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Bar Code System & Software
Sorting out the various bar code and scanner systems on the market can be a daunting task even for the well informed professional. There are numerous systems and packages available - all with different features and functions. Some systems are right for some types of companies and not right for others. A company that is in the market for a new bar code system should examine a number of them before purchasing and make sure the one that is ultimately purchased is right for the applications needed.

It is important to consider, first of all, the return on investment for the system that is going to be purchased and how long it will take to recoup that investment. The added costs of the system and the complexity of operations should be considered as well.

Bar code systems are labor intensive at first. Time has to be spent on the label design. That is not the only consideration, however. Data collection terminals, the applications that will be used, and the scanning instruments must all be considered. It is important that they be considered in the context of the people who will be using them. The size of the bar code events must be balanced against the capabilities of the existing database.

Not all features are needed by all businesses. It is important to consider which features and functionalities are important for a particular business before purchasing a system. The requirements should be classified into 1)mission critical or must have, 2) value added, 3) nice to have, but not absolutely necessary, and 4) would have no ractical use for.

It is important to examine the vendors as well as the software. One means of doing this would be to develop a Request for Information (RFI) or even a Request for Proposal (RFP) and ask all the necessary questions via one of these means. Some of the knowledge that can be helpful is how long has the business been operating and how many installations it has done in a given period of time (i.e., the last six months or the last year).

It is possible for a company to develop its own script and ask vendors to use it when they demo the product. Generally they will be happy to demo a business situation from start to finish and that can include actual data from an actual company. This step prevents purchasing a system based on a demo that may or not be practical for the type of business doing the purchasing.

Customers should develop a scorecard and actually rate the vendors, according to the requirements that they have been given and how well they responded to the RFP and how well they performed in the demo. The weighting information can be shared within the evaluation team and does not necessarily have to become available to the vendors.

The demos can provide a test drive of the software using a particular companys data, which will indicate how well the system can handle the companys business flow.

When all of that is completed, there is a checklist of final considerations that should be explored with potential vendors. Companies should investigate how the vendor provides customer support and maintenance and which of the vendors personnel will be working on the project. The vendors customer satisfaction rating can be checked as well as their financial stability. Ultimately the purchaser needs to determine if the vendors company is one that is worthy of association over the long haul.

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