Best wine business software helps key staff escape redundant work, focus on product quality
Choosing the software you will use to manage all of the operations of your wine business is one of the most impactful choices you will make.
An enterprise application capable of addressing winemaking; production; inventory, both bulk and bottled; accounting; wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales; and reporting and compliance, must be sufficiently robust and reliable to rise to the challenge. In order to choose successfully, you need to know what each application is capable of, its shortcomings and be able to plan with them effectively. Here are some of the most common enterprise software considerations you should be looking for in an enterprise suite.
1. Have you identified and prioritized your specific software needs?
To determine whether an application will meet your needs, you may wish to segment the components of your operation, i.e., winemaking; production; inventory, both bulk and bottled; accounting; wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales; reporting and compliance, and so on.
For each segment, list and prioritize what the application(s) must do for you. As you evaluate your options, it will be helpful to refer to this list. You may choose to prioritize by “must have” and “want to have.” Reputable vendors will often work with you to develop these lists and priorities in order to better understand whether their product will be a good fit for your business.
The software selection process will often involve various departments and many perspectives. It will be helpful to have an agreement on the “must have” items for the organization. While work tasks are often managed in a decentralized fashion, choosing an enterprise system for the entire organization requires collaboration and consensus regarding the objectives that must be achieved for the implementation of your new application to be successful.
Some key items you may want to add to your list that you may not consider as “features” are: the vendor’s development path and frequency of update releases; ability to work on multiple devices; ability to work securely and productively from anywhere; interfaces to third-party applications that may be important to your business; and vendor willingness to customize when needed.
2. Do you want an out-of-the-box application that requires little more than install and configuration, or do you want to be able to customize to your specific business processes?
It is my experience that most wine businesses have a distinct preference in this area. If you have little to no tolerance for work process change and all of the features you want are “must haves,” it will be important for the application you choose to be sufficiently flexible in either its configuration tools or customization options to match the way you currently work. Experienced vendors will advise you in advance when you describe processes that will require customization of their application and will work with you to understand the pros and cons of customizing and the potential costs involved.
If your business is flexible in its work process, the ability to customize features and obtain functionality that is not in the product out-of-the-box will be of less importance in your selection process. When a solution is only available as an out-of-the-box option, understanding the vendor’s commitment to releasing features you may come to need takes on added importance.
3. What should I look for in my vendor?
Look for and value a long-term partner relationship. Choosing a partner is as important, if not more so, than product features. Great features, poorly implemented will never meet business objectives and a great partner will be able to help you realize the maximum value of your investment.