i've been working with my sales team the last couple years to tie our sales forecast with the flow of production, aging, bottling. So far we've been using a clunky spreadsheet that gets us by, but any one edit requires manual editing throughout.
I've looked at some of the distillery specific software options, which seemed a little overpriced for our small operation, but we are interested in a good program. What are folks using for this type of production planning? Is it working for you?
if you bought a distillery specific program, do you love it and wonder how you lived without it?
salesforce? Gantt charts?
would love some feedback!
We use whiskeysystems and it works very well-but what I like most is how fast they are if you have an issue. The support team is awesome!
It is so much easier for tracking production and barrels than the previous spreadsheet method we used, also helps generate TTB reports.
For real planning I have used navision, pki, and pronto. They are full blown erp/mrp systems that are well beyond what is affordable by a small distillery. On the order of 20-50k per year for maintenance. All of these systems will do material planning using firm orders and forecasts. I am not sure they would do a good job of tracking alcohol production as it's a niche industry. I used navision at a company where we managed 4000 sku's, $3million in inventory, 1000 shipments per day and $35 million in sales. It worked ok for that. It was one of the few systems that could handle the high order rate.
I am using hoochware and it does the basic functions of tracking materials, orders and alcohol. It's not a full blown mrp/erp system, but the price reflects its capabilities. It is infinitely easier than tracking with spread sheets. I also looked at distillery solutions. Product looked good, but cost was too high for current volume. It also looked more designed for tracking that mrp/erp.
I've been using Hoochware (www.hoochware.com) for a few months now. Easy to use, image-based interface that helps me track inventory, cost average our production, keep track of invoices and file monthly reports with the TTB. The software even includes tools to help calculate proofing, temperature correction and other production related conversions. I definitely love it and don't know how I would get by without it.
I know you are unhappy with your spreadsheets, and from talking to people and looking at this post, a lot of other people are as well. However, I'm going to stand here and defend spreadsheets. I have written multiple spreadsheets not only for daily reporting and all the TTB logs, but also for budgetary, production scheduling and sales projections, and while they aren't perfect, I wouldn't describe them as clunky either. People always praise software for it's ability to spit out reports or information as needed. Which spreadsheets are capable of as well. It takes me minutes to do all of my end of month paperwork with this spreadsheet, and I have additional information that I have decided is relevant stored on the report. My raw material spreadsheet will turn a case number into bushels, barrels, blocks of yeast, days of still time, and in minutes I can rearrange our production schedule to drop a products numbers and increase another to make sure we are operating at capacity.
I'm not sure how good your Excel-fu is and perhaps your spreadsheets are already great, but not good enough, then in that case ignore me. But I'd like to defend the poor old spreadsheet, and say if you are willing to, there is no reason you can't build spreadsheets custom tailored to your business for a fraction of the cost of buying software. To me this is the key, I know software is getting better and more customizable everyday, but nothing beats the flexibility (and price) of a spreadsheet. I'm no spreadsheet expert by any means, but I have found that armed with a whiteboard and list of what I want to accomplish, I can design what I need in a few hours. I also feel by building the spreadsheet, it helps me understand the logistics of whatever the spreadsheet accomplishes. For example, building my TTB record keeping spreadsheets using the CFR as a guideline helped me become intimately aware of their details, which was important for me as I had no experience with regulations before.
Tom, I'm definitely a believer in spreadsheets and home built solutions if you have the time and skill to pull that off. I was in that business for 25 years before I opened our distillery and I fully intended to roll my own distillery solution. My issue was simply the learning curve required to satisfy TTB requirements as well as the myriad of other tasks that I hoped to solve with a custom made system of my own design. I decided to look in to Hoochware and I haven't looked back since. As others have mentioned, HW manages all aspects of TTB reporting but it does so much more, customer and supplier tracking, inventory control with alerts when it's time to re-order, recipe maintenance, invoices, etc. If you have the time and the "Excel-fu" (I like that term) skills to build your own, then by all means do it - I agree it would be a great exercise to familiarize yourself with the CFR. But, If you lack time and/or programming skills, and I'm betting most here will lack one or the other, I'd take a long, hard look at HoochWare.
Like Lassiter, we are using Hoochware. We couldn't be happier. We do everything in it....from purchasing raw ingredients to production tracking to TTB reporting to fulfilling distributor orders. Production planning and forecasting are made easy with a couple of consumption and cost based reports. We've been running and planning on it since May and absolutely love it. I know there are a few more reports in the works right now that are really going to be killer. If you ever have any questions give them a call. Shawn is probably the most customer-focused individual I have ever met in my life. Give his team a shout and I'm sure they can help you out!
We've been using Hoochware and have been extremely happy in how it tracks materials and orders, creates TTB reports...pretty much everything. Shawn does a great job answering questions immediately and has gone above and beyond my expectations on customer service. Highly Recommend Hoochware !!
Also using Hoochware and liking it.
It's not perfect, and there's a few things that need improving so the user has less headaches, but for the price we are happy.
There are some things Whiskey Systems does better, but not worth the price. There's some things Distillery Solutions/Stillhouse does better, but I could hire another employee to take care of it (and more!) for what DS charges.