You may have been debating the importance of investing in an ERP package for your food business. But equally as important is how the solution you opt for will stand the test of time.
ERP isn’t just a singular technology - it should be an adaptable, fluid basis from which all parts of a business’ operations work in harmony. Any future challenges, changes in circumstances or the introduction of new technologies must be accounted for. Read on for our guide to ensuring your ERP solution is truly future-proof.
‘Out-the-box’ isn’t good enough any more
The capabilities of industry-specific ERP solutions now mean that the more standard packages become dated more quickly. When selecting a system to last, it’s important to have confidence that the software is designed for the food industry. Solutions purporting to be all things to all people can fail to truly meet the specific standards required in any given sector.
While not every business can consider a completely custom-built system - although the best suppliers should help tailor their solutions to your key needs - it’s still important you’re confident your final choice has been built by people who know the food industry inside out. The reason for this is twofold:
- Industry-bespoke modules for areas such as warehousing can make a tangible difference to day-to-day operations - helping you find the best solutions quicker.
- You can be confident a food and beverage ERP supplier will focus all improvements on the future challenges and changing face of the industry.
The right supplier is key
Just as it’s crucial any software or hardware you choose is built for the food industry, the relationship you have with your supplier is also vital. Consider the service offered by the supplier to be equally important, and ask:
- Do they understand my business and its specific requirements?
- How are they going to help implement the ERP solution?
- How strong is their support service? Will they help ensure staff are fully trained and that any issues are resolved quickly?
ERP suppliers are more than just vendors - see them as long-term partners that have a big role to play in the transformation of your business.
Local vs global
Small, local vendors serving businesses in their region have traditionally made up a large chunk of the food ERP market. But while local knowledge and the promise of a close relationship appeal to many, this model is no longer optimal. Consider the challenges in the industry - from climate change to meeting rising food demands, and that’s not even considering Covid-19. These are big issues that need big responses, and input from larger companies that can commit more spending to research and development.
The huge presence companies like Microsoft have in the global food ERP market with their Dynamics platforms mean the smart money is to stick with them. The challenge for food businesses is finding the right vendor - one who can provide all the software benefits but with a strong support structure and vision to improve your business through ERP.
Scale and scope - planning for what you need tomorrow
Even if you feel your solution serves your business well at the moment, it’s important to ask whether this will still be the case in the future. This is pertinent in terms of your business growth - is your current solution well-integrated enough to allow you to scale up smoothly?
And beyond this, your business direction is a key factor too. For instance, if you plan to introduce new packaging lines, expand the workforce or invest in new technology you need to be sure your ERP is flexible enough to accommodate this. Ask how straightforward it would be to extend your use of the system by adding new modules and integrations.
The traditional delivery method of ERP in the food industry was on-premise hardware and software, but this is being usurped by more adaptable cloud-based methods. There is much to be said about the on-premise ERP vs cloud-based ERP comparison but purely in terms of future-proofing cloud-based solutions provide greater flexibility.
Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP makes it far easier to benefit from improvements rolled out by your provider. It also makes it easier for vendors and businesses to work together to identify areas for improvement.