In the food industry, when manufacturers and distributors decide to acquire or update their business management system, they often need it designed and implemented within a month or two—not a year or two—to minimize disruption and maximize their competitive advantage.

While some of the largest companies require elaborate enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that can take years and mega dollars to implement—including consulting and customization costs—that is not usually the case with smaller, growing organizations.

Some of the savviest players in the food manufacturing and distribution industries are implementing more simplified business management systems featuring customizable robust modules in as little as a month for just thousands of dollars per location.

Quickness Supports Growth
MMIS Inc.—Ontario-based manufacturer and distributor of foods and food processing equipment and services—initially installed Vigilant business management software in the 1990s to integrate various accounting functions. That package was updated 6 years ago with software from Vigilant’s successor, Oneir Solutions.

The software update included modules that provided MMIS with added capabilities to cover additional business areas and automate functions that had previously been performed manually.

“When we changed over to the new system 6 years ago, we completed the new installation over a weekend,” says Bill de Vos, general manager of MMIS Inc. “The data from the old system were downloaded and saved over the weekend and the installers came in for the implementation. On Monday morning it was up and running.”

Like MMIS, Falsetto Fine Foods, a wholesale distributor of a broad range of food products in the Ottawa and Quebec areas, started with the same integrated accounting and inventory control software, then updated later with a business management package that continues to expand as their business grows.

Silvana Falsetto, vice president and controller, says that whether it’s a new module or a complete system update, the installation of their management software has gone very quickly and easily with little or no disruption of business.

Scalable Solutions
“When you picture a $250 billion industry giant, you can see that there are a lot of aspects of their proprietary ERP system that are vital to them, but we wouldn’t necessarily need,” Falsetto says. “However, the expensive ERP systems certainly include modules such as Order Guides that are vital to smaller businesses like ours.”

Falsetto’s company recently upgraded its own Sales Order Guide module, a vital reference that sales representatives use which can be downloaded onto the screen of a their laptop or tablet and used to inform customers of product data and show the customer’s order history.

More recently, Falsetto added a Supplier Order Guide—an automated purchasing module that makes purchasing decisions easier, faster and more accurate.

“The Supplier Order Guide is updated automatically as order information is added, in a manner similar to our customer order guide,” Fred Falsetto says. “It cost just under $2,000 and saves a ton of paperwork for myself and my staff.”

Having efficient traceability capabilities to expedite product recalls and tracking of products that are nearing their expiration dates is also critical. MMIS and Falsetto Fine Foods are highly aware of this need, and have that capability in their business management software packages.

Morphing into the Future
“Our software package has been updated in several ways over the years, so it is adaptable to changing business requirements,” says de Vos. “The basic system we started with can be tailored to meet our particular requirements.”

Notably, this software is text-based, which gives it a lot of advantages, including lightning fast speed, which allows technical support personnel to easily and quickly help customers remotely.

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