In this article we look at the key questions you must ask – and get the answers to – if you want to find the best distillery software supplier for you, your operation and your company.
In the spirits industry, one of the main constants is change. Those in the industry are constantly striving to innovate within a sector that is continuously reshaping itself, as consumer, regulatory and industry dynamics shift and move forward. Business strategy is driven by trends in new and emerging markets, as well as other key, exciting trends, such as the number of new whisky distilleries set to come online in the next year or so.
As the industry as a whole shifts and changes, it is also vital that departments within companies adapt and evolve, too. The management of spirit stocks at warehouses and distilleries is no different. While there are some constants here, and change in some respects comes gradually, there are still more changes than ever before. It is therefore critical that the approach to management of this area is dynamic and agile.
Because the movement and storage of maturing spirit inventory presents companies with a number of unique challenges, there are a number of benefits of utilising software solutions to overcome these, and to streamline working processes – as Glenmorangie discovered.
Not just an ordinary stock management system
However, when companies are looking to invest in a system that can support their stock management processes, it is crucial they are able to pick out the solution that is not static, and which can adapt and evolve and widen its functionality in order to reflect the changing landscape of the spirits industries.
This is perhaps easier said than done, because at first glance it can seem as though there are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential tools available here. For example, numerous financial systems have a stock package within them.
However, these are often very simple solutions, which are often limited in scope and functionality to simply counting stocks and different stock parts that an organisation has. But, as anyone involved in spirit stock management will know, simply counting quantities is not enough: it is necessary to have a holistic view of numerous different factors and aspects, such as the content of casks; the age of the spirit within them; the type of wood of the cask; as well as a means of tracking spirit management to ensure HMRC compliance.
Using a simple, static tool poses a real risk, because it can mean that some crucial elements and factors aren’t considered.
Take maturation losses, for example. Large ERP systems simply don’t handle this concept, and they can’t easily be adapted to take it into account.
So how can you find a system that will work?
First and foremost, it’s important to work with systems developed by industry experts, who understand that the industry is constantly changing, and who have years of extensive experience working within the sector. This is vital to ensure that software solutions to stock management are adaptable, wide in scope and dynamic: so they can evolve in line with industry trends and requirements.
By working with a software supplier with extensive industry experience also provides further key benefits. For example, it helps ensure any new software functionality will be designed with the industry and end-user in mind, which means user interfaces will be simple to understand and user friendly.
This also feeds into the training process – a vital part of any new software installation process – because the experience of developers and trainers helps guide new users more effectively: they understand what the user is trying to do, and what they need the system for and why. An experienced supplier will be able to put themselves into the position of users looking at the screen and using the software.
With an understanding of the processes users go through and follow, experienced developers can therefore tailor the system and training accordingly: so that it takes a whole-of-industry approach; reflecting trends and changes, as well as the needs of users.
The spirits industry will continue to change and develop. In order to ensure your company is best placed to deal with these changes, it’s critical to work with software suppliers who can anticipate and react to these developments – ensuring your systems and working processes remain streamlined and efficient. How do you find these suppliers? Why not read our ‘5 Questions to ask potential suppliers’ article to help you identify the right partner for your business…