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 October 22, 1999

Software solutions: Tailor your software with future in mind

In the world of computerization, a software package that can cost thousands of dollars can be well worth the time and investment for your company.

Industry-specific software, or ISS, can be exactly what a business needs, but the wrong software package can also be a company’s downfall.

A multitude of good, generic software packages tailored to all kinds of business applications is available today. The businessperson can purchase anything from accounting and contact or appointment-manager software, to office packages that include word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail systems, desktop publishing and much more. However, there are several questions you should ask yourself as you evaluate a generic business package:

n Do I have the ability to operate these systems?

n Do I have the time to customize this package to fit my business?

n If I have the time and abilities, will the software package be able to handle my needs?

n Will this package be able to help expand the business?

n Will this package expand with the business?

Industry-specific software is written to solve a need. As a consumer, it is necessary to identify your business requirements prior to investing in any software package. It’s important to not only identify your needs, but prioritize them as well.

Often, business owners want flexibility in their software. Probably the biggest advantage of industry-specific software is its ability to multitask.

For example, take an auto-parts store that has software specifically produced for the parts industry. A patron goes to the parts counter looking for a seasonal item. The software for the parts store has been keeping sales and purchase history for years; therefore, the product can be ordered and stocked well in advance of the customer’s visit, and the customer is able to find what he or she needs.

Industry-specific software can be customized to handle the individual needs of the target market it serves. It enables the company to be proactive – giving the ability to track everything from appointments to inventory in addition to creating a professional image for the business through the use of customized forms.

A properly written software package should have the ability to integrate with all aspects of the business. As in the case at the parts store, creating an invoice for a customer could also generate the following:

” Update the daily sales report.

” Remove the inventory from stock.

” Create a sales history for the customer.

” Create a sales history for the store.

” Create product profit analysis style reports.

” Create the customer’s monthly statement.

” Update the daily bank deposit for cash payments.

” Verify credit card transactions.

” Update any applicable tax reports.

” Prepare a restocking system.

” Update the company’s financial statements.

A software package that accomplishes these functions has a greater value than just producing an invoice. It has driven down a company’s daily workload, possibly reducing the need for extra help, and increased efficiency while decreasing loss.

Due to the proactive approach, a valued customer is now a satisfied customer as well. This is the extra value a company can find in a well-produced industry-specific software package.

A computer software system can also give a company needed structure. When you purchase an ISS package, you also purchase the knowledge the company has gained in past relationships with other industry-related businesses.

Federal, state and some local government agencies have begun to require all businesses, regardless of size, to start reporting to them electronically. The knowledge gained by preparing a software package for one government entity may provide a solution for you as your tax requirements change.

Software development is always a work in progress for software companies. A software vendor must keep up with constant changes within its field of expertise, and a business looking to purchase software must be able to recognize if a system not only fits the needs of its current requirements, but its future requirements as well.

Industry-specific software comes with a larger price tag up front, but it also can come with the ability to help carve a future for a business by paying its own way. Most business owners do not have the time, ability or resources to hire and manage a staff of programmers and support personnel to create and maintain a complete business solution. Keep in mind that when you purchase ISS, you also acquire the knowledge and talents of the personnel working for that software supplier.

Tim Balzer is the sales manager for Aztech Software Inc. in Greeley. Aztech is a national producer of industry specific software specializing in wholesale and retail fuel distribution. Balzer can be reached at (800) 779-8324 or www.tim.balzer.com.

In the world of computerization, a software package that can cost thousands of dollars can be well worth the time and investment for your company.

Industry-specific software, or ISS, can be exactly what a business needs, but the wrong software package can also be a company’s downfall.

A multitude of good, generic software packages tailored to all kinds of business applications is available today. The businessperson can purchase anything from accounting and contact or appointment-manager software, to office packages that include word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail systems, desktop publishing and much more. However, there are several questions you should ask yourself as you…

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