Upstate Niagara Values Ross ERP for Traceability and Scalability

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Aptean Ross ERP, Traceability, Customer Experience

Chuck Donofrio, the director of information technology at Upstate Niagara, sat down to share some of his insights about their Ross ERP implementation. Not only has he selected Ross for its scalability and traceability, but he’s using it to help transition away from the on-prem infrastructure to a SaaS model. Watch the video for their full story.

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Upstate Niagara is in Western New York. Upstate is approaching one billion dollars in revenue. We have over 300 member farmers who are owners and about 1,200 employees.

Upstate has been a Ross customer for almost two years; one of our subsidiaries, O-AT-KA, has had Ross implemented for over ten. Right now we have corporate implemented with Ross SaaS in the cloud. And we implemented our first manufacturing facility earlier this year. We have two more businesses coming in the next two years.

The transition so far to Ross cloud has been smooth. I was part of the decision to move from the on-prem version to the cloud. Many reasons prompted us to go to SaaS over prem, primarily speed.

We wanted to rollout Ross quickly; we had a tight timeframe to do that. I would have had to make a major data center investment in order to put Ross on-prem, and I managed to avoid doing that, so we had a lower initial cost of implementation.

I’m using the Ross folks as an extension of my team, and I was looking for scalability. Upstate Niagara is growing quickly, and our ability to scale up quickly is very important to us.

As far as security goes, [SaaS] makes the whole security thing a lot easier on my team and organization because we don’t have to be the experts.

We are growing very quickly at Upstate Niagara. Our ability, from an IT department and from an IT function, to keep up with that growth, is paramount to us.

We’re leveraging Ross to address some of the growth challenges. In a SaaS cloud solution, I can add 200 users very easily and very quickly. If I were to have that same issue on-prem, I would have to upgrade the data center, I would have to do many things that would take time and money.

Some of the features in Ross we found to be most valuable for us: Trace Express.  We really like Trace Express—the idea that we can trace product back with a visual trace, so you can see where a product came from, and we can see where it’s going.

The key benefits of cloud deployment are I don’t have to worry about infrastructure. So my folks generally can go about their business and do other things while Aptean is really worrying about the infrastructure associated with the cloud.

Some of the benefits that Upstate has experienced from implementing Ross: we get faster financial closes, we get better financial visibility. On the plant side, we are getting better visibility of inventory and moving inventory in real-time.

The implementation of Ross has improved our business processes partly because we’re starting to adopt some of the standard processes that come with the Ross tools. Prior to Ross, we were doing things differently in different parts of the business. The implementation of the ERP allows us to consolidate those processes.

Our investment in Ross so far has been worthwhile. We have several plants left to go, several implementations left to go, but I think we’re on track for the type of return that we expected. We are also integrating Factory MES in all our facilities, that’ll happen over the next few years too.

We’re integrating TabWare in all our facilities, so when we’re done we’re really going to have a full complement of software that all talks to each other, that all interact with each other. 

The primary way I see Ross helping Upstate Niagara adapt to our goals is twofold: 1. Our ability now to consolidate on an operational standpoint. We should be able to lower our operational costs of delivering and things that we deliver today. 2. On the growth side, with a full SaaS cloud solution, our ability to ramp up quickly and adapt to any acquisitions or any growth coming our way would be pivotal to us in the future.

My experience with Ross has been excellent. I have implemented plenty of ERP solutions over the years, I think this solution is right for our size company, and it may be right for your size company. They specialize in food and beverage. It’s not like some of the other generic ERPs that you get.