A good read on Food Safety Modernisation Act (by Team Ionhaccp)

As per FDA, Foodborne illnesses affect around 48 Million Americans per year, which means 1 in every 6 Americans goes through this. Out of those, around 1,28,000 are hospitalized and for 3000 people every year, foodborne diseases have turned out to be fatal. Most foodborne diseases are caused due to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites contained in the contaminated food reaching the human body system.

Contamination of food can be prevented by setting preventive and quality measures in food manufacturing, processing, and storing. US food Industry is considered one of the largest with sales values amounting to more than 5 trillion dollars in 2015. The need to educate and ensure awareness and safe practices throughout the industry has become a necessity now more than ever. The US Govt enforced FSMA with the intention to modernize and update the Food Safety practices while maintaining compliances with the existing Food safety standards like HARPC, HACCP, GFSI, SQS, etc.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. The FSMA has given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authorities to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested, and processed. FSMA aims at complete prevention of foodborne diseases rather than controlling it. FSMA primarily focuses on these legislations.

Food Safety Modernisation

Prevention

This rule makes it mandatory for certain domestic and foreign facilities to establish and implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls for human food. The final rule implements the requirements of FSMA for covered facilities to establish and implement a food safety system that includes a hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls.

Import Safety

The new rule requires the importers of food for humans & animals to perform risk assessments and ensure that the product meets US safety standards.

Enhanced Partnerships

The legislation recognizes the importance of strengthening existing collaboration among all food safety agencies – U.S. federal, state, local, territorial, tribal and foreign to achieve the public health goals. For example, it directs FDA to improve training of state, local, territorial and tribal food safety officials.

Inspections, compliance, and response

FSMA’s rule established mandated inspection frequency based on the risk for food facilities. The Law directs FDA to conduct inspections and to increase the frequency of inspections going forward. The Law gives FDA the right to access food safety plans and records for implementing those plans.

FSMA compliance and the role of Food Safety Apps:

Food Safety Applications designed for Food Safety with HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Control) compliance allows organizations dealing with Manufacturing, Producing, Processing, Packaging and Transporting of food to plan and execute their operations effectively. Let’s see what a fully fledged Food Safety System can help you in ensuring FSMA compliance.

1. Establish Food Safety Plans

Companies can create HARPC based food safety Plans, Tasks, and Workflows that can be assigned to individuals for approval. Apps allow the users to refer and update the status through the system making it fully transparent.  The app proves as a reference for updated product specs, plans, hazards, and potential risks.

2. Identifying Non-conformances earlier & managing corrective & preventive actions

FSMA stresses on preventing Foodborne diseases rather than controlling. FSMSs (Food Safety Management Systems) like Ionhaccp allows the user to identify non-compliances by cross checking with the requirement and sends alert to the users real time. Preventing non-conformances from happening controls the situation right where it is starting.

3. Maintaining Documentation and Reports as per FSMA Requirements:

All reports, plans, workflows, invoices, etc can be electronically stored and retrieved whenever needed. This will ensure that all necessary documents are readily available for inspections and audits as required by the FDA.

With an efficient Food Safety Management System, you can identify your non-compliances right where it is started and take corrective and preventive actions, ensuring FSMA compliance and overall a very hygiene, healthy and safe product for consumption. 

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How We Establish Our Business Through Meetups?

meetup

Meetups are a great means to meet local entrepreneurs and enhance business networking. When the best brains meet and discuss their ideas, the amount of knowledge, business opportunities, service offering, advisory, and connections that can be gained is unimaginable. Understanding the potential of participating in events, Vmoksha CEO & Director attended numerous meet ups throughout the New York to network with people of similar mind or interest. The business connections they acquired from attending such meetups have opened doors to different challenges and possibilities to work on.

How we managed to get connections?

We constantly search for Meetups through online tools like Meetup.com and Eventbrite on topics that match with our Industry and service offerings. For the past 3 months, we have attended over 20 meetups related to IoT, Networking, Big data, Women Entrepreneurs, Sports and Entertainment and Food Tech, Health, etc that were conducted throughout the New York.

Pioneers and leaders from different organizations had attended and discussed their views on the current business scenario. We have also introduced and discussed our service specialties and observed that many entrepreneurs were keen to know more about our organization. This enabled us to reconnect with those persons who have shown interest in our products through Emails & Calls. Around 200 new contacts were added to our CRM and through emailing, we were able to be in touch regularly with those contacts.

How Meetups Benefited Us?

  • Got a chance to exhibit our newly developed product, IONHACCP.
  • Discussed and shared knowledge on industry trends, technological advancements, etc.
  • Found opportunities in partnership programs
  • Met industry experts, reconnected with old friends and driven business opportunities from these connects.

Meetups helped in spreading our brand awareness and enabled us to understand the opportunities waiting for us and the channels that we need to focus.

Role of Scorecard in Prioritizing Feature Set & Positioning our Product among Competitors!

Vmoksha is going to launch a comprehensive Food Hygiene & Safety Management System to assist Food Manufacturers and Processors in maintaining their food safety and quality. We named it Ionhaccp to convey users that our product ensures HACCP compliance, which is a fundamental requisite for food businesses.

We thoroughly understood the requirements from the global food market and designed ionhaccp with advanced features to compete with the current key market players. Considering future trends in food safety, we also integrated IoT technology to our product, which can capture Critical Control Points to prevent food safety hazard. IoT not only simplifies the task of capturing critical data but also gives valuable infographics and sends alerts to user’s mobile devices if anything goes beyond the predefined limits.

Prior to designing our product we have analyzed different feature sets available in the market. During the process of analysis, we have given scores to each and every feature based on the feature significance and availability, which helped us in understanding the weightage and priority of the features.

Let’s see how Scorecard has helped us in prioritizing ionhaccp features & competitively positioning of our Product.

Before we start, let’s know the basics –

What is a Scorecard?

Scorecards have scores (Weights) given for each product features on the basis of their priority. The scoring method helps to rank your features and understand which features are crucial to include in your product. While there are many inputs that ultimately go into a product decision, a scoring model can help the team have an objective conversation.

Why to calculate weightage and scoring?

To have a comprehensive view of major competitors’ products, their feature set, and to identify the potential gap. Arrive at an optimum feature set to gain market share.

What is our approach to achieving that?

  • Identify the key players
  • Identify the key features
  • Comparative analysis of features
  • Develop scorecard

How we Prioritize our Product Features?

Our team has conducted a thorough research online and offline and came up with all possible set of parameters (Features) and top market leaders (Competitors). Next, we have created a table with Competitors Products and listed all features available from all the competitor products.

Scorecard

As shown in the table above, we categorized the features into different heads. Narrowing the features was based on factors that impact Operational Efficiency. Following are the factors that determine the success of an effective product.

  • Functional
  • Technical
  • Architecture
  • Support
  • Licensing & Documentation
  • User Experience
  • Pricing
  • Security
  • Market Share

 Scorecard

Figure 1 – Feature & Competitors Representation

Next Step in the competitive analysis is to figure out the list of features available or missing in all the products. Then, we have to identify the list of important features and give them scores. Scores are weightage given to each feature listed based on its operational efficiency or significance.

First, we need to give maximum values to the score column; here we have given value 5 for the features that are inevitable. This means, for any feature which is given a score of 5 is considered of high priority (5 being the maximum score). If a product feature seems of least significance, we gave it a weight of 1 (1 being the lowest score). Based on the maximum values given in the Score column, we gave weights for our competitor’s products as well as our own product for each feature listed under the head. It must be noted that a product expert team after detailed analysis of competitors should give the weightages.

Once all features are given weight on 1-5, our Scorecard table was looking like this. (The data represented in the picture are completely based on our analysis and not taken from any outside sources)

 Scorecard

After allocating the proper scores, it’s time to see the total scores obtained for each product listed. Summing up all the scores vertically gave us the total scores obtained by each product. Once it’s done, we were able to find out which player has obtained the maximum scores and see the ranks obtained by each player. This is how our scorecard total looks like after summing up.

Scorecard

Now based on the total scores obtained, we could easily determine the ranks for each product. Hence, we were capable of finding our product’s rank & thereby where our product stands among the competition. Representing scorecard details graphically or tabular format is much easier to understand. Let’s see how we showcased our scorecard details.

Scorecard

Scorecard

Scorecard  

Based on our competitive analysis and the scoring, ionhaccp will be able to offer the must-have features as identified in the scorecard and will become one of the top 3 key players in this segment.

Myths about PMO

Is PMO needed for your organization? The default answer is yes but if we discuss with various teams there are general myths about project management and PMO.

Myth #1: PMO is all about documentation

The bedrock of the project management is to have a set of defined processes for the organization. These processes should be aligned to the organisations’ goals and repeatable across projects. Therefore it is required to be documented. But documentation alone cannot ensure a project is well managed. PMO is not only the custodian of the processes (i.e. reading documentation).PMO has to monitor that these processes are regularly applied in projects ensuring a better outcome and eventually leading to customer satisfaction.

Myths about PMO
Image courtesy – KONAKART.COM

 

Myth #2: Execution is everything

Organisations and teams place a very high importance to project execution. This can become counter- productive if it lacks adequate planning and tracking. Under the pressure of execution the team may jump the project management activities and eventually land up into rework and loss of time. While project execution is key, it is imperative that proper planning and regular tracking ensures that the project is well guided and minimises overrun.

Project Management Process
Image courtesy – IO4PM.ORG

Myth #3: Risks can be managed when it appears

Risks are almost not visible unless they appear. So teams may choose to spend less or no time in risk review activities. However risks, as it always happens, comes as a surprise and teams who do not monitor them on a regular basis have to jump into a fire fighting mode. This can have a huge impact on the project and in some cases can lead to severe consequences, so while risks cannot be predicted but appropriate risk mitigation plan and regular reviews can lessen the impact. It’s rightly said, forewarned is forearmed.

 

Risk with Project Management
Image courtesy – MITRE.ORG

 

Myth #4: Project management is just PMO’s responsibility

The word PMO and project management sounds synonymous, right? And this is usually why its felt that project management is just PMO’s responsibility. In a project, while process is important, the team is the key. If we look at the successful project closely we can notice that it’s the team which made the difference. The team which owns the project management responsibility and do not see it as an obligation, cruises along the project timelines successfully.

Project Management Strategy
Image courtesy – PYCOMALL.COM

As a long term strategy, project management and PMO is instrumental in increasing the overall organisation performance. But this cannot remain in isolation and has to be owned by all the team members. In a successful organisation it is just not a department but a philosophy that everyone believes in.