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Making Business-Software Choices

(August 2005) posted on Fri Aug 05, 2005

From accounting and front-end software to tools for the back end.

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By Marty McGhie

Again, depending upon your needs, you may purchase a
heavily loaded front-end package, or simply opt for something
that will enable you to enter clients and can process and bill
orders. Front-end software that's well conceived can provide you
with some very useful tools in tracking customer and marketing
data. If you decide to purchase a front-end system, such as a
sales-contact management program, independent of a back-end
system, you may want to look at a customized database application
such as Microsoft's Access; another option is to pursue a
specific package like GoldMine from FrontRange Solutions or Act!
from Best Software.

Of the three general areas, it's the third area"?back-end
software"?that provides the broadest range of solutions. This
type of software offers tools for order tracking, job tracking,
job costing, inventory tracking, inventory costing, material
allocation, fulfillment, shipping and handling, labor-cost accumulations,
equipment and machinery allocations, overhead
burden costing, and other more specialized applications.
Examples include the E2 Shop System by Shoptech, the System
from CRC Information Systems, and Thoroughbred Software's
Solution Repro IV.

You can choose a package that provides just one or a few of
these solutions, or one that gives you a multitude of options. As
with accounting and front-end software, your best bet is to purchase
the application that provides you with the right mix of
tools to help you compete more effectively. Otherwise, you may
spend a lot of money, gather volumes of irrelevant information,
and end up being worse off than you were previously, due to the
extensive capital investment.

Past, present, future

In the end, software is about providing accurate measurements
and generating data that makes sense for your business. The
software you implement will only be as good as your ability to
make decisions based on the output. If your current software
provides you with the necessary information to make you competitive,
you probably don't need something new.
,p>But the ability to gather more information about how your business
operates will generate greater advantages. We all operate in
a competitive industry with high technology expenses and significant
overhead costs. If you're to succeed in such an environment,
it's critical to have accurate, detailed, and timely data. Your information
systems must provide you with an accurate picture of how
your business has operated in the past and how it functions in the
present, and it must assist you in planning for the future.