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If you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year and want your guests to be happy – and not exhaust yourself in the process – run the whole show like an ERP project.

You might be thinking the two are nothing alike, but we beg to differ; they share remarkable similarities if you’ll allow us poetic license and holiday cheer.

Gain Visibility into Your “Family” of Suppliers 

Think of everyone coming to your feast as your family of suppliers. If you collaborate in advance and gain visibility into their supply sources, you can anticipate the final products you’ll receive on the big day and the product inputs you must pull from your own inventory. While some have attempted this with just-in-time tactics, consider Thanksgiving a special project that needs extra preparation. We suggest giving your entire family of suppliers insights through a single, collaborative source of information so everyone knows their responsibility – you don’t want three pumpkin pies instead of one each of apple, pecan, and pumpkin!

Their trips to local stores are their individual sourcing processes, but modern families get visibility into supplier processes and sources. If someone’s job is bringing a pumpkin pie, don’t you want to know if it will be made from scratch or canned ingredients? Won’t that affect the product mix you offer at dessert? Imagine the displeasure (and possible medical issues) of end consumers with food allergies (e.g., gluten or eggs) if you didn’t notify suppliers that their planned supply sources are inadequate. You must all share and collaborate using one version of the truth.

Ensure You Have Plenty of Standard Offerings, but Reduce Waste

You’ll require an abundance of turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. But how much? If, like an ERP solution, you’ve captured historical consumption data based on factors like total headcount, volume of teenage boys, and visiting significant others, you’d know how much to order/produce of each staple. Add a buffer for burnt/undercooked food, an additional 10% to account for those who fill a plate, don’t eat some of it, and fill it again, and a small margin for people who slip food to the dog. ERP incorporates these inputs and delivers an accurate estimate of what you’ll need, with product-specific breakouts and drilldowns.

Your System Increasingly Requires Customizability

Today’s consumers are demanding and want products that suit their highly specific needs. Stuffed mushrooms were once stuffed mushrooms, but today your production of them must allow for customization at kitting time. Some mushrooms require spices while others require gluten-free bread crumbs to satisfy your entire market. If you don’t deliver, you’ll find them at a restaurant or competing relative’s house for the next big holiday. So, as with modern ERP, your system should be customizable.

Consider Your Production Needs and Constraints

If this is your first time hosting a massive gathering, you need ERP-like planning tools, with project timelines and dependencies that indicate which tasks to complete and when to finalize production at just the right time. You can’t buy supplies too early, because ice will melt, dairies will spoil, etc. Input realistic values into the system for items such as oven size, number of employees (two children who help or just yourself), days you have available, etc. Track it all on an easily viewable dashboard, and ensure you have alerts set up if you fall behind in any area.

Parting tip: Remember – what you think is a small item, like gravy, could ruin an entire event if missed.


We at Sapphire hope that whoever oversees your Thanksgiving production has the mindset of an ERP consultant so you have a delicious holiday. In this season, we thank all who continue to engage with our content.

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