The brewery industry is serious business. Even if you’re running a small craft brewery, you’ll quickly find that you’re one of many. In fact, you’d be one of nearly 10,000 craft breweries in the United States. Great recipes and a unique vibe make you stand out from the pack but so do efficient brewery operations and processes—and the best way to get there is through a comprehensive brewery management system.
Ultimately, running a brewery comes down to managing your operations as efficiently as possible to ensure plenty of room for brewing the best possible recipes. A system of operations can build backend processes that lead to a better end product, achieving the consistency and quality you need to build your product and company reputation. That means streamlining your processes, which requires finding an advanced brewery management solution designed to build those integrations.
To get there, start by understanding the features and integrations that set the right brewery management solution apart from other more generalized business ERPs. What are the benefits of implementing a system in general? But also, which details and features should you look for when choosing the system of your brewery’s future?
The Increasing Need for Advanced Brewery Management Systems
Every business needs smooth operations to make a profit and build consistent margins while maintaining a high-quality product. For breweries, that means implementing a system designed to accomplish a few things:
- Create a single source of truth for your brewery operations, with all relevant data (from inventory to batch scheduling) housed in a single solution.
- Systematize your processes so that every time you order new inventory or brew a new batch, you take the same approach.
- Automate daily tasks and processes so that you can spend more time perfecting your recipes and building your customer base while eliminating redundancies.
- Achieve alignment across the staff, who can all refer to the same reports and data to inform and guide their daily workflow.
Here is the key: breweries across the spectrum, from small craft brewpubs to large regional suppliers, are recognizing these same benefits. It’s why the global brewery management system market is scheduled to grow more than 11% by 2027 and why it’s becoming increasingly important to leverage the same benefits for your own brewery.
7 Features to Look for When Choosing Your Brewery Management Solution
Of course, simply implementing any brewery management system is not enough. If you choose the first option you find, you risk being stuck with a solution that’s not optimized for breweries in general, a brewery of your size, or any specific industry niche. With one-size-fits-all solutions, features that are core to helping you build efficiency might be missing.
That makes finding the right brewery management software absolutely vital. As you look for a system designed to help unleash efficiency within your business operations, focus on these seven features in your evaluation.
Feature #1: Consistent and Comprehensive Recordkeeping
Perhaps the most central function of any brewery software has to be comprehensive record-keeping. Spreadsheets can be cumbersome and often aren’t enough to truly run an efficient operation. Instead, a complete management system should help you keep track of:
- Your batch recipes
- Your batch production steps
- Your inventory data
- Your sales data
- Real-time reports
What about the single source of truth mentioned above? This is where it comes into play. All data related to your operation should flow through your software and be easy to analyze and reference for anyone who needs it. That reduces the time spent searching for information, enabling your staff to spend more time on strategic productivity tasks.
Feature #2: Proactive Inventory Management
Keeping in line with inventory data, how well can the brewery management system you’re evaluating help you in not just keeping your inventory accurate but also actively managing it? Can you use it to take proactive steps to alert you or your ordering manager when an ingredient or packaging material is low? Can it potentially even reorder that piece of inventory automatically?
Such goals require trust that your brewery system hosts accurate data and that it can easily manage what would otherwise be a time-consuming task. The more proactive steps you can take in your inventory management as a result, the more efficient your operations can become over time.
Feature #3: Production Scheduling and Batch Tracking
Every brewery can benefit from an accurate and comprehensive master production schedule (MPS). The MPS outlines every step that needs to happen and when it needs to happen to put your various recipes in the hands of your customers, from ordering inventory all the way to bottling and packaging.
Rather than manual schematics that can be easily misunderstood or misplaced, your software system should help you build and improve your production scheduling over time.
Don’t stop at the scheduling process either. Ideally, your software should help you track every batch you produce according to that schedule through the brewing process. In turn, you’ll always know where things stand and when you can expect new products, ensuring they end up in your customers’ hands.
Feature #4: Quality Assurance Capabilities
Part of the production process has to be quality assurance. Simply put, brewers have to make sure that each time their customers try a favorite recipe, it tastes just as good as they remember. After all, consistency in quality is one of the biggest reasons customers choose to frequent and return to the craft breweries they love.
The system you choose to manage your brewery has a role to play in that process. That might include being able to monitor the results of your quality testing with every batch you brew to determine trends and fluctuations. It could also be QA data that flows directly into the software to automate that process. Either way, be sure to consider quality assurance as you select your brewery management system.
Feature #5: Advanced Integrations Beyond the ERP
No software in any industry can accomplish every single business task. Even with a comprehensive brewery management solution, you will likely need external tools to manage other business aspects like your website, point of sale system, accounting, and more.
The key to a successful management platform, though, is being able to integrate with these external tools. For example, can data flow from your accounting software or your POS system into the brewery management ERP? Can you run comprehensive reporting that factors this data as well as anything you store internally?
The answer lies in the integrations available for your brewery system. The more it can integrate with external tools for features it doesn’t offer, the better.
Feature #6: Brewery Analytics and Reporting Capabilities
A major benefit of being able to create a single source of truth for all of your brewery data is what you can do with that information as a result. Above all, your software should enable you to run comprehensive reporting on every aspect of your brewery, which you can use to improve the way you run your business.
For example, thanks to both internal recordkeeping and external integrations, you can determine the exact cost of every bottle of beer you brew. Compare it with your sales price, and you can determine your profit margins. Now, add in quality assurance data, and you can run experiments on how much you can decrease production costs and improve your margins without compromising the quality of your beer.
Feature #7: Compliance Reporting for External Authorities
Finally, reporting can also come in handy regarding compliance reporting and auditing for external authorities. State agencies and the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau require comprehensive reporting to keep breweries in compliance. Rather than spending hours every month, pulling together the necessary data, why not automate the process?
Look for a brewery management system that either has existing templates or allows you to build templates specifically to pull together the data external agencies need in the appropriate format. That saves valuable time and allows you to focus on more productivity and efficiency-oriented processes and operations.
Find the Right Brewery Management Solution to Unleash Efficiency
The need for more streamlined brewery operations is becoming increasingly clear across the industry. As brewery profit margins continue to narrow, finding any edge to minimize costs and make your processes more efficient will be welcome.
The right brewery management system is the key to unleashing that level of efficiency. It brings all areas of your business together, creating a single source of truth for everyone involved in running the business. The resulting scheduling advantages, reporting capabilities, and quality assurance opportunities are impossible to ignore.Of course, finding the right brewery management software to accomplish these goals is the first step. Start by learning about Ekos, the world’s leading business management solution designed for craft beverages. Book your demo today to see how our brewery solution can optimize the way you operate.