Software is eating the world.
This famous proverb was thrust upon the world ten years ago by famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen in a Wall Street Journal editorial.
And as the advent of software swept across various industries, leaving hardware in the dust and pumping data like a firehose, supply chains sought lucrative efficiency and profitability gains.
The food value chain was no exception.
Today it might be said that ‘software is feeding the world.’
The productivity that software provides is only maximized in food and produce due to the nature of the problems it’s solving.
Yes, cost optimization and sales growth are essential. But the health and safety implications around traceability and food waste make the investment even more critical.
That’s why evaluating software needs and investing in scalability are critical for the food companies of the future.
A Software Selection Showdown
Long gone are the days of paper receipts and hand-written shipping logbooks in the food industry.
And if you’re reading this as you physically file away purchase orders, let us introduce you to Fusionware.
But that doesn’t mean every company is a ‘digital native’ just yet. A 2020 Infor survey of food processors found that, on average, 43% of their supply chain data was online.
And while food and produce companies are in various stages of adopting food traceability software, it might be worth throwing the strategic roadmap in reverse and determining the future course.
What do companies need out of a software platform? What sorts of existing technologies do you need to integrate? How will this software grow with the business as it grows?
All great questions worth diving into more, and that can be broken down by the categories below.
Communication is key.
Traceability software naturally means you will need to work with various stakeholders to be successful up and down the supply chain. And with 21.8% of global supply chain executives noting ‘visibility’ as their biggest challenge via Statista, this is one software feature worth getting right. Some questions worth considering would be:
- Can the platform communicate the entire length of the supply chain?
- Can we translate consumer insights into actionable insights for supply chain partners?
- Where are our gaps in communicating between parties? Will this platform improve and optimize that gap?
- Will this software allow our in-house systems to move data and keep operations moving quickly?
Compliance is non-negotiable.
Food and produce businesses are intimately familiar with compliance and regulatory frameworks that keep the food supply chain secure and safe. Deloitte notes that 75 million U.S. foodborne illnesses are the reason for the heavy regulation. That said, asking a potential software provider questions is essential to discover how they can make those rules less of a burden and more of a value-add to a company’s partners.
Being in compliance can spill over into profitability as well. PitchBook revealed that a food recall event traced back to its origin will often lead to large swaths of food being destroyed. Mitigating that as much as possible is valuable to all key players.
- Will the platform enable simple documentation and communication of staying compliant across a variety of regulatory bodies?
- Can the program provide efficient intel and insights to the broader food system in the case of a food safety event?
- Does the traceability capability match what is required of our supply chain?
Digitization is the new norm.
Data is everywhere. But to capitalize on the data movement, you’ve got to have systems and processes that allow it to be accessible, clean, and translatable into insights. It’s important to sift through the claims of different software vendors and determine who aligns with your digital goals.
- Will the platform allow me to easily export insights that are actionable?
- Does it keep my data clean and accessible?
- How will it interplay with my supply chain partners’ data?
- What sort of automation or safeguards can be put in place to alert me to swings in data or errors?
- What’s the security of my company’s data and information?
A path to bottom-line success.
Software is an investment, and each investment in your business must be evaluated against a potential ROI. Luckily, software is a relatively easy input to pencil out a return. Reducing waste alone could have significant bottom-line impacts.
The USDA notes that the 33% of produce that goes uneaten contributes to $161 billion in food waste. This contributes to 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to EarthDay.org, and is a driver of the interest in carbon markets to increase carbon sequestration.
Gauging the return before selecting and implementing a platform can save time and headaches.
- What is the estimate for the amount of waste we will reduce based on using this platform?
- At what growth rate do we think we can scale revenues with this software in place?
- How will order management and output improve with a tool like this?
Speed is the name of the game.
In a 24/7 industry like the food and produce ecosystems, there are constant challenges to keep a ‘flow state.’ Wherever there is time to be gained or time to be saved, there are usually dollars equated to that time. Understanding how a platform will insert itself and optimize time is critical for success.
- In a food recall or safety event, how quickly will the platform deliver answers?
- How can this platform save employees time, whether in the office or warehouse or even in a sales meeting?
- How quickly can this platform help us pivot product or logistic needs based on shifting consumer or product demand?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of questions you must consider as your food or produce business evaluates its supply chain software needs.
A Solution That Scales
It’s never too early to begin thinking about how a supply chain software will scale with your business.
It might be the first question you ask.
Supply chain software becomes so intertwined with so many aspects of your business that the last thing you want is to rethink your strategy because a platform no longer fits your needs within a year or two of implementation.
Fusionware was built with scalability in mind.
From small companies that lack extensive IT infrastructure to corporate food companies, Fusionware is the preferred choice. The platform works for small farms up to public companies, keeping the platform model and design simple regardless of size.
Travis Allen at Black Gold Farms spoke to its flexibility:
“We like Fusionware because it’s a small company, customizable, and a lot of functionality.”
The monthly software subscription gives flexibility, and businesses can add or remove components as they grow. These keep costs in line with an operation, scaling only as the company scales. It makes traceability feasible, not cost-prohibitive.
Many of Fusionware’s customers note how it stands leaps and bounds ahead of other platforms in the food industry.
Shane Myers of Owyhee Produce noted,
“It took three weeks to be up and using the system for any employee, and it allowed us to go to a completely paperless system. The mobile capability is awesome, plus the speed of putting an order in the system is astounding.”
Other supply chain software platforms can typically reach 6-figures for implementation and are single-version purchase cycles. This leaves businesses with constant planning to gauge the costs needed for additional features and upgrades.
Plus, many existing systems are not cloud-based. The added investment for on-site servers or an IT intermediary creates additional costs. The beauty of Fusionware is the simplicity of being actual software without the hardware requirement.
Integrations can also make or break a software experience. Have a legacy accounting platform that your team knows inside and out? Don’t worry. With Fusionware, unlike others in the space, your current systems will work seamlessly as the platform is agnostic.
Supply chain management software should be a growth lever, not a hindrance.
Just ask Laurie Widdowson at CSS Farms. After shopping around and reviewing several supply chain software options, they began using Fusionware across 300 products in their operation. Laurie shared,
“Out of the box Fusionware works, improvements to the software are possible, and it’s extremely producer focused.”
By making it easy to optimize your operations, you can improve efficiency and increase growth and profitability – all on a single platform. Determine the right platform for your needs today and in the future.