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45 Business Management Applications Every Executive Should Understand

Published on by Adam Bluemner

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There’s no question that “better software technology” is becoming a more frequent answer to the big question of how to conduct better business.

In fact, it’s a trend significant enough to have genuinely expanded the role of the contemporary business executive.

In order for today’s departmental leaders to function as business process experts and trusted decision makers, real experience and expertise with departmental information systems is indispensable.

But as the increasing ease of software application integration helps companies transition to more connected and functionally comprehensive software systems, departmental barriers are also breaking down. The dividing lines in conventional organizational structures are blurring and the scope of software knowledge needed to manage effectively is broadening.

To keep up with this changing technological environment, we’ve profiled 55 business management applications, whose core business benefits every tech-savvy executive should be aware of.

Accounts payable

Accounts payable software coordinates the payment of funds made to vendors, suppliers, subcontractors and others for purchases of goods and services or other business expenses.

Accounts Payable Application Overview
Also known as AP, payables
Core features Vendor database, check writing, accounts payable ledger, records search, aging reports
Advanced features Electronic payments, advanced supplier management, document attachment, pre-scheduled payments, batch check printing, duplicate payment monitoring
Potential integration points General ledger, cash management, job cost, cost accounting
Standalone or system-based Accounts payable software is most commonly sold as part of an accounting or ERP program

Find out more about features and top products with accounts payable functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Accounts receivable

Accounts receivable software manages the collection of money owed to businesses for purchases of goods or services made on credit extended by the seller.

Accounts Receivable Application Overview
Also known as AR, receivables, collections, billing
Core features Customer database, receivables ledger, records search, aging reports, finance terms, credit memos, overpayment management, early payment discounts, charge-offs, customer holds
Advanced features Complex billing terms support, partial/progress billing optimization, collections management, invoicing
Potential integrations General ledger, cash management, cost accounting
Standalone or system-based Accounts receivable is most often sold as part of an accounting or ERP program, but sometimes can be paired with invoicing and sold as billing specific software

Find out more about features and top products with accounts receivable functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Applicant tracking

Applicant tracking applications streamline activities related to recruiting job candidates for business employment.

Applicant Tracking Application Overview
Also known as Candidate tracking, talent acquisition
Core features Candidate database, activity/communications management, candidate scoring, resume parsing, resume search, interview/follow-up scheduling, interview/candidate notes
Advanced features Integration with job board sites, social media integration, background checking, email templating, alerts & notifications, task management, recruiting workflow management & definition, referrals management, candidate source evaluation, recruiting cost analytics
Potential integrations Email, phone system, talent management, HRMS/HRIS, job boards (external), social media (external)
Standalone or system-based Applicant tracking applications are typically sold as part of a talent manage or full human resources suite

Find out more about features and top products with applicant tracking functionality in our HR Software Buyer’s Guide.

Asset management

Asset management applications provide a management system for the purchase, operation, maintenance, valuation, improvement, repair, and disposal of company held assets.

Asset Management Application Overview
Also known as Enterprise asset management (EAM), equipment management, computerized maintenance management software (CMMS)
Core features Asset location tracking, reventative maintenance scheduling, current value and depreciation tracking, warranty/contract management, asset disposal management
Advanced features Insurance management, variable depreciation scheduling, disposal versus repair calculations, asset performance monitoring, asset purchase planning & budgeting
Potential integrations Manufacturing execution systems, fleet management software, service management software, work order management applications, general ledger, budgeting software
Standalone or system-based Asset management applications are often purchased as a component of service management, manufacturing management, or ERP systems, but can also be purchased individually

Find out more about features and top products with asset management and CMMS functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Bank reconciliation

Bank reconciliation software automates the comparison of bank and accounting data required to identify record-keeping discrepancies and the subsequent actions needed to bring the accounts into agreement.

Bank Reconciliation Application Overview
Also known as Reconciliation
Core features Financial institution data import, automated transaction matching, manual matching overrides, audit trail
Advanced features Risk assessment, reconciliation scheduling, positive pay support
Potential integrations Accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, financial institution accounts (external), custom rules creation, multiple currency support
Standalone or system-based Asset management applications are often purchased as a component of service management, manufacturing management, or ERP systems, but can also be purchased individually

Benefits administration

Benefits administration software offers a comprehensive system for selecting, managing, and delivering employee benefits such as medical & disability insurance, retirement savings, PTO, and incentive compensation.

Benefits Administration Application Overview
Also known as Benefits management
Core features Benefits eligibility & enrollment management, paid-time-off management, export to payroll processing, insurance & retirement plan comparisons
Advanced features Compliance management, employee self-serve portals, configurable automated employer matching rules, cost analysis tools
Potential integrations HRMS/HRIS, payroll
Standalone or system-based Benefits administration software is available as a standalone application or as part of an HRMS/HRIS or ERP system

Find out more about features and top products with benefits administration functionality in our HR Software Buyer’s Guide.

Bill of materials

Bill of materials applications enable the creation, revision, and control of documents which specify the components and assemblies required to manufacture a product.

Bill of Materials Application Overview
Also known as BOM
Core features Parts register, sub-assembly management, supplier fields, stock counts, tree/nested view reports
Advanced features Revision control, product visualization, document attachment, inventory holds, change order management, scrap percentage control, routing information, serialized inventory support, replacement parts control, parts lead time reporting, environmental/health compliance, customizable alerts & notifications
Potential integrations Inventory, manufacturing execution systems, shop floor control, material requirements planning, purchasing
Standalone or system-based Bill of materials applications can be purchased standalone, but are more commonly acquired as part of an inventory, manufacturing, or ERP system

Find out more about features and top products with bill of materials functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Billing

Billing software provides functionality for the invoicing of customers who have purchased goods or services. Billing software may also include software process support for the collection of customer payments.

Billing Application Overview
Also known as Billing management
Core features Invoice creation, application of billing terms, invoice customization, invoice templates, status tracking, management reports, multiple payment method support
Advanced features Subscription billing, progress billing, product configuration options, discount/promotions management, electronic payment support, project billing, invoice/documents customization, credit memos, line item controls, email invoicing, accounts receivable, integrated time tracking, client payment portal, medical billing, utility billing, PCI compliance
Potential integrations Order management, accounts receivable, job cost, CRM, web payment portals
Standalone or system-based Billing applications are typically purchased as part of a larger system such as CRM, accounting, order management, or ERP software, but may be purchased as standalone products as well

Find out more about features and top products with billing functionality in our Order Management Buyer’s Guide.

Budgeting

Budgeting software applications provide a systematic approach to the planning of corporate expenditures. Budgeting software also often includes planning and forecasting functionality to enable and control tasks related to the projection of company revenues.

Budgeting Application Overview
Also known as Financial planning, budgeting, planning, and forecasting
Core features Simple budget creation, expense and revenue classification, departmentalized budgeting, historical trending
Advanced features Variance reporting, version control, collaborative budgeting, rolling budgets, predictive analytics, visual dashboards, alerts & notifications, spreadsheet export/import
Potential integrations General ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management
Standalone or system-based Budgeting applications are often acquired as part of an accounting or ERP system, though standalone options are both available and popular

Find out more about features and top products with budgeting functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Business intelligence

Business intelligence software collects, stores, normalizes, and makes accessible business data required for performance evaluation, process optimization, and effective strategic decision-making.

Business Intelligence Application Overview
Also known as BI, Business analytics, reporting, report writer/writing
Core features Data mining, benchmarking, performance evaluation, forecasting, planning, user-based reporting, report template creation
Advanced features Visual dashboards, report scheduling, business process modeling, value stream mapping, sales forecasting, workforce management & hiring analytics, regulatory compliance management, quality management, risk management, decision engineering
Potential integrations Unlimited
Standalone or system-based Business intelligence features are a standard component of various business applications; BI-specific applications are sold as standalone products, though, they are often components of larger systems such as accounting, ERP, HRIS/HRMS, project management, sales management, or service management suites

Find out more about features and top products with business intelligence functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Business process modeling

Business process modeling software enables the creation and analysis of business process charts, diagrams, and other visualizations.

Business Process Modeling Application Overview
Also known as BPM, process modeling
Core features BPM design environment, preset process templates (flow charts, mind maps, SWOT analysis, swim lanes, site maps, Gantt charts, etc), multi-format document export
Advanced features Version control, collaborative document creation/editing, support for various process model standards (BPMN, ICAM, UML), client/server deployment with centralized database, process validation tools
Potential integrations Quality management, risk management
Standalone or system-based Business process modeling applications work well as standalone products given the tight scope of their intended functionality, though they are sometimes include in BI or ERP suites

Cash management

Cash management software allows for the monitoring of company bank accounts. Cash management solutions can help ensure adequate capital to meet expense obligations and to optimize the earning potential of corporate funds.

Cash Management Application Overview
Also known as NA
Core features Cash account reporting, cash forecasting, bank reconciliation, reconciliations management
Advanced features Cash position optimization, predictive analytics, configurable calculations for determining payment schedules based on supplier terms, account transfers management, currency conversion
Potential integrations General ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, financial institution account data (external)
Standalone or system-based Cash management applications are typically included in accounting and ERP suites, but users with more advanced needs may opt to purchase more robust standalone applications.

Find out more about features and top products with cash management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Commissions management

Commissions management software simplifies the complexity associated with tracking, calculating, and disbursing employee financial incentives.

Commissions Management Application Overview
Also known as Incentives management
Core features Commissions calculation, management reporting, formula management, quota management
Advanced features Commission splitting management, employee reporting portals, visual dashboards, default commission plan/calculation libraries, refund management, approvals management
Potential integrations Accounts receivable, sales analysis, payroll, HRMS/HRIS
Standalone or system-based Commissions management applications are generally included as a component of sales management suites, but there are a number of commercially available standalone offerings

Find out more about features and top products with commissions management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

CRM

CRM applications provide a suite of features designed to help employees execute, analyze, and optimize customer interactions throughout the business relationship lifecycle.

CRM Application Overview
Also known as Customer relationship management, sales force automation
Core features Contact management, activity/communication tracking, customer attribute tracking, lead management, sales performance management, work flow management
Advanced features Invoicing, trouble tickets, email integration, social integration, sales forecasting, document attachment and management, alerts, approvals management, visual dashboards, territory mangaement, marketing campaign management, message templates, custom call scripting
Potential integrations Order management, accounts receivable, inventory control, service management
Standalone or system-based CRM systems are most frequently purchased as an an integrated, single systems, though they can also be found within many ERP suites.

Find out more about features and top CRM products in our Buyer’s Guide.

Dispatching

Dispatching applications provide a software mechanism to communicate off-site work assignments to personnel in the field.

Dispatching Application Overview
Also known as Routing
Core features Scheduling, routing, order tracking, mapping, status tracking, address book, customer look-up
Advanced features GPS support, vehicle inventory, mileage tracking, fuel expense management, load capacity tracking, driver performance analytics, driver workload management
Potential integrations Service management, work order management, order management, inventory control, purchasing, accounts receivable, project management, job cost
Standalone or system-based Dispatching applications are frequently purchased as stand-alone products, or may be acquired as part of a more comprehensive fleet management, service management, or service-oriented ERP system

Document management

Document management software manages the creation, collection, storage, revision, and distribution of business documents.

Document Management Application Overview
Also known as Document control, file management
Core features Document capture, file attachment, document storage, access control, document retrieval, text search, annotation
Advanced features Document validation, metadata & tagging, versioning & audit trail, access control, voice-to-text translation, optical character recognition (OCR), encryption, approvals management, data back-up
Potential integrations Unlimited
Standalone or system-based Many applications include document management features; independent document management systems are sold as stand-alone products, though general document management systems may be included as part of ERP suites in more sophisticated products

Find out more about features and top products with document management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

eCommerce

eCommerce applications provide web-based functionality enabling the execution and management of online business transactions.

eCommerce Application Overview
Also known as B2B eCommerce, B2C eCommerce
Core features Web shopping carts, account management, design templates, order tracking, credit card processing integration, shipping integration, inventory control, price management, marketing/sales analytics, SSL & other web security features
Advanced features Content management features, blogging, & web publishing, sales tax management, product configurators, visual analytics dashboards, customer reviews, search engine optimization, promotions management, product ratings, product comparisons, ERP integration
Potential integrations Inventory control, order management, accounts receivable, general ledger, purchasing, CRM
Standalone or system-based eCommerce systems are most commonly purchased independently; a few of the more sophisticated ERP platforms offer integrated eCommerce capabilities

Find out more about features and top products with eCommerce functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

EDI

EDI applications offer the data translation and network access required to communicate trade documentation between business partners via the standardized electronic data interchange protocol.

EDI Application Overview
Also known as Electronic data interchange
Core features Data mapping to EDI document formats, trade partner management, error checking
Advanced features Multiple transport protocols (HTTP/S, Web Services including SOAP & REST, ODBC, JDBC, FTP, LDAP, SMTP/POP3), multiple data formats (XML, X12, EDIFACT, CICA, HL7, ANSI, VICS), EDI network access
Potential integrations Inventory control, order management, accounts receivable, general ledger, purchasing, CRM
Standalone or system-based Many supply chain and ERP systems include EDI translation capabilities; 3rd party EDI translation products are also available; companies seeking to outsource management of EDI transmission will need to work with EDI network providers

Find out more about features and top products with EDI functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Expense reporting

Expense reporting software streamlines and controls tasks associated with the submittal, approval, and reimbursement of employee expenses.

Expense Reporting Application Overview
Also known as Expense management, travel expense reporting
Core features Expense inputs, expense categorization, approvals management, client/project association, expense status tracking
Advanced features Electronic receipts, mileage calculations, credit card import, automated expense validation against configurable rules, web portal, auto-categorization, customer rebilling
Potential integrations Accounts payable, payroll, billing, accounts receivable, financial institution data account data import (external)
Standalone or system-based Accounting and ERP products offer expense management tools, though standalone applications are available as well

Fixed asset

Fixed asset software provides functionality to manage the depreciation of corporate assets from acquisition through disposal.

Fixed Asset Depreciation Application Overview
Also known as Asset depreciation
Core features Asset register, user-definable depreciation methods, asset location tracking, customizable depreciation periods, IRS forms support
Advanced features Asset hierarchies, associations, & parent/child dependencies, depreciation forecasting, asset splits, asset transfer management, tracking of insurance, financing, & warranty information, advanced depreciation methods
Potential integrations Accounts payable, payroll, billing, accounts receivable, financial institution data account data import (external)
Standalone or system-based Fixed asset modules are a standard component of most accounting and ERP products and are also available as standalone applications

Find out more about features and top products with fixed assets functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Forecasting & Planning

Forecasting applications allow for the projection of sales and other company revenues based on both user-provided inputs and historical data. Planning features help translate demand forecasts into concrete requirements summaries detailing the equipment, material, human resources, and other business prerequisites needed to satisfy customer expectations.

Forecasting Application Overview
Also known as Sales forecasting
Core features Pipeline management and status tracking, collaborative forecasting, forecast categories, departmentalization, quotas
Advanced features Predictive analytics based on historical data, what-if scenarios, rolling predictions, forecast to actuals variance reporting, forecast versioning, visual dashboards
Potential integrations CRM, billing, accounts receivable, budgeting
Standalone or system-based Forecasting modules are a fairly standard component available in most ERP systems, but can also be purchased as standalone applications

Find out more about features and top products with forecasting andplanning functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Fund accounting

Fund accounting software systems support a financial management approach which enables the segregation of funds, allowing for the establishment and enforcement of rules governing the type of expenditures which can be made from individual funds.

Fund Accounting Application Overview
Also known as Fund management
Core features Rporting, fund categories, hierarchical structure, balance sheet reporting, income statement reporting, encumbrances, fund transfers, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management, bank reconciliation, purchase orders, audit trail
Advanced features Predictive analytics based on historical data, what-if scenarios, rolling predictions, forecast to actuals variance reporting, forecast versioning, visual dashboards, investment management, fund transfers, budgeting, project/grant/endowment management, approvals management, role-based user access, fundraising management
Potential integrations Accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, fundraising, grant management, purchasing
Standalone or system-based System-based (accounting/financial management)

Find out more about features and top fund accounting products in our Buyer’s Guide.

General ledger

General ledger software provides the master ledger functionality necessary for recording and reporting on an organization’s revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities.

General Ledger Application Overview
Also known as GL
Core features Chart of accounts, balance sheets, income statements, journal entries, drill-down, account coding, accounting period definitions, batch posting, period closing, departmentalization, access control and authorization, audit trail, cash or accrual accounting, account reconciliation
Advanced features Alerts, budgeting, budgeting variance reporting, statistical accounts, multi-level account hierarchies, multiple currency support, multi-entity accounting, intercompany transfers, reversing entries, recurring transactions, fixed asset tracking
Potential integrations Accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, fundraising, job cost, POS, budgeting
Standalone or system-based General ledger applications are typically sold as the core component of a larger accounting or ERP system

Find out more about features and top products with general ledger functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

HRMS/HRIS

HRMS/HRIS systems provide functionality for supporting and optimizing business processes related to human capital management, including: talent management, employee records, benefits administration, time and attendance, and payroll.

HRMS/HRIS Application Overview
Also known as Human resources management software, human resources information software
Core features Employee job history, PTO management, employee certification tracking, retirement plan administration, employee insurance management, employee performance evaluation
Advanced features Payroll processing, applicant tracking/talent acquisition, time and attendance, workforce management, learning management, onboarding, succession planning, compensation management, employee performance evaluation, health and wellness benefits administration, ACA compliance reporting/management, organizational charting, corporate calendar
Potential integrations Payroll, time tracking
Standalone or system-based HRMS systems are frequently purchased as independent software suites, though they are also available as components of some ERP systems

Find out more about features and top products with human resources functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Inventory

Inventory software provides the central management system for maintaining records pertaining to the item descriptions, stock counts, cost, pricing, transactional histories, and locations of company materials, supplies, parts, and finished goods.

Inventory Application Overview
Also known as Inventory management, inventory control, parts management, materials management
Core features Stock keeping units, location tracking, price management, inventory costing, product descriptions
Advanced features Bar-coding, serial number tracking, bill of materials, RFID tracking, work-in- progress, kitting, lot/batch tracking, expiry tracking, matrix pricing, tax codes, multiple manufacturer or in-house part numbers, movement history, multiple modes of inventory costing (FIFO, LIFO, Average, Weighted Average, etc), supplier tracking, item images, alternative product recommendations, cycle counting, unit of measurement conversion, catchweight inventory, reorder thresholds
Potential integrations Order management, POS, purchasing, job costing, material requirements planning (MRP), manufacturing execution system, bill of materials, shop-floor control, CRM
Standalone or system-based Inventory applications are most commonly purchased as part of a supply chain, accounting, or ERP product, though standalone options are available as well

Find out more about features and top products with inventory functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Invoicing

Invoicing applications offer functionality to create, customize, and distribute billing documents to customers for the purchase of goods and services.

Invoicing Application Overview
Also known as Invoice, billing
Core features Invoice creation, customizable invoice templates, discounting/promotions application, status tracking, management reporting
Advanced features Recurring invoices, email integration, time-based billing, client/project association, line-item discounting, volume discounting, approvals management
Potential integrations Accounts receivable, billing, order management, POS, purchasing, job costing
Standalone or system-based Invoicing functionality is a standard component of billing, accounting, and ERP software; standalone invoicing products are available as well

Find out more about features and top products with invoicing functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Job cost

Job cost applications manage the business processes related to projecting, tracking, categorizing, and reporting on costs incurred in the performance of project work.

Job Cost Application Overview
Also known as Job costing, project accounting
Core features Cost categorization/coding, job dashboard
Advanced features Indirect cost or applied overhead, retainage, phased costing, cost threshold alerts, percent complete tracking, estimating, actual to estimate variance reporting, multi-level cost categorization, projected final cost calculations, prevailing wage or labor rate management, visual cost analytics, quotations, productivity reporting, job contract administration, change order management, vendor/subcontractor dashboards
Potential integrations Accounts receivable, billing, order management, POS, purchasing, job costing
Standalone or system-based Job cost applications are typically purchased as part of an accounting, project management, construction management, professional services automation, or ERP product

Find out more about features and top products with job cost functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Manufacturing execution system

Manufacturing execution systems provide the central control capabilities for coordinating, monitoring, and reporting on the human resources, materials, and equipment involved in manufacturing production work.

Manufacturing Execution System Application Overview
Also known as MES, Manufacturing operations management
Core features Production planning/master production scheduling, shop floor control, equipment scheduling, labor scheduling, material requirements planning, production orders, bill of materials
Advanced features Production monitoring (order status, productivity, downtime), quality management, statistical process control, preventative maintenance scheduling, dynamic order routing, job cost
Potential integrations Purchasing, order management, inventory control
Standalone or system-based Manufacturing execution systems are most commonly purchased as part of a manufacturing ERP system, though they can be purchased separately and integrated with financial management, accounting, or ERP software

Find out more about features and top manufacturing execution systems functionality in our Manufacturing Software Buyer’s Guide.

MRP

MRP systems help manufacturers coordinate production scheduling and purchasing activities to dynamically meet customer demands, while minimizing overhead expenses and optimizing output.

MRP Application Overview
Also known as Material requirements planning, material resources planning, MRP I, MRP II
Core features Production planning, shop floor control, equipment scheduling, labor scheduling, material requirements planning, production orders, bill of materials
Advanced features Production monitoring (order status, productivity, downtime), quality management, statistical process control, preventative maintenance scheduling, dynamic order routing, job cost
Potential integrations Purchasing, sales forecasting, order management, inventory control, bill of materials, manufacturing execution system, master production scheduling
Standalone or system-based MRP functionality is available as a core component of manufacturing-oriented ERP software systems

Find out more about features and top products with MRP functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Order management

Order management software provides process administration tools related to the creation and communication of sales order documentation such as quotes, orders, and invoices.

Order Management Application Overview
Also known as Sales order, order entry
Core features Order creation, customer quote creation, internal order routing, order status tracking, invoicing, customer accounts, order history
Advanced features Stock commitment, picking, packing, shipping, remote order submission, drop shipment support, return materials authorization (RMA), sales tax management, back orders, approvals management, in-store pick-up
Potential integrations Accounts receivable, billing, inventory control, purchasing, service management, project management, job cost, warehouse management, shipping, multi-channel management, eCommerce, POS
Standalone or system-based Inventory applications are most commonly purchased as part of a supply chain, accounting, or ERP product, though standalone options are available as well

Find out more about features and top products with order management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Payroll

Payroll software facilitates processes related to the payment of company employees by streamlining tasks such as calculating gross employee earnings, applying withholding deductions, distributing relevant tax forms, automating the filing of business payroll taxes, and disbursing employee compensation through printed checks or direct deposit.

Payroll Application Overview
Also known as Compensation
Core features Wage, salary and incentive compensation calculation, variable payroll period selection, payroll check printing, tax deduction calculations, retirement deduction calculations, vacation/leave tracking, employee pay stubs, W2/T4 forms, 1099 forms, 940 & 941 forms, direct deposit, multi-state payroll
Advanced features Certified payroll, prevailing wage support, electronic filing, time and attendance, wage garnishments, ACA tracking, employee payroll portal, multiple payr rates per employee
Potential integrations GL, time and attendance, HRIS/HRMS, job cost
Standalone or system-based There are many standalone payroll applications available commercially, though many buyers will chose to purchase the software as part of a larger HRIS/HRMS, accounting, or ERP system

Find out more about features and top products with payroll functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Performance management

Performance management software is a type of business intelligence application dedicated to tasks involved in collecting, analyzing, maintaining, and distributing employee work performance information.

Performance Management Application Overview
Also known as Performance analytics, workforce analytics
Core features Data import, date warehousing, data mining, goal management, visual dashboard analytics, performance review, employee scorecards
Advanced features Employee performance portal, employee flight risk tracking, predictive analytics
Potential integrations Unlimited
Standalone or system-based Standalone performance management applications are available to manage data imported from other systems, though buyers can also acquire performance management software as a component of HRIS/HRMS and ERP systems

Find out more about features and top products with performance management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

POS

POS applications provide the functionality required to enable and support sales transactions in a retail environment.

POS Application Overview
Also known as Point-of-sale
Core features Checkout, bar-code support, basic sales tax application, credit card processing, multiple tender type support, hardware integration support, receipts, returns, stock lookup, cashier authentication, sales reporting
Advanced features Store credit, gift cards, loyalty programs, discount/promotions management, PCI compliance management, inventory control, touch screen, age verification, tip management, layaways, serial number tracking, multi-jurisdictional sales tax management, sales floor POS & kiosks, EBT and food stamps, commission tracking, customer database
Potential integrations Inventory, CRM, general ledger, order management
Standalone or system-based Point-of-sale software is most commonly purchased as a standalone system, though retail-oriented ERP solutions will also offer POS capabilities

Find out more about features and top products with POS functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Product lifecycle management

Product lifecycle management applications provide a centralized suite of features which coordinate product planning and management activities from conception, development and release, until product discontinuation.

Product Lifecycle Management Application Overview
Also known as PLM
Core features Product file management, revision management, parts validation, bill of materials, pricing management, configuration management, change management, customizable workflow definitions, work order management
Advanced features Release schedule, audit management, drawing, parts/supplier associations, contract administration, compliance management, quality management, market analysis
Potential integrations Inventory, forecasting, manufacturing execution system (MES), material requirements planning (MRP), bill of materials, purchasing
Standalone or system-based Product lifecycle management systems are most often sold independently, though Tier 1 ERP solutions will include PLM functionality as an available option

Project management

Project management software enables the systematic control of all activities required to execute project work and manage associated documentation.

Project Management Application Overview
Also known as PM
Core features Project scope definition, project role register, file attachment, calendars, critical path, Gantt charts, dependencies, benchmarks/milestones, percent complete status tracking, timelines/roadmaps, role permissions, notifications and alerts, task management
Advanced features Project portfolio management, budgeting, job cost, visual dashboards, instant messaging, forums, wikis, email integration, activity screen
Potential integrations Job cost, estimating, billing, time tracking, purchasing
Standalone or system-based Project management software can be purchased as a component of professional services automation, construction management, and ERP systems or as a standalone system

Find out more about features and top products with project management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Purchasing

Purchasing applications streamline procurement tasks such as requisition management, vendor selection, order creation, PO transmission, and delivery confirmation in order to minimize corporate expenditures while ensuring the timely availability of required goods and services.

Purchasing Application Overview
Also known as Procurement, purchase order, PO
Core features PO generation, status tracking, due dates, audit trail, vendor database, confirmation of delivery
Advanced features Vendor management, requisitions, approvals management, automated re-order, recurring purchase management, internal catalogs, contract management, blanket PO
Potential integrations Accounts payable, material requirements planning, order management, CRM, job cost
Standalone or system-based Purchase order modules are a standard component in accounting and ERP systems, but can be purchased as individual applications as well

Find out more about features and top products with project management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Quality management

Quality management software provides analytical features designed to identify and correct the source of both product errors and process inefficiencies.

Quality Management Application Overview
Also known as QMS
Core features Deviation handling, error/defect tracking, process control, change order control, corrective actions planning, preventive actions planning, audit/inspection management, risk management, cause analysis, dashboard analytics
Advanced features Machine integration, regulatory compliance
Potential integrations Master production scheduling, manufacturing execution systems, bill of materials, work orders, material requirements planning (MRP), inventory control
Standalone or system-based Quality management functionality is most often provided as part of a manufacturing execution system or ERP suite, but can be purchased as a standalone application

Find out more about features and top products with quality management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Receiving

Receiving applications provide a management system for tasks related to receiving physical goods, such as delivery confirmation and putaway.

Receiving Application Overview
Also known as Procurement, purchase order, PO
Core features Planned receipts, unplanned receipts, customer returns, directed putaway
Advanced features Inspection management
Potential integrations Inventory, purchasing, order management
Standalone or system-based Receiving functionality is almost always purchased as part of a larger warehouse management, supply chain, or ERP system, rather than as an individual module

Sales analysis

Sales analysis applications provide reporting and data visualization tools specialized for the analysis and interpretation of sales data for tasks such as agent performance evaluations, lead source quality reviews, and sales forecasting.

Sales Analysis Application Overview
Also known as Sales analytics, sales management reporting
Core features Commissions tracking, pipeline quality reporting, quota management, individual agent analysis, departmentalization, executive overview dashboard, profitability analysis, acquisition cost analysis
Advanced features Drill-down, lead management, territory analysis, demographic tracking, what-if analysis, sales forecasting, seasonality analysis, open order tracking
Potential integrations Accounts receivable, CRM, budgeting, invoicing, commissions management
Standalone or system-based CRM, billing, and ERP systems often include sales analysis tools, though standalone applications can be purchased to add extended functionality

Sales tax management

Sales tax management software facilitates the calculation and application of sales taxes on business sales and provides automation features to streamline related tasks such as exemption certificate management and tax filing.

Sales Tax Management Application Overview
Also known as Sales tax
Core features Tax table updates, integration with payment applications, jurisdiction assignment & rate determination, use tax management, excise tax management, value added tax (VAT) support, role based security, rate look up
Advanced features Address validation, product taxability management, automated filing, international tax calculation
Potential integrations eCommerce, POS, invoicing, order management
Standalone or system-based More advanced management capabilities are available through standalone sales tax management applications than the basic sales tax rate application capabilities usually provided in payment applications

Find out more about features and top products with sales tax management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Scheduling

Scheduling applications provide task management and calendaring features to help coordinate the planning and communication for a wide variety of business activities.

Scheduling Application Overview
Also known as Calendaring, appointment management, task management
Core features Event scheduling, file attachment, contact info management, flexible calendar views, team/collaborative scheduling, alerts & notifications
Advanced features Waitlists, customer scheduling portals & web integration, skill-based staff scheduling
Potential integrations CRM, project management, manufacturing, work order management, human resources, email, text messaging
Standalone or system-based Many business applications include scheduling capabilities, though ad-hoc scheduling programs are available as standalone software as well

Service management

Shipping integration applications provide an interface between enterprise order management systems and 3rd party shipping software.

Service Management Application Overview
Also known as Field service management
Core features Work order management, technician availability tracking, job scheduling, service management reporting
Advanced features Dispatching, routing, customer service request portal & web integration, remote invoicing, electronic signature, contract management, inventory control & parts look-up, electronic signature, approvals management, file attachment, service knowledge base, warranty management, subcontractor management
Potential integrations CRM, accounts receivable, inventory control, order management, project management, job cost, purchasing
Standalone or system-based Service management software systems are sold as application specific suites, as well as components of larger ERP programs

Find out more about features and top products with service management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Time and attendance

Time and attendance applications provide a means of capturing and tracking time spent by employees on business activities for billing, costing, payroll, access control, and performance evaluation purposes.

Time and Attendance Application Overview
Also known as Time tracking
Core features Time collection, task recording, location tracking
Advanced features Hardware-based time collection, bio-metric employee verification
Potential integrations Payroll, human resources, work order management, project management, job cost
Standalone or system-based Time and attendance applications are available as standalone applications, as well as components of larger systems such as ERP suites

Find out more about features and top products with time and attendance functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Warehouse management

Warehouse management software provides a coordinated system of controls for optimizing accuracy and speed in the movement of inventory and lowering overhead warehouse costs via more efficient use of warehouse personnel, space, and equipment.

Warehouse Management Application Overview
Also known as WMS
Core features Inventory control, stock verification, picking/putaway routing, receiving, shipping
Advanced features Warehouse space planning
Potential integrations Order management, CRM, purchasing, billing
Standalone or system-based Warehouse management systems are sold independently, as well as components of larger supply chain management or ERP solutions

Find out more about features and top products with warehouse management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Work order management

Work order management software enables the communication of service, project, or manufacturing work instructions.

Work Order Management Application Overview
Also known as Work order, service order management, WOM
Core features Order creation, order assignment, change order management, routing, status tracking, lead-time specification, material requirements documentation
Advanced features Dispatching, service knowledge base management, service performance analytics
Potential integrations Order management, CRM, purchasing, billing
Standalone or system-based Work order management systems are generally purchased as a component of a larger service management or service-oriented ERP system

Find out more about features and top products with work order management functionality in our Buyer’s Guide.

Adam Bluemner

is a Managing Editor at Find Accounting Software. He's been helping software buyers make informed investments in business software since 2004.

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