Stock management is one of the most important elements in running any business that sells physical products. If you are looking for a stock management system for your website or to use with your bricks and mortar store there are a number of significant considerations. Here are five of the most important questions to ask your web developer before selecting a stock management system:
1. Where will the system be hosted?
Will the system be hosted on your intranet or on the Internet? If it is to be hosted on the Internet, will there be a monthly fee for the hosting, and how much will it be? How reliable and secure is the host?
2. What sort of backup regime do you have for any data stored in the system?
Ideally, you should have nightly backups, so that you will never risk losing more than one day’s worth of sales data. Multiple or cumulative backups are best so that if one backup fails, you still have other recent images of the data. At least one of these backups should be stored in a separate physical location. This will mean that if some form of disasters such as fire or flood affects the hosting facility, you will have an undamaged version of the data and be in a position to get back up and running – quickly.
3. Will data protection legislation be followed?
If your stock management system is in any way integrated with your order or customer systems then you will almost certainly be collecting personal data. You must ensure that this data is stored correctly and that only authorised parties have access to it. Talk to your web developer and confirm that their hosting and application providers operate in accordance with the relevant legislation.
4. What will happen if the server goes offline?
You cannot afford to lose access to your stock management system, however briefly. It is essential that you have a service level agreement (SLA) which clearly states the level of uptime you can expect. Your web developer or application provider should have plans for redundant or backup systems. The SLA should make it clear what compensation will apply in the event that your server goes down for any length of time.
5. Who will be responsible for security and updates?
Ask your web developer whether they will manage security and updates on your stock control system and whether the price includes other functional updates or database modifications that you may require as your business grows. In addition, ask them if you can have access to the source code for the system. This will ensure that, if they are unable or unwilling to continue to work on your system, you will be able to bring someone else in to work on it for you. All things being equal, you will never need to do this but it is always worth having a plan, just in case.
If you are not completely satisfied with the answers to those questions, consider working with another provider. The security of your data should come before anything else.