The dream team: Integrating POS, accounting, and inventory management software
It starts off so innocently - you’re running a small business and keeping track of everything manually. Soon enough, managing the finances becomes too much to handle and you need to free up some time. That’s okay; you can sign up for some reasonably priced accounting software to help you out.
One year down the track your business has grown enormously, but so have your stock levels, staff, customers, and suppliers. That’s okay; you can invest in some intelligent POS software to help you run the business more efficiently.
Even more time passes and you find that you need a more sophisticated inventory management system. So you get one...
Why your dream team needs to be working in harmony
It’s obvious where the problem lies in the scenario above. It’s difficult to get a ‘big picture’ of how your business is performing if you have three different systems reporting on different performance areas. In some cases, the information will even overlap and be inconsistent across your various software programs.
Putting together business reports by grabbing sales numbers from one system, tax information from another, and the corresponding inventory levels from yet another is not time effective, nor will it be the most accurate report you can produce.
Detailed reporting is a very important key to business success and profitability. In order to save time and generate the most accurate numbers you will need to integrate your POS, accounting, and inventory management - otherwise known as the ‘Dream Team’ throughout this article.
How to ensure full integration between your POS, accounting, and inventory management software
We’re going to discuss the things you should look out for when considering a new type of software and how to make sure you’ll be able to achieve full integration with your existing ones. Not everyone can afford to or wants to ditch their existing systems in favour of a new all-in-one system. When you have an existing system that works well, is affordable, and your employees are completely comfortable with, it’s worth holding on to.
What does full integration mean?
Full integration of the dream team means automatic syncing of data across systems and the ability to create detailed reports with the blended data. For example, you want to be able to send out an invoice within accounts and have inventory levels automatically updated to reflect this at the same time. Without even thinking about it.
The difference between genuine integration and linked interfaces
A big problem is companies offering ‘full integration’ between certain software when what they actually mean is a linked interface. This interface will allow you to simply view all of your data in one place (usually in the form of a lovely and colourful dashboard), which is no doubt helpful. However, what they don’t mention is that you will have to manually sync up your data if you want consistency across your systems. This is far too time consuming and leaves a lot of room for human error.
Questions to ask before investing in new software
Before you invest in another type of software, here are some points to consider:
- Does your existing software offer an add-on in the same performance area? Many POS systems have ‘extras’ available, such as accounting integration. Consider avoiding adding a third party to the mix and simply upgrade within your current software instead. It’s usually a lot cheaper than investing in a whole new system, too.
- Does the software provider you’re considering offer a trial period? Testing the potential new software with your existing systems is crucial for ensuring the quality of data integration. Don’t sign up for anything if the provider won’t let you trial the product for at least ten days.
- Do they offer the blended reports you’ll need? Check out our article on the report types you need. If any of these are important to you, ask your potential provider about all of them. If they can’t provide one or more, it could be a red flag.
- Does integration of data happen in real time? A delay in data integration can be a big problem for businesses when it comes to reporting. Make sure there is either no delay, or only a small delay that you and your staff are aware of and prepared to manage.
Choosing scalable software
We have covered this topic in detail in our previous article about future-proofing your POS system. However, it’s also the key take away for this article. Before investing in your very first software system it’s important to consider the future and whether it will grow with your business. This will save you a lot of time, effort, and money, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.
The best option is to choose a provider where you can start with a more basic package and then allows you to bolt on the required extras as your business grows.