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7 ways to improve food manufacturing business processes

6 April, 2017
Improve your food manufacturing business processes

The changing nature of business today sees more mergers and acquisitions than previous years, creating geographically diverse businesses. Having strong and easily documented processes in place can mitigate inefficiencies and confusion across business units, leading to a streamlined and productive company.

To help food manufacturers with some of their daily challenges – including business processes - Columbus asked the food community “what advice would you give your peers to streamline key business processes, across different sites and locations?”

Experts from our food manufacturing customers, our employees, consultants and partners share their advice from all over the world to help you improve your business processes. Here are 10 ways food manufacturers can improve their processes:

1. Use the knowledge of your employees

“Your employees know the most about the day to day business processes. Take a team member from each key business area and each site, and, using the principles of Lean, map out the processes on a large wall with post-it notes and identify and remove ‘waste’ from the process.

Each unnecessary piece of paper or interaction that can be removed from the process improves its efficiency and portability for rolling out across locations. “

Lisa Hammond, UK

2. Understand the processes at each of your locations

“The key to streamlining business process across multiple sites, regions or countries is to understand the processes at each location and document your common processes, and if required the localised divergences.

The business needs to undertake a full business process review; you cannot streamline what you do not understand. In each localised process mapping session the current processes should be mapped with full flow diagrams and explanations or reasons. Once each business is mapped the business as a whole can get together and agree a common approach with localised exceptions.

The difficult part is to not document how the process “should be” or how you “want” it to be, document the process as it is, it may change when global controls and requirements are overlaid to create a global process.

Once the documented process is agreed it needs to be deployed through education and practice, and once it has been deployed the business has to audit itself with the appropriate controls and periodic checks to ensure the agreed processes are being complied with.”

>> 10 food manufacturing ERP success stories >>

Steve Weaver, UK

3. Different sites have different needs, be flexible

“Have standards across the organization as guidelines; however, keeping in mind that different sites and locations may have different needs, and to be flexible with processes. A site with distinct department divisions may need rigid processes due to separation of duties but one with a couple of employees may not. We use two documents at our corporate office but one document in satellite offices. “

Natasha Pijuan, US

4. Make process documentation readily available

“Involve key people from all business units in process review/design. Seek to keep business process documentation in a unifi ed management tool (“one version of the truth”) and make process documentation available to all relevant employees (include “awareness campaigns” to ensure a high level of knowledge on aligned business processes throughout the organization). ”

Bjorn Pedersen, Denmark

5. Business process modelling has proven to be the most effective tool

“Larger enterprises often consist of many smaller organizations/ divisions that function with varying degrees of interdependence. The challenge is to find and exploit opportunities to reduce redundancy, and capitalize on best practices across the organization.

Business Process Modelling has proven to be the most effective tool for capturing the as-is process, highlighting opportunities for improvement, and documenting/ maintaining improved process flows across multiple organizations.

The effort to model the business and document processes pays off in many ways. Not only does it identify opportunities for cost reduction and quality improvement through streamlining and adoption of best practices, it also can clarify roles and responsibilities, serve as a training tool, assist in security setup and SOX compliance, and identify gaps or improvement opportunities.

>> 10 food manufacturing ERP success stories >>

Business Process Modeling software tools can make the process efficient, and allow organizations to begin capturing the benefits quickly.”

Jim Bresler, US

6. Visualisation of processes should always be the starting point

“No matter what kind of process you’re focusing on, business process design and visualization of processes should always be the starting point of any business process improvement and/or alignment. Business process modelling will help you to roll out a blue print of best practices of any industry to multiple locations. “

Guido van Osch, Netherlands

7. Coordination and communication

“Efficient coordination between factory, warehouse and retail stores by use of master planning, transfer orders, production orders and sales orders has enabled tight control over inventory.”

Shailesh Gajaralwar, India

How can Columbus help?

RapidValue is a business process modelling tool built inside Microsoft Dynamics AX to help you deliver more value from your ERP implementation.

Columbus has taken industry best practice processes, from our experience of over 8,000 implementations, and built them directly into the solution. Around 80% of business processes within an industry are standard from one organization to the next. We have defined and visualized these processes, which enables us to focus on the areas which are your competitive differentiators. This helps you streamline your business processes across the organization for efficiency, speed and to adopt best practices.

>> Take a look at how we have helped food manufacturing businesses like yours in our Food ERP case study pack here. >>