Ensuring documented approvals and consistent workflows for document and item lifecycles in food companies

For years, To-Increase has offered Item and Document Lifecycle Management to companies using Microsoft Dynamics NAV with one of our solutions. The two applications, based on the To-Increase lifecycle framework, are designed to help workers make the right decisions and take the appropriate steps at every stage of a lifecycle that involves items or documents. They are at use in many organizations where process consistency and the inclusion of complete, applicable information at every process juncture are important.

While Item Lifecycle and Document Lifecycle Management are easy to implement and use, we often heard requests from customers to tailor them more closely to industry-specific conditions. For the food industry, we have accomplished this in the 2017 release of To-Increase Food Manufacturing and Distribution. We also added reusable, adaptable sample lifecycle content to help you realize the practical benefits from Item Lifecycle Management and Document Lifecycle Management quickly.

Multiple usage scenarios for Item Lifecycle Management

In food companies, we see many different usages for Item Lifecycle Management, including the following examples:

  • Allergen management can become more efficient and reliable with Item Lifecycle Management. You add an allergen to an item and create an item lifecycle for it. You can set the lifecycle’s states to require approvals, and blocking the item for sale or use in production orders and the warehouse until the approval happens.
  • New product development and introductions, where you buy sample items and include them in a small production run before you purchase larger quantities and finetune the pricing and production process, can become more controlled by using Item Lifecycle Management. You can define the item’s states, such as required to purchase, approved for production, pricing to be established, or ready for sale. Each of these states prompts people to document an approval or take another action. Until the item state is ready for sale and all process steps have taken place, it cannot be sold or included in a work order.
  • When items are phased out, you can use Item Lifecycle Management to attach such states to them as not being replenished or going out of inventory, add discount pricing, and manage them to the depletion of remaining inventory.
  • In complying with food safety regulations, Item Lifecycle Management can help you ensure and document the approvals and changes an item undergoes. With complete tracking of all item-related events and archiving in Microsoft Dynamics NAV, you can always verify who performed which action, when, in relation to an item.

If you do not use a convenient tool like Item Lifecycle Management, you will usually need to document and enforce workflow rules by means of a separate chain of activities. If approvals initially are in email or on paper documents, they may never find their way into the ERP system, making tracking and auditing more challenging.

Better compliance and quality management with Document Lifecycle Management

Document Lifecycle Management, in Food Manufacturing and Distribution mostly relevant for sales, purchasing, and warehouse documents, gives you full control over the state of these documents. It makes it far easier to avoid errors, omissions, and wrong steps. Document Lifecycle Management defines, enforces, and tracks the states and workflows of documents in the ERP system. You can link document states – for instance, placing order, waiting for delivery, delivered waiting for approval of quantities, and ready for payment in case of a purchase order – to approvals and other actions in the system. The lifecycle governs what happens at what stage. It can include conditional states with consequences that trigger sub-workflows and other steps. For instance, when an item was received and approved, invoicing can take place, which may need an additional review and approval.

In compliance and quality management, Document Lifecycle Management can be invaluable in ensuring the right signatures and approvals at the appropriate process points. You can create your own lifecycles to fit your processes, or modify the lifecycles that we package with the solution.

Other new capabilities in the 2017 release of Food Manufacturing and Distribution include allergen management and enhanced item categories. If you would like to discuss document or lifecycle management or any other solution capabilities, have questions, or would like a demo of Food Manufacturing and Distribution, please let me hear from you. Send me a note at mbotje@to-increase.com or simply contact To-Increase.