- 8th Annual ISSA Today Software Guide
- By Timmy King — posted 05/27/2010
For this year’s Software Guide, we received feedback from 100 ISSA members. (Thank you very much to those of you who took the time to respond to our survey.) One of the most interesting trends the survey exposed is the number of distributors relying on off-the-shelf software to run their business; 18 percent reported using ready-to-run software packages, such as QuickBooks (the most popular), PeachTree, or Great Plains.
There are a lot great reasons for using out-of-the box distribution software, including:
Cost. Take QuickBooks, for example. Following the free trial version, the base package costs only US$159; the popular upgrade Enterprise Edition starts around $3,000 and comes with a 60-day money–back guarantee.
Technology. Also, these programs operate on normal computers without special servers or expensive maintenance contracts. If the computer breaks, you can run out to your local computer store and have a replacement running the same day. Also, because the application runs on a “normal” computer, you can upgrade your main computer annually, repurposing the older machine for use elsewhere in the company.
Support. More than 50,000 U.S. businesses run their operations on out-of-the-box packages, which means an expanded pool of resources. The initial price for most out-of-box packages includes help migrating data from your current system. You can buy an annual support package from your software provider, and it also is easier to find local service providers familiar with the software.
Training. A quick search of Amazon.com shows hundreds of books available from QuickBooks for Dummies to a dozen different comprehensive guides. A quick Google search gives you a wide variety of training options from on-line courses to local classroom programs. And don’t forget your fellow ISSA members. I know from personal experience that ISSA members are the friendliest, most helpful people in the world.
Beyond the Box
Of course there also are pitfalls in using standardized distribution software. The most dangerous—and often least obvious—is backup. When all of your critical business information is put on a single computer, you better make sure that you make a copy of the information every night and store it in a location that won’t be affected by a fire or flood. A company that offers online backup services that guarantee the safety and integrity of your information is one solution.
Another disadvantage of out-of-the-box software is that it is created for many types of businesses so you don’t get the expertise of developers familiar with the nuisances of the jansan industry—such as rebate programs or pricing rules, for example.
Finally, running a business with off-the-shelf software requires an enormous time investment. Even a local consulting resource probably won’t fully understand your business needs, requiring your constant input to setup complex pricing rules, etc.
Check out this video where Terry Brock discusses tech tools. Watch it now.
Timmy King is a freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in manufacturing and distribution. He can be reached at Timmy@TimmyKing.com.