Business Management Software – How Many Users Do You Need?

When it comes to purchasing business management software to run your wholesale distribution business, one important consideration is how many employees will need to use and have access to the information in the system. In other words, how many users do you need? This may seem like a simple question, but it’s complicated by the fact that different software vendors have different types of user settings, different features available to different types of users and different pricing structures for type of user. As a starting point, and before you begin discussions with vendors, speak with existing employees to determine how many people will need to use the software and for what purposes. This includes speaking with employees in the accounting department, people working in the warehouse, sales reps and management. Business management software includes functionality to manage all aspects of business operations – accounting, inventory management, warehouse operations, CRM, sales, purchasing, order entry and processing and more. If you’re looking to move to robust business management software from an introductory solution such as QuickBooks, it’s not enough to just count the number of existing users as there will be additional functionality available. Below we explore tips for determining the correct number of users.

User Requirements

Within any organization, there will be many different ways for people to interact with business management software. Some people may only require access to certain areas of the software, some may require access to tools that interact with the software but not the software itself (for example, warehouse employees using barcode scanning to pick, pack and ship orders) and some people require information from the system in the form of reports, but not actual access to the software itself. Because of this, it’s important to start by evaluating existing users in your organization, and then determining how people interact with existing systems and processes. In Blue Link ERP, there are different types of users depending on the nature of the job role.

Blue Link ERP User

A Blue Link ERP user is anyone who needs to interact with the core features of Blue Link ERP – accounting modules, inventory management tools, contact management and CRM, order entry and processing, etc. These types of users require access to one or multiple areas of the software and need to be able to read and/or write data in the system.

Barcode Scanning User

A barcode scanning user in Blue Link refers to the use of mobile handheld picking and barcode scanning functionality. These users correlate with the number of physical scanning devices in your warehouse. In Blue Link ERP’s case, this means the number of iOS devices used to scan barcodes equals the number of handheld picking users. For many wholesale distribution businesses, employees in the warehouse require scanning technology to receive, pick, pack and ship orders but do not need full access to back-end business management software. Usually, a warehouse manager is set-up as a Blue Link user or a generic login is created for all employees to use when interacting with the software in the warehouse. This includes interacting with Blue Link’s pack-to-container screen and sales order review screen. Even though some businesses share a generic login between employees, it is important to note that in doing this, you will not be able to know exactly who has done what in the system by reviewing the change logs.

Point-of-Sale User

A POS user in Blue Link refers to the use of point-of-sale check-out counter features. Similar to handheld picking users, these users are one in the same as the number of physical check-out counter stations set-up at your business. Each check-out counter POS set-up is counted as a POS user, even though multiple employees can log into the POS station using a unique employee identifier. This allows a business to have multiple full-time and part-time employees use the POS features, at a lower cost while still providing the ability to track the actions of individual employees in the system.

B2B Online Order Portal User

With Blue Link’s B2B online order portal functionality, a user refers to anyone requiring a login to the website. This includes both customers of your wholesale distribution business who want to login, place an order, check available inventory and view past orders and open invoices, and your sales reps who want to do this on behalf of your customers. However, even though these people will require a unique login and password, there is actually no cost for setting up users in the online order portal.

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User Permission Levels

As mentioned previously, different business management software vendors will have different pricing per user, and some will have different “user levels”. For example, they may have admin users, super users, and light users. Other vendors, including Blue Link ERP, will have one main user type with the ability to set specific permission levels. This restricts employees from accessing specific areas of the software and provides options for read-only access.

User Pricing

Cloud-based solutions typically charge a monthly fee for access to the software based on number of users and functionality. For enterprise level business management software (true all-in-one ERP solutions) user fees can range between $80-$200/user/month. These types of systems have a higher per user fee than introductory solutions such as QuickBooks, as they provide functionality for all aspects of a business' operations as opposed to just one core area of functionality.