Inventory management software is at the heart of every retail business. Thus, it is prudent to ensure that the company is steadfast in its implementation. And in equal measure, they should be wary about a few pitfalls that they ought to avoid.
1. Lack of Inventory Management Software User Training
Inventory management is inherently a complicated subject that requires experience and honed instincts. Despite its name, inventory management does not necessarily revolve around inventory.
Other aspects that affect lists, such as those that affect the inventory status, such as purchases and sales, are part of the whole inventory management paradigm. This is the reason why inventory management, and incidentally the inventory management software, is too broad in scope.
The common pitfall that businesses fall through when it comes to training is the sheer confidence that they have in their staff’s ability to adjust with a new system put in place.
There should never be an assumption that the operating units will hit the ground running. The main barriers include technological challenges, resistance to changes, and lacking consultation.
Although computers and computer systems have been around for a while, we cannot dispute the fact that there are still some people that are reluctant to work with software.
Especially in the blue-collar jobs in which productivity is often translated from the amount of sweat you produce, it can be quite a challenge to get the inventory staff on board with new software, or software in general. This is why there must be a balance within the inventory staff. It is necessary to have a balance between the tech-savvy and the maturity.
Change is never an easy thing to introduce to a workforce that has known to do one thing the same way for a long time. In which case, they need to be given a long enough time to adjust before transitioning.
Consider having a part of the inventory pipeline migrated into the new system while leaving out a majority of the operation the same way. Then, bit by bit, introduce unique aspects of the new inventory management system, until the entire set up has staff acclimated.
Finally, one of the reasons that new inventory management software fails to launch as it was intended is because there was not enough consultation done with the people on the ground.
Since they are the ones who would be working intently with the software, their say must be paramount in the decision process. This is one of the most commonly left out aspects in most business software decisions.
To ensure that everyone is on the same page, all the stakeholders should be part of the product demo and the training. Software companies usually showcase their product if you ask them to.
During these product demonstrations, everyone must be there to witness. Functions and features should be shown, and the team has to approve that these are indeed essential in their job.
1. Losing the Inventory Management Software Forecasts
Artificial intelligence has evolved from a thought study into a full-fledged scientific branch that has business merit. With the advent of machine learning, decision support systems have never been as smart as they are now.
The inventory management system is no exception to the wonders of AI, and it would be wasteful if the business turns a blind eye to this opportunity.
There are quite a lot of areas aside from the obvious ones when talking about forecasting and decision support in inventory management systems. The most obvious one is probably the digital equivalent of the merchant instinct. To understand this a little bit, we first have to talk about how merchants did their business before.
Similar to the modern traders, olden time merchants would buy supplies from suppliers, sell their products then buy a certain amount before the day ends. The crucial decision here is the time when the merchant decides how much he should buy. Of course, as the able merchant that he is, he would look at the remaining stock, count how much he sold, consider the season and how many he can carry in his cart, then buy the number.
The summary of that decision is what is called the merchant instinct. On many levels, the same is still applied by the modern merchant. However, as has been mentioned, this whole process can be done algebraically using an algorithm ultimately designed by a machine or artificial intelligence. The way it works draws parallel to the same merchant that we talked about.
The amount of stock left and what has been sold can be deduced from the sales record and the current inventory. Here is where artificial intelligence shines. The season could be a derived function from previous sales as you might expect, but that is not all.
Several studies show that trends can be formed from other factors as well. Some of these factors include seemingly unconnected entities, like the weather, days of the week, and others. And finally, using the same merchant example, the final decision on how much product to purchase would depend on the report of the system.
As was hinted at, the merchant instinct is not the only aspect of inventory management where AI can be of help. Supplier profiling is the process of deducing the essential facts from individual suppliers based on their punctuality on their deliveries, quality of their shipments, and the precision of the purchased supply.
This is extremely important, considering that the end goal is to optimize the amount of space that the stockrooms and the shelves can accommodate. Remember that empty spaces in stockrooms cost money as well as stocks that are not able to make it there.
The key here is to balance the supply with the demand, and no tool can do so better than a decision support system based on artificial intelligence. Finally, you may not be able to figure it out as soon as the inventory system is deployed, but AI hinges on the data supplied to it.
13 Tips for Getting on Top of Your Taxes
It’s tax season! Whether you have only a personal return to worry about or that plus a business return, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while getting your tax forms completed.
It’s tax season! Whether you have only a personal return to worry about or that plus a business return, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind while getting your tax forms completed.
Here are some of those pointers to keep in mind.
1. Decide whether you need help.
For many people, completing one’s taxes may seem pretty straightforward. For others, it may look like a daunting process. If an individual has an incorporated business, such as an S corporation or partnership, and multiple qualified deductions on their return, then a professional’s help is probably best.
2. Don’t forget to fund your retirement fund.
There are multiple financial vehicles available to save for retirement, whether it is a Traditional IRA, SEP-IRA, or Keogh Plan, to name a few. In most instances, money contributed towards retirement is a legitimate way to reduce one’s taxable income on paper.
3. Stay organized.
If you have deductions to keep track of, or if your income is cash, you should stay on top of it. This is possible to do manually, and if your situation is more complicated, you can sign up for programs to help you automate it.
4. Keep in mind the tax deadline.
Tax season typically begins on January 15th, with the IRS beginning to accept personal returns through April 15th. Business returns, particularly with S corporation and partnership returns, are due on March 15th. It’s important to file on time to avoid late penalties and fees.
5. Decide whether you want to itemize or take the standard deduction.
An individual is eligible to take a $12,400 standard deduction off their taxes. However, itemizing expenses, which entail taking deductions for qualified personal expenses, such as mortgage interest and charitable deductions, may yield greater tax savings.
6. Consider the home office deduction.
Those who have a dedicated office area in their home for work might be worth considering the operating expense of that area for a tax deduction.
7. Remember to include any dependents on your tax return.
If one has any children or adult dependents, it’s important to remember to note this on one’s tax return. Doing so allows for certain tax credits to reduce one’s taxable income.
8. Consider setting up a taxpayer account and filing online.
If one uses self-help tax software, such as TurboTax or TaxAct, tax filing, payment, or refunds are automated online. If one is employing a professional to complete their return, then electronic filing may be set up by that professional on one’s behalf. Otherwise, one can create an account online directly with the IRS for quicker and more efficient filing.
9. Make sure you are filing all the appropriate forms.
If one uses self-help software to file a personal return, all the necessary documents should be included as part of the paid package. If one is filing directly with the IRS, with no middle party to help facilitate the process, it’s important to be careful to point the proper forms and double-check that all necessary documents are filed. For business returns and more complicated personal returns, it’s best to consult a professional to ensure that all the appropriate paperwork is filed.
10. Consider hiring your children (and paying them).
If one has a business, no matter how formal or informal it is, hiring a family is advantageous for both you and them. Any salaries paid to the family are tax-deductible. Retirement contributions and health benefits are also tax-deductible expenses for the family that is the employer.
11. Keep healthy.
If you are self-employed, the entirety of your health insurance is tax-deductible, as is even your dental insurance. If you are employed and purchase health insurance with a high deductible, opening a health savings account or a flexible savings account and using it can help you offset some of the monies spent on taxes.
12. Buy supplies for work.
If you are employed and purchase supplies relevant to your work, this may be deductible. If you are self-employed and make large purchases pertinent to your work, the cost may be deductible in full.
13. Make timely payments, if needs be.
Though many individuals may expect a tax refund from the IRS, some may wish to pay additional monies with their tax filing. Whether it be via an unincorporated status as a 1099 contractor, an LLC, or a corporation, those who are self–employed are expected to make quarterly payments throughout the year by the IRS. Suppose you are wondering when LLC Taxes are due in 2020. In that case, the IRS enables one to register on their website for quarterly estimated tax payments: January 15th, April 15th, June 17th, and September 16th.
Taxes are an unpleasant obligation for all of us who live in the United States. Even those of us who live outside of the United States and are citizens of the United States, staying abreast of tax filing with the IRS is an indisputable legal obligation. To make this obligation run smoother, there are a few pointers to consider. Though it’s not exhaustive, the above list is pretty thorough and a good start.
4 Ways Employees Compromise Security (And How You Can Solve Them)
Employee carelessness could lead to a data breach that can destroy your business. Read on to discover how workers can undermine your company’s security.
Employees, in a perfect world, would have great cybersecurity habits. They will make sure never to place their company’s data or network at risk.
This isn’t a perfect world, though. Although office workers can be trustworthy and loyal, the lack of IT policies and occasional carelessness could cause a harmful data breach that can ruin your business reputation and shutter your company.
How can employees compromise your enterprise data security?
Here are four ways they can put your sensitive private and customer data at risk:
1. Insider Malice
No business manager or owner likes to think that their trusted business partners or the people on their team have it out for them. Sadly, a few bad apples can sometimes get past human resources or talent acquisition. The worst part is that malicious insider attacks are incredibly difficult to detect.
You can prevent or mitigate insider malice by getting to know the mind of your attacker. Put yourself in the shoes of a dissatisfied worker looking to take down their employer. You probably wouldn’t launch an attack while you’re using the company computer and still on the corporate payroll.
You would, however, be likely to launch a cyberattack a few days before or after your last day. If you still have your company e-mail and VPN login (and they still work), you could get into your ex-company’s servers from the comfort of your home.
As a business owner, you should take measures to prevent disgruntled and malicious employees from compromising your company’s IT and network infrastructure. Start by limiting privileged access to sensitive data, such as intellectual property, personally identifiable information and customer details. Then, immediately revoke the access rights of employees who resign or leave your company without notice.
Also, try getting cloud software that can back up and protect your data. You could, for instance, purchase and download an Office 365 e-mail backup solution to make sure that your e-mail data stays protected and is easily recoverable in the event of a cyberattack or a security threat.
2. The Use of Weak or Lazy Passwords
According to a report from PCMag, the top three common passwords for 2020 are picture1, 123456789 and 123456. These passwords are so laughably insecure that you’re practically rolling out the red carpet for hackers and other cybercriminals.
When you have employees adhering to poor password practices, you need to create and implement a strong password policy to prevent an enterprise data security disaster. Make sure your workers receive a notification to change their passwords every quarter. What’s more, the new password must adhere to the following requirements:
- It shouldn’t match the previous passwords.
- It must contain at least nine characters (the longer, the better).
- It needs to include a combination of symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers.
Changing and memorizing a long, complex password can be highly inconvenient for some employees. One trick to creating this kind of password is to learn a sentence only you can identify.
Take this sentence as an example: “My best friend munches a batch of French fries.” Turn that into an acronym, and you’ve got: MbfmabofFf. You could turn the letter “o” into a zero, then add the birth date of your best friend (or whatever special number you feel like adding). Finally, start or end the password with a symbol.
3. Web Surfing
Office workers often use the company’s internet to surf the web during lunch breaks or downtime. If your tech staff doesn’t protect and configure your systems properly, employees may come across websites with malware, which can cause machines and other devices to become infected.
As a business owner or manager, you can restrict access to specific sites that your company or tech team determines as dangerous or inappropriate. Although this tactic works well for known and distinctive destinations, it may be time-consuming and complex to administer.
If you insist on this strategy, make sure to supplement it by securing systems with anti-spyware and anti-virus software. What’s more, train your employees on the value of staying careful on the web.
4. Malicious E-mail and Phishing
Fraudulent e-mails can destroy your company’s IT and network security, as well as compromise your data. They may contain harmful attachments, codes or links that give cybercriminals access to devices and data.
You can stop these malicious e-mails from harming your business by educating your workers about recognizing suspicious e-mails.
A few of the red flags they should look for include the following:
- Offers and promotions that are “too good to be true.”
- Unwarranted technical or customer support
- Popular companies with deceptive URLs and misspelt names, such as amaz0n3 (dot) com.
- Unsolicited or suspicious downloads or attachments.
You hired your employees to help grow your business – not destroy it with poor cybersecurity practices. Implement strict IT policies and use the right tools that can protect your organization from criminals.
What is a Managed Service Provider And What Do They Do?
The way to do this is by hiring a Managed Service Provider (or MSP) – in this article, we’ll explain what they do, what they can provide
Although you might tend to consider business growth in terms of opening new locations or creating new products, you may not have considered how your IT can grow along with these things – it’s fair to say that most businesses in 2021 would struggle without a solid IT infrastructure.
But IT improvements don’t come cheap, so you’ll want to find an IT solution that doesn’t leave you bankrupt. The way to do this is by hiring a Managed Service Provider (or MSP) – in this article, we’ll explain what they do, what they can provide for your company, and how you should choose the best one.
When you’ve finished reading, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you’d like to explore working with an MSP – or look instead at building your in-house IT knowledge.
1. What is an MSP?
An MSP is an existing IT team that you can hire who works outside your regular office and isn’t on your payroll. Although they aren’t quite as present in your daily work environment as a dedicated in-house team would be, they can still provide comprehensive support and cover all of your IT needs.
While they might seem like a more complicated option than keeping everything in-house, an MSP can be a more simple option than bringing on your own IT team – you could even have one working for you in a week or so if you were to start; talks now! Because they have a diverse staff of professionals who work with a broad range of businesses, an MSP can easily add you on.
For your monthly payment, you are provided with the MSP’s IT team’s expertise at a lower cost than you might anticipate for their level of experience. This is because they aren’t just working for you – as they charge lots of companies a low price, they can spread staffing costs across all of the businesses who hire them, and this saving comes straight back to you.
2. Can An MSP Save You Money?
You probably have some awareness of how your business budgets every month, and if so, you’ll know just how fast costs can become astronomically high – especially when you include the recruitment drives required when you’re hiring new members of staff!
Putting aside the huge cost of wages each month, you can lose thousands to expenses that come from staffing, lost resources and more, and these costs grow exponentially if you’re looking to bring on more people. And this is all without the training costs that come when new employees are on the payroll!
One of the more immediate benefits of working with an MSP is that you can completely avoid extra costs like these. The extensive hiring process has already been handled entirely by the provider.
But the benefits don’t just come in the short term – without these initial costs, think about what you could invest the extra thousands you now have into! You could invest in new product development, create a new and exciting marketing campaign, recruit more people in sales – the options are endless with the money you’ve saved on the monotony of the hiring process!
3. Can An MSP Help With Business Expansion?
Now that we’ve established how you can put back the money saved from working with an MSP into wider business growth tactics, you can start to consider how you might grow your business by investing in IT innovations. Although it’s easy to see an MSP as just a group of people who keep your IT systems running, they can provide so much more for your business – that is, if you choose the right provider.
MSPs become an important part of a business’s daily operations, and this means that they’ll witness much of your growth over the time you work with them. In addition to this, they’ll have a cutting edge awareness of all of the latest IT developments, having implemented these technologies into the infrastructures of other companies they work with. Whether you want to utilise an SD-WAN system for your network or install MPLS to improve the performance of cloud-based applications performance, the right MSP can drastically improve your IT systems for the better.
While you may not be easy with these technologies, your chosen MSP will, and their knowledge of these innovations, could be instrumental to making sure your business can maintain the pace of growth you desire. This consultancy service might not be part of the most basic package that an MSP offers, but for just a fee, you can have access to their combined decades of IT experience and knowledge – an investment that will certainly pay off in the long term.
4. How Do You Find The Best MSP?
While there’s a myriad of ways to grow your business, it all essentially comes down to expanding two areas: knowledge and money. If you decide to start working with an MSP, you’ll both gain access to their huge bank of knowledge and be able to start putting your money elsewhere.
However, this growth is only possible with a good provider. It would help if you looked further than the first few Google results that appear for ‘MSP in my area’; good knowledge of SEO doesn’t necessarily translate to IT’s good knowledge.
While you’re scouting out potential providers, it’s useful to ask if they’ve ever worked with companies that resemble your own, whether that’s in terms of their size or the industry that they operate in. You should also ask about their plans for future growth – after all, they need to be able to keep up with your ambitions!
To make the most of your relationship with an MSP, you need to make sure that they have a thorough understanding of your business. If you can form a solid and mutually beneficial working relationship, you can grow together to dizzying heights.
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