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The 5 Qualities to Look for in Vendors of Software Used in the Food Industry
Food Industry Solutions
The 5 Qualities to Look for in Vendors of Software Used in the Food Industry
Jun 14, 2023John McCurdy
When you’re shopping for yourself—say, at the grocery store—what are you looking for most? Some people are only there to get what they need, ticking items off their list as they move through the aisles. Others are looking for the best deals or products of specific varieties such as gluten-free or keto-friendly.
Then there are the folks who will only buy from certain brands, whether out of loyalty or alignment with the company’s mission or values. There’s really no wrong way to go about it, and thankfully, the consequences of making a suboptimal choice aren’t particularly dire in this scenario.
But when you’re making an investment in your own food and beverage business—like purchasing new software—you need to take time to truly compare the systems on offer. And not only do you need to know that you’ve chosen the right solution for your circumstances but also that the provider is credible and can meet your needs from a deployment and support standpoint.
And despite the temptation to take the “safe” route and go with a generic, one-size-fits-all system from a well-known vendor, that can lead to the need for expensive modifications and customizations down the road. The food and beverage market is specialized and requires purpose-built technology for the unique challenges inherent to its many niches and sub-verticals.
So, how are you supposed to go about sifting the standouts from the fly-by-night outfits that will sell you any old solution off the proverbial shelf and send you on your way? We’ve curated this list of the five most important qualities to look for in providers of software used in the food industry to help you navigate the selection process and increase the chances that you’ll find a partner for the long-term.
1. Solid Reputation and Industry Recognition
Some of the most telling indicators of the quality of both a solution and its provider are the experiences of the company’s existing clients. A good way to get a read on this is to simply ask your peers at those businesses for their perspective. You can also request case studies and testimonials from the provider.
Beyond that, you want the provider to have more than a recognizable name—ideally, the software vendor that you partner with has been recognized in the form of awards or other acknowledgments of excellence from independent third parties. A quick internet search can help you find out whether a vendor is in the headlines for the right reasons.
Aptean has numerous success stories of current customers enjoying the benefits of our food and beverage systems ready to be explored in our Insights Center. And as for awards, we received Frost and Sullivan’s 2022 Product Leadership Award in North American ERP Software for the Food and Beverage Industry, and we were also ranked 30th overall on The Software Report’s Power 500 Software Companies of 2023.
2. Food and Beverage Market Expertise
We mentioned before how critical it is that any food industry software you consider is tailored specifically to your industry sector. That can only be accomplished when it is developed by professionals who really know the space themselves, which makes industry experience a prerequisite for your eventual provider.
Aptean’s dedicated team has decades of collective expertise in the food and beverage market, affording us an in-depth understanding of the very particular challenges that our customers face, as well as the best practices and tools to overcome them. We truly “speak your language” and can offer valuable insight and tips to help you get the most out of our solutions.
For example, we know that the perishable nature of many ingredients and products represents a tricky variable to account for, and that’s why we have equipped our food enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with expiration management features. Aptean Food & Beverage ERP has many other industry-specific functionalities as well, including catch weight management, allergen tracking and more.
3. Flexible Cloud Solution Deployments
While on-premise installations of food manufacturing software were the norm in the past—and are still appropriate in certain circumstances—more and more companies are choosing to deploy solutions from the cloud today; read our deployment comparison guide here. Such a setup typically requires minimal additional hardware requirements and eases the burden on internal IT teams.
Plus, cloud implementations come with the benefits of greater scalability, enhanced cybersecurity, stronger data protection, broader accessibility and generally improved agility. This method can also give your organization increased resilience to disruption, as hosting servers are offsite and maintained by your provider’s dedicated IT and support teams.
Aptean offers flexible cloud deployments on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model for most of our solutions, including Aptean Food & Beverage ERP as well as our overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), enterprise asset management (EAM), product lifecycle management (PLM) and route optimization software for food and beverage businesses.
4. Commitment to Customer Success
Given that your company will need to dedicate significant resources in the form of money, time and effort in order to deploy new software, you should seek out a provider that is ready and willing to work with you and offer support. After all, embarking on a digital transformation journey without help would be a daunting endeavor, so it’s really best to have an ally on your side.
You’ll want to engage in detailed conversations with the vendors on your list to gauge just how much they’re willing to be involved in installation, roll out and go-live. It’s ideal if they can send their specialists to visit your facilities and work with your internal teams hands-on. They should also offer training for key users and additional instructional material for employees.
At Aptean, we’re proud of the collaborative approach we take to solution implementation. We work with each of our valued customers to create a realistic project roadmap with observable milestones to keep deployment on track. We also act as a guide as your staff learn the system and provide prompt responses to customer queries.
5. Robust Software Optimized for User Experience
When business software first began to see adoption, companies were more forgiving of interface flaws and usability issues because the systems either offered functionalities that couldn’t be replicated or streamlined tedious tasks, even if that was in an unintuitive way. An imperfect solution was still better than the alternative—which was pen-and-paper or basic spreadsheets.
Now, though, the standards are much higher. You need to have software that is both robust in terms of the toolsets it offers and user-friendly in appearance, navigation and execution. You can’t afford to have your team members hunting for the right feature or module for their tasks, and information must be readily accessible, not locked away on a single individual’s hard drive.
Aptean Food & Beverage ERP offers unique, industry-specific technology built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central platform, which affords it a familiar feel and optimized user experience. It can also act as a “single source of truth” by centralizing your data in a single organization-wide platform, which breaks down silos and helps everyone play from the same playbook.
What’s more, the system works in real time by connecting with manufacturing equipment and handheld barcode scanners and it also offers rich visualizations of metrics that yield actionable insights. Our OEE and EAM solutions offer similar features in the form of configurable dashboards extending application functionality.
Even More to Love About Aptean
We’ve already discussed many of the reasons that Aptean is regarded as one of the top providers of food and beverage solutions, but there’s at least one more worth pointing out—our ability to act as a one-stop-shop for all your business software needs.
That includes the aforementioned ERP, OEE, EAM, PLM and route planning optimization systems, as well as supplementary software for business intelligence (BI) and electronic data interchange (EDI). These can take your digital transformation to the next level by giving you a better understanding of your key performance indicators (KPIs) and streamlining transactions, respectively.
Working with a single provider also helps to keep your tech stack cohesive and connected. Many of our solutions can be integrated with others within the ecosystem, which makes getting full use out of features easier and helps alleviate the need to switch between platforms, boosting efficiency and mitigating the risk of error in data transfer.
Lastly, you can count on the same reliable service for all of the Aptean systems you choose to implement. We’re in it for the long haul with every customer and are committed to seeing you succeed in the dynamic and competitive world that is the food and beverage industry.
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