Seven food ERP vendor red flags

How do you know when you are talking with the right ERP vendor?  If you are in the food business, here a few clues to suggest you might have the wrong vendor.

1. They don’t listen to your basic requirements

It is your business and you have some reasons why you want to talk about key food ERP requirements.  Ideally, you have already talked among your team and your requirements are documented and prioritized.  Once the introductions are complete, the vendor ought to ask why you are in the ERP market and what requirements you have for your ERP.  If, instead, they start talking about the petro-chemical implementation they just completed, you might see that red flag start to wave.

2. They have little knowledge of the food industry

You need to track compliance to many outside demands.  You want improved ingredient controls.  Your vendor should already have a feel for those requirements.  If they have food experience, they could tell you how they helped a business much like yours to save on ingredient costs and at the same time find new markets for different grades of product that were not previously available.  The vendor should be in touch with your industry and know what your industry finds to be valuable.

Find the right food ERP for your business using this seven-step guide to selecting process manufacturing ERP

3. Their implementation team is inadequate

The salesperson who began the conversation seemed to understand your needs and showed the right background and experience.  Then you met more of the vendor’s team and the other players just came over from that same petro-chemical implementation.  Food ERP selection and implementation is complex and requires time and expertise.  If your vendor cannot put together the team you need, that red flag is waving.

4. Does the vendor’s proposal smell wrong?

The saying, “If something smells fishy, it probably is” is true.  There might not be anything specific but pay attention to your nose and instincts.  Maybe that vendor has a strong background in pharmaceuticals.  They assert that lot traceability and environmental tracking are essentially the same and only the field names need to be modified.  You are not so certain.  There are other vendors to talk with.

5. The vendor looks like they might go out of business

You will use this ERP for years to come.  Technology will move along and the way you churn butter ten years from now might not yet be invented.  Check into the vendor’s background and finances.  You want a vendor who has experience and will be there when you need them for a long time.

6. They don’t have a proven method to track progress

Your food ERP vendor probably understands the techniques for selection and implementation better than you do.  That is their business.  Yours is producing and selling food while keeping in compliance with many rules.  At a minimum, the project will be several months and will need a yard stick available to know how well you are progressing.  If they do not have the measure, someone is carrying the flag to the pole already.

7. They offer no insight on your requirements checklist

Your food ERP vendor should know your industry and will know your business in ways you have not yet considered.  They talk to businesses that sign with a different vendor as well as those that sign with them. You put a lot of effort into your requirement list. They should have thoughts that might improve the list. One of your listed needs might be around allergen scheduling in your shop processes. If you have a good vendor, they might show how ERP can meet that need and reduce clean out time between batches too.  Not having that experience should at least begin to look like a pink flag.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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