The Great Taste of Success

On a highly competitive market, The Authentic Food Company continues to grow significantly faster than the industry average. For nearly 20 years, it has been supplying the diverse needs of the hospitality industry, from leading hotels and restaurants to education and business catering, through its dedicated international network of wholesalers and distributors. In addition, The Authentic Food Company offers a range of products to a selection of convenience outlets across the UK and the rest of Europe. And they recently introduced a range of international children’s meals.

Food for thought

In 2004, in order to meet their expansion targets, the management team at The Authentic Food Company decided it was time to take a look at the system they were using. “With a massive product mix of over 400 items, including snack products, meals, sauces and soups, and more new ranges planned, our existing system couldn’t provide the accurate and reliable data we needed for decision making,” explains Parminder Basran, Group Commercial Manager. “To drive our business forward we wanted a system which was integrated across all our business functions. In addition, with our previous system, any changes had to be made by the reseller. We found that restrictive and wanted the flexibility to make changes ourselves, as we needed to.”
The management team surveyed the market for a new solution. Resellers of potential solutions made presentations to a panel of users, and the user community overwhelmingly chose the SAP Business One solution from OneBusiness, an SAP Partner. Not only was the system fully integrated, its functionality was a very good fit with The Authentic Food Company’s business processes. But what particularly impressed the users were the intuitive user interface and drill-down functionality. They knew they’d be able to view important details and run comprehensive reports.

Fully baked in two months

Once The Authentic Food Company made the decision to go with SAP Business One, OneBusiness began the process of documenting business processes and requirements, configuring the systems, and training the internal IT team to migrate the data.
The system went live in the first week of January 2005. “The implementation went very smoothly,” says Warren Dyson, IT Manager. “With OneBusiness helping us the whole process took just two months from when the first workshops were held. At the same time OneBusiness were also able to transfer the knowledge we needed to support the system and modify it in the future. So we are confident that, as business requirements warrant it, we can make the necessary changes to the system internally.”

The proof is in the pudding

The Authentic Food Company gained benefits immediately. Bank reconciliations that used to take days now take just hours. Statistical declarations on internal trade (Intrastat) reporting takes much less time as well. One particularly important benefit relates to the improved traceability of products. Previously, HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, an internationally recognized and recommended approach to food safety) checks had to be carried out on paper. Today, with its SAP Business One solution in place, The Authentic Food Company can trace any of its products quickly and accurately – right back to original raw ingredients. The system helps ensure compliance with increasingly stringent legislation.
But as far as Parminder is concerned, these aren’t the primary benefits of choosing SAP Business One. “When we first decided to replace our previous system, cost savings were not our primary rationale,” he explains. The most important reason was that we wanted to be able to run our business more flexibly and efficiently, so that we could be more responsive to our customers’ needs as we grow. SAP Business One is providing us with those capabilities.

Recipe for future expansion

Plans are already under way to extend the benefits of SAP Business One. For instance, technicians are linking the newly implemented Bill of Materials to the weighing machines at the manufacturing plants. Once complete, the new process will make it possible to deliver recipes directly to plants. This will save operator time and reduce the risk of inaccuracies. Eventually, The Authentic Food Company plans to integrate new product development with the system and become fully EDI compliant, so customers’ orders can flow directly into SAP Business One. They are also looking at computer telephony integration and voice over IP to give call center operators better access to information, as well as considering how radio frequency ID tagging might improve their operations.
“We’re very proud to be running SAP and having the same, sound technology base as companies much bigger than we are,” says Parminder. “SAP Business One will provide the foundation on which we can continue to improve our operations and build our expansion. And as we grow, we know the system can grow with us, ensuring our investment is protected in the future.”
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