How to Build an ERP for the Food Industry?

How to Build an ERP for the Food Industry
Faiza Khalid
CIS engineer | Developer | Tech Writer

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

The food industry frequently faces new customers, requirements, and technologies. Digitization helps overcome these challenges effectively; through better process management, production optimization, flexibility in logistics, 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 solution offers business process management and optimization capabilities. It streamlines various business operations from human resources, supply chain management, inventory management, and supply chain optimization to production planning and management. 

An ERP system integrates all the business departments into a single database system that allows quick data access from various locations and maintains data integrity as information is written and saved on a unified database system.

An ERP for the food and beverage industry serves the same purpose while focusing on the operations relevant to the food business market. 

An ERP for food and beverage manufacturers will help scale food batches as per needs, find substitute ingredients, optimize foods’ shelf life, track food expiries, support food compliance, optimize food production, reduce waste, follow food safety regulations, ensure timely delivery, etc.

Now, we list the steps you need to take to build an ERP for the food industry.

Perform Needs Assessment and Determine the Project Scope

You need to analyze your current business operations and locate gaps in function and management processes. You will access how an ERP system can help optimize your business operations, increase employee productivity, and manage business growth.

You will 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:

Batch Tracking: This 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.

Production Management: This helps improve operational efficiency through simplified scheduling, raw material traceability, minimized waste, raw recipe management, etc.

Purchasing and Sales Management: This module helps with contract management, supplier management, material requirement planning, customer management, etc.

Inventory and Distribution Management: This ERP module gives visibility into inventory costing, helps monitor inventory levels, etc.

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.

Financials Management: This provides accounting tools to track expenses and profits, manage ledger requirements, create audit and monetary KPI reports, etc.

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 will require a competent team to build an ERP solution for food manufacturing companies. Your ERP development team will 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 assesses business performance, evaluates the business market, proposes solutions for business growth, etc.
  • A UI/UX designer designs the user interface of your 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 will need to select a software development methodology that your project team will follow to deliver your ERP software successfully within time and budget constraints.

Your project manager will help you choose and implement a project development and management framework.

Agile software development methodology like Scrum is commonly used for software development projects.

The scrum methodology divides the development process into multiple iterations called sprints. It organizes developers as a cross-functional team and focuses on delivering a ready-for-market software product. 

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 need to 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, one of the leading cloud service providers, Amazon Web Services offers numerous cloud products under multiple categories, like

  • EC2 as virtual servers;
  • Elastic Beanstalk to run and manage web apps;
  • EFS for a fully-managed file system;
  • Aurora as a managed relational database;
  • Identity and Access management system to manage access to your services;
  • Certificate Manager to provide, manage, and deploy SSL/TLS certificates, etc.

Some other cloud service providers include Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, etc.

Design an ERP for Food 

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

Your ERP designers will use the design thinking process to create user flows where users move seamlessly from one application screen to another to achieve an end goal.

Application designers use UI/UX principles to deliver an excellent user experience. Some of these are design consistency, minimal cognitive load, the efficiency of use, mirror real-world concepts, etc.

Your designers will 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 Adobe XD, Figma, and Microsoft Visio, help designers design user flows, wireframes, and app prototypes.

Develop a Food ERP Software System

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

Front-end Development

Your front-end developers will 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, JavaScript, etc., and frameworks and libraries like, 

React supports virtual DOM, which makes it faster. It is a beginner-friendly framework to create high-performance applications.

JQuery is an easy-to-use and user-friendly framework with a simple syntax. It offers a flexible DOM to update web application elements.

Angular stands out due to its two-way binding support. It offers a real-time model and view synchronization.

Backend Development

There are numerous programming languages, development tools, and frameworks available to develop the backend of ERP applications.

Programming Languages & Frameworks

Some of the programming languages that backend developers use are PHP, C#, Java, etc.

PHP is a scripting language that help developer build dynamically generated content. It can be embedded in the HTML page. It is largely used in content management systems. 

However, PHP is considered slower than modern programming languages with some security vulnerabilities. PHP Frameworks like CodeIgniter, Zend, and FuelPHP are used for ERP development.

C# is an object-oriented programming language in the C family with better memory management, built-in garbage collection, etc. Development frameworks for C# include ASP.Net, .Net Core, etc.

Java offers write-once run-anywhere flexibility via platform-specific runtime environments. It is a simple yet robust object-oriented programming language used extensively in enterprise software development.

Java has the support of multiple robust development frameworks like Apache Struts, Apache Wicket, Grail, etc.

Database Development

Your developers will design and develop an ERP database, including logical and physical models. They will use techniques like normalization and ER modeling. 

One of the latest database management designs is six-layer architecture with a data access layer, business logic layer, data service layer, data mapping layer, components layer, and application layer. 

Your developers will use database management systems like Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle database, IBM Db2, etc., to implement databases and store, update, retrieve, and enhance business data.

API Development

Your development team can quickly enhance your ERP food 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.

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. 

Amazon API Gateway, IBM Cloud API Management, APImetrics, etc., will help your application developers to design, build, test, and document APIs efficiently.

Advanced Technologies

Cutting-edge technologies will help your developers build advanced applications. 

For example, machine learning will help them build an ERP system with a personalized user experience. ML algorithms will read and analyze users’ data to show them relevant ERP features. 

Similarly, natural language processing techniques will help developers create chatbot features to deliver near-human-like customer service to business customers.

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, IBM Watson, Google TensorFlow, Amazon Machine Learning, Apache Mahout, etc., will help your developers work with business data and implement ML models.

Test your ERP Software

Your developers will ensure the code quality by implementing test cases like unit tests, integration tests, etc. Your QA engineers will 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.

Software testers often automate test scripts to test the complete software efficiently. Some tools for automated testing are Test Studio, Mocha, Selenium, etc.

Deploy and Configure

Now that your project team has tested your ERP software application, your developers will deploy it in the live environment. 

DevOps techniques will help your developers quickly deploy ERP features, integrate them with existing applications, verify outputs, etc.

Some DevOps tools to enhance team collaboration, introduce automation, reduce context-switching, leverage monitoring, etc., are Jira, Slack, Docker, GitHub, Bitbucket, Veracode, etc.

A successful ERP deployment will also include 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 will monitor its performance concerning operational efficiency and users’ productivity.

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

You will 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 system is a feature-rich software solution to organize and manage critical business operations. 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 AI 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 will 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 will 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, 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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