Supplier Management / Food Safety

10 Reasons Why Spreadsheets Don't Work For Food Supply Chain Management

Spreadsheets existed before computers, but it was computers that made them ubiquitous. While they're an important tool for small business owners, managing a food supply chain by spreadsheet is playing with fire - and you will get burned eventually.

Not only will a supply chain management platform give you a single source of truth across your organization (version control!), but easier supplier documentation and communication as well. When your supply chain data isn’t centralized, it’s only a matter of time before a recall or withdrawal situation exposes that weak link.

Here are 10 reasons why spreadsheets have no place in modern food supply chain management.

Collaboration

Spreadsheet design caters to individual and personal use, with one user at a time working on an individual spreadsheet. When collaboration becomes necessary - as it will with modern food supply chain management - the spreadsheet gets emailed from one user to another, resulting in duplicate, and sometimes, conflicting copies.

A better option lies in an online supplier management too, where a cloud-based platform keeps version control intact and all your supply chain professionals will see the exact same data.

Maintenance and Data Integrity

Data collected from multiple sources compiled into a tool meant for individual use leads to difficulty in maintaining accuracy and keeping data current. Platforms that utilize a software-as-a-service model ensure that supply chain data is stored with the latest security and stability.

Spreadsheets become more error prone as time passes, especially when multiple copies exist. The potential for data entry errors adds to the difficulty of maintaining data integrity.

Vulnerability to Fraud

Not all human error is actually human error. Because spreadsheets lack inherent controls, the unauthorized changing of a data point or the altering of a formula becomes difficult to detect. The aforementioned collaboration difficulties and prevalence of human error make fraud even more difficult to discover.

In addition, spreadsheet design does not allow for different access user levels, which means the newly hired assistant has the same access to alter the document as the CEO.

Accessibility

Spreadsheets are a universal tool - but that ease of access can lead to big problems for food safety. Unauthorized users can manipulate spreadsheets or enter erroneous figures and formulas without detection, even when they don’t mean to.

Equally as problematic, spreadsheets are a desktop application. Spreadsheets can only be accessed from a desktop. When it comes to managing a modern food supply chain, an online supplier management tool is critical - including a fully-featured mobile app.   

Troubleshooting

Mistakes happen. That's why modern platforms provide troubleshooting protocols. Spreadsheets do not. With the inevitability of human error and the possibility of fraud, managers and accountants need the ability to troubleshoot, something spreadsheets do not permit.

An online platform with version control gives your administrators the ability to push the reset button when something goes wrong. That’s an important feature when it comes to your supply chain.

Regulatory Compliance

An inability to comply with general accounting and food supply chain regulations is a massive food safety risk. With a spreadsheet's inability to maintain data integrity, prevent fraud, and troubleshoot problems, complying with regulations becomes extremely difficult.

Not only are you required to provide documentation of your response to a recall or withdrawal in a short timeframe, but you’ll have to present it in a format that regulators can understand. Does your food safety program offer easy, standardized exports?

Scalability

Fledgling businesses benefit from spreadsheets because users are familiar with the program, and spreadsheets aid the new business owner with certain tasks. But what happens when the business grows?

The data sets get larger, but spreadsheet capacity remains the same. The number of employees and computers gets larger, but spreadsheets remain accessible to a single user. In short, spreadsheets are easy to outgrow.

With FoodLogiQ Connect, you can add as many users as you need - even define user roles and communities.

Responsiveness

In a spreadsheet-based environment, retrieving data from different departments, putting the data together, and making sense of the information becomes extremely time-consuming. Further prolonging the slow-moving data collection exercise is the need to double-check the data from various copies of a spreadsheet and the likelihood of human error. The need for efficiency in reporting is one more reason an online supplier management tool is critical.

When faced with a recall or withdrawal situation, responding to authorities or removing tainted product needs to be as fast as possible - while preserving accuracy.

Agility

When businesses do not adapt to changing circumstances, businesses disappear. With spreadsheets, even a simple change such as replacing an employee can lead to confusion and inadaptability. Spreadsheets are often created by those who know little or nothing about software documentation.

These spreadsheets become highly personalized creations, so when it's time for a new person to take over, the new person may have to start over. FoodLogiQ Connect has a customer success team ready to help new employees in their transitions, as well as a free Knowledge Base with answers to the most common questions about the platform.

Functionality

Spreadsheets work well with simple data entry and simple data analysis by the end-user. But spreadsheets are static.

In addition, when it's time to generate meaningful reports, end users need to collect data from different files and different people, summarize the data, and present their findings.

The FoodLogiQ Connect platform has reporting features that are always up-to-date, because the only data that makes it into the platform is controlled by workflows and document controls implemented by your company. You control the data, and you can make data-driven decisions.

Modernize Your Supply Chain

Leave the manual processes behind. These systems are extremely difficult to manage if you're growing fast, and it only becomes more difficult to upgrade if you wait. 

Are they holding you back from pursuing that next great opportunity with a major partner? Effecting positive change with a cloud-based, SaaS solution is your next, strategic investment.

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Posted by Katy Jones on Apr 20, 2017 10:30:00 AM