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May 28

Tech Tools For Your Business

Joel T. Fasgao

Today, I share with you some suggested tools to rev up your business.  Whether you are in the retail, service or manufacturing sector, a host of technology tools will help you manage your business more efficiently. With this I mean hardware and software technology tools you need to invest in.  First, the hardware part will include a computer, scanner, web camera, digital camera and a printer.  Computers are powered by processors akin to a car engine that enables a car to function.  Processors are manufactured by Intel (check Intel website for the latest processor) or AMD.   Intel recommends the Intel® Core™ 2 Duo desktop processors line for heavy computing needs.  You can also invest on a higher memory starting with at least 1GB (Gigabyte) if you wish to run your computer on Windows Vista (wait for further improvements on Windows 7).

Throw in a higher storage capacity hard disk drive starting at 200GB.  A scanner is a machine similar to a copier but this time the scanner’s output is in digital file format.  For example, if you wish to send proof of payment to your supplier in Manila, you can scan your bank deposit slip and send it as an image attachment via e-mail.  The scanner actually takes a “snapshot” of a document or photograph. You need a web camera for example if you wish to show “live” snapshots of a particular product to your prospective customer whether that customer is in Baguio or anywhere on earth.  You can also use your webcam for security purposes as mentioned in my previous column.  A digital camera will also come in handy if you need to make snapshots of a product for your planned online catalogue or other intended use for your business. 

The film based camera is near extinction and will only be relegated for use by true blue photographers.  To complete your hardware setup, you need a monitor and a printer.  That TV like thing where you see what you’re working on is called the monitor.  Today, thin variety monitors called LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) monitors are gaining popularity. Your notebook or laptop computer by the way uses a LCD monitor.  LCD monitors are easier on the eyes, are energy efficient and emit no radiation. LCD monitors range from 15” up to overkill of 40”. 

For the printer, don’t go for the cheap ink jet printers.  Manufacturers sell low priced ink jet printers but milk you dry with their expensive inks.  Yes, there are ink refill services but take note that there is a limit to refilling your ink cartridge. Worse, there are users who experienced clogged cartridges or had poor color output.  There is a new low cost technology using a continuous supply of inks.  I still have to give it a try though before I give judgment.  Laser printers are more expensive but provide a professional shine to your documents.    

Now for the software part, if you can afford it, invest in a Microsoft product.  This includes the operating system the latest of which is Windows Vista. 

Also include an “Office Suite” or a package of productivity software that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database and presentation application.  Microsoft’s Office Suite version 2007 is a much improved version over 2003 with an entirely new command inter-phase that’s easier to comprehend. If finances are low you can opt for a Linux based operating system (such as Ubuntu, Bayanihan Linux) and Open Office for your application package. 

All these are free and available for download from the Internet. For your financial records, move up from a spreadsheet package to an accounting software.  For a start, Microsoft’s Accounting Express can serve well your needs. If not, you can try Peach Tree Accounting, QuickBooks, Simply Accounting and other popular commercial accounting software.  Accounting software is a critical tool for your business.  The application helps keep track of your business transactions, inventory and provide you an overall picture of how “healthy” your business is.   Price ranges for your hardware vary.  You can check on computer hardware prices online at www.villman.com, or PC Express. 

Now, for the budget conscious, invest in second hand computer.  A Pentium IV 2.8 Ghz processor with a  512 KB memory and an 80GB hard disk is a good buy. This will set you back by at least 8,000 to 9,000.00 pesos and that does not include a monitor and printer. 

LCD monitors (new) start at 7,000.00 and up. The bigger the size, the more expensive the LCD monitors.  Query about hardware and software that fits your business needs from people involved in the industry before plunging into the “technology” bandwagon. If you think that the abacus is still the tool for your needs, then wait till you hand over the reigns of you business to Junior.  Junior just might opt to use the computer over your abacus.  All the best!