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http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fsb/fsb_archive/2006/12/01/8395126/index.htm

Cost-cutting software targets small business

Organizational software that was once out of reach for small companies has become more affordable.

by Cindy Waxer, FSB Magazine
December 6 2006: 9:15 AM EST

(FSB Magazine) -- For a company that sells flame-resistant apparel to oil companies, Vetco International washaving a tough time putting out its own fires.
For years the Orlando-based manufacturer had relied on a hodgepodge of software applications, including Microsoft Office Access, Microsoft Word and Intuit QuickBooks, to track its purchasing, accounting and warehousing activities. Vital business data were distributed among all the applications, few of which communicated easily with the others.|[pic] |
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The result was that the 30 employees of Vetco (vetco-international.com) often misplaced product shipments, overlooked clients' requests for quotes and failed to invoice more than $4,000 worth of sales on a monthly basis."Not only was it embarrassing," says Jose Barrios, CIO of the $6-million-a-year company, "but our cash flow was restricted."
8 tiny companies that play big
Vetco decided to replace its software potpourri with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. ERP is a broad term for any software application that integrates (or tries to integrate) all your processes and data into a single unifiedsystem.
Once reserved for big corporations, ERP applications are gaining traction among entrepreneurs who need real-time insight into sales patterns, merchandise availability, cash flow and the like. More than a million small businesses worldwide implemented an ERP system last year, according to the Framingham, Mass., research firm IDC.
Yesterday's ERP systems carried seven-figure pricetags andrequired painful two-year deployments, not to mention battalions of expensive IT consultants to keep them up and running. Today's products can be deployed in a few weeks and are far less likely to crash. And the overall cost of ERP services has dropped 40 percent over the past five years, estimates Forrester Research analyst Ray Wang.
Microsoft (Charts), SAP (Charts), and Sage Software rank among...
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