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Faster Food Via ERP

An ERP suite from Ross Systems has helped Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods halve the time needed to develop and deliver new products.

A real-time enterprise-resource-planning system has helped Michael Angelo's Gourmet Foods cut in half the time it takes to develop and deliver new products.

The maker of specialty frozen and refrigerated products such as lasagna and calzones can bring new products to market, from initial development to testing and distribution, in 90 days or less--a process that used to take as much as six months. "We knew we had to get products to market faster, because that was the need of the retailers who deal with consumers who change their minds frequently," CIO Ron Cantrell says.

Michael Angelo's is using an enterprise software suite called iRenaissance from Ross Systems Inc. The system replaced an older suite that operated in batch communications, which wasn't conducive to Michael Angelo's operations. The company runs just-in-time production: Its freshly made ingredients are received and products are cooked, packaged, and shipped to customers within 24 hours.

"Now we track data that's real time, and communications is much more efficient," Cantrell says. If production wants to use a different brand of oil in a recipe, for example, it can find out in real time from research and development the particular aspects of that oil, such as its yield. Before, finding such information would take a few days.

Also, inventory can be checked in real time, so when an order comes in, the company knows what's on hand to fill that order. Nearly 85% of Michael Angelo's orders come in via EDI. "Orders drive the whole process," Cantrell says. The electronic orders kick off data exchanges with the other apps in the iRenaissance system, "so purchasing knows what to purchase, production knows what to schedule, and so on."

Michael Angelo's began installing Ross Systems' ERP software in 2002, after considering several vendors' software. Cantrell says the company didn't consider SAP and other vendors who sell in the top-tier enterprise market because of cost. "At the time," he says, "it was priced far beyond what we could spend on application software to run our business."

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