Creator of NorthScope software putting seafood processors first
The pain-points can really add up for seafood processors as they search for the ideal enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system, according to The Northlake Partners (NLP).
The Redmond, Washington, U.S.A.-based developer of NorthScope ERP software for food manufacturers has heard numerous stories of frustration and disappointment from seafood industry players, many of whom venture hopefully into the process of finding software suited for their unique business needs only to emerge with less money and no solution after months of back-and-forth.
That’s why, in its work with Alaska, wild-caught, and aquaculture seafood processors, NLP has sought to flip the typical ERP industry script with its continuous, people-first approach and end-vision emphasis, the company said.
“As a seafood processor, your time should be spent focusing on keeping your fishermen, suppliers, and customers happy, and your team members engaged and productive. Your time shouldn’t be spent dealing with software that doesn’t work for your business,” NLP’s website states.
For an industry as intricate and dynamic as seafood, generic business software just doesn’t cut it, NLP Managing Partner Tom Williams explained to SeafoodSource. As such, the NorthScope Food ERP, as well as the plans enacted to implement and maintain it, aren’t one-size-fits-all, he said.
“We provide ERP software and step-by-step guidance, giving seafood processors the tools to build the business they’ve always wanted,” Williams said. “We take away their pain-points by listening to their problems and coming up with the best, most efficient, long-term solutions.”
NLP specializes in helping food companies with “various, disparate systems or generic systems” streamline their efforts in an industry-specific way, with a personal touch, according to Williams.
“We appreciate the unique regulations seafood processors deal with, and have always taken a customer-driven approach to development,” he said. “Much of the functionality of NorthScope is built on collaboration with existing customers to meet the needs of their industry and business.”
This dedication to teamwork for NLP doesn’t end when NorthScope launches, either, Williams added.
“We continue learning about your business even after the software is implemented. This creates a partnership mentality and helps ensure we add features that solve the business problems our customers face. This approach differentiates us from other software companies,” he said.
Wild seafood processors incorporating the NorthScope Food ERP at their facilities can tap into a robust fisherman accounting module, which comes complete with eLandings fish ticket integration; automatic- or manually-applied fish ticket taxes and premiums; pre-loaded setup codes; ACH/direct deposit to fishermen; mass repricing; split payments to cover crew wages; and more, NLP noted.
Over the course of 2019, the software helped processors in Alaska purchase over 269 million pounds of seafood from fishermen, NLP found. One NorthScope customer, OBI Seafoods, was recently able to bring five new Alaska-based plants and three buying stations aboard the system within four months thanks to NLP’s consistent, holistic software support, Steve Layman, the company’s director of accounting, said.
“NorthScope worked with us to come up with a solution for our Alaska accounting needs and continues to work closely with us on constant improvements. It’s a well-integrated system with good reports and customer support that listens to us and uses our input to improve the product,” Layman said.
Seafood Producers Cooperative Director of Human Resources Kathi Paluch said NorthScope’s transformative properties catapulted the company’s software from disparate and outdated to the cutting-edge of connectivity.
“Our company had not updated software for many, many years and had ended up with several unconnected programs for various business areas. It was very difficult to get information out of these systems in a meaningful way and made making quick business decisions nearly impossible. NorthScope ERP software gave us a comprehensive system that allows us to easily get information from all segments making it possible to make informed, educated business decisions,” Paluch said.
NorthScope has also been a game-changer for those operating within the aquaculture space, NLP added. Heartland Catfish, for example, was able to improve its data entry by 80 percent with NorthScope, which was integrated into the supplier’s shop floor system. The company said it increased automations and accuracy, ultimately growing its business, because of its partnership with NLP.
“NLP as an organization and NorthScope as a product has been a great partnership for us,” Heartland Catfish Controller Brad Garrard said. “The team we work with is very knowledgeable about our operations and the capabilities of their products so that we get very timely and helpful support when needed. We can call them with almost any problem, new line of business or any number of questions and they jump in to help us and get it solved. Over the years they’ve made a constant effort to keep us current on new technologies so that when we are ready, we can adopt these internally to help us do our jobs more efficiently.”
When NLP engages with a seafood industry partner, it won’t kick off the system implementation process until it understands the company’s specific vision for its software – and gets to know the people behind the usernames.
“What often gets overlooked is the end-vision, an understanding of a seafood processor’s own requirements, and the steps needed to get them from where they are to where they want to be,” the firm explained.
Establishing an ERP vision is an immersive, collaborative exercise between NLP and seafood processors, according to the software servicer. Many factors tend to come up for discussion, the company said, including which divisions are going to touch the software, what functional areas need to change or stay the same, whether a budget has been set, timeline expectations, conversion preferences, and more.
“The vision is necessary in identifying what ‘done’ means and sets the fences necessary to keep the size of the project aligned with expectations,” NLP said. “Requirements identify the non-negotiable things you need the system to do. Many companies go into system implementations without first identifying their requirements to a level that helps reveal potential gaps. Another common challenge is failing to ensure requirements from one group do not put unrealistic expectations on another.”
Upon such a foundation, NLP configures each seafood processor’s system singularly to them, offering fully-supported software from training to launch and beyond, it said.
This people-forward methodology to ERP development and support has earned NLP a loyal, growing fanbase in the seafood industry, if user comments are any indication.
“NorthScope is tailored to our business and understands our business better than anyone else,” according to one aquaculture processing user. “It's efficient, easy-to-use, and we are able to produce very detailed reports. Having worked 26 years in fish sales, I've used many systems. This is the best one,” according to True North Seafood Company Sales Analyst Laura Skodje.