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Building a Business Case for Food and Beverage ERP: Software That Shores Up 7 Major Pain Points


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Building a Business Case for Food and Beverage ERP: Software That Shores Up 7 Major Pain Points

Sep 21, 2023

John McCurdy
A smiling, confident food manufacturing worker uses software from the floor via tablet.

The idea that purpose-built enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is the keystone of the modern food and beverage business’s tech stack is not a novel concept or biased opinion. With dedicated features for a variety of functional areas and technology designed to address the unique challenges of a complicated market, such a platform can enable transformative change.

The advantage of choosing an ERP system built for food and beverage companies can at least in part be conveyed in numbers. Research commissioned by Aptean and conducted by B2B International found that organizations with an industry-specific ERP solution reaped an additional 39% in revenue growth, on average, compared to peers with horizontal applications.

That should help impress upon you how significantly you can boost your bottom line by investing in tailor-made ERP software for food and beverage operations. Of course, as you would before making any significant financial outlay, you need to build a business case to present to other stakeholders within your organization and get their buy-in.

You can do so by examining how a food and beverage ERP system will address major pain points and thus help improve outcomes on a number of fronts, from inventory management and quality control to reporting and sales. By leveraging the tools that a food industry ERP puts at your fingertips, you can address critical concerns and achieve measurable improvements company-wide.

Let’s get into the specifics of how ERP software built for the food and beverage industry can empower your employees and enable your business to overcome obstacles to success. We’ll cover seven of the most vital operational areas, the relevant features that a food ERP solution provides and the benefits that can be attained.

Pain Point #1: Inventory Management

Considering the volume of raw materials and finished goods that your company handles, you must have an efficient means for recording and reviewing inventory information. You need fully digital functionalities to define lots in detail, screen for allergens and maintain end-to-end traceability for both compliance with regulations and recall readiness.

The lot and sublot management features of a food and beverage ERP solution provide visibility down to the item level so that you can effectively track every item that moves through your facilities. Product specification tools allow you to define the parameters of your products at a granular level, including allergen concerns and other required disclosures.

What’s more, ERP software’s electronic document management (EDM) capabilities help to keep your compliance records and product files in order and easily accessible. And with the latest inventory data available at all times, you can make more informed decisions to maintain optimal levels and avoid shortages and surpluses.

Pain Point #2: Warehouse Management

Food and beverage warehouses can be hectic, fast-paced places, so you need to ensure that you can maintain order in what could unravel into a chaotic environment. You can’t afford to rely on manual pen-and-paper processes or be encumbered by information silos, and you must have the ability to monitor vendor performance to hold your trade partners accountable.

An industry-specific ERP solution can facilitate fully automated and digital record-keeping by integrating with handheld barcode scanners. When receiving deliveries and tracking product movement are simplified to a single push of a button or pull of a trigger, your employees can save valuable time better spent on mission-critical activities.

Meanwhile, the unified, organization-wide platform of an ERP acts as a “single source of truth,” syncing data between all departments and providing visibility for key stakeholders. The over/under delivery features of the software let you track how precisely your suppliers match your orders so that you can evaluate whether they’re meeting your expectations.

Pain Point #3: Production and Shop Floor Management

On the shop floor of a food and beverage manufacturer, productivity is the name of the game. Success requires proper planning to utilize your capacity to the fullest, as well as streamlined processes to keep lines moving and minimize waste. Meeting your targets and fulfilling orders is how you make money, so your business’s profitability is on the line.

Here, the production scheduling tools of food and beverage ERP software are invaluable, as they allow your decision-makers to optimize the order and timing of production runs to maximize output and minimize changeover time. Production scenario functionalities also let you set up a primary plan, as well as a backup that you can switch to in case of a material shortage or supply chain disruption.

Furthermore, an ERP solution can provide production planning features that keep your shop floor managers apprised of supply-demand imbalances in time to address issues and keep production on track. Advanced food ERP systems, like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, can also create reliable forecasts of future demand based on historical sales data, seasonality and emergent trends.

Pain Point #4: Quality Management and Food Safety

Your brand reputation rides, in large part, on the quality and safety of your products. Consumer expectations continue to rise and your company has its own high standards that you strive to meet. That’s why you aim to keep compromised finished goods, expired ingredients and the risk of recalls to a minimum.

With a purpose-built ERP on your side, you’ll have access to inspection status capabilities that promote consistent quality and embed safety checks at predetermined points in your manufacturing processes. Expiration management features help you keep track of windows of freshness and other dedicated quality control tools facilitate the identification of items that aren’t up to snuff.

The bidirectional traceability that ERP systems offer makes the process of conducting a recall much less intimidating, as materials can be tracked back to their sources quickly, and products that have made their way downstream can be located with just a few clicks. Some steps of the process, such as issuing communications to affected parties, can be automated for even faster results.

Pain Point #5: Business Intelligence and Reporting

Are you truly getting the most out of your data? We all know there’s tremendous value in knowledge, and there’s no doubt that between your manufacturing performance, sales numbers and statistical trends in consumer preferences, you’ve got plenty of information to analyze. But unless you have the right tools, it’s difficult to generate detailed, industry-specific metrics that lead to actionable insights.

Implementing food ERP software equipped with business intelligence (BI) is the best strategy for securing the functionalities you need to leverage your data optimally. With this powerful technology, you can drill down into data to determine the root cause of issues that are dragging down your performance and profit margins to improve outcomes.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP’s integrated BI application can track more than 500 key performance indicators (KPIs)—over 300 of which are geared specifically for food and beverage organizations—so that you can monitor performance and trends over time. The module also has scenario modeling capabilities, so you can gauge the impact of potential changes before making them.

Pain Point #6: Finance and Pricing Management

We’ve already made the point that the food and beverage world is distinct from other sectors. That truth is particularly evident when you consider the unique pricing strategies and contract terms commonly used in the industry. For that reason, you may fail to capture your fair market share if you’re limited to only generic schemes, simple discounting methods and rigid trade agreements.

Thankfully, the advanced pricing features of leading ERPs for food and beverage companies give you greater freedom in establishing your pricing schemes, facilitating the creation of a hierarchical structure that protects your profit margins. The right software can also allow you to use more varied discounting methods—not just a percentage off—to create compelling offers for customers.

Our solution also provides flexible trade management features that allow you to create agreements with multiple plans. By working with clients to determine mutually beneficial terms, you can bring on more business. Further still, built-in electronic data interchange (EDI) functionality will have you prepared to accommodate larger retailers with strict requirements.

Pain Point #7: Sales and Customer Relationship Management

Ensuring customer satisfaction is crucial for your organization’s success, but if you don’t have customer relationship management (CRM) functionality, you may not even be able to track interactions and temperaments. At the same time, if your salespeople don’t have real-time visibility into available stock, they may miss opportunities to convert and bring in additional revenue.

An ERP system designed for food and beverage operations will come with native CRM features that make it easy to record notes on customer interactions and gauge where the relationship stands in terms of how receptive each client is to different products and offers. That helps your sales and account management professionals improve customers’ experiences over time and keep them coming back.

A customer item catalog is another feature of food ERP software that drives better customer relationships, by fully digitizing the order process to improve accuracy and present both internal and external users with up-to-date product availability. This leads to a smoother experience and more on-time, in-full deliveries.

Making the Case for Aptean as Your Provider

Now that you’ve learned how ERP solutions for food and beverage companies help to alleviate major industry pain points and unlock significant operational and financial benefits, you should be able to construct a strong business case for deploying an industry-specific solution at your business. As we conclude, we’ll make a short case ourselves for why Aptean should be among the providers you consider.

First, take our decades of collective experience in the food and beverage market, with in-depth knowledge of the unique challenges that come with the territory and the best practices to overcome them. We “speak your language,” and we’ve worked with organizations like yours around the world from a variety of industry segments, affording our team considerable expertise.

Then, there’s the option for a flexible cloud deployment on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model that we offer. The aforementioned B2B International research confirmed that more and more companies are moving their solutions to the cloud, increasing from 7% in 2021 to 24% in 2023. Moving to the cloud improves scalability, strengthens data protection, enhances cybersecurity and provides broader accessibility.

Next, consider the fact that as a complete food and beverage solution provider, our approach is to help you build the right tech stack to meet your organization’s current and future requirements. We have industry-specific overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), enterprise asset management (EAM), product lifecycle management (PLM) and transportation management systems (TMS) to cover your needs beyond ERP.

You can also peruse the many success stories from our current customers, which demonstrate the benefits of partnering with us for your digital transformation.

“The technology has gotten out of the way, and that enables us to really focus on serving more people as efficiently, cost-effectively and safely as possible,” said Andy Borgmann, chief technology officer at GA Foods, and Aptean Food & Beverage ERP customer. “That’s our future.”

Finally, we’re proud to have been recognized by Frost and Sullivan with its Customer Value Leadership Award in North American ERP Software for the Food & Beverage Industry. That’s a testament to not only the performance of our products, but our dedication to act as a partner for each of our customers, from the initial project planning stages through to dependable system support.

Now, if you’re eager to find out more about Aptean Food & Beverage ERP, our complete solutions for the industry and how you can mitigate major pain points by deploying them, contact us today. You can also request a personalized demo.

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