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Readying for the ERP Renaissance: Ways to Embrace Positive Change and Innovation

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As President & CEO of VAI, Bob Vormittag is responsible for setting the company's strategic goals, building a world-class executive team, and providing an environment that encourages customer-focused technical and business innovation. Vormittag works closely with VAI's executive team to drive product development and marketing and sales initiatives, which facilitate the company's achievement of ongoing, productive growth.

Next on the Menu: ERP Software

In my previous posts, we examined the ERP software market and specifically, laid out the framework for evaluating vendors and examined best practices for implementing the software. Now, I'd like to take it a step further by exploring how the food industry relies on ERP systems to meet the challenges of today's economic and highly regulated environment. The food sector is of particular interest because it is a very process-heavy and deadline oriented market that relies on technology to drive productivity, operational efficiency, and inventory management.

When the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed, it placed added pressure on food manufacturers and distributors to ensure a safe food supply chain. The law gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to order recalls of contaminated food and request records from food organizations to provide reports related to the manufacturing, distribution and packaging of any product. So, for example, if your company sells broccoli and the FDA uncovers a problem with the broccoli--whether contaminated, expired, etc.--the government can request all of your records. And if you fail to provide these records, your company can be banned from selling that product. Furthermore, the FDA has the power to suspend and shut down your business.

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Getting Started With ERP Part 2: Ready, Set, Implement

Implementing ERP software requires an experienced team and vendor to guide companies through what can be a challenging process. Preparation is a fundamental component and, if done well, can alleviate a myriad of roadblocks to an effective and timely enterprise implementation. A skilled ERP vendor, with industry specific knowledge, will ease this process and provide a detailed plan to guide companies to successful completion.

An experienced provider will work with your team to analyze your business requirements, recommend industry best practices to streamline operations and personalize the system to meet a company’s precise needs. In addition, your enterprise software vendor will work with you to incorporate advanced software features to improve employee productivity and bottom-line.

Therefore, it is imperative that the implementation phase include comprehensive technical and end-user training. Without this critical component, employees may have difficulty learning the new software. If employees are not trained on the new tools and how it can streamline their work, than they are less likely to best utilize the software. Implementing enterprise software without proper staff training can lead to a loss of functionality and efficiencies and negatively impact the bottom line. Training should therefore be a priority during the implementation period.

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Getting Started With ERP Part 1: Vendor Selection

For a company that has grown to the point where an ERP system is the most logical next step, there are enormous benefits to be realized. For example, the centralization of key business data and applications is a critical feature for the enterprise. At the click of a mouse, it is possible for management to view important sales analysis data to identify profitable and unprofitable items, while another click of the mouse can provide command of purchasing functions by automating the planning purchasing and ordering process. A good enterprise system will provide a bird’s eye view of the company--maximizing its productivity and profitability across-the-board.

Streamlined operations save time, money and effort. ERP helps achieve efficiency by providing one integrated system and eliminates the need for duplicate data entry. Key company information is entered once and automatically routed to all appropriate databases. In addition, this provides real-time access to information. For instance, if a product order is entered via the call-center, that same information is immediately sent to the warehouse floor, where the order is filled and inventory counts are automatically adjusted, providing an accurate display of what product is available for sale.

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