When it comes to Dairy Supply Chain software, choosing the right partner can make you a complete rockstar at managing your suppliers, tracking your sustainability, improving your traceability, and, importantly, increasing your bottom line. Choose a partner that's not suitable, and your workarounds might see costs ballooning out to thousands or even millions of dollars worth of maintenance, human resources, and industry non-compliance over the years - not to mention little visibility over the business.
But how do you find the software partner that is right for your dairy firm and all its unique requirements? Read on for pointers to consider in your quest.
When selecting a partner, think about what you want today and what you would need in the years to come. Can the software be easily extended when your business changes?
For example, your dairy firm may deal with only a few farms today - maybe it currently requires only producer payroll as part of its system. But after a few years of growth, you may be looking to sell milk to other customers and will need a system capable of handling customer billing and 3rd party payments. Then, with even more growth, you’d need a system that also handles haulers and hauler payroll for the increased loads coming in and out. Perhaps you’ll even want extra features, like giving these haulers access to a hauler portal with load reports, giving them transparency on the loads they bring in, or even giving them the ability to request their statements. There could be co-mingling and spot sales of milk to handle and pay for.
If the software system cannot scale as you grow, you might find yourself buying a separate system for each extra task (or resort to spreadsheets!) - a costly and inefficient workaround.
Working with you
The dairy industry is complex, with many specific rules and regulations, unique procedures, and pressures. This makes digitizing the milk supply chain complicated. It is vitally important that the partner you choose has a lot of experience in the dairy industry and, specifically, the milk supply chain.
In addition, make sure that they consult deeply with you as part of their onboarding process to gain a clear understanding of your dairy business, your challenges, your opportunities, and create a shared vision of where your organization is heading. The depth of consultation, alongside the ability to make sound, practical recommendations that reflect a thorough understanding of your business and its specific needs, are good predictors of a solution designed with your company's best interests in mind.
Take care of the pressures in the industry
There are several megatrends now that are heavily influencing milk supply chain management.
Carbon emissions are one: the EU this year announced the goal of cutting carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. The US has pledged to reduce its net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels in 2030. Whatever this global trend will mean for your dairy farm, it’s best to get in-built functionality in your software so you can meet any new requirements head-on. For example, choose software that allows your dairy firm to analyze the greenhouse gas emissions in your supply chains, with data from mobile farmer apps and supervisor apps fed through to a platform like PowerBI (Microsoft’s business analytics service). You could then use this type of analysis to support your suppliers/farmers in implementing regenerative agriculture practices - thereby improving soil health and diversity of ecosystems.
Another megatrend is the continued growth of rural areas worldwide, with investment shifting into regions that have not been part of the dairy industry before. Challenges this brings to the milk supply chain include operating haulage on remote, sometimes poorly maintained roads - and calculating the most fuel-efficient (and therefore low-carbon) and time-efficient (and consequently low spoilage) way to get the milk from farm to factory. If your firm is dealing in remote areas globally, you may want to choose a partner whose software can deal with haulage routes anywhere in the world.
Finally, there is a global drive for sustainability and environmentally-friendly dairy products - and as part of this, the dairy industry is continually innovating and adopting new practices, mindsets, and technologies. To help your business move with these trends and thrive under the changed requirements, it has become crucial to choose experienced partners who can provide intelligent supply chain solutions.
Whether your dairy firm is global or local, corporate or boutique, dairy is a 24/7 business, and so you need 24/7 support services and expert ones at that. This should be a massive factor in deciding which software firm you’ll take on as a partner.
The dairy supply chain industry is complex, and you need the best software partners to navigate. Please do your due diligence, whether understanding the industry, helping you address its unique pressures, scaling with your business, or providing expert support around the clock.