The business world continues to evolve as digital platforms and solutions arise at every turn. Any business that wants to thrive in the next decade or so needs to start implementing digitization efforts in their business to remain efficient and relevant.
But what most decision-makers in the food and beverage production industry want to know is what tools they should prioritize first. There are infinitely many solutions that can help businesses in this category, but enterprise resource planning must be at the top of that list. Up to 53% of businesses believe ERP software should be a priority investment.
But what are ERP systems and why is there a need for food ERP solutions?
What is Food Traceability and Why Do We Need It?
Before we talk about ERP, one concept we need to start with—which is probably a familiar term for most food producers—is food traceability. Product or food tracing has to do with following the movement of food through specified stages of production, processing, and shipping. This practice helps food producers and adjacent players, and partners assure quality control when making, packing, and shipping products.
Without proper tracking, quality can get compromised. An ERP system helps ensure tracing by implementing digital systems that automate and track food processes.
Studies show that ERP implementation led to business process improvement for 95% of businesses. The food industry is no exemption to that improvement. With an ERP system in place, food traceability also goes into a cloud-based system that anyone anywhere can access with nothing more than a computer and internet connection, making it easier to track and update information.
Essential Features of Food Traceability Software
So, what are some essential features in food traceability software? Let’s look at three non-negotiable components that an effective system will have.
Using a food traceability template and system with inventory management helps a food business or supplier keep track of inventory. Using a tracing tool like an RFID or QR code system can also improve that process by allowing personnel to retrieve relevant information on stored or shipped produce with nothing more than a quick scan.
A great ERP system will also integrate seamlessly with a transport management system to help logistics and receiving teams access information pertinent to a shipment. This integration also makes coordination with a third-party logistics company more efficient.
Customer Relationship Management
Anyone in a sales or business administration career will have heard of the term CRM or customer relationship management, which refers to a tool or process of pushing clients through a sales funnel. Food traceability systems need to have a CRM within the tool or at least a deep integration with a CRM provider so that food manufacturers and producers can keep tabs on client orders and coordinate deliveries, invoicing, and re-orders more efficiently.
CRM tools remove the manual aspect of tracking and storing billing information, shipping details, and other crucial details in transacting with multiple clients in one go.
A food traceability platform also needs to have a supplier prioritization and management feature that allows companies to control and monitor sourcing policies. This helps a food business make more informed decisions when selecting and coordinating with suppliers who will enter the process at any point of the supply chain. Having these features makes the purchasing cycle faster and more seamless.
Another important feature that a complete and functional ERP must-have is a transport management system that helps provide reports on shipments, planned routes, schedules, and prioritization lists on-demand. One of the biggest sources of business loss in food and beverage is spoilage which poor transportation coordination often accelerates. Through transport management, food suppliers can provide all necessary information to logistics companies to take better care of food deliveries and ensure that they arrive at their destination at the soonest possible time.
Reporting and Analytics
Analytics and reporting have made decision-making much easier for all parts of business operations and food traceability software should also benefit from that. An effective ERP solution must have an automated reporting system that links data to processing systems that give up-to-date reports at every turn. Great ERP solutions with efficient reporting significantly help in planning, budgeting, and forecasting a company’s operational and financial health.
A food traceability system for better enterprise resource planning must also be able to track one of the most important resources of the company— money. Financial management is a vital part of any business, food most especially as profits depend so much on how accurate and efficient its systems are. Having an ERP solution that provides accounting reports like accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed asset management, risk management, and tax management are wonderful features to have.
Post-COVID-19 For Food Manufacturers and Producers
Surviving the pandemic as a food manufacturer was undoubtedly tough for many businesses. But if there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that digitization can help keep your business afloat even in challenging seasons. In times of crisis, efficiency is of grave importance as it ensures that business remains sustainable, so using food traceability software to decrease or even eliminate loss and expense will be a great add-on to any food and beverage production business.