For brewers turning their passion from a casual hobby into a business, efficient brewery operations can be a difficult shift to make. You’ll no longer have the ability to spend endless hours perfecting your favorite recipe. Instead, you’re keeping a constant eye on everything from inventory to sales data, consistent quality, and profitability. That’s what makes brewery management software such an appealing proposition.
In an environment in which profit margins are shrinking, it’s especially important to have solid tools at your disposal. The number of craft breweries in the United States is close to hitting 10,000, continuing to rise despite lower total beer sales. Only breweries that treat their operations like a tight business, including the ability to streamline every piece of those operations, can set themselves apart from the competition and thrive in a tight market.
There are, of course, many elements that go into streamlining your operations. The right software platform, though, can go a long way. The right solution can help you manage many of the elements that might not come naturally—like standardization, supply chain management, production planning, and quality control. Put it all together, and you might just find a platform that can help you build that crucial competitive advantage, allowing you to keep your passion alive while the business elements are streamlined.
What is Brewery Management Software?
A brewery management platform helps with the administrative pieces of managing your brewery. It helps you track the lifecycle of your brewing processes, from monitoring your inventory to keeping the production schedule on task and on time.
Of course, not every brewery management tool is created equal. Depending on the solution you find, you might be able to leverage additional benefits like integration with your accounting software or automated reordering to simplify your supply chain. Keep that in mind as you look for different options to help optimize your brewery operations.
As a result, it’s best to think about brewery management software as the administrative counterpart to the creative juices that likely led you into the industry. As the individual benefits below will show, software is specifically designed to streamline and optimize the most predictable pieces of the business, freeing you up to become more strategic and more creative in running your brewery.
Improving Your Brewery Recordkeeping
Accurate recordkeeping is consistently named among the top challenges small businesses face. That’s certainly true for breweries, which have to contend not only with accounting needs but also accurate records related to their inventory, recipes, batch production, and more.
In that environment, paper records can become significant challenges. Breweries frequently report struggles with inaccurate records or those existing in relative isolation. When keeping paper records, inventory may not be accurately transcribed or connected to cost sheets for reordering processes.
Brewery management software can help because it becomes the single source of truth for your business records. Since it can house every piece of quantitative information related to your operations, you can easily refer to it and know that the numbers will be both accurate and comprehensive. Put differently, the right platform solves one of the core challenges your business will likely face.
Managing Your Beer Recipes
Ultimately, the success of your brewery comes down to the quality of the beer you brew. While that might be an obvious statement, it becomes especially vital as you consider the importance of not just brewing a great beer once but brewing it the same way your customers love every time.
That’s where recipes enter the equation. It’s necessary to outline not only the ingredients you need to get those delicious brews going but also the timing of each step to get from fermentation to packaging just right.
Those recipes are complex, even more so because you never brew a single recipe at a time. Keeping a central record of them helps you manage multiple batches at once to provide your customers with their favorite varieties.
Maintaining and Improving Inventory Control
The only way to ensure your brewery can run consistently is to keep your inventory in a constant balance. It’s vital that you always have packaging and ingredient materials on hand to keep the production process going and that you don’t have so much in stock that ingredients or packaged brews spoil and waste your investment.
Keeping that overview and balance is almost impossible without software that accurately tracks all of your inventory. That also includes going further, alerting you and automating the process of reordering ingredients when you run low. Not to mention, brewery management software allows you to keep track of when your kegs and packaged beer (on and off site) are nearing their expiration date and when they’ll need to be replaced with fresh batches.
Optimizing Your Production Scheduling
Combining your inventory management and recipe production into a larger process means building a master production schedule that guides your daily brewery operation. To ensure that you get the right product to customers at the right time means managing complex processes. A production plan helps to schedule out your equipment while keeping in mind variables like product life cycles, seasonal product changes, sales trends, and more.
Brewery production scheduling starts with demand forecasting but includes plenty of other components as well. The right software can help you analyze your production flow to ensure that there are no bottlenecks holding up the process and optimize your resource allocation to keep the equipment in consistent use.
Most of all, a platform can keep a consistent overview of your master production schedule so everyone in the brewery knows the different steps currently in process and planned in the near future. That helps everyone understand what to do while connecting directly to your inventory management and quality control mechanisms.
Building and Enhancing Quality Control Mechanisms
Consistency in your brewery production relies in part on your production schedule, but you can’t forget about backend processes to ensure consistent quality as well. Every batch should go through rigorous testing to ensure that the product you put in front of your customers represents your business and reputation well.
Quality control, of course, goes beyond the software you implement. However, that software can still play a core role in the process. For example, you can use it to schedule your quality assurance tests so that they happen every time. You can also use it to report your QA results for every batch, enabling you to track consistency and trends that ultimately help to improve your processes.
Automating Your Compliance Reporting
External reports like the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s Brewer’s Report of Operations are a necessary part of keeping your business open and in compliance. But if done manually, they can also take hours to compile every month, sapping valuable time away from actually running your business and satisfying your customers with delicious brews.
Consider the ability of brewery management software to automate these compliance reports. Because the platform is the single source of truth for your recordkeeping, it can automatically pull inventory and production information into pre-built templates. That saves valuable time while still ensuring that you deliver accurate reporting to the authorities who need them.
Leveraging Advanced Data Analytics
The rise of data-driven decision-making for small businesses over the last few years has been impossible to ignore. Breweries that can make daily tactical decisions based on reliable data will have a greater chance of success as margins shrink and competition increases.
Of course, it can also be difficult to implement, especially for brewers who didn’t necessarily get into the industry for a love of crunching numbers. That’s where the benefits of brewery management software capable of running advanced reports and analytics become so valuable.
Through advanced analytics, you can more accurately forecast demand for individual products and improve your production schedule as a result. You can anticipate rising ingredient costs and adjust your prices to maintain healthy margins. You can even take internal quality control metrics to spot exactly where you need to tweak recipes to deliver reliable quality every time.
Improving Employee Collaboration Across the Brewery
Finally, and partially as a result of all of the above benefits, your brewery management software can help employees across your brewery collaborate better. Because the system holds all relevant data related to daily operations, everyone will operate on a better understanding of what needs to be done, when, and how.
With that advantage, members of the staff spend less time tracking down information. Steps needed in the production and sales process are more clearly outlined. A better understanding of responsibilities, in turn, frees up your team to collaborate more proactively, ultimately working together to drive your brewery toward success.
Find the Right Brewery Management Software to Streamline Your Operations
Ultimately, the right brewery management software helps to integrate every piece of the complex facets connected to managing your brewery. Put it all together, and it has the potential to change the game for those daily operations, allowing you to maximize the resources put into the process to produce great beer at optimal margins.Look for software that helps you streamline your operations and improve efficiencies while maintaining a consistent product quality. Book a demo to learn more about Ekos and how our industry-specific solution can help you build better brewery management processes and operationalize your way to business success.