Top Ten Reasons Food Manufacturers Upgrade Enterprise Software

Posted by Gerry Poe

food-manufacturer-tillamook2Enterprise technology, which SYSPRO ERP software is part of, is a layered and set of products containing hardware and software technologies in house and outside. Part of those you control the results, others are out of your control.

Here are the top ten reasons to keep your enterprise technologies up to date and smooth running.

Looking across the span of enterprise systems we have many moving parts. Much seem static and do not give the impression they are doing anything meaningful. Network switches, computers, printers, modems and routers, software, accounting, etc. Consider the following reasons to move your enterprise forward:

Technology Shifts

As businesses age so do the technologies they operate on. As technologies develop some parts become too out of date to support the new versions of applications while others cause undecipherable technical issues.

A case in point is the stoppage of support for old operating systems and technology components. They get pulled along until one day the developers must quit the costly retro support. When it does become obvious to a company they must upgrade; sometimes a can of worms get opened up and an avalanche of upgrades becomes necessary.

ERP is one software system developed specifically to advance value to the business while utilizing fully, sometimes to the leading edge, of technologies capabilities.

Feature and Function

As software ages, features and functions available when sold are far behind a product 5-10 years newer. Take the case of MS Windows XP versus MS Windows 10. They are literally incomparable. Not to mention the enterprise and business challenges of 8-10 years ago compared with now.

In the case of SYSPRO ERP, in the past decade of upgrades and enhancements, the product, across all modular variants, has seen roughly 3000 feature and enhancement additions. Including database, backend integrations and simplification, ease of use and simplified operator tailoring and security.

Spending and Risk

When comparing cost to risks for upgrades we can look to the tortoise and the hare. The hare goes so fast he barely touched the ground, saw little along the way and was so impatient he forgot what he was supposed to do. The tortoise on the other hand was methodical, slow but steadily progressed to the finish line intact and up to date. Both may have taken the same time from start to finish, but efficiencies and reliance are vastly different.

In ERP environments, upgrades are budgeted annual costs; usually about 10-15 percent of the cost of the software. So, in ten years, like it or not, you have repurchased your software. From your CFO’s view, if we have purchased software in 2004 and did not upgrade until 2014, we have the original software and did not experience any advantages from the costs.

Additionally, as the infrastructure ages, software ages, the operating systems and add-ons like Java, Flash, .net, service packs and patches all advanced as far as possible, given the limits of the base which they were developed against. Now ten years later it all may need to be replaced.

Investment Versus Cost/Benefit

Spending money, like time, costs more than cash; it costs you emotion. The general problem with technology is reliability. If it was not so reliable, we may have replaced it sooner than ten years later. An automobile, roughly, lasts about 100,000 miles, more or less. You can almost plan on replacing every 3-7 years. Along the way it tells you clearly it is going to die.

Budgeting for technology upgrades can be thought of in the same way. If we look at the initial cost of ERP take on and deployment, you can divide this by roughly ten to see your budget annually for the technology platform replacements; instead of spending all at once, again.

The single best reason to upgrade infrastructure and software is speed. Getting the answer faster saves money. Having more big-data analysis means your big-picture can be sliced and diced into chewable pieces.

Infrastructure and Compliance

Compliance comes in many forms. First is it risky to have old infrastructures to carry all of your enterprise eggs in? Imagine the impact of key elements of your business, if they cannot operate for 2-24 hours or longer, would feel like. What is this cost? It is measurable in terms of dollars and emotional spend?

Certain compliances, such as; PCI for credit card processing carry penalty fees and business risk of being denied services. Customer compliance for lot tracking and recall management based on quality conformance tied to “CAPA” and regulatory requirements. Sales tax reporting and filing constraints is another sensitive and potentially expensive area.

Business Platform Reliability

Business reliability is the key to rationalizing proactive management of systems, software, technologies and compliances. If your business disaster recovery plan and business partners and board of directors perceive fragile operating platforms it may cause undue exposures.

Business Continuity plays an important role in the deciding to maintain your enterprise technologies. Looking back over the last 28 years, we can say with certainty, reliability and trust in technologies has played the highest role in upgrade decisions.

Security and Safety

Security, today, plays the part of being your cop-at-the-door. From your internet provider to the security component stack business operations relies. With the news ablaze with foreign hackers, intrusions, business secrets, industrial espionage, and intellectual property theft, we can see how being relaxed may not cut it.

Safety of your customer, supplier, business and personal information gets places in the business’ hands. Managing these factors on ageing or incompetent technologies is risky and costly.

Proactively maintaining consistently reliable, safe and secure business technologies helps ensure readiness a future protected from disasters.

All or Nothing

If we see the glass half empty or full, we may think we cannot do anything until we do it all, we may get there, but at what cost along the way? I can say without hesitation, we get more calls caused from technology incompatibilities than outright failures. Those little things we call ‘glitches’ or ‘gotchas’ cost more than the whole of the platform.

Inconsistencies cause emotional stress, creating an environment of ERP distrust. When an operator processes a transaction they expect it to all post without incident. When they have faith in their enterprise systems business life goes easier. The key to peace of mind and trust is reliability.

Perfection is the enemy of done. Starting today you can take in hand your business technologies by dividing into small bite sizes systems to open up strategic opportunities future proofing your business.

A World of Changes

Given the opening claims of 3000 enhancements and upgrades across the enterprise platform tied to the fact we are paying for the upgrades, regardless, so why, then do we not capitalize on all of those benefits? Feeling entrenched while gauging against the time it took to stabilize the business around ERP we may think we are not up to the challenge. Given we are talking about people, we can learn at a fast pace

Capital outlays versus maintenance costs may look like the same expense on financial statements; but jumping technology platforms from early to modern may open a real can of worms. However, budgeting and planning for technology change may be one of the best investments a business can make.

Technology does not rest or go on vacation; however, it does need restructuring about every 3-5 years. Waiting too long can make those changes cost more than if they were prepared strategically.

Learning Curve and Training

Whether you are starting a fresh or upgrading ERP; training to offset the learning curve is always a very good idea. Training comes in a couple of forms;

  • Onsite – get a trainer and group your employees into “ERP modules” and functions with some cross sectionals as well.
  • On-line courses with recorded prescribed content focused on “the system” not tailored for your specific business model. (usually better for retraining and learning reinforcement)
  • Web-based classroom style prescribed or tailored using your data as the base for training content.

Learning does come at a price; paying for the training to learn faster instead of over time and living with the results. If proactive training is part of your ongoing business support model you are already prepared.


When your people interact with others in email, documentation, manufacturing, sales and distribution; suddenly the systems come to life passing letters, printing barcode labels, pick sheets and packing slips.

All of these actions by people are processed through your systems contributing to customers, reaching out to your supplier with a purchase order. Maybe you use electronic data interchange (EDI) or ecommerce for your order fulfillment with credit card processing for electronic payments. At the high level view, business just works; down in the trenches of data processing and computer technologies there are millions of interchanges each hour a business operates. Without current technologies and software your business costs you more.

Executive support and trust heads up the list for successful technology maintenance program to be implemented. Knowing the value of potential benefits, connected with updates across your enterprise, does developing a structured upgrade plan make sense for your company?

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Tags: Enterprise Software, Enterprise Continuity, Food & Beverage

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