Business to Business software is a unique entity in the world of software applications for business. Whereas most software products are designed to either enhance office productivity by reducing the amount of time doing day to day business tasks, or designed to present information or even products to customers in the most cost effective way possible. Business to business software is designed to connect you to your employees, suppliers, distributors, and other business entities.
There are several things to look for when trying to choose a business to business software product. One of the greatest of these is to look at your needs and decide if a single product that handles all of your business to business needs is what you really need, or if a smaller product with lower requirements and generally a lower price will allow your business to get the results it needs. A business to business software suite that handles supplier and distributor information when your company does not take in any supply or ship any products, for example an online auction site, then those features would be simply wasted.
That is not to say that future proofing or expansion readiness is to be ignored. Simply because your company does not currently produce products or take in shipments does not mean you will not in the future. Because of this it is important to take into account not only where your business is now but where it might be in six months, a year, two years, or even ten years depending on the cost of the business to business software you are considering.
Another important thing to consider when debating any particular business to business software application is the information technology level of your company. Many of these products have fairly significant hardware and technical expertise requirements, and if the company providing your software solution does not do some sort of free training or installation those costs and requirements fall to your company to fulfill. If your office only has a single computer that is only connected to the internet sporadically when you need to send an email you may not want a product that requires a broadband always-on internet connection and a handful of servers to use.
All of that being said there are great advantages to having a solid business to business software suite for your company. Many repetitive and time consuming tasks can be automated entirely and that frees up more time for you to run your business. If your manufacturing department can automatically alert a supplier that they are running low on raw materials, and at the same time alert shipping that the next batch of product will be ready in two days you and your workers don not have to spend time communicating this information. It’s done entirely automatically.
A great example of business to business software integration is in the shipping industry. Have you ever wondered where the information on package tracking websites comes from? It comes from extremely efficient and well configured business to business software packages.
In the example of one shipping company from the moment that you drop off a package for delivery a bar code is placed on the package and it is scanned, which tells their computer systems that a package has been picked up. That package will then be scanned when it is loaded for the distribution center, when it is unloaded from that truck when it is loaded into a truck to be shipped across long distances, when it is unloaded at that center, when it is loaded into the delivery truck, and again when it is delivered. By making good use of technology the shipping company has been able to provide you with up to the minute information as to the location of your package without adding any overhead of time or manpower.
That being said that same system could be utterly disastrous if that product was not as finely tuned as it is. It would not save those companies any time or money if that software required lengthy keying in of information or a massive number of information technology personnel spending their entire days keeping the system running. Good business to business products are designed to be easy to implement and use, and inexpensive and simple to maintain.
In conclusion, as it is in any business environment the process of selecting the best business to business software product for your needs can be complex and challenging. However by remembering the needs and resources of your business and making a well thought out and clear decision as to which product will be the correct one for your business you could stand to reap massive rewards. Remember, time spent thinking clearly is never time wasted and those salesmen get paid to sell you a product. Not necessarily the one you need.