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Staying Agile: Adopting Workflow Automation to Minimize Manual Efforts

In the face of swift technological evolution, agility – the ability to adapt promptly to market variations and evolving customer needs – has become more than a strategic advantage. It is now a business essential, integral to the survival and success of organizations. The principle that bolsters this nimbleness is workflow automation. Through this, businesses can streamline manual efforts, enhance efficiency, minimize errors, and imbue organizations with the resilience they need to excel.

Workflow Automation Demystified

Workflow Automation (WFA) incorporates the planning, executing, and automating of business operations where tasks, information, or documents transit from one participant to another based on a specific set of rules; much like a relay race. This transformative approach transmutes conventional business processes into systematic, tech-driven functions that liberate employees from the monotony of trivial tasks, focusing instead on their areas of expertise.

For example, an organization can automate a workflow for employee onboarding. As soon as a new hire is registered in the HR system, it triggers actions across multiple departments – ID assignment from IT, training schedule from the learning and development team, and benefits enrollment details from HR. Additionally, they can utilize virtual training videos and use an MP4 compressor to optimize them before they are distributed to employees. This minimizes the storage requirements and facilitates faster streaming and downloads, contributing to a more streamlined and efficient onboarding process.

Agility Unleashed

Agile organizations are buzzing, thriving environments that warmly welcome change. Embracing workflow automation allows businesses to reach an agility level that permits them to:

  1. Adapt Swiftly: WFA empowers businesses to respond rapidly and aptly to business environment fluctuations by continuously tailoring processes to align with changing needs and strategies.
  2. Minimize Errors: Automated workflows significantly cut down manual involvement, which subsequently curbs human errors, thereby promoting accuracy, reliability, and consistency in business operations.
  3. Amplify Efficiency: It aids in the seamless transition of tasks across stages, ensuring zero time wastage.

Harnessing Workflow Automation: Maximizing Productivity & Minimizing Manual Efforts

Improving Resource Management: 

  • Prioritizing Essential Tasks: Workflow Automation (WFA) technology enables experts to devote more attention to high-value tasks by reducing their involvement in mundane, routine activities.
  • Boosting Morale and Productivity: When employees are allowed to concentrate on important tasks instead of monotonous work, their job satisfaction and productivity can significantly rise.
  • Fueling Innovation: As individuals are given more time to focus on broader, more complex problems, there is an increase in opportunities for strategic thinking and innovation, creating a more competitive, forward-thinking organization.

Analytics and Insights:

  • Data Analytics Capability: Automation tools have powerful analytics capabilities that can process and interpret large volumes of data, making them invaluable for any business.
  • Continuous Monitoring of KPIs: These tools keep a constant watch on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as processing time, the status of tasks (both pending and completed), and productivity levels thus providing real-time updates.
  • Comprehensive Operational Overview: Through real-time monitoring and analytics, businesses gain a comprehensive, end-to-end view of their operations.
  • Agility in Strategy Modifications: By keeping track of the business’ pulse with real-time data, companies can readily adapt their strategies based on current operational status and future requirements, making them agile and responsive to changes.

Boosting Collaboration:

  • Transparency in Roles: Automated processes offer a clear understanding of individual tasks and responsibilities, ensuring every team member knows what to expect across various roles.
  • Effective Communication: By streamlining and automating processes, teams improve communication channels and make project management more efficient.
  • Responsibility Accountability: Automation promotes a sense of accountability for each task and reduces the chances of miscommunication or overlooked responsibilities.
  • Enhanced Teamwork: With a clear understanding of roles and smoother communication, teams can work together more effectively, share ideas, and achieve better results in a collaborative environment.


  • Adaptable Workflows: Workflow Automation (WFA) can easily adjust to the changing requirements of a growing business, allowing for seamless expansions or contractions of workflows as needed.
  • Handling Peak Demands: During times of increased workload or peak demand, WFA enables businesses to quickly scale up operations without putting excessive strain on manual resources.
  • Minimal Effort Expansion: With WFA, companies can manage enhancements in their operations with minimal manual intervention, increasing efficiency and reducing operational costs.
  • Sustained Growth: By providing a flexible solution to accommodate varying workload levels, WFA fosters an environment where businesses can scale and support sustainable growth over time.

Capstone Effect of Workflow Automation: A Path to Economic Resilience

Businesses continue to chart unprecedented waters in the evolving corporate landscape. Economic resilience – the competence to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions, is the new gold standard for modern businesses. WFA, with its potential to minimize manual efforts, streamline operations, enhance collaboration, and promote swift adaptations, is set to play an indispensable role in building resilient businesses.

For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses with automated workflows were able to transition to remote working and maintain operational continuity swiftly.

The Future Beckons: Embracing Workflow Automation for an Agile Tomorrow

Unlike ever before, dependable agility is envisioned to rise as the pulsating heartbeat of each prospering and growing enterprise, especially when venturing into the boundless expanses of the corporate universe. In this vast realm, where constant change is as much a challenge as an opportunity, the driving force that propels forward momentum while ensuring flexibility is Workflow Automation (WFA).

Redefining speed and efficiency, WFA serves as the sector’s compass, stringing together a rich tapestry of myriad benefits – these range from decreased costs and human errors to improved productivity and redundancy elimination. To encapsulate it all, WFA acts as the cornerstone, integral to the unwavering purpose of reinforcing an organization’s agile muscles.

Consider, for example, a global retailer with intricate supply chains, a vast number of products, and diverse consumer trends. The introduction of WFA techniques, like predictive AI for inventory management or automated analysis for customer behaviors, fosters a new breed of agile organizations that are responsive to both macro-market trends and micro-consumer behaviors.

Structural digitization under WFA is about more than just hardening the foundation – it is about reinforcing the very skeletal framework of the organization’s operational strength. Harnessing the power of automation, businesses can construct a robust mesh of technology and innovation, bound together by the steely resolve to stay ahead in the face of adversity.

Moving ahead, we are paving the way for organizations looking forward to their journey toward an agile tomorrow. In this digitized future, they are not only prepared to embrace change, but they are also primed to anticipate it, chart the course of their journey, and successfully navigate it with assurance and precision. This digital transformation journey is about much more than survival – it’s about thriving and leading the way in a fluid and fast-paced corporate cosmos.


It is imperative to realize that workflow automation doesn’t just stand as a productivity enhancer. Instead, it serves as a strategic fulcrum pivoting businesses towards a future marked by heightened efficiency, unwavering agility, and robust resilience. Embracing workflow automation isn’t just about adopting a revolutionary tool but accepting a gateway to possible future success and an opportunity to contribute to a more nuanced, interconnected, and harmonious workspace.

What The Right Job Management Software Can Bring To Your Business

Some growing businesses find themselves asking the question, “Do we need job management software?” After all, job management software (aka project management software) involves practically every department of a business. From sales and scheduling to inventory and finance to purchasing and customer service, and on and on.

For historically blue-collar service trades such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, house painting, pool & spa, glaziers, hearth & chimney, landscape management, solar, locksmithing, and roofing—really every business-to-consumer (B2C) company working primarily with homeowners—job management software helps a business keep track of every job, even jobs of enormous complexity that rely on dozens of highly-skilled craftspeople. The right job management software system is indispensable for field service businesses in every trades industry.

project management software for the trades industry

Job management software helps improve the overall business operations of a company and allows employees to complete a variety of tasks with better accuracy, efficiency, and accountability. From job assignment and scheduling to compiling and analyzing data, to managing budgets and orders, job management software allows businesses to work better. Without taking advantage of the benefits that this kind of software has to offer, growing businesses may see an impediment in their business’s long-term development. By utilizing job management software, a growing company can make the most efficient use of its resources.

Job Management Systems in Workflow Management

So, from a job software perspective: what is a job? Simply put, every job or project is made up of a collection of individual tasks that must be performed by a particular person at a certain time. A major benefit of job management software is the ability to effectively assign tasks while also keeping track of task completion and scheduling. The best job management software assists in matching the most suitable person to a task by matching the skills of employees with assignments that benefit the most from those skill sets.

According to Forbes, one of the top three reasons employees quit their jobs is because they didn’t feel valued by the company. But there is a solution to this dilemma—when you build job roles that clearly define responsibilities and focus on employee skills, they will feel valued.”

Job management systems help with the hiring process to ensure that the best candidates are being presented to employers for any new positions. Job management systems can offer insight into employee performance so that companies can recognize valuable members of their teams.

Additionally, job management software tracks work completion and manages employee and sub-contractor timesheets, and sends pertinent info and reminders through notifications, ensuring that tasks get done on time. Tasks are able to be easily completed with the ready made templates that a job management software system provides. With a coherent document-sharing interface built in, job management software is essential for any project.

Job Management and Data Integrity

Job management software is useful for not only analyzing individual employee performance, but it helps businesses better understand the overall data sets and analytics of a growing business. For a growing business, this is excellent news.

job management software system

An estimated 80% of an analyst’s time is spent solely on discovering and preparing new data, which is an inefficient use of time.

Job management software keeps track of data and even utilizes past data to improve future projects, which will lead to reduced spending, faster decisions, and the ability to quickly adjust projects to new data.

When a business is hoping to expand, these efficiencies play an even bigger role. A growing business means more data to keep track of, and job management software is the ideal way to keep track of all of that data because it keeps the data centralized and easily accessible to everyone that needs it. A company doesn’t have to go through multiple software systems to get all of the data it needs, it can always access the most up-to-date data in real-time.

An added feature to data control that job management software helps accomplish is security and threat prevention, protecting your company by reducing the risk of cyber attacks, of which 43% happen to small businesses.

43% of  cyberattacks happen to small businesses

Job Management Software and Finance

Job management software also helps businesses from a financial perspective. Job management systems can calculate quotes and estimates, as well as track purchase orders, allocate costs, and keep bills up to date. Additionally, they can offer insight into overall productivity, equipment efficiency, and transportation costs. In essence, job management software takes care of budgeting for a company, so there is less to worry about between managing orders, overhead costs, unexpected payments, and any other budgeting concerns.

small business accounting software

In addition to that, quality job management software lets you provide outstanding, five-star customer relations. By centralizing information, keeping in contact with customers, and receiving feedback from happy homeowners, job management software keeps customers in the loop and, through automatical email and texting, alerts them to any notification that they need to see. In both the short- and long-term, a single software platform that manages all of a business’s processes decreases the overall spending on technology. Since the right job management software oversees a variety of components of your business there is less need for multiple software applications to accomplish the same tasks.


The biggest advantage that job management software provides growing businesses is the ability to manage operations more efficiently and effectively. Job management systems allow companies to make better decisions about their overall business operations and do so in real-time, without the need for wading through separate software. Job management software is essential for any growing business, improving workflow, managing data, and keeping track of job costing, finances, or any number of things a business needs to track, either day-to-day or long-term.

Does Your Business Need A Zoho Alternative?

In the current business management software market, Zoho produces a variety of applications—some bundled into an all-in-one suite—that provide a variety of CRM, accounting, and other business management software solutions. 

Though many businesses benefit from the suite of products that Zoho offers, is your business getting the most possible value that it can from Zoho? Disconnected apps and separate systems can be inefficient and expensive. While Zoho One offers all of these apps under one account, they are still a suite of individual applications rather than a single, all-in-one application.

Business needs vary by industry, size, and a host of other factors. Even businesses within the same industry need different solutions, or solutions custom-tailored to their specific needs.

Zoho and its vast suite of applications work well for businesses that are considerably large in size, and some smaller, growing businesses have found Zoho to be suitable for their needs. But when it comes to your business, do you want a solution that merely checks all the boxes or a solution that is custom-tailored to your business needs in order to thrive?

In this article, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of Zoho and what benefits your business might see from exploring Zoho alternatives that are on the market.

What Is Zoho?

According to Zoho’s profile on Capterra, Zoho is a suite of 40+ applications with complementary mobile apps that allow a business to reach customers, grow sales, manage accounting, and increase workflow efficiency.

Zoho One, the package that includes all of the various Zoho applications, is billed as a way for users to be streamlined and connected by utilizing a single login to connect to all of the different applications. 

In terms of pricing, Zoho offers a variety of plans based on the total revenue and number of employees. In addition, pricing can vary drastically depending on which modules are selected. Some estimates of Zoho’s pricing suggest that smaller businesses can expect to start their plan at around $14/user per month while the highest tier package is $57/user per month.

Advantages of a Zoho Alternative

zoho alternative

While Zoho, Zoho One, Zoho CRM, and the rest of the Zoho suite contain useful tools that help businesses manage their products and assess profitability, they’re not always the right fit for every business. 

Zoho Alternatives are Affordable for SMBs

The cumulative nature of micropayments coupled with the à la carte model indicates that paying for individual apps and functionalities can get expensive over time. Sure, it’s possible to only pay for certain apps, bringing the price down considerably. But when it comes to managing all of the mission-critical segments of a business, just a few apps and functionalities may not cut it.

For growing businesses, getting the most value for their money is more important than ever. Some Zoho alternative platforms shy away from the application/module model in order to give growing businesses all of the tools they need to run their entire business, all in a single connected software platform.

Zoho Alternatives Provide Elite Customer Support

When it comes to features to prioritize in a Zoho alternative, even non-technical features are important to consider. For example, finding a Zoho alternative that maintains an elite standard of customer service (at no or low additional cost) is crucial.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) concept with icons. Production, human resources, inventory, CRM, sales, service, distribution, business process.

No matter the quality of the software, errors always occur. And in reality, users will always have questions about the system they are working in.

Zoho offers several support plans for an additional fee, which can get very expensive for growing businesses. In addition, some Zoho modules—notably Zoho CRM—have below-average customer support rankings while other, all-in-one business management systems have stellar customer support scores

Though it may be tempting to opt to go with a large-scale platform, it is often the case that many smaller, all-in-one business management software companies provide better—and 100% U.S.-based—customer support.

Customizations Are A Breeze With A Zoho Alternative

Every business is unique. With large-scale, widely used applications such as Zoho, customizations can be difficult to implement. While not always the case, some Zoho customizations require some level of coding.

For small and growing businesses, having to code (or having to pay for coding services) can skew drastically out of budget. Beyond that, having a single, dedicated, familiar customer champion working with your team can be the difference between successful software adoption and the painful realization that you need to rethink your initial software partner selection.

A Unified Business Management Platform

The post-Pandemic work world has changed and continues to evolve at a fervent pace, and technology has never been more crucial to the success of every business. The importance of having top-shelf, all-in-one business management software has never been greater.

zoho alternative

Running a successful business is challenging enough when your technology stack is running smoothly and efficiently. Speedbumps like erroneous data, complex user interfaces, and technology that simply does not allow for ample, on-time communication only make things tougher.

While the Zoho suite’s individual applications perform very well on their own, it turns out their biggest drawback is that they do exist on their own, not fully integrated with one another. Not only do additional modules require additional investment it also requires more advanced technical support, additional time spent learning how to properly integrate data, and additional time spent ensuring accuracy across multiple systems. 

Having all of your business processes—accounting, inventory, sales, marketing, projects, HR, operations, and more—working seamlessly as a complete, unified software platform will improve your business’s overall performance by increasing efficiency, accuracy, and scalability.

Striven – The All-In-One Business Management Software

Out of the numerous Zoho alternatives on the market today, Striven has been recognized as one of the industry leaders in terms of affordability, quality of customer support, and overall ease of use. Check out what everyday users have to say about Striven.

While some large-scale business management software providers like Acumatica may be a good match for large-scale, Fortune 500-sized companies, Striven understands that not every company needs a system that’s quite as technologically bloated—and one that doesn’t require breaking the bank.

The importance of having all of a business’s core processes housed in a single platform has never been greater. Instead of hoping that various software modules can successfully and efficiently interact with one another, it’s important that businesses are able to view everything that they need from a single dashboard. (Hope has rarely been a successful business strategy.)

For small- and medium-sized businesses to be as successful as their large-scale counterparts, this level of visibility allows businesses to harness the insights they need to corner a larger share of their respective market. Remember, technology is a strategic competitive advantage for any business regardless of size.

Wrapping Up

Software needs to be flexible and anti-fragile. It’s true in terms of business just as it’s true in terms of technology. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to success—every business and business plan needs a solution to fit their specific needs.

Many small and growing businesses have a tendency to lean towards a product like Zoho based on its global reputation. But, it’s important to recognize that just because this product works at such a large scale doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right fit on a smaller scale.

Striven provides the same high-quality software and customer support as some of the larger ERP names on the market while being more affordable for the average small- and medium-sized business. 

Need An Alternative To QuickBooks?

Taking stock of everything that goes into your business’s accounting processes isn’t always as easy as popping numbers into a spreadsheet. 

There are many great software products that will handle all of your basic accounting needs—QuickBooks is one of the most popular choices among small business owners due to its affordability, intuitive UX, and reliability.

However, one crucial aspect of accounting and accounting software tends to be routinely overlooked: it goes far beyond the numbers.

QuickBooks is great for crunching the numbers. For small- and medium-sized business owners, this is often priority #1. Once this need is met, what happens next? Will QuickBooks be able to offer your business the additional tools required to grow? 

Just because QuickBooks and Quickbooks Online provide a viable solution for many small businesses doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for yours.

If your business is even starting to feel as though it requires a more robust, personalized, and human approach to accounting software, it’s time to start asking some of the important questions that will lead you down a better, more productive path.

Why Do I Need A QuickBooks Alternative?

You may already know that your business is ready to make the switch to a more full-bodied accounting solution, or you may not. If you’ve already enrolled in Quickbooks or QuickBooks Online, the reasons for leaving may be less apparent at first.

Financial management goes well beyond accounting—understanding, analyzing, and improving upon your organization’s complete financial health requires connectivity to all silos of your business. This means your accounting software solution should integrate seamlessly with your CRM, inventory management, and project management solutions.

In an ideal scenario, housing all of these processes under one roof (an all-in-one software solution) will improve all aspects of your business. In fact, 64% of companies that make the switch to ERP software noted an increase in business performance. 

glowing computer

Outgrowing QuickBooks isn’t simply about outgrowing accounting software—it’s about exploring new methods, approaches, and technologies that are vital in achieving and sustaining long term, year-over-year growth. 

Any single-purpose software, no matter how proficient, can ultimately only be just that. For your entire organization to operate at its maximum efficiency and potential, it takes a software that seamlessly connects every corner of your business. 

An all-in-one software solution provides more than just accurate numbers—it increases efficiency and accuracy across the board. Don’t spend time tracking down documents and transferring files between software applications. If all of your data transparently lives in one place, you’ll be able to find single, accurate, and universally accessible data sets with ease. 

ERP software with natively integrated accounting is much more cost efficient than QuickBooks in terms of the total services offered. While QuickBooks provides excellent and cost-efficient accounting services, it doesn’t offer the complete suite of functionalities that ERP software can.

As your business scales up, you’ll need a full suite of features that can scale with it.

6 Reasons To Integrate Your Accounting and CRM Software

How To Know When You’re Outgrowing QuickBooks

It’s much easier to know what you’ll gain from something than it is to know exactly when to implement the plan. Is there ever a good time to “break up” with QuickBooks?

If you can answer “yes” to some or all of the following questions, it could be a sign that your business is beginning to outgrow QuickBooks:

  • Is it difficult, impossible, or too time consuming to import and export data between QuickBooks and other systems/software?
  • Do you find yourself manually re-entering data in multiple places?
  • Do you have more than 30 users that need access to financial information?
  • Do you feel like you and/or your staff could be doing more to reduce errors?
  • Are you relying too heavily on workarounds to manage information?
  • Is it difficult to manage the oft-changing budget requirements of tasks and projects?
  • Are you having trouble updating, keeping track of, and/or monitoring your inventory in real time?

But what happens when you’re ready to add additional inventory? When you need variable billing services? When some of your employees are working remotely?

charts on keyboard

Even if you find yourself answering “yes” to many of the questions above, it’s natural to be hesitant about making a software switch. Transferring the entirety of your data may seem like a logistical nightmare at first glance. Fortunately, that’s far from the reality. 

The main reason that this type of data transfer isn’t as painful as originally perceived has nothing to do with software—it’s all about the support staff behind the software. 

Beyond taking care of the back-end, development-centric hurdles, the software you move on to in your post-QuickBooks journey should have a stellar team of professionals that assist throughout the onboarding process. 

Whether you want to proceed with a slow, management-first rollout, a hybrid (business or product specific) rollout, or an immediate “big bang” rollout, the choice should be yours—with intelligent recommendations from software professionals, of course.

In short, look for software that has a support team who really understands you and your business beyond the numbers.

What To Look For In A QuickBooks Alternative 

We’ve covered the “why” and the “when”—naturally, it’s time to talk specifically about the features to look for in a QuickBooks Online alternative. Beyond accounting, it’s important to explore what other ERP alternatives have to offer. After all, your finances are just one piece of puzzle.

Universal Accessibility

These days, the ability to access financial data from anywhere is more important than ever. Whether you’re on a phone, tablet, or a personal computer, you need accurate information at a glance. 

You’re not the only one who will benefit from this—the right ERP will allow you to provide instant access to anyone you specifically authorize. Cloud accounting software allows this data to be securely shared with your external accountant, CPA, legal counsel, or any other financial professional. 

Integrated CRM

A common approach for many businesses is to purchase separate accounting and CRM software solutions. While it may seem prudent at first to differentiate between data from the sales and accounting departments, the opposite is true—these two data sets need to properly communicate at all times.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story—just because certain sales figures are positive doesn’t always measure company-wide profitability. Without taking into account the full financial picture of all of your business’s financial silos, recognizing profit is often unnecessarily tedious and time consuming.

Entering data in triplicate, hunting down scattered records, and generating incomplete reports make it difficult to assess a proper financial path going forward. Spending more on new equipment, renovations, and even employees becomes more challenging and time consuming when it’s unclear how much financial ammo you have to spare in the short term. 

In short, software communication, connectivity, and transparency are the keys to unlocking the full power of your finances. 

Project and Task Management

Projects and tasks are hardly set in stone. Goals shift, obstacles appear, and—most importantly for you—budgets need adjusting. If your accounting and project management software don’t communicate, it can be tough to determine the profitability of each individual project.

According to one Harvard Business Review study, 1 in 6 projects had a cost overrun of 200%, with the average project exceeding budgets by 27%. If contracts, invoices, and expense reports are disconnected from the rest of your financial records, it’s much more difficult to identify projects that are draining resources beyond an acceptable threshold. 

Spending less time sorting out the financial and logistical details surrounding a project and more time working on the project itself will not only improve your operational efficiency, it will help give you a clearer, more accurate picture of your bottom line. 

Inventory Management

Taking control of your inventory starts with taking control of the way that you view it. By utilizing software to automate, track, and update the inventory aspect of your supply chain, you’ll be able to more quickly add new items, be notified of low stock levels, and intuitively configure a barcoding protocol.

Data from your sales and purchase orders shouldn’t have to be copied or transferred between multiple software titles—the sales reports you generate should include all pertinent tracking information and vendor costs sourced directly from your inventory management system, not from someone who manually copied data from your inventory management system.

Your revenue stream is the lifeblood of your business. Warehouses full of products, fleets of service vans, various legal documents—whatever industry you’re in, the materials you need for day-to-day operations represent one of the largest operating costs that you’ll have to account for. 

Instead of determining retroactively how much your business spent on specific items, be proactive—not reactive. Make sure all costs of these purchases are available to be viewed and assessed alongside the rest of your finances in a centralized document storage system. 

Wrapping Up Your Search For A QuickBooks Alternative

Accounting software will proficiently handle all of your account needs, but that’s simply not enough.  

Your business is more than just accounting—it’s sales, operations, project management, and so much more. The software you enlist for your business should exemplify this by seamlessly integrating every element of your business under one (digital) roof. 

man using accounting software with a Striven coffee cup

Our experts know exactly how tough it can be to get reliable, accurate, and—in many cases—free information about what software solutions are a good fit for your business. We’ve carefully cultivated a list of the 10 Best Business Management Software solutions to aid you in your search. 

Not every choice is easy—the best decisions seldom are. The best software solutions won’t necessarily be the flashiest or the most popular. Even the term “best” is a relative term—really, the important thing to look for is what software will be the best fit for your business. Adaptability, flexibility, and personalization are what brought you success in the first place. Stick with these same core values when exploring software solutions.

The Best Barcode Scanners and Printers For SMEs

From storage rooms to the retail floor, barcode scanner technology has revolutionized how businesses manage inventory. 

Barcoding technology has come a long way from its grocery store roots in Troy, Ohio—businesses in nearly every industry that need to manage their perpetual inventory efficiently have taken advantage of barcode scanners and barcode scanner software. 

Using barcode scanning technology comes with a plethora of benefits and competitive advantages:

  • Data and inventory accuracy (humans make an error every 250 keystrokes, while a computer’s error rate is 1/36trillion)
  • Addresses scalability issues (code 39 vs code 128 barcodes provide differing levels of complexity based on your current needs)
  • Increases workflow efficiency (no deciphering handwriting, manually checking product supply, lower training/labor costs)
  • They’re relatively inexpensive (the vast majority of scanners are affordable on any budget and can be easily synced with your business management software)

Barcode scanners will help your employees stay efficient, and inventory management software will help you stay on top of your inventory turnover ratio.

However, one piece is missing—printing the barcodes.

While outsourcing this process is an option, it is often costly and inefficient to your overall operations. If you want 500 SKUs ready to go for tomorrow morning, it will be in your best interest to have a company printer on standby. 

Barcode Scanner Software

While the technological benefits of creating, printing, and utilizing SKUs are apparent, it’s not always as apparent which technology will be best suited for your SME.

Addressing your businesses specific needs will require asking yourself a few questions:

Does your business plan on increasing inventory size?

Is your business planning on diversifying the types of products available for purchase?

Does your business use or plan on using an e-commerce platform?

Do I have inventory management software I can use in tandem with my current equipment and SKUs?

man with clipboard looking at boxes

Although individual business requirements vary, these scanners and printers are equipped to help SMEs expand their operations, save time and money, and overall increase productivity and profitability.

Barcode Scanners


Overview: In terms of wireless scanning, this scanner has some of the best range as far as indoor scanners are concerned—about 100 yards. While the NADAMOO scanners function fully on laptops and PCs, they are not compatible with tablets and phones. Ideal for retail, warehouse, and any other setting that requires inventory management, this scanner includes a USB cable for easy data transmission. 

Price: Around $35

Other Relevant Details: 20-hour charge, a range of 400 meters, can receive 32 separate data inputs at once.


Overview: The TaoTronics scanner offers 2-in-1 functionality—supporting connectivity via Bluetooth and USB. In addition, the TaoTronics scanner is supported by most major PCs, tablets, and smartphones. Customization is also a hallmark of this scanner—you can set up a unique code to customize any barcode. 

Price: Around $45

Other Relevant Details: 30-hour charge, 32-bit processor scans 200 times/second


Overview: Zebra brand scanners—specifically the DS2208 model—are some of the most high-performing and versatile scanners on the market, and are perfect for every industry. Lightweight and ready to go right out of the box, this Zebra scanner scans barcodes efficiently at any angle and is capable of reading both 1D and 2D barcodes, including QR codes.

Price: Around $125

Other Relevant Details: antimicrobial protection, “aim line” for scanning from a distance, auto-syncs to most POS systems


Overview: A solid plug-and-play choice, this USB-connected scanner handles all of the basic functions a barcode scanner needs. The WoneNice scanner syncs with most hardware and software systems, and seamlessly translates relevant data.

Price: Around $20

Other Relevant Details: can withstand up to a 1.5m drop on concrete, inclination angle 55°, elevation angle 65°

transportation management software system. Two men agreeing over a truckful of barcoded boxes

Barcode Printers


Overview: This commercial-grade, high-speed thermal printer is an ideal choice for label printing of all sizes (1.57” to 4.1”). Handling inventory and shipping label sizes, the Rollo printer executes at a rate of one shipping label per second. Compatible with most major operating systems and shipping platforms, the Rollo label printer even comes with free UPS labels.

Price: Around $190

Other Relevant Details: unlimited label height, U.S.-based customer service, how-to-videos included with purchase


Overview: The Dymo thermal printer prints addresses, file folder names, and barcode labels at a rate of 51 labels per minute. This cost-effective model allows you to create customized labels from software already installed on your computer in addition to templates being available for download.

Price: Around $67

Other Relevant Details: labels available to be printed in multiple sizes


Overview: This wifi enabled thermal printer enables you to print in both red and black. At a rate of about 110 labels per second, it is one of the fastest options on the market. The Brother is able to communicate and print from multiple devices at once at 300 dpi. It comes with a 2-year warranty. 

Price: Around $130

Other Relevant Details: includes an automatic cutter for various label sizes, optional battery extender available for portability


Overview: While priced a bit higher than most other items on this list, there is one main reason for this—it allows for ultra-secure RFID printing. Ideal for clients with sensitive information, this printer is beefed up with customizable features. With up to 600 dpi printing resolution, built-in tag verification, and a durable metal outer shell, this is one of the premiere label printers on the market.

Price: Around $1,200

Other Relevant Details: includes a responsive touchscreen that sends feedback, has automation capabilities and customizations

Looking for inventory management software that can sync with your barcoding equipment, track your inventory, create purchase orders, and develop custom reports? Check out our top picks for the best business management software for inventory management.

Better Virtual Management: Machines and Employees

Everyone can agree that 2020 was a completely unprecedented year for the global economy. The entire supply chain was disrupted and all businesses, workplaces, and employers had to pivot their operations in ways previously unknown.

While prior to 2020 the idea of working at home was mostly relegated to freelance contractors, 2020 catapulted nearly the entire working population into that category. Where business owners found themselves struggling was in the management of machines and employees.

Now, the world economy is starting to recover, but business owners are still grappling with some of the same questions.

How can machine shops engage employees who remain on a work-at-home basis until they can get their vaccine? How can machines be remotely controlled to provide better throughput, workflow, and lights-out management?

These are the questions businesses everywhere need to tackle—and answer—if they are to remain competitive in a post-pandemic world.

Though businesses are primarily looking to return to “business as usual,” the manufacturing world has been forever changed by the events of 2020. That means, as much as business owners want “normal” to return, they face a “new normal” instead. While virtual management may not be as necessary as it was when nearly everyone was working from home in the pandemic days of mid-2020, the adjustments made are going to become part of regular business activities, including the ability to manage machines and employees virtually.

Without virtual management capabilities in place, businesses might just get left behind by those that continue to incorporate these capabilities into their business structure for increased output and profitability.

Invest in Top-Tier CNC Shopfloor Management Software

Better virtual management will always start with digitalizing the shop floor, placing machines and employees on a virtual network that provides instant feedback to both in terms of shop processes, throughput, and machine performance.

The best software that will tie machines and employees together is a suite that allows for the simultaneous and instant management, analysis, and optimization of machine tools. With these three items in place, managers and shop employees can access real-time data, adjust workloads, and gain insight from automatic digital analysis to optimize workflow and machine downtime.

All CNC machine shops recognize that downtime is one of the most significant factors in reducing profitability and employee productivity. When a machine is down, the machine’s operator is then taken offline to focus on troubleshooting issues with the machine. Whether it is past due for maintenance, a tool got out of alignment, or the unit needs to be reconfigured, the operator is taken away from their regular job to troubleshoot, and the machine’s workload is halted until the problem is solved.

machine repair

With the digitalization of the shop floor, unexpected downtime can be dramatically reduced, unexpected problems minimized, and workflow and production boosted. Software that automatically feeds analytic data to machine controllers empowers employees to make critical decisions that save the shop floor, and the company, time and money.

Place More Data Into the Hands of Employees

When a limited number of employees are running the shop floor and managers are left to remotely work with them, empowerment for in-the-moment decision-making is key. The pre-pandemic shop floor ran very differently, with different operators able to run questions by the supervising manager by waving them over to ask a question.

Today’s employees are not only reduced in number, but also their supervising manager might not even be on-site for part of the day. What these employees need is data at their fingertips with guided analysis to make decisions along with the kind of instant communication that allows their supervisors to “OK” their choices.

Remote management software that links CNC machines together can simultaneously provide data to machine controllers and supervisors. With integrated communication software between workers, managers can access the same data set their employees see. Rather than emails or phone calls back and forth, with the right communication software, managers can approve or recommend actions based on real-time data.

Remote management and real-time data give employees the ability to be proactive in suggesting a course of action while providing managers the ability to preside over these decision-making opportunities.

With this kind of data access and communication, employees are given the power to make decisions with the safety net of having managers virtually by their side to provide further information, insight, and opportunities for learning.

Digitalize the Entire Shop Floor Process From Start to Finish

Digitalization only works to its full capacity if the entire process, from product design and machine concept to product execution and machine servicing, is digitalized. While it can be argued that any amount of digitalization is better than none at all, only partially digitalizing the shop floor will more often than not leave employees lacking data, information, and necessary analytics for accurate decision-making. Managers and machine operators alike need the maximum amount of data possible to make decisions effectively.

For machine operators, accessing the entire value chain is critical. They need access to product development, production planning, production timing, required output, machine tool life, and the minute set of data that informs them what the machine can handle.

By accessing this kind of data, the ability for optimization grows exponentially. The more a shop floor can be optimized for workflow, downtime, and throughput, the more shop productivity and industry competitiveness can be increased.

Incorporate Cloud-Based IoT Software

Digitalization is only as good as the ability to access data and remotely interact with it. If a shop switches machines over to a digital process but then proceeds to place the data on an internal server, the digital information is only as good as their on-site ability to process it.

If nothing else, 2020 showed the world that data must be remotely accessed. The answer, of course, is to incorporate cloud-based IoT software when the shop floor is digitalized. 

When machine data streams instantly to the cloud, managers can access and effectively manage shop floor employees regardless of whether they’re in the same state or a different country. Data is key to management and shop floor data must be hosted somewhere other than an internal server. Cloud-based data should be remotely accessible by all parties who are involved in the management and decision-making processes for the shop floor. With remotely accessible data, all employees will have the ability to optimize machine processes, production rates, scheduled downtime, and total shop floor efficiency.