How do you develop a bespoke solution?

Delivering projects on time and on-budget
We are often asked what is the greatest skill set you need for developing software and working on a project.

There are, it would seem, the same four skill sets that any developer worth his salt will need:

1 Ability to solve problems
2 Able to learn and teach oneself
3 Good appreciation of variable naming
4 Dealing with people
5 Technical skills

So simple however in reality maybe not so.

At ACPlus when we start talking to a prospective customer about their proposed project we are often faced with having to give a “ball park price”. Now naturally we have to take into account just how complex this proposed new project will be before committing the cardinal sin of quoting before specifying. And then as if by magic you will find the customer is not expecting the actual quote to exceed this figure. So in order to combat this, and often shooting ourselves in the foot so to speak, we make sure we don’t under estimate the likely cost.

There are many factors to consider when selecting an EPOS system and many of them can be puzzling for the uninitiated.

An EPOS, or electronic point of sale, system can offer great convenience to customers and lead to an upturn in sales in their own right. However, they also afford vendors a tremendous number of benefits, too. In this guide to choosing an EPOS system, we’ll be addressing these advantages and working out which ones will be relevant to the sort of business you run. Ultimately, choosing an EPOS system comes down to the level of functionality you require weighed up against any cost implications. In other words, it is just like any other business decision – working out how you can add the best value.

One Size Does Not Fit All The first thing to realise about an EPOS system is that it can have as much or as little functionality as you need.

If you think that you need to invest great sums to obtain an all-singing, all-dancing version, then it is time to reconsider.

Depending on your specific requirements, you don’t need to go for a fully fledged version. In order to work out what EPOS system might suit you, seek advice. Specialists in the field should be able to work out which size of system will be of most benefit to you.

A little time spent researching the various EPOS systems on the market will pay off in the long run. In order to avoid the pitfalls and to obtain a more tailored solution, it is important to think about what your business requirements actually are. If you consider that you simply need an EPOS system because that is what your competitors are offering, then it may be time to do a more specific business needs study. By being clear about the sort of requirements your business has, it is much easier for suppliers to bespoke their EPOS system to match them.

After all, most business functions require tailored solutions these days and not a simple ‘me too’ application. Once you have conducted the research necessary to make an informed decision about
what functions you want, it is time to start looking at the various EPOS systems that can offer these.
Ask yourself a few questions when shopping around.

Firstly, it can be helpful to ask yourself how adjustable your favoured EPOS system might be down the line, if your business needs change.

Secondly, it can be good to ask your preferred supplier to conduct a calculation that gives you a picture of the return you can expect on your investment. If they cannot, then move on to another supplier.

They are not just there to process transactions, although this is a primary reason for investing in one. Nevertheless, defining your business requirements is not always so simple. What should you be looking for? Initially, it is a good idea to have a clearly defined statement of your normal business operations.

This might be easy to do if you work in retail only or you are in the leisure industry. However, many businesses cross over into more than one sector, which means their customer interactions can differ slightly. For example, some businesses need an EPOS system to handle their wholesale payments and transactions from registered trade customers, but they also have a requirement to process transactions from retail customers, sometimes with differing rates and separate nominal coding for their accounts package.

Many leisure and tourist attractions require bulk bookings to be made by phone or via an ecommerce platform, but also require smaller transactions to be made on site, perhaps from a café or a shop. Furthermore, many businesses need to be able accurately describe themselves in terms of their point of sales functions. Multi-discipline sites are a typical example of when this is not necessarily straightforward.

Multiple points of sale – even if they are under differing brands – can all be run from a single, well installed, EPOS system. If you need to run transactions from a bar, a box office, a ticket office and a retail space or two, then there is an EPOS system that will do it, but it will mean you need to look for a specific solution that can handle all of these functions.

Lastly, it is important to think about mobility.

Not all EPOS systems allow for transactions to be made away from base units, something that is now expected in most restaurant or service-led environments, for example.

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