Food and beverage companies have to move fast. Changing trends, rapid fluctuations in raw materials prices, and changing consumer tastes—just to name a few things that companies need to adapt to day in and day out.
In this dynamic and increasingly complex market where decisions need to happen quickly and with all the right information, why are so many of them relying on a congested and likely inaccurate mess of applications held together by spreadsheets? A recent NetSuite whitepaper asked just that.
The Dangers of the “Application Hairball”
Too often, food and beverage companies have been forced to rely upon a hairball of dangerously unreliable spreadsheets that support aging accounting systems. Many are constrained by solutions that were built for a different time, where the accounting system of record was all that mattered and where systems had limited computing capability.
Why? Because, one may argue, they are “affordable.”
Affordable in the same way that a butter churn is affordable, in the way that a five-gallon bucket is affordable, and in the same way that measuring ingredients cup by cup is affordable. All of them will get you where you need to be affordably—you can’t comment on the speed, consistency, or accuracy.
Like using ‘affordable’ items to make your products, the relatively low cost of maintaining a system like QuickBooks masks the cost of inefficiencies in routine tasks: Monthly close takes days to complete, recalls are nearly impossible to keep track of, and business decisions are waiting on someone to bring together the numbers.
What Might be Affordable for the Small Business is a Huge Problem When You Grow
None of that mattered when business was relatively simple or where business was being conducted in stable market conditions. QuickBooks and other entry-level applications fare well for the first few years of a business.
But as things get more complex, as the number of transactions starts to scale, and as your customer base becomes more geographically dispersed, the once-reliable product starts requiring new additions to survive—few of which connect easily. Fast-growing food and beverage companies are especially challenged because the opportunities afforded by a combination of globalization and the rise of the Internet have not been matched by the development of their in-house systems.
The Answer: Connected Applications in the Cloud
If your stack of applications is beginning to look less ‘affordable’ than ‘cheap’, it may be time to begin looking at your options. A recent whitepaper on the topic, Why Food and Beverage Companies Are Switching from QuickBooks to NetSuite, looked at the continued dangers of using cheap, in-house products held together by duct tape, rubber bands, and spreadsheets and made arguments for heading to the cloud.