Produce Business March 1997 Article - "Sizing Up Computer Software"

Charles Shafae`, President of Shafae` and Associates, based in Half Moon Bay, California, has been producing software for the produce industry since 1981. Shafae` believes that any company running a business without a complete computer accounting system is working at a disadvantage. "The correction of mistakes alone is enough reason to go on line, but the other advantages make these systems absolutely necessary. For example, 90 percent of errors are extensions and calculations," explains Shafae`...
For produce specific software, most of the functions already are built in to the [dProduce Man] programs, and a company's particular needs are added to tailor them. "Eighty to eighty-five percent of what a produce company needs is probably covered in our
package off the shelf," says Shafae`...

Can users test a program before they buy? That depends on the company. Shafae` and Associates says yes, Holm-Dietz says not really. "We give sample packages to companies and let them decide if our program is right for them. We talk with them, discuss their needs. If there's no match, we don't sell," says Shafae`...
Produce businesses of all sizes can benefit from computer technology. Joseph Glorioso, President of Shreveport, Louisiana-based Santa Maria Wholesale Produce, a full-time purveyor of fruits, vegetables and fresh-cut produce—and self-proclaimed "not a real technical" person—joined the computer world in 1994...

Santa Maria Wholesale Produce uses a Shafae` and Associates [dProduce Man] program it purchased after seeing one in action at a nearby company. "We're not a big company," add Glorioso, but we're really so much more organized. We carry 450 to 500 items, depending on the season. Now we have the capacity to control it."...

Choosing A Company

No company will quote a set price of system, especially over the phone. Suffice it to say, an integrated system does not come cheap. Most of the costs are attributed to the extras associated with set-up, delivery, training, and service...
"At the time it seemed expensive---but 1995 and 1996 were banner years. And with the [dProduce Man] program, we were able to keep accounts receivable down to a minimum, and inventory shrinkage was much, much, much less---down to less than one percent from over four percent."...

However, in the scheme of things, the costs pay for themselves quickly. "One hundred percent of errors are eliminated with our system. The program does all the bookkeeping—period-to-date sales---and saves money in every area: time, errors, reduction of inventory shrinkage, collection. All in all, a five-user system will pay itself back in less than six months," says Shafae`...
So while a system may initially seem pricey, software vendors say it is a worthwhile commitment and investment...

Show Me The Money

Users and vendors agree that the best reason to integrate computers into business has to do with time and controls, which translate into money. Ivey notes, "[With computers] you're only doing the work once, not writing and re-entering. You don't have to try to read someone else's handwriting when you're working off the computer screen. You can build in validation tables, compare prices automatically, price all new orders, etc. The advantages are endless."...
Glorioso concurs: "The system has helped make our gross profit increase about eight percent in the last two years. And that's money in my pocket."...