B.C. chocolate maker upgrades Sage ERP for scalability

Fraser Valley, B.C.-based chocolate confectionery maker Brookside Foods Ltd. has doubled in revenue the last two years. However, according to its process improvement leader, growth can negatively impact the planning of production and raw materials if badly managed.

“It creates a lot of pressure because we’re having to look at capacity issues,” said Lori Meyer.

Brookside Foods is just starting, this week, a trial run of an enterprise resource planning software from Sage, which will replace a previous offering from the same ERP vendor, but this time with scalability built in.

“It just could no longer do what we need it to do,” said Meyer. The previous ERP from Sage had been customized by a third-party contractor to the point that scaling the software would require a new implementation anyway.

The trial run will test the software functionality with actual customer data such as products and orders, and ultimately serve to identify necessary system tweaks.

Brookside Foods’ trial run coincides with Sage’s ERP X3’s launch of its newest version, 6.2, of its ERP software, which will hit the North American market June 2 after having been launched in Europe the week prior.

Jean Huy, director of product marketing with Sage, said among the new capabilities in the new version is a graphical process-oriented interface that isn’t meant to look like ERP.

“It looks like a subway map,” said Huy, with laid-out steps a user must go through to complete a particular task. “They don’t have to navigate through endless drop-down lists to find narrow functions.”

While previous versions did offer multi-legislation capabilities for businesses that operate across geographical markets, version 6.2 offers easier implementation with just a single instance of the software needing to be deployed. Before this, IT admins would be required to configured each system independently as with previous versions.

Also, version 6.2 has mobility capabilities so a remote sales force can access some parts of the ERP from mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones. Huy explained that “widgets call from the device” to the ERP to “push information” to the remote user. Conversely, a remote user can also, through these same widgets, write information back into the ERP.

Version 6.2, besides the premium edition, comes in a standard edition that basically cuts implementation time and costs by pre-configuring many processes and parameters smaller businesses will need. “So, it accelerates implementation dramatically … Customers can manage it with as little as one IT person,” said Huy, adding that it takes two-thirds of the time usually required.

Standard edition has the same functionality as in the premium edition except for multi-legislation capabilities, which, Huy said, would be more of a need by larger businesses.

Brookside Foods is currently running a trial of version 6.0 for 30 users. Meyer said the support for multi-lingual and international marketplaces is particularly useful given the business has three Canadian facilities and also operates in the U.S. and Europe.

“We needed something that could support that easily,” said Meyer. With just a single system, users in Brookside’s three Canadian locations, two in British Columbia and one in Quebec, have slightly different needs in terms of functionality.

Meyer anticipates the next trial run will take place end of June with a targeted go live on September 1.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau


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