Managing Business Growth with Software

May 26, 2014

business growthIf your company is facing an increase in order volume, difficulty tracking available inventory, and just a little bit of disorganization as a result of growth, perhaps it’s time to start managing this growth by evaluating alternatives for doing so. There are a number of options available to you, and the first step to making the right decision is to educate yourself on these. As a growing business, you can:

  1. Use an introductory software system to automate certain processes
  2. Invest in a robust ERP system to manage all of your accounting and inventory management needs
  3. Hire an employee to manage additional workload

Choosing between these three options can be tough, and making the appropriate decision requires time, effort, patience, and commitment. Here are some starting points:

When your company starts experiencing significant growth, it’s both exciting and stressful. Even if you’d anticipated this growth, the increase in order volume and its impact on other areas of the company such as customer service, shipping, product returns and inventory management can create a hectic environment. The extra work should not prevent you from starting to think about new resources and processes to better manage growth. On the contrary, your available options should be evaluated as soon as possible, before things become completely unmanageable. Find a solution that will align with the future of your company and help foster this growth – even if this may not necessarily be the approach you originally thought of, or the simplest to implement. Start from the beginning by doing research on your options, so that you find the one that best fits your business model and goals so that you can continue to grow in the future.

Managing Business Growth with Software

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Comparing Purchasing Software vs. Hiring an Employee

May 20, 2014

We’ve previously discussed the importance of planning ahead for company growth, in order to achieve your strategic goals. When companies experience growth, individual employee workload typically also increases. Corporate growth and higher order volume go hand in hand with an increase in administrative work, which often triggers chaos and panic as employees try to re-evaluate their responsibilities and keep up.  When this growth becomes too much to handle for the current staff level, businesses start to look for ways to spread out the workload. Two of the most common options are:

  1. Hire an extra employee to take on some of the workload
  2. Automate processes through an ERP system to decrease the pressure current employees face

Both of these options have pros and cons, and choosing between the two can be tough. If you decide to hire someone, your focus might be on growing the team, or you may be unsure of the software options available. Adding an additional employee not only results in higher salary costs but also presents training, management and longevity issues. If you choose to invest in an ERP solution, because your focus is more in-line with long term company growth and automation, you will still face issues when it comes to IT maintenance and updates, costs and support. Either way, there are a number of additional factors that should be compared, including:

  • Cost: evaluating both tangible and intangible costs
  • Longevity: how long either option will endure
  • The Future: where your company is headed, and which option better suits your strategic goals

There is no right or wrong answer as to what option to choose, but it is advisable to objectively evaluate both in order to make the decision that will be the best for the company.

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Why You Should Visit Blue Link at IRCE 2014

May 14, 2014

Visit Blue Link at IRCE

By Samantha Hornby

This year’s upcoming IRCE tradeshow marks the 10th anniversary of the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition and is a great place for eCommerce businesses to learn about new trends and technologies in the industry.  The show is expected to bring in 3,000+ attendees and will showcase more than 600 solutions providers in the exhibit hall as well as offer multiple workshops and expert speakers. If your business is involved in selling online or considering this for the future, IRCE provides the perfect opportunity to learn from successful businesses about how to do eCommerce right, and what available technologies and solutions are necessary to succeed – besides, who doesn’t like an excuse to get out of the office?

This year will be Blue Link’s first year exhibiting at the show, and we are very excited about the opportunity.  Aside from getting the chance to explore beautiful Chicago, we are excited to speak with attendees about an often overlooked and certainly less glamorous aspect of eCommerce – back-end inventory and accounting ERP software.  For many eCommerce businesses, and especially those who are also wholesale distribution companies, proper inventory and accounting management can be the difference between your company succeeding and failing.  In such a saturated market, consumers will not easily forgive those eCommerce sites who sell inventory they don’t have, lose orders during shipment and are slow to respond to customer service issues. In order to avoid these problems, it is important for eCommerce companies to invest in proper back-end ERP software in conjunction with getting their online store set up.

When it comes to ERP and eCommerce integration there are several different options depending on how sophisticated your business processes are.

(1)    No Integration

The first and simplest is a site with no integration. An example is a website that allows customers to view product and place orders, but all inventory levels must be manually updated within the site’s interface and all orders are manually downloaded from the site and re-entered into an accounting system.  This is best for very small companies who want to give customers access to product information online, but only manage a small number of orders each day and so manual process are appropriate.

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Wholesale ERP in the 21st Century

May 7, 2014

Wholesale ERP in the 21st CenturyThere is no doubt that wholesale ERP software – and technology in general– has changed drastically over the past 15, 10, 5 and even 2 years.  With such a fast rate of change, it can be hard for businesses to keep up to the latest trends leading some to miss out on the advantages provided by these changes.  When it comes to wholesale ERP software specifically, advances in technology have brought more flexibility, simplified migrations, seamless upgrades, and global partnerships.  The latest ERP technology offers many benefits, and failure to evaluate your systems and processes on a regular basis can be dangerous, as many software companies stop supporting legacy systems once they have released several new versions.  Some of the ways in which new technology has improved ERP systems are discussed below.

Cloud (Hosted) Implementations

Cloud software has been around for a while now, but there are still many companies wary of choosing it as a deployment method. Although there is no right answer when it comes to determining which method is best for your company, cloud software offers many benefits that were not previously available with on-premises solutions. The most obvious benefit is that backups (or the lack thereof) are no longer a risk factor, and of course cloud software also allows users with a reliable internet connection to access the system remotely from anywhere in the world.  This has provided opportunities for companies operating offices in multiple countries, for sales reps frequently travelling on the road and for employees who work remotely.  Cloud software also ensures companies continue to receive the latest system enhancements with seamless upgrades.  Vendors are able to deploy new versions much more easily when doing so on their own servers and within their own hardware environments.  Companies no longer have to manage and maintain their own servers and hardware, allowing them to focus their attention on other areas of the company.

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