FAQ’s – The Basics of Distillery Management Software

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Navigating the diverse landscape of distillery management software can seem daunting at first, with numerous providers offering varying levels of functionality, support, and pricing packages. As you begin to explore the possibilities of integrating technology into your distillery, you might wonder what distillery management software is and how it can benefit your business. In this article, we will explore the basics of distillery management software.

The Basics of Distillery Management Software

What is Distillery Management Software?

Distillery management software is a type of specialised business management system designed specifically for spirit producers to streamline and optimise their operations.

This software helps oversee various aspects of the spirit production process and business activities, helping businesses run more efficiently, reduce errors, and manage data across all aspects of the operation.

What Type of Spirits Benefit from a Distillery Management System?

A distillery management system can benefit the production and management of virtually any type of spirit. However, aged spirits like whisky, rum, brandy, tequila, and mezcal will benefit more from a software package which has been designed specifically to cater for the complexities involved in the production and ageing processes unique to these types of spirits.

Here’s a summary of how these tailored systems provide distinct advantages for aged spirits:

  • Ageing Process Management: Aged spirits require careful monitoring during the ageing process, which can last from a few years to several decades. Distillery management systems can manage the barrel inventory, tracking the age of each inventory item and documenting the updated age of the spirit, using ‘Age of the Youngest Spirit’ calculations following any operational processes which combines spirit of varying ages. All of which is less of a concern for non-aged spirits, such as gin or vodka.
  • Batch Consistency and Quality Control: Due to the long production cycles of aged spirits, maintaining consistency and quality across different batches is crucial. These systems help distilleries manage blend/end-product recipes to achieve desired flavour and age profiles while maintaining quality standards over time.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Aged spirits often face stricter regulations, including those related to ageing requirements and geographical indications (e.g., Scotch whisky or Cognac). Distillery management systems help ensure compliance with these complex regulatory frameworks by maintaining detailed records and facilitating necessary reporting.
  • Inventory and Cask Management: Managing the stock of ageing casks and planning for future production needs is more critical for aged spirits due to their extended production timelines. Distillery management systems aid in forecasting and managing space within ageing facilities.

 

For non-aged spirits like gin and vodka, the primary benefits of distillery management systems revolve around optimising production efficiency, recipe management, and maintaining high throughput, which are less complex compared to the nuanced needs of aged spirit production. Thus, while distillery management systems are beneficial across all spirit types, ensuring you choose one with the features and functions to cater to the operational requirements of your spirit type is essential.

Why Should I Consider Purchasing a Distillery Management System Over a Standard ERP Solution?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions manage a broad range of business needs and handle standard operational and financial tasks effectively. However, they fall short in addressing the specialised requirements of spirit production and maturation without significant customisation.

Distillery management systems are tailored specifically for the unique needs of the spirit production industry. By integrating these with ERP systems, you can ensure detailed management of spirit production is efficiently handled by the distillery management solution. Meanwhile, the ERP system provides high-level summary information to maintain smooth business operations. This integration maximises efficiency and effectiveness across your operations.

For more information about the benefits of interfacing a Distillery Management Solution with an ERP, read our article here, which also goes on to consider the pro’s and cons of developing bespoke ERP functionality to manage the spirit production process.

What should I consider when choosing a Distillery Management System and Vendor?

When selecting a distillery management system and vendor, it’s crucial to consider several factors that ensure the software meets your specific needs and comes with reliable support. Here’s what to look for:

  • Industry Expertise: Choose a vendor with proven experience and expertise in the distilling industry. They should understand the unique challenges and requirements of a spirit production and maturation environment.
  • Functionality and Features: Ensure the system includes all necessary features to manage your operation effectively as the various systems available on the market will have slightly different sets of functionality and features. Some may cover a broad range of functional areas, offering comprehensive solutions, while others may provide more in-depth, specialised features in certain process areas. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your current and future requirements as this understanding will help you choose a system that aligns with your growth trajectory and operational requirements.
  • Customisability and Scalability: The system should be flexible enough to accommodate your current operations and scalable to grow with your business. Check if the vendor offers custom solutions tailored to your specific needs.
  • Integration Capabilities: The system should easily integrate with other software tools you are using, such as SCADA/barrel filling systems, ERP and financial solutions etc. This ensures seamless data flow across all areas of your business.
  • Support and Training: Evaluate the vendor’s customer support and training options. Good vendor support is crucial for troubleshooting and optimising the use of the system. Check if they offer on-site training, online resources, and ongoing technical support.
  • Cost: Consider the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase price, implementation costs, training, and ongoing support and maintenance fees. Ensure the pricing model is transparent and fits within your budget.
  • Vendor Stability and Reputation: Research the vendor’s market presence and stability. A vendor with a strong reputation and a solid track record is more likely to provide reliable software and support.

 

By thoroughly evaluating these factors, you can choose a distillery management system and vendor that best fits your distillery’s needs, enhances operational efficiency, and supports your business goals.

How Much Does a Distillery Management System Cost?

The cost of a distillery management system can vary widely depending on several factors, including the functionality of the software, the size of the operation, the level of customisation required, and the vendor’s pricing structure. Here’s a general breakdown of what you might expect:

  • Software Licensing: Many distillery management systems are priced based on a licensing model, which could be either a one-time purchase or a recurring subscription fee. The licensing costs will likely vary depending on the complexity of the system and the features included. Most providers will also offer a tiered licensing model, allowing you to select the functionality set which best suits your needs and your budget.
  • Customisation and Integration Costs: If the system needs to be customised to fit specific business processes or integrate with existing systems (like financial software or ERP systems), the costs can increase and will vary depending on the depth and complexity of the changes required.
  • Implementation and Setup Fees: Some vendors charge initial setup fees that cover the installation of the software, initial configuration, and staff training.
  • Training Costs: Training is crucial for ensuring that your staff can fully utilise all the features of the system. Some vendors include training within the setup fees, while others might charge extra for on-site training sessions or special training modules.
  • Maintenance and Support Fees: Ongoing support and maintenance are essential for software updates, security patches, and troubleshooting. These fees are often included in the subscription price, but for one-time purchase licences, there will likely be an annual maintenance fee applied.
  • Scalability and Additional Modules: As your distillery grows, you may need to add more users, additional features, or enhanced capabilities to the software. These additions typically come at an extra cost, which can be structured as one-time fees or increases in the monthly subscription rate.

 

Given the broad range of potential costs, it’s important to discuss your specific needs with several vendors to get accurate pricing. It’s also useful to request detailed quotes that break down all potential costs, from initial setup to ongoing fees, to avoid any unexpected expenses. This will help you budget appropriately and compare options based on total cost of ownership.

Can I Arrange a Demonstration of Distillery Management Solutions Before Purchasing?

Yes, arranging a demonstration of distillery management solutions before making a purchase is not only possible but highly recommended. Demonstrations are a crucial part of the selection process as they provide insights into how the software functions in real-world scenarios and how it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your distillery. Here’s how you can go about arranging a demonstration:

  • Identify Potential Vendors: Start by identifying vendors that offer distillery management solutions that seem to align with your requirements. You can find these through industry references, online searches, and recommendations from peers.
  • Contact Vendors: Reach out to these vendors through their websites, by email, or by phone. Express your interest in their solutions and request a demonstration. Most vendors are eager to showcase their software and will accommodate demonstration requests.
  • Prepare for the Demo: To get the most out of the demonstrations, prepare a list of your key requirements and pain points. It’s helpful to have specific scenarios or tasks you want the demonstration to cover, so you can see exactly how the system handles your needs. Some of the scenarios you have in mind, may require specific configuration or advance preparation of inventory data, so where possible, share these details with the vendor in advance of the demonstration, as that will ensure they are adequately set-up to showcase the features and functions in question.
  • Involve Key Team Members: Include team members from different parts of your distillery operations (e.g., production, inventory management, compliance, etc) in the demo. This ensures that the software is evaluated from multiple perspectives and meets various departmental needs.
  • Schedule and Attend Demos: Vendors may offer a live demo (either in-person or via a virtual meeting platform) or provide access to a pre-recorded product demonstration. Live demos typically allow for real-time questions and answers, making them more interactive and informative.
  • Evaluate the Demo: After attending demos from different vendors, evaluate each based on how well the software meets your needs, its ease of use, compatibility with existing systems, and the quality of customer support offered by the vendor.
  • Feedback and Follow-Up: Gather feedback from your team members who participated in the demo. Use this feedback to follow up with vendors if you have additional questions or need more information to make a decision.

 

Demonstrations are a vital part of the decision-making process as they help ensure that the software you choose is the best fit for your distillery’s specific needs. They allow you to see firsthand how the system could improve your operations and help manage your production more efficiently.

Choosing the right distillery management software is crucial for optimising operations, ensuring compliance, and maintaining high-quality standards in spirit production. By understanding your specific needs and evaluating vendors carefully, you can make an informed decision that supports your distillery’s growth and success. Investing in specialised software tailored for distilleries can streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and help produce superior spirits.

Learn more about the DRAMS Distillery Management Solution by downloading our brochure here.

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DRAMS is 100% focused on bulk stocks and distillery management. We understand that the movement and maturation of spirit is a unique process that demands a truly dedicated software solution. That’s why we first created DRAMS over 50 years ago – and we’ve been improving and expanding it ever since.

 

For more information about DRAMS and all our products and services, complete the form to speak to a consultant or arrange a demo.

 
 
Testimonials

What our clients say…

Whether your distillery is large or small, near or far, one thing remains the same: our clients love our software and support. But don’t take our word for it; here’s what
they have to say…

Branding Dots
Rab Sorman
I know where every spirit is, how it’s maturing, and how it fits into the bigger picture… this plays a crucial role in future blends
Whisky Stocks and Blending Manager, Glenmorangie
Alistair Paton
It does make such a difference talking to knowledgeable people who have years of experience dealing with our specialised industry and who are always prepared to go the extra mile.
Project Manager, The Tomatin Distillery Co.
Ron Welsh
DRAMS is a great inventory management system. It allows me to quickly analyse the stocks we have and what we can use it for; and allows us to easily allocate to future blends.
Master Blender and Strategic Inventory Manager, Beam Suntory
Christine Leggat
Every piece of spirit that moves within the business is captured within DRAMS.
Stock Controller, Inver House Distillers
John Kerr
The knowledge of DRAMS’ consultants – both of their product and of bulk stock processing as a whole – gave us a solid platform to work from.
Bulk Planner, John Dewar & Sons
Ron Welsh
You need to know exactly what you have and when it becomes of age to put into bottle. For this you require granularity of month by month data.
Master Blender and Strategic Inventory Manager, Beam Suntory
David Jordan
For any warehouse, any floor, rick and level, I can see what stock is there and how much space I have at the push of a button.
Maturing Inventory Manager, Wild Turkey