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Integrated vs. Siloed Small Business Software, Pt. 2: Expanding The Silo Network

Posted by Matt Woodward

Jun 23, 2014

integrated and siloed business softwareIn our previous post, we discussed the starter stages involved in developing a siloed approach to small business software. CRM and accounting software are the basic fundamentals to your business management system, but their lifetimes are relatively brief. Before long, the business tools that once seemed to boost your company's competitive edge become more constrictive than constructive.

What's Next?

A growing business has changing needs. As you assess the present complexion of your company and the future goals you hope to achieve, your basic accounting software and CRM systems start to obstruct – or, worse, inhibit – your further growth and success. The implementation of new systems (and their respective silos) is admittedly a messy endeavor, but it is seen by many businesses as an immediate necessity rather than an ideal solution. Essentially, it's a break/fix strategy applied to a business management system.

So, how do you prioritize the supplementary tools to implement? All of your small business software choices should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, because the tool that's right for you depends entirely on the needs and goals of your unique business. Here are a few popular options:

Sales Order Management

Qualifying leads and closing sales are prerequisites for generating revenue. But, once an order has been placed, you need to process it efficiently. Sales order management software helps you automate and streamline invoicing, making it a more timely, accurate and cost-effective process.

Inventory Management

Regardless of where your inventory is housed, you need accurate, real-time insights into how much inventory you have. When your inventory reports do not accurately reflect your available items, the discrepancies waste your time, money and effort – plus, you sacrifice customer satisfaction because of your inability to fulfill orders you've promised. Inventory management software helps you accurately monitor your available inventory with real-time updates whenever an order is placed and fulfilled.

Wholesale And Distribution

For wholesale and distribution businesses, your performance hinges on your ability to connect over large geographical distances. Your headquarters and warehouses are scattered amongst the major metropolitan areas of the country, and your manufacturer is located overseas. Distribution software encompasses all the integral facets of wholesale, allowing you to fulfill, package and ship orders more efficiently. Specialty modules facilitate drop shipping with your manufacturers, manage your warehouses and even offer product tracking by lot, batch or barcode – especially important when dealing with dangerous materials, perishables and manufacturer recalls.

Ecommerce

Online retail is gaining popularity at an impressive (but not surprising) rate: The convenience, versatility and scope of ecommerce make it the preferred channel for many consumers today. Whether your retail business is omnichannel or operating solely in the ecommerce space, you need to optimize your online storefront; your customers' experience with your brick-and mortar locations should be no different than the one they have with your ecommerce and mobile fronts.

Marketing

Without marketing tactics, your business is invisible – and an invisible business stands little chance of surviving in the cutthroat realm of small and mid-sized businesses. SMB marketing is about more than getting your name out: You need to drive your sales pipeline, foster fruitful relationships with existing customers and demonstrate your value to new ones. By striking the right balance, you distinguish your business as a customer-centric champion while streamlining and honing your relationship management strategies. A remarkable experience for your customers leads to repeat purchases and referrals for your enterprise.

Once you've implemented the foundational accounting and CRM systems, it's daunting to consider abandoning the silo approach altogether. But, it's important to remember that in the rapid-growth market of small and mid-sized businesses, it's easy for silos to get out of hand: You start with the most basic small business software, and in the blink of an eye, you find yourself needing much more.

With more business tools comes more silos; with more silos comes more complicated data collection – and more room for error. Stay tuned for Part 3, where we discuss the pitfalls of implementing a siloed business software system.

Let the experts at SMB Suite help you choose the best software investment for your business, or help you break free of the tangled silo web altogether. Our comprehensive software suite is specially designed to help you overcome a range of business challenges, from basic business accounting for young companies to complex capabilities for niche industries. Click the link below to schedule a free business software demo.

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Topics: business software, HR and payroll, business management solutions