Takeaways from OBEER Conference 2015

OBEER users have gotten bigger and more diverse

mary-brettmann-orchestrate-2015.jpgThis was my third OBEER conference. There were several times that I looked around and wondered at all of the new faces. It used to be that I would see the same people in the hallway during each break. Not anymore. I had to make a list of the people that I wanted to see, and I had to make sure that I saw everyone that I wanted to see.

It is a bit hard for the newcomer to meet people. I suggested to Orchestra that they organize roundtables next year by specific topic. That would allow for people with like-minded questions and expertise to meet each other. Craft Brewing has reputation for being cliquey, and we need to fight against that in this conference.

OrchestratedBEER is coming of age

You can see the effect that Conner Helton has had on the software. He has been with Orchestra for a year now and the product is much more focused. They are trying to make the software relevant to everyone in the brewery. I particularly liked the new help center. It puts all of the answers in one, easy to find place. Don’t forget about the ideas portal. That is your way to vote on what they should add to the software next.

The Ipad module is also growing up. Last year was one of introduction.   Next year will be one of utilization. I am particularly excited about the warehouse module. I have always said that warehouse documents should be done by the people moving the inventory. This module gets us closer to that reality. The new inventory counting batch has been eagerly awaited for a year now. For the brewery to run correctly, all inventory should be counted easily by batch. The new module does exactly that. I know the sheer number of inventory counting paper worksheets that will go by the wayside once that module is implemented.

Orchestra Software is coming of age

We didn’t see much of Brad Windecker (president of Orchestra) this year. It shows that he is handing off significant responsibility to Dani Lakeberg and Conner Helton. If you don’t know these two people, you should. Dani has the large responsibility to organize services to customers. Her depth of knowledge is remarkable. Conner is a true egghead, wrapped inside of a craft brewing accountant. He gets us. I can see the changes that he is making to Orchestra for the better. We are very fortunate to have him there advocating for us on a daily basis.

Optimizing OBEER was a big success

Many people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for the content. They saw that it was a new way of thinking about brewery software implementation. Thinking holistically about the implementation experience is the best way of bringing all of the stakeholders to the table and quickly reaching consensus on how the brewery should use the software.

Orchestra was open to my challenges. In my talk I said that there needs to be more content for the owners and managers of companies. They are the forgotten part of the puzzle. It is too easy to hand the implementation to a bright 28-year old and say go do it. But the 28 year-old doesn’t have the authority to make substantial changes. That is why ownership must always keep the vision of what can be so they can ensure that their company will get to that place. I also said that there should be an OBEER maximization module. You can’t get answers back from the software without really good data warehousing tools. To this point, the Advanced Analytics module has been kind of a forgotten step-child. I challenge Orchestra to put it front and center in an OBEER maximization module.

Orchestra talked at us and not necessarily to us

The sessions in general were a bit too formulaic. It started with the same four slides. Those slides took 15 minutes and then the demo took another 15 minutes. Several sessions ended a half hour early. Then we had a half hour break in between. We should shorten the conference or should go back to the in depth discussions that we saw in 2014. It allowed for the sharing of new ideas and new perspectives.

There needs to be more beer

I get that there are rules regarding beer in hotels. I know that the hotel wants to make their cut on beer poured on premises, but we are beer people making great beer. There has to be a way to experience the wonder of Portland (with the great mass transit system) and the wonder of our own beers. According to Orchestra, we collectively made 2,000,000 BBLs of beer last year. We should all share in that success. There should be a bottle share as part of Orchestrate2016. If Orchestra can’t organize it, we can…who is with me to create a bottle share as part of the conference next year?

In general, it was a great conference with good opportunities to learn and share. I’m looking forward to next year already.

Free: Download Optimizing OBEER Slides and Checklist

Click below to request your copy of the Successful OBEER Management Checklist and the PowerPoint slide deck from our Optimizing OBEER presentation at Orchestrate 2015.

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