Sonstegard Foods Goes Paperless with ERP

For most organizations, operating with paper-based processes is a way of life. Paper is everywhere: on your desk, in meeting rooms, stored in folders, and so forth. You hardly think about it, but you spend a lot of time and money moving paperwork around. Some operations today, however, have realized how cumbersome paper can be and are taking a more modern approach. They are moving away from physical records and manual transactions and are embracing connectivity with modern business applications to alter how their organization thinks and operates.

A layer operation that has taken the paperless route is Sonstegard Foods Company. Sonstegard, located in South Dakota, is an egg producer that is actively run by a third generation family. Their business strategy revolves heavily around technology and this has made a huge difference in the way they operate and in the way their staff carries out their tasks.

A few days ago I had the opportunity to talk to Sonstegards’ Financial Officer, Max Barnett. He has been in the layer industry for about six years now and currently utilizes our ERP solution. This has not only made his job easier, but it has also streamlined their accounting business processes, aided in reducing costs and minimized data entry with integration.

“When I started working here we were using home based quicken checkbook files. Our data was de-centralized and it took us a long time to compile meaningful financial information. We wanted a robust system that would give us relevant information to make decisions. We knew we needed an ERP system in place to help us manage and simplify our data, so we chose Aeros as they have a good understanding of the poultry industry. Right now our eight different locations are scanning accounts payable and corporate office is scanning purchase orders and other documentation such as bills of lading. The documents are accessible and makes our job easier. Our goal is a paperless environment,” Barnett said.

While going paperless is a step in the right direction, it does take some getting used to. Getting employees to buy into the paperless process and help decide where and when to get rid of the paperwork that has accumulated over the years is key to your success. One of the things Barnett recommended is to identify the “super-users.” Within each department, you should identify the tech-fluent employees who will be able to adopt the new systems with ease. These tech-savvy employees will help create a training cascade that will reach even the most resistant users. Once this happens and other employees see the value of scanning their documents and saving them as attachments on the system, they will follow along.

“While it took some time for people to get used to it, we were successful because we were committed to reducing paper and had tech-savvy key influencers showing others how to use the ERP system. It took a certain level of trust in technology. However, people saw the value in getting timely information and knowing that information is there and it is secure. I can’t imagine going back to paper at this point. I have talked to some of our sales managers about it and we are all happy about it. Now we don’t have to scramble around looking up transactions. We want zero paper and no more filing. We made the jump in 2011 and we surely wouldn’t go back again,” Barnett finished saying.

Going paperless has improved Sonstegard’s businesses processes over time, and almost from day one. Rather than relying on manually inserted data figures or hand-written notes to log important information such as purchase orders and bills of lading, our ERP software’s scanning functionality has helped them track these processes electronically, ensuring accurate and timely information.

The Aeros team is happy to have Sonstegard Foods Company as a software business partner and we are proud of the organizational advancements they have made. We know that changes take time, but the benefits far outweigh the initial investment.

Would your operation consider going paperless? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us on LinkedIn.