Growing produce companies across North America are moving away from basic accounting systems and exploring new technology to improve traceability and effectively manage the supply chain. Modern companies in the produce industry need the right technology as well as a knowledgeable and experienced partner to ensure that they are complying with strict industry standards such as the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Make sure you’re getting all the information you need from prospective technology partners by asking the following questions.
- Are you familiar with the PTI recommendations and GS1 Standards, including GTIN assignment and customer notifications needed to create full supply chain traceability?
Your chosen produce technology partner should be familiar with the unique challenges faced by fresh produce companies. They should have a clear understanding of the business processes and Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) best practices. An experienced partner will understand the importance of GS1 Standards and be willing to assist you in setting up labels that are compliant with the latest industry and PTI traceability standards.
- Are you offering a product or a custom project?
There are advantages and disadvantages of each. With a project, you will have a solution that is highly customized to your company. You might have every feature you need, but you will run into difficulty as your company grows. Additional customizations, updates to the program, and any changes would be costly and time consuming. Not to mention, it would be a nightmare to integrate with both your existing systems and any systems you will have in place in the future. With an established product, you typically receive long term support and a larger feature set. At Vision33, we recommend an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to help your company comply with strict industry standards and streamline operations.
- Is your software compliant with PTI case and hybrid pallet tag labeling standards?
You want a software system that not only follows the labeling standards set out by PTI, but also configures to print batch and lot numbers. Be sure to also ask if the solution offered will calculate and print PTI voice pick codes on each case label as recommended by the current industry regulations.
- Does your solution provide trace back and trace forward reports?
If you are unable to trace the activity of your produce, then you are not compliant with the PTI regulations. Integrated ERP solutions will allow you to track your products with serial number and batch number transaction reports, allowing you to keep track of your products at every point of your supply chain.
- How is GTIN information provided to your solution for printing on cases and pallet labels?
Depending on the volume of your labeling needs, you might look into different options. For example, if you have a low volume of inventory, it might be easiest for you to manually enter data or upload a spreadsheet into your software. If you have a high volume of inventory, you might look into barcode scanners that will feed information into your software in real-time. An integrated ERP system built for growing businesses would give you the flexibility you need as your company grows. It will scale to allow different forms of data capture as your company’s needs become more and more demanding.
- Does your solution integrate with my accounting system?
You want to make sure your employees are not wasting time and effort re-entering data into different systems, so you need to ensure that all your inventory data is connect to your accounting system. With an integrated ERP system, your inventory data and accounting data feed into the same system. You would be able to automate your systems save your company thousands of hours by eliminating manual processes.
- Do you have any customer references using a traceability system in the fresh produce industry?
With any long-term investment, including new traceability software, you need to know that your partner has the knowledge and experience needed to ensure a successful implementation. On top of a live demo, ask for a customer reference with similar business requirements. Talk to them about your concerns and have a candid discussion about what they like and dislike about the solution and the partner. Sometimes, partners and their customers will allow you to go on a site visit to see what improvements the software has made on the customer’s business.
- Who do I work with if I have any issues with your solution?
Make sure that your chosen partner has a strong support team. This would a good topic to bring up during the customer reference discussions as well to ensure that your selected partner continues to provide customers with top quality service, even after the implementation.
- Do you provide a training program?
Make sure you are getting the most out of your investment. Good partners will provide frequent and detailed trainings about their product. You don’t know what you don’t know. Especially if you are going with an integrated ERP system, the trainings will help ensure that you are using your solution the correct way for your company. You can learn about other features your solution offers that you might not need until your company grows a little bigger. By then you will be prepared.
Vision33 is a premier implementation partner for ERP software solutions for small to midsized enterprise. As the #1 Global provider of SAP Business One, no other partner offers the same level of customer services combined with a deep level of understanding of your business processes. Vision33 has the largest team of certified SAP Business One consultants and is committed to supporting your business well beyond implementation to ensure that you have the support you need to grow and achieve your business goals.
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Other relevant blog posts:
- Food for Thought: 3 Ways SAP Business One Provides Effective Traceability for the Fresh Produce Industry
- 7 Critical Functions Your Produce Software Must Do
- 4 Ways to Build a Competitive Advantage with Produce Software
- How to Manage Your Supply Chain with SAP for Produce
- 10 Easy Ways Technology Can Produce Results for Food Manufacturers
- Planting the Seed for Succes with SAP Business One