Breaking the Ice 2019: A Roundup of Icicle’s Food Software Features
In the second annual “Breaking the Ice” installment, we thought it would be helpful and interesting to recap all the new features introduced in 2018 as we start a new year (hint: there were many!). Check out the list below, and don’t miss our latest feature release article to round out 2018 and launch us into 2019 with the major introduction of farming and cannabis production.
Regulatory Compliance & Achievement
In 2018, we released a series of new updates to help you achieve and maintain the highest levels of regulatory compliance. Icicle’s logic always begins with food safety and quality – new regulations, whether they are legislated or required by GFSI-certified programs, are easily integrated into your existing system.
TACCP and VACCP
In recent years, the food industry has turned its attention to the risks of food fraud and bioterrorism threats more than ever before. This trend translated quickly into regulations, both in the American FSMA legislation and in GFSI programs. Extending the user-friendly logic of Icicle’s user-friendly HACCP and HARPC plans, the introduction of TACCP (Threat Assessment and Critical Control Points) and VACCP (Vulnerability Assessment and Critical Control Points) makes it easy to tick off those new boxes and impress auditors. Since Icicle users already have HACCP and HARPC plans set up, they need only make basic adjustments to their usual procedures to achieve compliance.
Making Audits & Inspections Easier
Icicle introduced several new features in 2018 to make inspections easier, but two of the main enhancements are the Change Log and the Verification feature for lab tests and inspections. In September, we launched the Change Log Interface that makes it easier to generate detailed audit trail records for GFSI compliance. Whenever you edit an assessment, supplier, formula, and so on, you can see all the changes in an easily searchable and sortable Change Log Interface, which can then be shown to auditors on the spot.The Verification button for lab tests and inspections was introduced in June to make inspections more credible in the eyes of auditors and meet regulatory requirements. With the verification button, Icicle users can verify documents before they are finalized and locked for editing – and so the files directly within Icicle can be used as evidence of your establishment’s compliance in the next audit.
Why not make your operations more seamless? With the introduction of high resolution, GS1 compliant barcodes in April, you can ensure that each of your ingredients, products, etc. can be easily tracked in your traceability program, even if you don’t have the correct GTIN number.
Enhanced Oversight For Your Operations
Icicle makes it easy for you to comply with regulations, but we also make it easier to gain control over your business and your data – so you can make the best decisions for your company’s future. 2018 was a big year for enhanced oversight through Icicle.
In March, we launched Trending, which brings analytics in Icicle to a whole new level and enabled the enhancements below. Trending allows you to select various metrics for sales, production, quality control checks, lab tests, and incidents and generate user-friendly graphs and tables to display the data so you can leverage that information to improve your operations and make your programs more effective. Learn more about Trending in Icicle here.
Dashboards are useful because they can easily display the information that you need the most and can give you the clearest picture of your business’s health. In 2018, we launched the first three in a series of new dashboards in Icicle. It started in July with the introduction of the Sales Dashboard, which gives you a one-stop shop for a comprehensive picture of your sales progress over the last 60 days. The Sales Dashboard does this by displaying and trending your sales over time, as well as showing your average order size, on-time delivery statistics, customer returns, top customers (and their trend for ordering), top products, and top salespeople.
The second, the Production Dashboard, came a couple of months later. This dashboard shows you a visual production report with various fields so you can see your actual versus planned production and how they fit together (for example, if you’re on track, if there’s a problem, or if you’re producing too much) at a glance. Managers can easily view their production status for today, the entire month, or other views and sort the lists according to your needs. This links up with our other Production Forecasting and Production Status dashboards.We rounded out the year with the introduction of the QA Dashboard, which allows you to see a variety of key performance indicators related to corrective actions, root cause analysis, and preventative measures. At a glance, you can see the top five root causes of your incidents, the top five corrective actions taken, and the top five preventative measures in use. You can also trend root causes over time to verify the efficacy of your preventative measures. The QA Dashboard makes it easier to evaluate your procedures and training and point you to improvements.
New Reporting Features
In 2018, we released a slew of new reporting features in Icicle. In September, we launched Sales Reports, Purchasing Reports, and Production Reports, which generate searchable and sortable lists of sales, purchases (materials, packing, ingredients, etc.), and products produced. With these reports – and especially in combinations with the dashboards above – you can easily access, review, and share the information you need about your sales, procurement, and production activities to better inform planning.
October ushered in Corrective Action Reports and Corrective Action Aging Reports, which basically do the same thing, but for corrective actions in your organization. These lists have all sorts of uses, including performance analyses of teams or individuals and reviewing the history of a particular corrective action. These reports, especially Corrective Action Aging Reports that show corrective actions in relation to their due date, can keep you on top of corrective action requests issued during inspections and help you avoid fines and maintain your customer relationships.
Enhanced Inventory Transactions
Building on the Inventory Transactions Interface from 2017, we released Enhanced Inventory Transactions in April to allow you to pick a specific item and date range and see the entire historical record of that item. This information is invaluable in tracking inventory discrepancies. Since these transactions are being recorded on the shop floor during production, your inventory is generally much more accurate than what you’d find in an accounting system. This is a big one in a series of features that allow for granular oversight of your operations.
Cool Stuff & Major Changes to Icicle
Here are a few Icicle features from 2018 that really raised the bar.
Integration of Procurement, Receiving, Sales, Inventory Management, and Shipping
Icicle is built to look at your organization as a whole, allowing different departments to communicate effectively and share data for more efficient operations and improved quality and safety. So, when we saw the opportunity to push things even further, we took it – the integration of procurement and receiving, sales, inventory, and shipping saves your staff a whole bunch of time and enables them to avoid costly mistakes. It started with the introduction of Sales Orders in December 2017, which was quickly followed up with Purchase Orders in January 2018. Since all of your orders – going in (receiving) and going out (procurement) – are already in Icicle, the process ends up looking something like this:
You can pull up your approved vendor list in Icicle and issue a Purchase Order to one of the suppliers on that list. If the supplier has outstanding Purchase Orders, a colour-coded list of items is displayed automatically for the Receiver, who simply taps the item from the list to record receipt. They can easily see whether or not the order was filled correctly, preventing problems down the line that can delay production.
For production, you need sales. Master Order Forms, which allow you to dramatically cut time in issuing Sales Orders using Icicle’s smart algorithms, lets you generate dozens of Sales Orders in seconds with a daily overview of sales. Since Icicle can compare your production runs and your sales orders, the Purchasing Suggestions feature released in October looks into all planned production runs and Sales Orders to tell you whether or not you have enough in stock to make your planned production. It will also suggest how much you should order – for ingredients, materials, and packaging – to meet your production targets and allows you to set limits on how much inventory space you have so you don’t accidentally order more than you have room to store. This can save your staff a ton of time (for some, up to 25% of their daily work) spent figuring out how much of what is in stock and how much they need to order.
On the shipping side, your staff can then easily assign shipments to the orders since all the products for all the customers on a particular shipment are automatically pre-populated in the picking interface in FIFO (First-In-First-Out) order. Voila, the job is done – and with minimal wasted time and product!
Saving on Shelf Life
In September, we started a series of releases that help you maintain the freshest inventory and stellar relationships with your customers. Remaining Shelf Life Interface shows you your entire inventory and remaining shelf life of all of your products and ingredients so you don’t get stuck with stale inventory. Icicle will also flag ingredients with insufficient shelf life during production runs themselves – you can set the minimum remaining shelf life for each ingredient – to avoid premature spoilage and make it easier for employees to notice errors. On the finished product side, Icicle’s Shipping and Picking interfaces will display, in red, if a product’s shelf life is insufficient according to the minimum shelf life that you’ve set.
In September, we also released Price Lists, which lets you create supplier price lists and product price lists that are integrated with Purchase Orders and Sales Orders. Price Lists allow you to prepopulate price lists with prices so that when you create a Purchase Order for a supplier or a Sales Order for a customer, Icicle will automatically add the values to the order. Prices on both sides can be adjusted for each item in the Purchase or Sales Order and discounts can be applied easily so your customers always know that you are looking out for them.
Another huge time-saver, in October we made it much easier to ship inventory between your facilities with Inter-Facility Shipments. You no longer have to re-enter the information at the receiving facility. Instead, you can now just select the shipment from the originating facility and the contents of the shipment will populate automatically. This helps save you and your employees huge amounts of time and reduces the risk of human error – no more lost inventory due to simple mistakes.
Check out the rest of Icicle’s feature releases from 2018 and keep up-to-date on new features here! You can also submit your feature requests to our development team here.If you are not yet an Icicle user, request a free demo today!