When it comes to choosing the right business software, going with a recognized name brand can instill a sense of security – but is it a false sense of security? Unfortunately, for many food manufacturers, it is. The perception that selecting a recognized brand name lowers risk, can become the realization that bigger doesn’t necessarily corelate to better. Bigger may mean a more polished sales cycle followed by an implementation that doesn’t meet your requirements and a team that doesn’t understand your business. This often results in scrapped projects, wasted time and money, workarounds, expensive customizations, and even legal battles.

Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better When It Comes to ERP Software 

Looking to upgrade its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in 2016, seafood wholesaler Samuels & Son turned to a well-known system, just to embark on an implementation that was “doomed from the start,” resulting in Samuels & Son suing the software provider for breach of contract, among other things. Allegedly, Samuels & Son was promised the software could meet their minimum needs including speed and ease of data entry, negative inventory management and more. However, according to the 2023 lawsuit, “the software was not able to handle functionalities relating to ordering, invoicing, contract management, purchasing, receiving -- all of which are critical to the success of Samuels' business.”

Unfortunately, Samuels & Son’s experience is not unique. Tri Valley Growers (TVG) had a similar experience, culminating in the fruit and vegetable processor filing a lawsuit against their software developer in 2000. TVG contracted their provider to implement an ERP package that would provide the systems to modernize and integrate operations from raw product delivery to finished goods distribution. Allegedly, the product never worked and TVG’s request for a refund was refused, prompting the lawsuit.

Since then, history has continued to repeat itself. In 2010 pet food maker Sunshine Mills was awarded $61.4 million in damages from their provider, after suing over a botched ERP implementation, with Sunshine resorting to manually writing thousands of invoices after the new software disrupted operations, caused wrong products to be shipped, failed to generate invoices and led to numerous other problems. Then, in 2011, fruit, nut and vegetable grower Woolf Enterprises sued the same provider after they allegedly failed to fulfill their promises that the ERP system could provide detailed inventory, meet farm cost and general ledger needs and more without major tweaks or additional charges. In the end, Woolf spent about $1.2 million on an ERP they determined was unstable, defective, and deficient. The next year, beverage distributor Major Brands sued their ERP provider after a multi-year effort they claimed delivered “useless” software. More recently, in 2021, Mission Produce implemented a new ERP system meant to provide improved operational visibility and financial reporting capabilities but resulted in a $22.2 million year-on-year drop in gross profit for the quarter following their go-live. Similarly, in the second quarter of 2022, J&J Snack Foods lost approximately $20 million in revenue after they experienced operational, manufacturing and supply chain challenges after implementing a new ERP system.

These examples have one thing in common: they went with systems with large name recognition.

NorthScope’s Narrow Focus and Dedicated Team Challenging the Status Quo

In an industry where three-quarters of implementations fail to stay on schedule or budget, and two-thirds provide a negative return on investment, NorthScope stands out as the exception with a team that refuses to overpromise and underdeliver, and always puts the customer first.

North Scope Suite 635

Created by the Northlake Partners (NLP), NorthScope is ERP software focused exclusively on helping food businesses succeed. Managing Partner, Tom Williams, explained, “We take away our customers’ pain-points by listening to their problems and coming up with the best, most efficient, long-term solutions and we continue learning about their business even after the implementation. This creates a partnership and helps ensure we add features that solve the business problems our customers face. This differentiates us from other software companies.”

Though smaller than the recognizably named companies, NLP and NorthScope have been the solution for many of their customers’ who had implemented one of NorthScope’s larger competitors. UniSea’s team was using a Microsoft-based system to manage its seafood processing business before turning to NorthScope for a cohesive, cloud-based environment to streamline processes and improve access to data.

Similarly, Arctic Fisheries implemented NorthScope after disappointment with their Microsoft-based system. Arctic chose NorthScope to streamline their processes and provide a solution that understood their business. Regarding the switch, Arctic President, Michael Kotok, said, “Consistency and knowledge were the biggest differentiators between NLP and other ERP providers we’ve worked with. With other providers we were continually having to retrain their new and inexperienced staff on our business. With NorthScope, we’ve worked with the same team from the beginning of the sales process, through implementation, and now with ongoing support. We are always working with someone that understands our business and is knowledgeable about the functionality of the software.”

NS Customers

For others, while the previous implementation didn’t fail, the well-known software they were using wasn’t able to manage all their food-specific needs. Such was the case with Greenhead Lobster and JK Crawlers who were using a combination of a name brand system, Excel and manual workarounds before they found NorthScope. Discussing their transition, Greenhead controller Lauren Davis-Jones said, “NorthScope has greatly improved this side of our business while at the same time simplifying our processes and reducing the manual effort that was required.”  

The success NorthScope has had with their customers can be attributed in large part to their size and narrow focus. This focus allows their team to translate customer requirements into an effective implementation plan that the same team then implements and supports. Moreover, developing NorthScope in-house allows NLP to give its customers a direct line to provide feedback that dictates the direction the software develops.

Book a demo to learn how NorthScope can be the narrow-focused, dedicated solution for your food business.