Major food groups can spend millions on systems but for a small or start-up company like Hertfordshire based granola producer Rollagranola, part of the answer is a cloud-based Manufacturing ERP package from MRPeasy.
Like many food start-ups, Rollagranola commenced by manufacturing at home and selling at markets. With turnover growing from an initial £60,000 per annum towards the current half a million, Robin Longden took the decision after 18 months to become a proper commercial firm. This involved finding a 2,500 sq ft factory, but as a 30-year food industry veteran Longden was well aware that investment in systems would be at least as important as manufacturing investment if the company was to demonstrate its credentials as a serious operator to commercial buyers.
This meant, says Longden, that he needed a system that represented the business properly but wasn’t ridiculously expensive to get up and running. “Making granola isn’t the most complicated and sophisticated job – after all, you can make it at home.
We needed a system that maintained simplicity and clarity, but gave us the ability to bring in new vendors, to store materials specifications, to work to consistent recipes and to provide full traceability – fundamental if you are dealing with any but the smallest retailers”.
Rollagranola works to SALSA (Safe And Local Supplier Approval) certification, which involves annual inspections as well as demonstrable adherence to good manufacturing practices and processes, analogous to those of major companies but “not so onerous that they pull a small company out of shape.” Firms have to show that they have end-to-end traceability – both backwards from a customer complaint and forward to trace where a suspect batch of ingredients has been used. “The mixture of intent, capability, and systems and processes is fundamental,” says Longden.
Rollagranola tested half a dozen MRP systems on ‘free trial’, and chose to install MRPeasy in June 2016. Longden found the system was relatively easy to learn, and was attracted by the licensing model and pricing structure:
“It really helps a growing business. You don’t have to take big bundles [of software] and you can add users one by one, so your costs are under control. But most fundamentally for us, the traceability works without any hassle”.
MRPeasy has been integrated straightforwardly with a Xero accountancy package and with the Shopify ecommerce system.