As I sat waiting for my order in a very well respected restaurant, I began to think about the possible reasons for the long delay in getting my order. With my blood sugar slowly dropping as time passed, my thought process shifted to the chain of activities necessary to get me my steak.
The Food and Beverage industry is very time-critical. A lot of the stock is sensitive to temperature and shelf life, on top of which there are complex requirements for food handling and quality control. There is a definite difference in the operation of warehouse and distribution centres for food items and general stock. There are cold rooms, freezers, special handling areas, not to mention restrictions on air quality (diesel forklifts seem to be falling out of favour).
To me the really amazing thing is not the complexity, but how anyone can manage all of it without going insane. This is the reason why Endeavour Solutions puts time and effort into understanding the unique requirements on ERP and related software that are required in the Food and Beverage industry.
Among the many products we utilize to find solutions for our clients, are tools such as MYOB Greentree, MYOB Advanced, Qlik Sense, and even Excel! You see, we aren’t just about selling software, we care more about partnering with our clients to improve their processes and remove hurdles to success. As I read that last sentence, I think I’m beginning to sound like a dreaded marketing person! But the statement is true, we only succeed if we can work closely to understand our client’s processes, problems and pain points. I guess it must work because many of our clients have been with us for more than ten years.
The key point is that operating a Food And Beverage business is not easy and needs partnering with a solution provider that understands the industry AND uses software and systems that can really make a difference.
The key requirement to success in management of any Food and Beverage environment is not just having the systems in place to look after each element of the business, but to be able to seamlessly integrate them, not only in function, but also in providing the key information back to the business management. Have you guessed yet? That is where my favourite tools come into play – Business Intelligence. The complex elements of a Food and Beverage distribution and management system, means that you cannot always integrate everything into one system (although with the extensible and customisable nature of Greentree, it is surprising how far you can go with an ERP solution).
Business Intelligence (or BI) has become the de-facto standard in many businesses, often replacing reports to allow more complex investigation of the businesses needs. Each of the tools we use every day tend to have their own embedded reporting elements; and they work fine. But as most businesses are beginning to realise, it’s just not practical to spend the time and effort to integrate and analyse static reports. The proof is easy to see – every business seems to have a spider’s web of linked Excel spreadsheets.
Using BI, we can leave the heavy lifting to the tools that are designed for it and then it becomes easy to examine the business holistically. This becomes especially important when we want to look for related areas of the business. For instance, we might want to tie together the average age of products with a shelf life, to wastage information. Maybe we can find a nice point at which to alert on certain items before the wastage numbers get too high.
Modern business management is all about information integration. From tailored and integrated business systems, through to integrated information analysis with Business Intelligence. If you want to keep a hand on the tiller as your business grows, be sure to remember the word ‘integration’!
Shane is a certified Qlik Business Analyst and Data Architect and has been working in analytics and databases for over ten years.