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As the world becomes more paperless, companies are progressing toward a similar technological evolution. And in many ways, this transition saves a lot of time, effort and space by eliminating overwhelming stacks of documents that have taken over office areas. For baking and snack companies, this is where enterprise resource planning (ERP) comes into play.
ERP is a business process management software that can typically integrate every facet of an operation, from production to human resources to finances, within a single database. In brief, it helps manage the business with the ability to bring up important data all at once.
The top ERP systems for 2019, according to IT Business Edge, were the following: Acumatica Cloud, Deltek, Microsoft Dynamics 365, ECount, Infor, JDEdwards EnterpriseOne, Netsuite, Odoo, Paragon, Peoplesoft, Priority Software, SAP S4/HANA, Sage and Syspro.
 “A good ERP system allows for effective scheduling through material resource planning, accurate inventory tracking and thorough traceability from an item entering a facility until it leaves in a finished good,” said Brandon Heiser, chief operating officer, Roskam Baking Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. “Additionally, the ERP system allows for near-real time visibility into production metrics and finances.”
There have been some technological innovations with these systems as well. These include mobile access for easy and fast usage, the cloud for storage, adding social media packages to software, and two-tier ERP, which splits the data rather than making it all-encompassing, according to the article “Best ERP Software 2019: Comparison 7 Reviews” from Webopedia, an online dictionary and search engine for information technology.
While ERP software is an enterprise application for larger businesses in which a full team analyzes data and handles upgrades, it can also be incorporated on a smaller scale and customized easily. For this reason, small and large bakeries and snack makers can use this technology to consolidate their processes.
According to “2016 Report on ERP Systems and Enterprise Software,” a study by Panorama Consulting Solutions, LLC, companies implemented ERP for a variety of reasons. While some replaced out-of-date ERP systems (49%) or homegrown systems (16%), others needed new accounting software (15%). And 20% of respondents implemented it because they used other non-ERP systems or had no system at all.
Whether a company is upgrading or a first-time user, there will be a transition. Ultra Consultants’ five components of transitioning to ERP software include defining the scope of the project, constructing a team with roles and responsibilities, deciding the best method for implementation, creating a project plan, and determining primary goals. Many of these actions are in collaboration with the ERP vendor’s team as well.
Keep in mind that the transitioning process isn’t easy.
“Fifty percent of IT projects fail,” said Spiros Assimacopoulos, chief executive officer and president, Michigan Bread. “Do as much research as you possibly can before committing.”
He also suggested that, from the beginning, companies establish a clear expectation for what the software can or cannot accomplish and what’s required of employees.
Ultra Consultants noted major factors for a successful ERP implementation involve people — top management support and change management — and an adequate planning process. It doesn’t simply come down to the software.
Roskam makes a point to provide employees thorough training from third parties, in-house experts and learning materials.
“The key to transitioning is having a strong grasp of business processes and a knowledgeable team that is willing to go the extra mile to make the implementation happen successfully,” Mr. Heiser said. “The team has to be dedicated and can’t revert back to the ‘old’ way of doing things.”
Education tools can include manuals, in-person workshops and web-based sessions. And the training must be continuous. With data updates and upgrades happening every day, companies must stay on top of ERP software to get the most out of the analysis, which helps streamline the present and plan for the future.
This article is an excerpt from the February 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on production management, click here.
Five baking innovations granted patents.

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