Resources

Most Useful Business Software and Their Benefits

 

The following examines five various software tools that were designed specifically for business use.  These tools help businesses with sales, distribution, inventory, customer relationship, and many other daily activities.  These tools include enterprise resource planning (ERP), point of sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, and collaboration.

 

ERP

 

ERP software is software developed for business process management for companies to use a set of individual applications integrated to manage and automate business back office functions which relate to services, human resources, and technology (Beal).  The premise behind ERP software is to integrate all areas of a business' operation such as sales, finance, warehouse, inventory, development, and manufacturing.  ERP is classified as an enterprise level application since it is designed for large businesses and requires teams of administrators to customize the application and analyze the data.  Some ERP software is designed for small businesses which are a simplified version of enterprise ERP software.  Small business ERP are designed for specific industries (Beal).

 

ERP software enables businesses to integrate primary and sub business processes for efficiently meeting business goals (OpenERP).  By integrating business processes, companies can perform cross communication between different departments.  The manufacturing piece of an ERP can alert the warehouse piece of any delays that may cause warehouse shortages of certain products or supplies.  A sales department can communicate with marketing and customer service which ad campaigns are effective or which type of communication works best with customers.  The purpose of ERP is derived from advantages such as productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness in business plans, reduced response times due to more efficient information transfer, faster decision making, and an overall streamlining of functions across an organization (OpenERP).

 

-           Implementation of ERP Systems: Accounting and Auditing Implications - Central Washington University

-           The security solution in ERP - The University of Texas at Dallas

POS

 

Point of Sale (POS) software is specified software similar to ERP software in how it is designed.  POS software is designed to help mobile, store front, and other business types make fast and instant sales.  Whether a business has a brick and mortar storefront or has a team of salesmen promoting and selling products at trade fairs or other temporary short term events, POS provide a low cost method that is quick and easy to use for point of sale needs (Hayes).  POS software can be compatible with POS hardware such as cash registers and credit card readers which may use the same software.  Vendors can create mobile versions of their POS software to work alongside a company's physical POS equipment so sales transactions can be conducted using the same software system.

 

The purpose of POS software is to provide a computerized sales transaction system for all businesses that sell products or services.  POS software tracks and calculates cash and credit card transactions for each sale, records payment methods frequently used, tracks the amount of cash on hand, and can create hourly and daily sales reports (Parpal).  POS software is also used as a tool for employees to clock in and out, calculate labor and payroll, and track products sold (Parpal).  POS software is important to businesses that need a method to track, process, and report on individual sales.

 

-           Data Mining: What is Data Mining? – UCLA Anderson School of Business

-           Strategic Analysis of Nike, Inc. – DePaul University

 

CRM

 

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a business tool that helps organize and manage customer relationships (Rouse).  CRM helps businesses build a database with customer or potential customer information for sales, marketing, and customer service departments.  Customers can enter their information directly into CRM software by filling out online forms with required data such as phone, name, address, email, and other information for a company to contact them about a product or service or to be added to a mailing list.  A CRM database can help a company customize sales and marketing strategies to active sales leads based on the time an entry was created.  CRM can help a company improve their Ã’telesales, account, and sales management by optimizing information shared by multiple employeesÓ to streamline processes (Rouse).

 

The importance of CRM software is it is used as an electronic way to differentiate between existing and future customers as well as a method to reach out to business contacts for sales, marketing, and customer service calls.  CRM helps businesses track and maintain relationships that Ã’go well beyond what we human beings can comfortably maintain as far as truly personal relationshipsÓ (Vieira).  CRM helps businesses follow up with contacts they have made with customers and potential customers so they remain in touch and are not forgotten.  It is vital to businesses to remain on their customer's minds so people know who they can contact first when they need a specific product or service.

 

-           A Framework for Customer Relationship Management - Southern Methodist University

-           The Business Value of CRM Systems: Productivity, Profitability, and Time Lag – MIT Center of Digital Business

 

Accounting

 

Accounting software has helped businesses save time and money ever since computers were introduced into the workplace.  Accounting is very time consuming and costly and requires several hours to update information that needs to be constantly updated (Learn-Source).  As a business grows it can become more difficult to keep up with accounting procedures to make sure nothing is lost.  Various software vendors offer accounting software to help businesses deal with their accounting needs quickly and efficiently (Learn-Source).  Accounting software is typically designed to automate financial reports and retrieve records for processing multiple accounting transactions simultaneously.  Accounting software can come in the form of off the shelf pre packaged software, purpose-built, and add-on (Learn-Source).  Off the shelf accounting software includes standard fixed applications small to mid sized businesses can use to track their finances and import end of year information into tax preparation software.

 

Accounting software serves businesses with the importance of accuracy, speed, cost, reports, and tax information (Walton).  The use of this software can help minimize human error and ensure accuracy in your financial records.  Manual bookkeeping requires several hours of calculations by hand.  An error in calculations can off set the results of an entire financial record.  Accounting software speeds the process of mathematical calculations by automating the process.  Sales taxes can be calculated for an entire year's worth of records by entering it one time in the software (Walton).  Averages can be taken and recorded and used for projections for the next year.

 

 

Collaboration

 

Collaborating with coworkers and supervisors typically involves teleconferences and sit down meetings in person.  Collaboration software eliminates the need for physical presence in modern next generation workers who travel more often or work from remote locations (Tuttle).  Collaboration software Ã’enables multiple users to stay connected and work togetherÓ virtually anywhere through a mobile or wireless device (Tuttle).  This tool can help employees communicate and share information via email, calendars, video and web conferencing, VoIP calls, instant messaging, message boards, and several other platforms with a virtual private network (VPN) tunnel to access a company network.  This software enables companies to connect employees on a national and global level.  An east coast based employee can meet with a west coast based employee on a schedule or project document and send it to customers in China through a video conferencing platform (Tuttle).  One person can participate in the conference with a laptop or PC while another can connect with a tablet.

 

Collaboration software can come in the form of software packages and cloud solutions (Campbell).  The importance collaboration software provides to business projects is high as it can connect employees with coworkers in different locations or departments which may have bits and pieces of information needed to finish a project or include all information required by a customer.  Collaboration software can include a company wiki, social intranet for employees, forums, blogs, and instant messaging programs (Campbell).  This software gets employees to interact with each other outside the realm of traditional meetings and phone calls by providing a constant state of online presence.  Employees in all departments can contribute to a company wiki to provide a full source of information to everyone in the company and social intranets can help employees interact with each other to increase morale and productivity (Campbell).

 

While every software tool explained in this article explains the purpose and importance of each it is wise that any company interested in deploying such a tool should select the proper fit for them.  For example, not all CRM or ERP software may provide the features a company needs or finds useful.  Networks should be tested to see if they can support a large overlaying system or research if they need extra storage and bandwidth to support the use.  Monster.com serves as an example of how improper deployment of a CRM system led to the loss of millions in 1998 when they deployed a new system that ended up bogging down their servers and prevented members of their sales team instant access to information they needed for prospective clients (Rigby).

References


Beal, V. (n.d.). What is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)? Webopedia. Retrieved from http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/E/ERP.html

Campbell, B. (2013, March 14). The Importance of Collaboration in TodayÕs Workplace - Elcom - Elcom. Retrieved from http://www.elcomcms.com/Resources/Elcom-Blog/Posts/The-Importance-of-Collaboration-in-Today-s-Workplace/blog.aspx

Dong, S., & Zhu, K.Retrieved from http://digital.mit.edu/wise2006/papers/5b-2_crm%20productivity%20%20profitability_for%20wise%202006.pdf

Hayes, M. (2012, November 5). What is Point Of Sale (POS) Software - Cloud Based Retail POS System. Retrieved from http://www.shopify.com/blog/6809394-point-of-sale-pos-software-uses-and-applications

Make Your Business More Effecient with Accounting Software. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.learn-source.com/career/accounting.html

Parpal, M. (n.d.). The Importance of the Point of Sale (POS) System. Retrieved from http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/education/restaurant-management-and-operations/the-importance-of-the-point-of-sale-pos-system/c28000.aspx

Purpose & Advantages of an ERP system | ERP | OpenERP Implementations. (2011, April 19). Retrieved from http://blogs.bistasolutions.com/2011/04/19/purpose-advantages-of-an-erp-system/

Rigby, D. K., Reichheld, F. F., & Schefter, P. (2002, February). Avoid the Four Perils of CRM - Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2002/02/avoid-the-four-perils-of-crm/ar/1

Rouse, M. (n.d.). What is CRM (customer relationship management)? - Definition from WhatIs.com. Retrieved from http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/CRM

Tuttle, B. (2011, May 25). What is Collaboration Software? Retrieved from http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/collaboration-software/articles/178739-what-collaboration-software.htm

Vieira, D. (2014, April 9). interlinkONE | The Importance of Customer Relationship Management. Retrieved from http://interlinkone.com/2014/04/09/importance-customer-relationship-management/

Walton, A. (2014). The Importance of Accounting Software | Chron.com. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-accounting-software-71524.html