Information Technology in India’s real retail sector

October 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Accounting, International business | Leave a comment

Having been in IT industry and being based in India for a good part of the last decade we have now got used to relatives and friends with retail outlets – small and big asking us about computers and software and our “advise” on how to go about them. Most of the questions relate to accounting perhaps acc101 can be a place where software for accounting and related items are discussed.

 

A question that has been generally asked is whether they have to purchase tally, the most popular accounting package in India or ask their relative or somebody in their neighborhood who has done a course from NIIT or similar training institutes to help them create a new software to be used in their shops. We have not had an opportunity to check which of the two is a better option. Our experience in developing, implementing, selling products and managing software projects and infrastructure for large financial institutions tell us that a standardized product with solution for all has not been developed yet. And a pure service based product where you get what you want has it’s own set of problems – why re-invent the wheel that already exists. The answer is perhaps somewhere in between and it is too early for us to comment about the proportion in which the two should be. On an emotional basis, it is a pleasure to ask somebody to develop something for your business exactly what you want. You will also seed the local IT market. Would you rather buy a custom made bed or buy a standard and get adjusted to it.

 

Considering the number of queries that we have got from various quarters like shop keepers (mainly), textile units – small and medium scale and many others in areas relating to Accounting, Billing, Value Added Tax (VAT), Income tax, Inventory Management and many others; we came to a conclusion that the real Indian retail sector has to be investigated. In the meanwhile we though we will put across out experiences to our folks and other our peers in the industry who face similar questions.

 

If one has already decided to get that contact of yours to write a new software please keep in mind a few things – you may actually be spending your money on it. We have tried to list them here randomly.

 

  1. Purpose: Does it serve the purpose that you wish to solve. Just visualize things like how the solution will look after every thing is done, ask the person to tell you how it will look, whether you, your assistants, your grand father who will sit at the cash box and other be able to use it. Can you generate the reports that you want. Are you complicating your life further and will you have to hire somebody else to work the software while you sell your goods. You will be surprised how much of problem it will be for you if you do not know how to click and where to click. If you are not convinced then do not loose heart, get the correct solution. Ensure that your requirements are met and at the end of the day you should be doing things better and faster and making more money.

  2. Competence: Software may not be rocket science but it is not child’s play either. Does the person developing the application have the necessary competence. As it takes experience to run a shop like yours it takes a lot of experience to conceptualize and execute an IT project. This does not mean that you should drop your young friend from the project. The right way would be to assign a mentor, somebody who knows. There could be a few who would want to do consultancy for free out of good will.

  3. Organization: I am not speaking about the company here, the person who is developing the product should have the capability to provide solution in organized parts. It is like building a great institution, we need not do everything in one go, but in steps. The organization should be clear. In addition, the trend in technology and also needs change rapidly. The person developing the application should have the capability to envisage all these needs or atleast make provisions for them. You don’t want to be stuck with something that is not changeable but your business will.

  4. Hardware and other software: Software require a computer to run, you know this. Your relative may be developing something that will require investment to work on. Clearly understand your costs for this. What you will require is not just a computer but many other software that will be required to run on it. These are typically Operating system like “Windows” and other things on which the software will run. These are not free. Taking the discussion further some of these will become “old models” so to say. Therefore, your friend should know what is happening in the market. He may use something cheap but tomorrow it may not be available in the market, this is more like your spare parts. Your may not get them. As much as possible get something that is well known.

  5. Running Costs: Like your car will require petrol, diesel or other fuel your computer and your new software has running costs. One the one hand there are standards issues but you should also keep in mind that your software also require repairs and you will require a mechanic for it. This could involve costs.

  6. Maintenance: Extending the previous point, once you have installed the software your friend will have to be the mechanic. He should not run away or get into some other job. This you should take care.

  7. Electricity: In India, electricity is still an issue. What will you do when there is no current. Think about it, will you write it in a book and then input it into the computer. Your friend should answer that question.

  8. Backup: Your computer may crash (it does believe me) and what will happen to your data. Your software should make provision for back up and more importantly recovery. The data backed up and recovered should not be out of sync. This is a big subject.

  9. Regulations: This relates to government, currently this may not be a big deal in a software, but it will be in the future.

  10. Other applications: You may want to data that is created by your software to be fed into other software like tally. This should be possible. Design your requirements appropriately.

  11. Language: This is another point that you should consider. For the moment let us leave it to English. Do you have a key board in your local language.

  12. Security: Have a basic security atleast. It is ultimately your data and you should not let somebody tamper with it. More the security, the better it is.

  13. User Manuals: If you have a problem or you don’t know how to use it you will need something to refer to. Get the user manuals preferably in your language preferably.

  14. Data: This is something more into the software. If you can get a data model.

 

Competition is increasing at all levels. Biggies are entering small business in the name of consumption power of the masses. They are well armed. IT is sufficiently powerful ammunition for smaller players to compete with the big fishes. Perhaps, this trend will herald a new era of software product and services in India where IT is not exclusive but instead is a common commodity used by all and sundry – whether custom made or productized.

 

 

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Welcome to the number crunching world of accounting!

June 27, 2007 at 4:22 am | Posted in Accounting | Leave a comment

It brings us great pleasure to share our experiences with you on the myriad and expanding world of accounting applications and that has changed the face of the Fiancial world today.

 With the increased prominence of various International accounting standards, globalized competition, expanding markets, newer and newer solutions big and small and the fact that not many schools educate today’s (and matter of fact, yesterday’s) youth on basic accounting software and computing requirements etc., we found it more of a necessity that an information source should exist for this subject – both for us to gain knowledge and disseminate what we have..

We welcome feedback/suggestions from your travails, experience, triumps and others. 

Again, with this, we welcome you all to Accounting 101 (http://www.acc101.com) and sincerely hope we were able to add value in terms of disseminated knowledge to you.

Your could also mail us at accntng101@gmail.com. Welcome on board!

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