Are spreadsheets the best way to run a bakery?

March 18, 2024

Despite being invented for accountants, many commercial bakeries are still run with spreadsheets.

It’s not just bakers that over-rely on this all-pervasive tool for organizing data in a tabular form. Despite knowing that spreadsheets can be error-prone, so are most organisations.

This is despite repeated stories in press about the mistakes, financial losses, and data breaches that spreadsheet blunders cause. Or the fact that most people tasked with creating or using them have had little or no formal training.

Often, when we are looking at a new Cybake user’s old setup, we find spreadsheets that were set up by different staff at different times. This has usually led to inconsistencies between ingredient, product and customer descriptions and data.

We also find spreadsheets that have been set up independently as price lists. These often have alternative product descriptions with no product code to positively identify products with similar descriptions.

Many, if not most, bakeries routinely use spreadsheets for pricing reviews. But these take a lot of effort to update which means that there can be delays to inputting price variations. With today’s volatile ingredient prices, pretty much any delay in this task can be expensive.

The same goes for spreadsheets used for recipe costings but where ingredient costs are not kept regularly updated. We also find stock sheets with out-of-date product costs. This is due to the effort needed to update the ingredient costs in recipes, and then to update those recipe costs back to the stock spreadsheet.

Inputting errors

Added to all this, there is also the issue of inputting errors. Take one of our users, Camino Bakery, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for example. In a recent case study on our website, owner Cary Clifford explains that she used to run production for her three stores and wholesale operation using Google Sheets.

Cary says: “It worked okay. But it’s just super easy to put in an order on the wrong row. If you put that in the wrong row on Google Sheets, you’ve accidentally ordered, say, twenty loaves of wholemeal, you have all this wasted product. So that’s not happening anymore, which is fantastic. Our mistakes have just gone from, say, if they were at a hundred, they’re down to one now.”

How does specialist bakery management software solve such problems? In our case, Cybake uses one code and one description throughout for ingredients, products and customers. This consistency avoids confusion and potentially expensive production and dispatch errors.

Our purchase ordering module ensures that the cost price of ingredients is always up to date, and it automatically keeps recipe costings updated. As recipes are also updated automatically, pricing reviews can be conducted as needed using standard Cybake reporting.

Similarly, stock cost prices are always up to date. This reduces the likelihood of stock inaccuracies on management accounts.

Overall, the ability of a bakery management solution to interface with accounts packages like QuickBooks, Sage or Xero delivers both operational and financial controls that are simply not achievable with spreadsheets.

Crucially, this includes detailed sales and profit analysis that drills down to individual customers and products.

Spreadsheets are great for clued up number-crunchers and smaller projects. Many new bakeries start off by setting up spreadsheets to help manage their operations. But, as their businesses grow, their spreadsheets tend to get increasingly complicated.

What is needed is a single view of their data that is consistent, easily understood and that can be manipulated without effort. In a choice between spreadsheets and specialist software, there is clearly little contest.

If you would like to move away from spreadsheets and find out more about bakery management software, why not ask for a Cybake demo today via our contact page, by using LiveChat below, by phoning us on the numbers above or by sending us an email?

You may also like:

Camino Bakery installs Cybake to streamline production for its stores and process wholesale orders online

Cary Clifford, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Camino Bakery, explains why her three-store and thriving wholesale business ditched the spreadsheets in favor of Cybake.

Case study: Importico’s Bakery and Café, Stuart, Florida

Importico’s Bakery and Café’s Stephanie Blankenship explains how her two-store + wholesale operation uses Cybake to run production and receive wholesale orders online (includes video).

Why online sales are the key to growth for wholesale bakers

Rachel Hindle explains why nine out of ten wholesale bakeries that use Cybake to manage their operations also use the system to take online orders.

Categories: Blog
Tags: bakery management software cloud computing spreadsheet blunders spreadsheets
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Rachel Hindle is the Business Development Manager of Cybake in the UK and the coordinator of the Independent Cybake Partners group.

Company profile

We started creating ERP-class software solutions for the baking industry in 1998.

Since then, we’ve gained a reputation for friendly and reliable customer support, a deep understanding of retail and wholesale bakery, and for our expertise in cutting-edge systems and technology.

Now, bakers of all types and sizes rely on Cybake® bakery software to control their businesses, cut admin, improve efficiency and increase sales.