By Adam Kinsey
The modern retailer needs some technological prowess to maximize profits and efficiency. However, some of the most useful technology seems to be an unattainable mess of acronyms and jargon. Two types of management software a retail owner should consider using are ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and EAI (Enterprise Application Integration). These programs are designed to take an inclusive approach to managing a business. They are exceptionally important for retailers who have payrolls to oversee and physical inventory to track.
Bottom up business planning: ERP
ERP is a type of program that incorporates every kind of management a business owner might require. It takes all of the data you need to input and extract, and organizes it into one program. It is very good at providing a business blueprint. If you attain ERP early in your venture, you will find that you are able to manage your inventory, payroll and scheduling without feeling like you are juggling. It provides one comprehensive interface through which you can access almost all of the tech applications necessary to manage your business. This is important because the more clients and employees you have, the more likely it is for a paper filing system to become unmanageable and sluggish.
ERP is not the cheapest program to attain. It is definitely an investment. Because of its inclusive nature, it requires that a developer design a program exclusively for you. ERP may also require you to learn the workings of your new system.
Streamlining business practices
EAI is easier to implement in later stages of a business plan than ERP. It essentially acts as a taskmaster, sitting above your existing management programs and providing a mediator between them. The end result is pretty similar to that of ERP, except ERP is one seamless program whereas EAI is somewhat more Frankenstein-like, where you stitch together programs of your choice.
EAI, unlike ERP, still requires that you maintain and update all of its underlying programs. This can be more expensive in the long run and also a serious pain. If you forget to update your programs, you could run into problems, especially connecting with other businesses.
Do It Yourself tech solutions
If ERP and EAI sound like a bit too much to take on right now, there are other ways you can get similar results. Even if you do not have an IT team, try the following tips to stay on top of your management.
Pay attention to the updates your programs require. Most programs are good about reminding you that they need updating so do not push them aside. Once every week or two set aside time to apply updates and familiarize yourself with the changes they bring.
Utilize a suite of programs. Choosing a particular set of programs will benefit you by presenting a single type of user interface. They will also often package their updates together, which minimizes upkeep.
Ditch paper. Paper systems and chicken scratch are not a good way to start out these days, let alone thrive. If you have a habit of writing important things down, either transcribe them into a digital ledger via cloud technology or invest in a tablet that can read your handwriting.
If management software is not in the cards today, try emulating their methods. If you are ready though, get a head start on your company’s growth and on the future of business with a comprehensive program.