How to Build an ERP for the Food Industry

How to Build an ERP for the Food Industry?

Estimated read time: 12 minutes

Are you interested in building an ERP for the food industry?

Digitization of the food industry helps overcome the challenges of new consumer demands and market trends through better process management, production optimization, a better understanding of the market, etc. 

ERP systems play a significant role in the successful digital transformation of the food industry. Research carried out by Food Business Insights shows that 56.9% of all the participants already use enterprise resource planning software for their food business. 

Build an ERP for Food Industry

An ERP for the food and beverage industry focuses on the operations relevant to the food business market. An ERP for food and beverage manufacturers helps optimize foods’ shelf life, track food expiries, support food compliance, optimize food production, follow food safety regulations, ensure timely delivery, etc.

Multiple use cases of food manufacturing software propose multiple opportunities for businesses looking to invest in the growing market. If you also plan to build a feature-rich food ERP and mark your share in the profits, you need to take the following steps.

Perform Needs Assessment and Determine the Project Scope

You should analyze your current business operations and locate gaps in function and management processes. You need to assess how an ERP system could help optimize food business operations such as efficiently tracking the required ingredients, swift delivery of substitute materials, etc., that help manage business growth.

You would finalize the scope of your ERP development project by deciding the features you want to have in your ERP for food business processes. Some of the key ERP features for food and beverage companies include the following:

Batch Tracking: This module helps with real-time tracking of product batches with shorter shelf-life through every stage from manufacturing, processing, and distribution. It helps reduce losses and mismanagement of food product ingredients. The food traceability market is expected to reach $26.1 billion by 2025 and the consumers’ demand for safe-to-consume products is the main growth driver.

Purchasing and Sales Management: This module helps with contract management, supplier management, material requirement planning, customer management, etc. 80% of an average salesperson’s time is spent on non-revenue generating activities and automated sales processes can help achieve 88% of the sales target.

Inventory and Distribution Management: Inventory mismanagement costs around $1.1 trillion loss to businesses every year worldwide where human error is the leading problem in 46% of warehouses. An inventory management module in an ERP gives visibility into inventory costing, helps monitor inventory levels, etc., and saves from manual inventory management errors.

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Reporting and Analytics: Real-time reporting and data analytics help monitor business performance KPIs for all your vital business operations. It helps generate reports and share them with concerned departments for well-informed decisions. According to ERP software stats, businesses that implement an ERP system have access to organization-wide real-time data that is necessary for process optimization.

Financials Management: This module provides accounting tools to track expenses and profits, manage ledger requirements, create audit and monetary KPI reports, etc. Accounting software helps businesses cut down operating expenses by 50%.

These are a few of the many features that you can build in your ERP to streamline and manage a food business. Prepare a systems requirement document that contains all the decided ERP features and forward it to your ERP development team.

Build an ERP Development Team

You need a competent team to build an ERP solution for food manufacturing companies. Your ERP development team would consist of the following professionals:

  • A project manager plans product development, gives time and budget estimates, assigns development tasks, manages team members, etc.
  • A business analyst with experience in the food industry assesses business performance, evaluates the business market, and proposes solutions for business growth using techniques like MOST Analysis, Use Case Modeling, etc.
  • A UI/UX designer designs the user interface of your food ERP product.
  • Software developers build the core features of your ERP, manage backend integrations, design a deployment plan, configure new features with the existing systems, etc.
  • A software tester tests the software application so that it meets all the functional and non-functional requirements.

Choose ERP Development Methodology

Now that you have a professional ERP development team, you need to select a software development methodology that your project team can follow to deliver your ERP software successfully within time and budget constraints.

Your project manager would help you choose and implement a project development and management framework. Agile software development methodology like Scrum is commonly used for software development projects. 81% of agile adopters use Scrum or Scrum-related methodology for its less time to market and better adaptability.

The scrum methodology divides the development process into multiple iterations called sprints. It organizes developers as a cross-functional team to deliver a ready-for-market software feature at the end of each iteration. Scrum teams conduct daily standups and weekly sprint meetings to measure the project’s progress.

You can read more about software project management frameworks in our article.

Provide ERP Software Development Infrastructure

You would provide the necessary software development resources to your development team. These include development tools, storage services, application servers, content management systems, etc.

Cloud-based development infrastructure is popular today in the software industry due to the multiple benefits cloud computing offers its users. Some include increased agility in the development process, easy scalability of resources, high performance, centralized data security, cost savings, etc.

For example, Amazon Web Services, one of the leading cloud service providers with a 33% share in the cloud provider market, offers numerous cloud products under multiple categories to accelerate software application development and maintenance. Some AWS cloud services that you can utilize for your ERP application include the following:

  • You can use EC2 virtual servers to develop and deploy your application faster without any need for upfront hardware investment;
  • Elastic Beanstalk can help you swiftly run and manage web apps;
  • You can use EFS for a fully-managed file system with high availability;
  • You can utilize Aurora as a managed relational database with encrypted security and continuous backups;
  • You can create a secure food ERP with AWS Certificate Manager that provides, manages, and deploys SSL/TLS certificates, etc.

Design an ERP for Food 

Your UI/UX designers would design the user interface of your food ERP application. A user-friendly application interface helps users to navigate complex technical processes easily. 

Your ERP designers can use the design thinking process to create user flows where users move from one application screen to another seamlessly to achieve an end goal such as viewing inventory reports, tracking material delivery, etc.

Application designers use UI/UX principles to deliver an excellent user experience.  A good user experience consists of a consistent design with minimum cognitive load, moreover, the design is easy and efficient to use.

Your designers would create low-fidelity mockups and high-fidelity prototypes that explain the placement of front-end components, interaction of app features, etc., in addition to the visual themes, typography, and color palettes.

Tools like Figma help designers design user flows, wireframes, and app prototypes. Figma offers the following features to app designers to design an engaging user interface:

  • Figma helps designers create and test prototypes quickly as it generates code that can be used by developers. It also provides all the relevant information regarding a UI component in relation to other components.
  • Figma offers real-time collaboration and thus your design team can work remotely together on one design project.
  • Plugin API would allow your designers to write their own plugins or tap into an extensive collection of ready-to-use plugins to extend application functionality.

Develop a Food ERP Software System

Now, your ERP developers would build the front-end and back-end application features.

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Front-end Development

Your front-end developers would code the UI components and application layout as designed by the UI/UX designers. 

For the front end of web applications, developers use programming languages like CSS and JavaScript. Some supporting frameworks and libraries that your front-end developers can use include: 

  • React supports virtual DOM, which makes it faster. It is a beginner-friendly framework that would help your developers create a high-performance ERP application.
  • JQuery is an easy-to-use and user-friendly framework with a simple syntax making it easier for your developers to work with. Your developers can use this to create a dynamic web application via its flexible DOM feature.
  • Angular stands out due to its two-way binding support. It offers a real-time model and your developers can make use of its fast responsiveness and code maintainability.

Backend Development

There are numerous programming languages, development tools, and frameworks available that your backend developers can use to develop the backend of an ERP application.

For example, your developers can use C# to build a food ERP application. C# is an object-oriented programming language in the C family with better memory management, built-in garbage collection, etc. Your developers can also utilize supporting frameworks like .Net Core to accelerate the development process.

.Net Core would make it easier for developers to work with cloud-based technologies and build a cross-platform ERP application. Moreover, it offers a flexible and modular approach to application development that would be helpful in developing and integrating multiple food ERP modules.

Database Development

Your developers should be experts in designing and developing an ERP database, including logical and physical models. They would use techniques like normalization to minimize data redundancy and ER modeling for conceptual ERP database design. 

Your developers would use database management systems like IBM Db2 to implement databases and store, update, retrieve, and enhance business data. 

IBM Db2 is a cloud-native database to help you manage structured and unstructured data. It supports low-latency transactions and real-time analysis of business data. Your developers can use an actionable compression feature to save storage space without compromising ERP performance.

API Development

Your development team can quickly enhance your food ERP functionality by integrating third-party services. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) assist the use of multiple features like dashboard display, pop-up messages, customer service modules, etc., without developing them from scratch.

Your development team can also build your core ERP features as APIs so that they seamlessly communicate with each other and are also accessible to other applications. 

Tools like IBM Cloud API Management help your application developers to design, build, test, and document APIs efficiently. You get the following advantages by using IBM Cloud API Management service:

  • You can use IBM API Connect to create, manage, secure, and monetize your APIs via an intuitive user interface and open standards.
  • IBM cloud API management service helps you access, distribute, control, and analyze various APIs used by your developers. The centralized API control ensures high performance and security.

Advanced Technologies

Cutting-edge technologies help developers build advanced applications. For example, machine learning can help food businesses better understand their business data for customers’ needs. They can then produce personalized food products that meet customer requirements. 

Similarly, AI can be used for remote food safety monitoring procedures, cleaning of manufacturing equipment, etc. The AI market in the food and beverage industry is expected to reach $5.66 billion by 2026 and North America is expected to lead the market share by 46%.

Your developers should be skilled in data handling and processing techniques, and machine learning model development to build such advanced capabilities in your ERP for food companies. 

Popular machine learning tools like Microsoft Azure Machine Learning would help your developers work with business data and implement ML models. Azure Machine Learning service offers the following features for ML development:

  • You can incorporate machine learning as a service into your ERP without the need for heavy hardware and complex software tools.
  • Your team takes advantage of MLOps or DevOps for machine learning and can build, test, deploy, and monitor ML models faster.
  • Your developers can deploy ready-to-use machine learning algorithms by Microsoft. These algorithms are based on regression, clustering, etc., and can be used for predictive analysis.

Test your ERP Software

Your developers should ensure the code quality by implementing test cases like unit tests, integration tests, etc. Your QA engineers would conduct elaborate testing of your ERP application. Some tests that your application testers will perform include:

  • Acceptance testing to verify that the whole ERP system works as expected.
  • Functional testing, through techniques like black-box tests, to test the functionality of each feature by creating business scenarios.
  • Performance testing to test the performance of an ERP application under different workloads.
  • Usability testing to check how well a user can use your ERP application to complete a task.

These are some of the many functional and non-functional tests that software testers perform to ensure there are no errors or gaps in the smooth running of the software application.

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Software testers often automate test scripts to test the complete software efficiently. Tools like Test Studio help automate test routines. Some Test Studio features that your team can take advantage of include the following:

  • Test Studio allows you to automate user interface testing of web and desktop applications based on any front-end technologies.
  • Your testers can automate load testing, performance testing, API testing, etc.
  • If your dev team uses Visual Studio for ERP development, then they can Test Studio Dev Edition for quick test automation inside Visual Studio.

Deploy and Configure

Now that your project team has tested your ERP software application, your developers can deploy it in the live environment. DevOps techniques help developers quickly deploy ERP features, integrate them with existing applications, and verify outputs

Some DevOps tools that your project team can use are the following:

  • Slack messaging app for easier communication and team collaboration;
  • Docker for faster deployment routines as it automates most of the repetitive tasks;
  • GitHub for version control and sharing code files, etc. 

A successful ERP deployment also includes data migration to the new ERP solution and verification of the data integrity. We have discussed the steps to implement a new ERP system in a business environment in our article here.

Monitor and Maintain

After ERP deployment, you need to monitor its performance and its impact on operational efficiency and users’ productivity.

You can use KPIs like project margin, revenue, downtime, quality control, etc., to monitor your ERP performance. Tools like SimpleKPI help monitor these KPIs effectively.

You should also gather user feedback to enhance the ERP application as per user requirements. You can set a maintenance plan with your development team to ensure that your ERP software remains up-to-date with the latest technologies and hardware/software upgrades.

Ready to Invest in an ERP for Food Manufacturers?

ERP development is a complex process that requires competent and experienced ERP developers.

If you, as a business CTO or CEO, do not find such capable individuals on your team, we would advise you to partner with software development companies experienced in ERP solutions development.

Why not hire your ERP designers and developers from DevTeamSpace? It is a community of field-expert software developers and project managers. All our developers are skilled in the latest development technologies and are vetted for their expertise. 

Our dev teams follow an AI-powered development process that ensures close communication between developers and product owners.

You can partner with our dev teams by sending us your initial project specifications, and one of our account managers will get in touch with you to discuss further details on project planning, team building, etc.

FAQs on an ERP for Food Industry

1. Can I build my own ERP system for the food industry?

If ready-made ERP solutions do not fulfill your business needs, you can build your own ERP software. You need to perform the needs assessment, finalize the required ERP features, hire expert developers and a project manager from software development companies like DevTeamSpace, and provide them with the software development infrastructure. Your team would design, develop, test, deploy, and configure your ERP system.

2. What are the main pillars of ERP?

The key ERP pillars are Customer Relationship Management, Business Intelligence, Financial Resource Management, Learning Management Systems, Human Resource Management, supply chain management, and Student Information System Management (SIS).

3. What are the five major steps in ERP implementation?

The key steps in ERP implementation include planning, design, development, testing, deployment, support, and maintenance.


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