up the chain to be entered into the software. Now, we have an RFID network throughout the facility, so we capture data at the source. Not only is that more accurate, but it gives us real-time data for rapid decision-making.”

Wiley also says he and his team can “quickly and easily trace raw ingredients from initial receipt through final sale.”

2. Why is industry-specific ERP software superior to generic ERP software?

Generic or standardized ERP software benefits businesses in every industry by providing a centralized solution that collates and synchronizes data, integrates company-wide processes and streamlines inefficient workflows. What it doesn’t do is specifically address the unique food safety, inventory, production, allergen management and item tracing requirements of your food and beverage business. This means it must undergo an expensive and extensive customization process for it to do exactly what you want and need it to do.

Selecting an ERP solution built specifically for food and beverage manufacturers and processors will help you manage the unique challenges of the industry more effectively, equipping you with the tools you need to ensure success.

3. Is my company ready for an ERP solution?

Determining whether your company is ready to implement an ERP solution or not is essential, and it begins with asking yourself these important questions:  

  • Are we able to grow with our current software systems without incurring additional costs and complications?
  • Are we limiting our access to reliable data and deep, business-growing insights by relying on accounting software that doesn’t integrate with other mission-critical business systems?
  • Are we spending more time on manual tasks and workarounds than on actual production, thus reducing employee productivity and increasing our overall costs?

If the answer is “yes” to any or all of these questions, then your company is not only ready but past ready to implement a new ERP solution that can deliver notable gains in efficiency, productivity, growth and cost savings.

4. How is an ERP solution implemented?

Once you’ve confirmed that your company is ready to implement food business software, you must consider your deployment options. Typically, you have two options: on-premises or the cloud.

At FoodBusiness ERP, we often recommend a cloud deployment for a few reasons, starting with the fact that cloud ERP solutions do not require the purchase or installment of hardware. Instead, the software is hosted by a third-party provider over the internet, which means you and your team have remote access to all of your vital business information from wherever you are, whenever you need it.

Eliminating costly hardware also eliminates the need for an IT department to maintain, update and secure it. These are services provided by your ERP vendor, which provides you and your IT staff more time to focus on other important tasks, such as growing your bottom line.

5. What departments are involved in an ERP implementation?

You now know that an ERP solution is designed to integrate all aspects of your business, but does it then follow that every department must be involved in its implementation? The short answer is “yes.” Every department and every team member will be affected by new food software, so they should be included in the entire process,  from getting their opinions on what software features and functionalities they believe will be beneficial and keeping them in the loop regarding any hiccups to informing them of all implementation timelines.

6. Will ERP software training be required for staff?

Your staff will need to be trained to use your new food business software. If they’re not, they won’t know how to use it, and the implementation will have been for naught. In a Training Industry article, authors M. Lowrey Harton-Cowell and Brenda H. Thompson, MA, discuss the importance of training, noting, “[E]mployees must use [new employee-facing technology] for it to succeed. Otherwise, it will never deliver on promised results or anticipated return on investment (ROI). Instead, it will gather digital dust.”

7. What will the ROI of our ERP investment be?

According to a Forrester Total Economic Impact study, the overall ROI for Sage X3 is 213%. That said, it’s difficult to put a monetary figure on the ROI of an ERP solution, but you can anticipate the following returns—each of which helps you maximize productivity and enhance profitability:

  • Real-time and end-to-end visibility into your operations
  • Meeting and exceeding production goals with automated processes
  • Creating fluid workflows between departments for more cost-effective processes, better data and greater efficiency 

Riley from Elmer Candy has this to say about his company’s ROI with FoodBusiness ERP: “The entire system will pay for itself within one season. The savings are visible and measurable.”

8. How should we prepare for an ERP implementation?

Preparing for an ERP implementation begins with the following steps:

i) Create a Project Team

Assemble a team made up of employees spanning from the C-suite to the departmental level who can assess the features, functions and requirements that are essential to the success of your food and beverage company.

ii) Perform a Business Process Review

The project team will need to help identify areas that would benefit from a connected business management system.

iii) Choose the Right Solution

Once the business process review is complete, select the right solution based on your company’s specific requirements and processes (a consulting partner like NexTec Group can help!).

9. What will be required of our staff/company? 

The biggest and most important thing your staff can do is support the ERP implementation process. This begins with their initial acceptance of the plan to implement food business software and ends with them utilizing the technology once it’s implemented. To help make the process easier and more acceptable to your staff, ensure you’re providing constant updates, clear instructions and adequate time to learn the new technology—time that doesn’t interfere with their regular duties.

10. What should we expect from our ERP reseller?

As with any product, an ERP system is only beneficial if the people behind it are knowledgeable and supportive. To get the most from your software, it’s critical to have an experienced and reliable team working alongside you. You need an ERP partner that has deep industry expertise, decades of experience and dedicated teams who work alongside you to help your business grow.

FoodBusiness ERP contains functionality Sage has already developed for food and beverage manufacturers, including formula management, inventory management, regulatory compliance and lot tracking. In addition to this functionality, FoodBusiness ERP experts continue to create new IP and features to reflect industry changes, such as Demand Management and Forecasting and Retains and Reference and Sample Management found in our FoodBusiness ERP 2022 R4 release.

With FoodBusiness ERP, customers get the stability and reliability of a top ERP vendor and the deep knowledge and experience of food and beverage experts—something that is confirmed by Riley. He says: “Selecting an ERP solution and a partner is a bit like a courtship and marriage—you have to be careful to pick a partner that you like to dance with. You look for a partner who will stick with you through good times and bad. We have found that in Sage X3 and NexTec.” To learn more, contact our experts at FoodBusiness ERP. We’d love to chat and to set up a demonstration.

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