ERP for Fresh Produce

Andy Makeham
December 21, 2023

Technology covers a large part of our lives today, from the personal to the professional. It allows us to unify information, communicate better, track processes and much more. Digitization is sweeping through the sector. One significant benefit of digitization is the ability to unify and share data so creating ‘one version of the truth’, one global vision of the business. No longer must we suffer ‘island of information across departments with inconsistent and often inaccurate data impacting decision making.

One of the most unifying technologies is the ERP system, now widely adopted globally.

What is an ERP system, and what is it for?

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It is a software system that touches all (or almost all) company departments: sales, purchases, inventory, warehouse, finance, engineering, etc. 

Since it covers so many areas, its implementation can be complex in larger companies, and ‘one size certainly does not fit all. At its inception over 30 years ago, it was the sole preserve of only the more prominent businesses as solutions were expensive and complex. Still, with the rapid advance of technology, notably cloud technology, it is now available to all, easy-to-buy, easy-to-implement. 

However, ERP solutions are not ubiquitous; a solution written for traditional manufacturing will not work well in fresh produce. ‘Niche specialists’ have evolved, taking the ERP principles and creating sector-specific solutions, bringing the benefits of a truly integrated business system to all.

One of the biggest benefits is borne out of one of the biggest challenges: ‘to successfully implement an integrated business system, you need to create an integrated business’. The implementation process, by definition, creates a ‘joined-up’ and unified company, and it is that process alone that brings many of the most significant benefits. Post-implementation, your company will no longer operate a series of individual autonomous departments; it will serve as a unified business.

Given that an ERP system requires some work to implement, companies are generally reluctant to change it. Unlike other business software that is changed often, the average tenure of an ERP system in a company is 15 years in the United States and 10 years in Europe. 

Benefits of ERP for fresh produce

Since an ERP delivers ‘a single version of the truth’, the benefits are endless:

Faster decision making – you now have data that you can trust, faster than ever before.

More accurate decision making - with exact and timely data, decisions are no longer a ‘guess in the dark’ – better information means better decisions.

A platform for growth – with both of the above, you now have a streamlined business capable of identifying and exploiting market opportunities, meaning your business can scale faster than the competition.

There are specific challenges for fresh produce that a Fresh ERP system can overcome. A Fresh ERP system can ' track and trace ' at will with traceability and short shelf life, to say nothing of ever-increasing regulation. If you have ever suffered the misfortune of managing a recall with poor systems (or no systems - many still rely on spreadsheets and ‘hope’) you will know the magnitude of the problem. Suppose you cannot instantly trace back to the source of a contaminated ‘lot’, and roll forward to see which deliveries and customers were impacted. In that case, you will have no choice but to recall and entire days, weeks or even months deliveries, a costly exercise that even today still costs some big companies millions! 

Consentio and ERP

Consentio is not an ERP system, but it can work hand in hand with an ERP, focused on the sales department! The crucial part of a fresh produce business is trading, managing, and maintaining customer relations. Without that, there is no business.

Traditional ERP systems start by entering the sales order. By then, all the hard work has been done – MANUALLY!

Consentio uses cloud-based digital technology to automate, simplify and streamline this complex trading process. It provides a closed and secure transactional workspace where you can trade your produce, and as it becomes your ‘front office’, it makes you look like a business ready for the 21st century.

The end result of Consentio is a sales order that can be passed automatically to the ERP system. Your staff may never have touched it! 

Consentio is the final ‘piece of the puzzle’ that will make your Fresh ERP system genuinely deliver the staggering performance and growth that you will need in the coming months and years if you are to remain competitive in a tightening marketplace.

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