By Patrick Baker.
In The Business of Wine Part 1 we reviewed benefits and concerns using MS Excel to track your winery operations. We also laid out some attributes to compare systems focusing on working smarter for the things we have to do, so we can get back to the things we want to do, namely, make and sell wine.
A little about me
After a successful career in corporate America, I transitioned to the wine industry and have become an industry veteran with 10+ years experience as a grower, winemaker, and winery General Manager.
My role as former General Manager for Carneros Vintners custom crush facility and sister facility Lodi Vintners, was the impetus for my investigation of winery production software options. My work with a variety of wineries exposed me to an array of winery software before deciding on the VINX2 platform to run the custom crush facilities and since, a few small and larger boutique wineries. My hands on winery experience and real life use of VINX2 are the foundation of my success representing the VINX2 software platform in North America.
Access key information to make more informed decisions
In this article we are reviewing how VINX2 provides immediate access to key information. Our focus again is realizing efficiency gains from a system that is intuitive and easy to use. In comparison if you are a slightly advanced Excel user, you may have linked data from several tabs or even several workbooks to amalgamate information in a snapshot or ‘dashboard’ view, e.g. to see all fermenting vessels brix between 18 & 22 so you can make yeast nutrient additions. While Excel can be relatively good at displaying multiple key data, it’s often challenging to setup and the data is usually suspect if a particular linked sheet or workbook hasn’t been updated recently…or correctly.
VINX2’s desktop dashboard (Professional version) is specific to a user login and simple to setup for the items you want to see most often in data or graphical formats, and always available for download or printing. Having reliable data available in a number of formats that are easily configured is key to helping you work smarter, and perhaps faster, e.g. getting the right additions done at the right time.
Additionally your system should work for you – your preferences, related to your job roll. If you are in charge of the bottling line for example, you’re unlikely to want a quick view of fermenters, but will appreciate knowing if a certain glass bottle supply dips below a preset level you set. If you’re the Cellar Master you may want to easily see all outstanding work orders listed by assigned staff name, or if you’re the Winemaker/Assistant, perhaps all available remaining new oak by cooper/nationality to select for a series of barrel down work orders, or maybe you’re responsible for finances and want to have your thumb on the pulse of current COGS/costs by vintage, varietal or program in real time. Indeed, the VINx2 dashboard is a powerful tool to unlock the data you’re already capturing to help you work smarter right from the login screen.
The other predominant reasons we access key information is to; answer a question, make a decision or prepare/record work to be done to a wine. Conceivably you should be able to access everything you want to know about a certain wine lot, including what tank(s)/barrel/group a wine lot is in regardless of where it’s stored or even offsite. That’s a tall order for any system and even more complex within Excel depending on how you’ve set it up or organized it. VINX2’s overview screens for wine lots, inventory and sources of fruit, provide an amazing amount of detail organized in narrative tabs. The tabs concisely show information for labs, composition, additions, fruit sources and history, as well as costs and bottling information with an add-on module. Product Overview is the screen I see up most on wineries using VINx2 as it not only shows culminated data, but is also an intuitive interface to ‘kick off’ actions from creating work orders to dispatching case goods with BOL’s. There are many key data access features in the Product Overview, but the one of significance time and again is the complete history displayed in date sequential order, available to export as a Excel or PDF file, with ability to be filtered so you can see for example just the additions to date, etc. And when/if that audit team shows up at your winery door, you’re confident that every step of every wine is completely detailed and available for review with an audit trail report.
Lastly, the two potential log jams at varying times seem to be scheduling the crush pad pre/during harvest and managing flow in the lab. Even if you’re not running a 6,000 ton custom crush facility, it’s reassuring to easily collect and review scheduled and processed fruit in VINX2’s Fruit Console with the totals auto calculated at the bottom of the screen to see immediately if one more 10 ton lot next Saturday is doable while you’re on the phone with the grower/winemaker. Similarly for the lab in terms of being able to gauge your day based on what’s been ordered via work orders, monthly maintenance or pending results from ETS.
Doing what we love all day, then heading into the office to ‘beat up excel’ is not ideal. To be fair, you still have to get the data into the system, but it is ideal when you can quickly access accurate data at any moment to keep your winery operations efficient.
I’d be happy to talk to you about your specific needs and how I can help, just request a free demo and let’s get started.