HODGKINS, Ill. -- Certified Grocers Midwest here is shifting into high gear a system that will analyze and integrate financial, inventory and sales data for all corporate-level departments.
Certified is now equipping its financial accounting division with the new system and plans to roll out its bakery department soon. Other fresh food departments, including deli and meat, may go on-line later this year.
The wholesaler will begin with areas most lacking in information technology, said Thomas Kulak, director of systems administration and development.
The new software will integrate such data as purchasing records and sales analysis to allow for speedier and more accurate decision-making. New open architecture hardware will replace older systems linked directly to the corporate mainframe.
Once the new system is rolled out, workers in Certified's accounting department will no longer need to rely on manual records for accounts payable and general accounting, Kulak said.
"It will streamline some of the processes they have to do and hopefully it will eliminate a lot of paperwork," he said.
"Information will be directly entered into the system," Kulak added. "The system will generate the appropriate bills and then interface to our statement system, which is on the mainframe."
Certified will not install an identical system in each of its departments, he said, because the software needs to be tailored to fit individual needs.
"Each division has its own uniquenesses and we're trying
to see how best to fit them into the product," Kulak said.
Bakery, next on the list for upgrades, does not require warehouse management programs because the great majority of its products are maintained by vendors.
"In our bakery operation we don't warehouse goods, other than the frozen goods for our in-store bakeries," Kulak said. "We buy a lot of our product from different vendors. We're like a funnel point."
Because of that, the system, from Advanced FoodSystems, Phoenix, will mostly be used to track and analyze vendor payments and histories. "We will use the system to process orders and generate the appropriate vendor [orders]," he said.
Certified hopes it can improve all its departments' operations through the new system. The wholesaler's first rollout to produce operations in November has earned the approval of both produce buyers and warehouse workers.
"It's given a lot of tools to our [produce] warehouse and accounting personnel that they didn't have in the past," he said.
Produce buyers now have a more accurate accounting of product sales and inventory-on-hand by using sales and item movement programs. Buyers "are able to look at the orders coming in for the day and determine what they have to buy," Kulak said.
Produce warehouse personnel can also access the new data base to determine which orders are coming in from stores and track the arrival of products from vendors at the warehouse dock.
"The older system that was supporting [produce] was very time-dependent," Kulak said. "This new system is more flexible." The warehouse can now receive and fill store orders individually instead of having to wait for all store orders to be batched and sent together.
Produce was chosen as the initial site for the new system because it lacked information technology. Other departments will receive the system based on their technology levels, with those least equipped getting highest priority.
Dry grocery will probably be the last to receive the system, he said, adding "Right now, we have more system support for our grocery division than the rest of them."
When the system is eventually rolled out to grocery, Kulak hopes it will bring consistency to operations by giving grocery buyers and warehouse personnel common data bases to access.