If you are involved in managing inventory, you are aware of the hassles that can arise due to purchasing issues. Having far too many of an obscure item or running low on a bestseller, are sure clues that you and your company can benefit from a more robust purchasing and inventory management tool. Technology has advanced over the years, such that you no longer need to keep track of purchasing activities on paper. Consider these benefits offered by software programs of today.
A major benefit of using software is it can easily collect and analyze data, a task that would take an employee much longer to do manually. Look for a purchase order system that can analyze past demand, and suggest which orders need to be placed based on that knowledge. You can then use the report as a starting point, and use your own judgment on which purchase orders to create for which items. A purchase order system should also track who the item has been purchased from in the past and automatically order it from the last vendor and default the cost to the last cost paid for the item. If you aren't ready to make the jump to having the system recommend what should be ordered, look for a system that will allow you to simply enter a list of items that need to be ordered. The system will then assign the vendor and last purchase cost, so the purchase order is quickly and easily generated.
Flexible item ordering
Your business likely has its own set of product numbers that are different from your vendor's part numbers. Since your vendor is typically unfamiliar with your item numbers, it's best to place orders using their numbers. Some purchase order systems allow you to create and print purchase orders using both numbers, which is extremely helpful to you and your vendor. Another flexible purchase order tool is the ability to place orders in multiple units of measure, in case you need to purchase the item in one unit of measure and sell it in a different unit of measure.
Minimum and maximum quantity setup
This handy purchase order tool allows you to set up minimum and maximum amounts by item. This allows you to run a report to see which items are running low and need to be ordered, or which are overstocked and may need to be liquidated.
Most businesses do receive requests for drop shipments, at least every now and then. If you need to order items and have your supplier ship them directly to your customer, a tool for handling drop shipments is a must. Handling drop shipments means that the system will allow you to specify a ship-to address that is different than your own address. Without this tool you will end up manually entering ship to data which results in wasted time and increased margin for error. This feature is crucial for those who drop ship large quantities of items. It should also allow you to identify the sales order to the purchase order, so that the sales order can automatically be invoiced as soon as the vendor communicates that the order has shipped.
Receive partial orders
As we all know, sometimes the orders we place are not always delivered in full. In these cases, it's helpful to have the choice of whether to receive the partial shipment and keep the rest of the purchase order open, or to simply receive the items and cancel the remainder of the items. Sometimes the vendor will notify you that they have shipped what they have and the remainder of the order will be canceled. A proper purchase order system will include an option that allows the user to cancel the remainder of an order, instead of having to manually cancel each line.
All of these purchase order software tools can help you keep your inventory stocked with the items you need, and lean on those that you don't. They also help you manage purchase orders more efficiently, saving your company time and money.
One of the great benefits of accounting software is the ability to slice and dice your data so that it means something to you and your business. Well, consider ratio analysis an extension to your standard reports. Why? Because ratio analysis gives you information not found in your standard financial reports. It goes a step further by helping you pinpoint areas of strength and weakness in your business, so you can increase profits and reverse negative trends.
How do you stack up?
Ratio analysis allows you to make comparisons between your business and your competitors’. You can view standard industry trends, so you understand where your business stands in comparison. Once you know where you stand, you get an idea of which areas of your business to improve, giving you a distinct advantage over your competitors.
Just the facts, please.
It’s one thing to have ratio analysis data, and still another to understand where the numbers came from. Use your ratio analysis tool to generate the data, and then drill down further to understand exactly what makes up those numbers. This allows you to understand patterns within your business, so you can make better management decisions moving forward.
See the forest through the trees.
There is power in looking at details up close, but even more in being able to compare your data from two different time frames. Maybe last year wasn’t profitable and you want to turn it around. Or maybe you struggled last month and want to know why. Use ratio analysis as a high-level tool to see trends over longer periods of time, so you can achieve long-term financial growth.
By using ratio analysis, you can access information and trends that you may not have noticed, so you can make changes accordingly, which will benefit your business!
When researching accounting and payroll software for your company, be sure to get these commonly forgotten questions answered, or you may have unwanted surprises down the line.
What are my ongoing yearly costs, and what does that include?
People often remember to ask the upfront costs for a software package but place less importance on the ongoing costs, which can be substantial. Even if your upfront costs are minimal, you may be shocked when you find out as the years go by that there are additional costs for functionality your company requires. For example, you decide you want to start processing payroll via direct deposit, only to find out there is an expensive per-check fee for that service. Another example is support, which can be handled in various ways depending on the software company. Be sure to ask what support is included in the price, what that support includes, and what the ongoing costs for it are.
Can I talk to somebody in my own industry for a reference?
If you own a retail store, then talking to a manufacturer for a reference probably won't help you much because your company processes accounting and payroll in a completely different way. Be sure to talk to a reference that is in a business similar to yours, so you get a true feel of how it could work for your own business.
Will it work with other software products I use?
Most businesses now use software for many different purposes whether it's for word processing or spreadsheet management to time clock entry and electronic data interchange ("EDI"). Be sure to find out whether your accounting and payroll software can fit together with your other software. Having your programs work together saves you significant reentry of data, which saves you time and cuts out a margin for error.
What are the product limitations?
A salesperson by nature does not want to tell you all the details of what a product cannot do; however be sure you understand what its limitations are. For example, you might find out that a software package has the capability for unlimited concurrent users. This may be true in theory, but in reality there is a limitation of how many the system can handle while still running efficiently. This number likely depends on many things like the number of items, customers, transactions, and history saved in the system, not to mention the database technology used. Gain a good understanding of these limitations before purchasing your new software.
How experienced is their technical support staff, and where are they?
Technical support experience varies greatly by company. Be sure to ask about the experience level of the staff that provides support. If you don't get a better answer than, "I'm not sure," you have reason to be skeptical. At times when you need help, you will definitely appreciate having an expert available instead of somebody who knows nothing about accounting or payroll. Do they outsource support services to another company?
Will this work for everybody at my company?
Don't forget that many people in a company are affected by the accounting and payroll software choice. Shipping may need to print special packing lists; accounts payable may need to print 1099 forms, and the warehouse may need a better way to perform a physical inventory count. These are just a few examples of problems that can easily be solved with your accounting software. Include input from people in all departments, so your new system will work well for the entire company.
In an industry where technology is updated all the time, it's easy for your business to become less efficient if the software you rely on doesn't keep up with current trends.
Whether it's supporting the latest database servers or being able to run on the latest Microsoft Windows® operating systems; a piece of software that hasn't been updated for quite some time could be surprisingly detrimental to your bottom line.
Here are some things you can do to make sure your business isn't left in the dust:
Stay on top of updates released by your software provider
Don't let them pass too long, not only could you get a fix for a defect you've been working around for the last few weeks or months, but you might also pick up some new functionality which could make you more efficient in your day-to-day processes.
Make sure you have a support plan
These may seem like an unnecessary expense; what could go wrong - right? But find yourself in a jam just once and you'll wish you hadn't held-off on buying some peace of mind. Support plans also ensure you'll receive continued updates and product enhancements over the coming year(s).
Really learn the software
You rely on software to make your business profitable, yet how often have you watched someone else use the same product only to discover some functionality you never knew existed? Most line of business applications offer training options, whether through enhanced how-to documentation, online webinars or on/off-site training sessions - utilize the knowledge of the professionals, learn all those tips and tricks for getting the most out of your software.