Updated: Jul 18
What is the Solution?
Food Safety Management Systems are at the core of every Technical Manager’s responsibility in food manufacture. Nine times out of ten they always involve paper or spreadsheets, and plenty of them making it hard to see the big picture through reporting, alerting and trend analysis. It is also difficult to automate excel spreadsheets in an effective and collaborative manner. So, what is the solution?
In many food businesses policies, procedures, and forms typically exist on paper, in word, and in excel spreadsheets. They may be printed and stored in folders or plastic pouches and sometimes they get wet, battered, torn, or just lost. The more important pieces or paper may get framed in and put on the wall in reception to show your visitors how you comply with the latest certification standards. Or they may be stored side by side with last weeks, month, years documents in overflowing ring binders which are difficult and time consuming to find information in during an audit.
Are You Haunted by Audits?
From my days as a Technical Manager, audit days still haunt me. The stress, caused by uncertainty, while you frantically attempt to find all the paper records in the allotted time slot for a trace exercise. Then there’s tackling the collated mound of paper records post audit day and trying to put it all back in the correct place only to restart the process for a customer visit the days or weeks after. What a waste of time and energy paper-based systems can be, even well organised ones.
Twenty-four years ago, I walked into my first role in a high-risk production site to find the HACCP plan divided between 12 box files. That was just the start of the mountain of paperwork I’ve seen as a Technical Manager during that time. In today’s drive to address environmental challenges and become more climate friendly perhaps at some point the focus will move to the environmental impact of paper. But what is the alternative?
Now, imagine having all of your food safety system information available digitally. A digital food safety management system may sound daunting in terms of time, resource, and energy to implement it. It’s a big project and where do you start? However, imagine having everything available on screen at the touch of a button and available in seconds instead of minutes.
Digital Food Safety Systems
I’ve been settling into my role here at Primority as Head of Technical Services and can now honestly say that I would urge any food manufacturer to reduce the use of paper for their Food Safety Management System. If you’ve ever thought about it, go for it. The benefits are numerous!
Benefits to ditching the paper:
A more organised and collaborative way of storing and creating information
Automated reminders and alerts, e.g. supplier and material approvals or supplier certification and document updates
Reducing the need to chase suppliers for information before a big audit
Instant traceability records available in seconds, not hours
Automated monitoring of supply chain issues and horizon scanning
Consistent, digitised risk assessments and HACCP plans with the latest industry knowledge and best practices built in
One of the highlights of the new job so far is seeing the reactions of new customers when they realise how easy it is to switch from a paper-based food safety management system to one that is digital. The main eureka moment is often the realisation that they do not need to do everything all at once, so migrating toa digital platform is not such a mammoth task.
Digitising food safety and quality processes can be carried out one area at a time to suit the issues and challenges of the business in a modular fashion. This fits in nicely with the continuous improvement ethos of food safety and quality management.
A modular approach means that the digitisation process can be staged with support provided from industry experts who have help others digitise many times. Digital systems can also be highly configurable meaning that the system can be easily and quickly tailored if there are additional features requested. This also helps with the costs of the 3iVerify software.
One of the key questions new customers have is TIME. How long does it take to set up? We all know that technical departments often have limited resources, with time being the most valuable resource.
To give a common example, the set up and sending of 100 supplier and / or material approval questionnaires digitally via email, for completion digitally you are looking at around 8 hours in total from start to finish. This may be spread over 3-4 sessions across a week or two but as the process is automated though all you need to do then is review and approve/reject the suppliers’ responses. You can even send out renewal request automatically.
Contrast this with the amount of time taken to manually send and chase 100 suppliers for this information and add in the back and forth, searching through emails, storing documents, circulating information, and updating the relevant spreadsheets or paper documents and digitisation begins to look like a no brainer.
Get in Touch
I would highly recommend anyone who is considering digitisation their food safety and quality management system to arrange a one-hour demo to learn more. This can be booked to allow us to discuss your specific needs and help match you to the right modules and show you how you can be more efficient and effective in your role.
Over the next few blogs, I will look at the 3iVerify software modules in more detail. If you’d like to get in touch to see how we can help with a Digital Food Safety Management System, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, it costs less than you might think.