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Improving Supply Chain Resilience With Cloud-Based ERP for Food and Beverage Businesses


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Improving Supply Chain Resilience With Cloud-Based ERP for Food and Beverage Businesses

3 Janv 2024

John McCurdy
A fresh produce supply chain manager surveys inventory in the warehouse.

While every era in the food and beverage business world comes with its own set of challenges, the past several years have seen more than their fair share of significant events and dramatic changes. Those have in turn exposed weaknesses in the systems and models by which companies operate, which has made growing more flexible, adaptable and resilient as an organization a crucial effort.

Supply chains in particular warrant attention, as they’ve grown increasingly complex and easily disrupted. To make matters worse, geopolitical conflicts and natural disasters have impacted material availability, and the ongoing labor shortage has resulted in staffing struggles, often delaying and sometimes preventing the flow of goods.

In response, food and beverage business decision-makers have shifted their procurement and allocation strategies from “just-in-time" to overstocking “just in case,” in many cases wasting money and inventory, which drags down both profitability and sustainability. Add it all up, and it becomes clear why optimizing supply chains is an imperative.

Industry leaders have recognized this truth, as our recent study conducted in conjunction with B2B International revealed that improving supply chain resilience was the top goal among North American respondents, and the second-most important goal among their European counterparts. The next step, of course, is to answer the question of how that aim can be most effectively accomplished.

We’re here to provide the solution: enterprise resource planning (ERP). Specifically, you’ll want a cloud ERP for food and beverage companies, as such a system can serve as a “single source of truth” for your entire organization within a flexible cloud infrastructure and offer purpose-built features to improve the visibility of data and effectively balance supply with demand, increasing your supply chain resilience.

Your Business’s Single Source of Truth

As a centralized repository for your business’s data—from financial figures and product specifications to the supply chain and inventory information that’s so critical for operations in this day and age—an industry-specific cloud-based ERP can help you maintain a comprehensive view of the movement of goods from one end of your product pipeline to the other.

By ditching spreadsheets and disparate systems used by various departments in favor of the unified platform of an ERP, you can break down data silos and help ensure that everyone is on the same page. Digitizing your information and leveraging automatic collection via integration with barcode scanners also promotes data accuracy, which is a must-have for successful supply chain management.

Plus, real-time updates help you stay ahead of potential shortages and delays, and having that complete picture of your goods and the paths they take from farm to fork transparency is essential for traceability. That’s not only vital for food safety but also a legal requirement in most markets, so in that way, your ERP also improves your supply chain resilience and readiness in the face of a recall or regulatory inquiry.

An Accessible and Open Cloud Environment

Cloud hosting and the option to deploy solutions on the Software as a Service (SaaS) model are transforming the way companies of all kinds handle their business system and IT needs. These setups require minimal hardware, if any, and also take the burden of system maintenance and updates off your internal teams and put them in the hands of your provider.

For food and beverage organizations, empowering your decision-makers to log in to your cloud ERP remotely without a virtual private network (VPN)—and while on mobile devices—makes it much easier for them to make informed decisions based on the latest data. That also facilitates a swift response to disruptions, helping to keep your supply chain flowing and inventory at optimal levels.

What’s more, cloud software implementations offer enhanced cybersecurity and stronger data protection, which is key considering that cyberattacks are on the rise and such an incident could bring your supply chain to a halt. Finally, a cloud-based food ERP is much more easily scaled up or down according to the volume of goods your company is handling as compared to on-prem setups.

Specialized Features for Supply Chain Management

When you choose a cloud-hosted ERP that was built specifically for food and beverage businesses—like Aptean Food & Beverage ERP—you can secure powerful functionalities that are tailored to the unique nature of the industry. The below are four of the purpose-built features for supply chain management.

1. Forecasting

Producing reliable predictions of customer demand is a very complicated task, so it’s best to trust in technology designed for that function. Food and beverage ERPs have just the tools to create those forecasts, and the software leverages both historical sales figures and on-hand inventory in the process.

This helps you plan ahead for shortages, and the feature even lets you automatically generate purchase orders to help prevent them altogether. Our software also enables users to create forecasts for specific customers or based on a modified formula according to special circumstances.

2. Customer and Vendor Item Catalogs

The procurement process can be very frustrating if availability of items for purchase isn’t constantly updated to reflect current inventory levels. After all, submitting an order and payment only to receive an email to apologize that the products are out of stock is not a headache anyone wants to deal with.

The vendor and customer item catalogs of ERP solutions for food and beverage companies not only ensure that only those items that are in-stock are available for purchase but also offer fast order entry functionality and easy processing of Excel files attached to emails into purchase orders.

3. Production Planning

Your production planners need real-time updates on your inventory levels in order to balance supply and demand in the fast-moving food and beverage industry. The toolset for production planning that food and beverage ERP solutions offer can give them that and much more.

With all sales order lines presented alongside available inventory, your staff can identify material deficiencies to be rectified and help prevent surpluses that could result in spoilage and wasted monetary resources. And, filtering capabilities make their jobs easier, helping them find what they need faster.

4. Trading Board

The fact that many food and beverage businesses have multiple locations makes supply chain and inventory management much more complex, as movement between your facilities must be tracked and stock levels across all sites must be kept accurate up to the minute to prevent potential setbacks.

Having the digital trading board that food ERP software provides at your fingertips is a huge advantage in this regard, as you can see expected and available inventory across all locations in one view. In addition, specific lots can be assigned to orders with a few simple clicks or taps.

Thrive as an Organization With a Complete Tech Stack

At this point, you can hopefully see why a cloud-hosted ERP for food and beverage companies is the answer for improving your organization’s supply chain resilience whilst achieving supply chain excellence. By providing that single source of truth across your organization in a flexible cloud environment and offering features developed specifically for the processes of your industry, these systems can help your operations stay agile and efficient, no matter what challenges or disruptions may come.

You can also complement your ERP’s robust functionalities with other solutions to facilitate fulfillment and transactions. For example, route optimization software can help your managers create optimized routes in seconds, saving both time and fuel consumption. There are also shipping and electronic proof of delivery (ePOD) systems to facilitate effective fulfillment, as well as electronic data interchange (EDI) functionality to streamline transactions with larger trading partners.

What’s critical as you build your tech stack is to look for vendors who can offer many—or all—of these solutions. You should also only consider providers who truly know the food and beverage market through years of hands-on experience and are committed to serving the industry with attention to the nuances and needs of highly specialized companies.

Aptean fits both of those requirements, and we take the approach of being a long-term partner for each of our customers. We’re here to guide your digital transformation journey and supply the cutting-edge software you need to compete in a highly dynamic business environment. We’re dedicated to making your supply chain—and the rest of your organization—resilient and Ready for What’s Next, Now®.

If you’d like to learn more, explore how you can succeed in food supply chain management with a suite of specialized solutions. You can also contact us today with any inquiries.

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