With a $3000 budget, the client desires to create an inventory management system (IMS) that will track high demand items and perform inventory automatically. There are no plans for expansion to internet commerce.
Since this is a small budget, there is no recommendation for networking. However, should the client change her mind regarding expansion, then the immediate set-up of a network is recommended. There are essential components which are necessary for the IMS: hardware, software, data, processes, and personnel. The computer itself, i.e., the monitor, the modem, the printer, and the cables will be supported with a cash drawer, a scanner, a barcode maker, and a barcode label maker. This computer will be a central storage for all data and software that the system uses. Additionally, a scanner will be necessary for the IMS. Software must be up to date, have active anti-virus protection, and a strong operating system (Windows 7, for example). Microsoft Office is recommended, as is Plexis point of sale (POS), and Small Business Inventory Control. It is important to note that all data must be entered manually for the first time in order to get the system going. Once the system is up and running, the system will update itself automatically as products arrive, and then update automatically as products are sold.

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The process for automation begins when the product reaches the store and is assigned a barcode. This barcode is scanned and then it is stored in the computer. The POS software will automatically update the inventory data depending on products which have arrived and those which have sold. The advantage to this process is that the client will have access to inventory as it happens. This advantage will assist the client to know which items are high demand and need to be reordered.

One primary concern for the creation of this type of IMS is the total cost of ownership (TCO). Inclusive in this cost is hardware, software, maintenance supplies, setup costs, and training and support costs. There are options when it comes to the cost of software; there are freewares which do not cost a penny. Microsoft Office and Open Office are the two software programs which are recommended for this IMS. Open Office is a freeware that features many of the same things as Microsoft Office. The set-up cost can be minimized for this IMS because the proposed IMS is not highly technical and can be set up by non-specialists or current employees. All employees will need to be trained on the new system. This training is recommended to take no longer than two hours.

Here is an approximate breakdown of possible TCO:
Down time for inventory and training and support—unknown cost.
Small Business Inventory Control 7.X Standard $99.00
Plexis POS $299.00
Cannon Pixma MG2120 All in One Inkjet Printer $48.99
ID Tech Econo Scan Barcode Printer $108.00
Zebra LP 2824 Barcode Printer $473.00
Misc. Cables $50.00

One of the most important types of software to purchase is an effective anti-viral software. Hackers and spyware make the system vulnerable to threat. Therefore, an effective anti-virus program must be updated regularly since these threats are constantly changing. The other most important type of software and hardware is to have a place to backup data—USBs to cloud storages—it is highly recommended to backup data in the event of an accident. Furthermore, POS has technical support straight from the vendor, and should be accessed regularly. Employees must understand that updates are a part of daily maintenance. The client must make sure that data is entered correctly in order for the system to operate correctly.