7 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Barcode Labeling Software Provider
30 October 2014
How to choose the right barcode labeling software provider for your business
Medical Design Technology features an article written by TEKLYNX Enterprise Product Manager, Nick Recht, discussing the seven questions to ask a potential barcode labeling software provider to help you identify what labeling software solution is best for your business.
Today, countless industries rely on barcode label design software for a variety of uses, such as creating barcodes for labels, products, shipping, and more. Within the healthcare industry, barcode technology is becoming more prevalent as patient safety initiatives such as electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), and ePrescribing are being developed and concerns for patient safety increase. Barcode labeling software creates accurate, legible, and accessible barcodes that enable employees to properly identify a medication, lab sample, or a patient.
Barcode labeling software is simple to implement in healthcare settings. The technology can be used in a variety of applications, such as medication labeling and management, medical device identification, lab sample tracking, patient identification, electronic medical records, and more. In addition to helping improve patient safety and reduce errors, barcode labeling software can have a significant Return on Investment (ROI).
There are many types of barcode labeling software, ranging from simple to complex, and a variety of different vendors that offer solutions. However, not all barcode label designers are created equal. Healthcare organizations need to ensure safety and efficiency when selecting a vendor. Important features and services to consider include: support and training options, implementation process, printer drivers available, software scalability, barcode types, licensing and payment options, features and compatibility, compliance support, design tools, and more.
Below are the seven questions to ask a potential barcode labeling software provider to help you identify what labeling software solution is best for your healthcare business:
- Can your software cater to a variety of labeling complexities and allow for integration with other business systems?
This question helps determine whether the potential solution can grow with your business. As we’ve seen, business growth can significantly impact your labeling processes. If you choose a vendor that offers different levels of software – for basic to complex labeling needs – with a clear transition path between each application, future transitions will be seamless. A scalable solution can easily grow with your business and adjust to support new technology, such as printer drivers or operating systems. If you have international requirements, look for a vendor with a global footprint that can offer additional levels of support and service.
It is also important that you select an off-the-shelf product that can easily be integrated easily with your other business systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), inventory tracking systems, and other hardware to align with your processes. A fully integrated barcode labeling solution offers many benefits across the organization, including simplified use and maintenance, improved ROI on existing infrastructure, and increased efficiency and accuracy through automation.
- Does your software offer government labeling regulation compliance support?
The healthcare industry demands a barcode labeling solution that meets government regulations and provides compliance support. A software vendor that offers multiple levels of software is more likely to have a product, or products, that provide support for such labeling regulations as FDA 21 CFR Part 11, Unique Device Identifier (UDI), Product Traceability Initiative (PTI), and more.
Healthcare organizations also must find a software vendor that offers a variety of barcode symbologies and complex barcodes such as Health Industry Barcodes (HIBC), Global Trade Identification Number codes (GTIN) and GS1 Databar. It is important to find a solution that offers pre-configured label samples to easily comply with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
- What type of printer drivers does the software use?
Keeping your current and future hardware requirements in mind, ask whether the vendor offers Windows or embedded printer drivers. A vendor that offers embedded printer drivers gives you the ability to retain design quality when switching printers. If the vendor has direct technology partnerships, this means that it can provide access to a broad range of printer drivers, which means that you have more options when choosing your printers.
- What are your support and training options?
It is important have access to resources when you need them. This starts during the research phase – Is an ROI calculator available to justify your expense? Additional questions include:
Some software vendors sell through a value-added reseller network, which can offer additional benefits and support. Be sure to include your reseller in the vetting process so that you select the right team.
- Does the vendor offer label design and conversion services to streamline your transition from your legacy application?
- If you need customer interface development, does the vendor have resources to assist you?
- What is the availability of technical support - and is there an online knowledge base to support self-service troubleshooting?
In addition, you will discover software vendors that offer on-site training for the resources that will work most closely with the application. Others offer only virtual training options. Ideally, you should find a vendor that offers both, along with ongoing access to videos and resources. This will help you easily train new users and educate team members on updates and new features. By equipping your internal resources to use the software effectively, you can be sure that you are getting the most from your investment.
- What are your payment and licensing options?
It is important to consider the quantity of licenses and your long-term expansion plans when purchasing labeling software. When you choose a vendor that offers flexible purchasing options, you are able to adapt to changes in your labeling process more easily. Subscription licensing options allow you to use the software with a lower up-front cost while offering flexibility for future licensing needs. Look for software maintenance agreements that include updates and upgrades to protect your investment and ensure that you stay current with the latest developments. It is also important to assess whether a vendor offers multiple licensing options, such as single user and network versions, hardkey options for offline workstations.
- What does the implementation process involve?
Your chosen vendor should make recommendations based not only on your immediate needs, but also according to your future needs (based on projected growth). This can lead to a different software choice and can impact the configuration of your software. Also, be sure to confirm whether the vendor can assist with label design – and how easy it is to begin designing in the software. Review the available wizards within the software and determine how these will fit into your design process. When discussing the implementation process, be sure to work through what resources your vendor can provide to support the project and how the process will work with your internal team members. An established vendor will have extensive experience installing labeling solutions at a wide range of companies, and can help create a realistic timeline for your implementation project. This should also include the label conversion process and any necessary integration points, whether with external databases, ERP systems or other applications.
- Can you provide case studies or testimonials?
The best way to measure a software vendor’s success rate is by hearing directly from its existing clients. This could come in the form of references, testimonials, or a published case study. These stories help provide proof of the vendor’s success on similar or more complex installations. If the vendor was able to handle these projects, yours should be successful as well.
The process of evaluating your labeling system and choosing a barcode labeling software vendor can seem overwhelming, but if you take the time to ask the right questions and come prepared with your requirements, you can quickly determine whether the software is the best fit for your business. The right vendor will have specific experience that aligns with healthcare industry requirements.
Take the time to fully assess your existing processes and tools to determine where improvements can be made, and make sure that your chosen vendor can address your needs.
About the Author
Nick Recht is the Enterprise Product Manager at TEKLYNX Americas, where he strives to use technology to add value and create efficiencies in manufacturing and business environments. Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Managing Information Systems (MIS) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. You may reach Nick by calling 414-837-4765 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEKLYNX International is the world’s leading developer of barcode labeling software solutions, and the only provider to offer barcode labeling software subscription licenses. More than 600,000 companies in 120 countries rely on TEKLYNX integrated software solutions for supply chain automation, regulation compliance, warehouse management, shipping and receiving, inventory control, and asset management. TEKLYNX is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Oracle Gold Partner, has internal GS1 Certified Barcode Professionals and invests to develop SAP Certified solutions. TEKLYNX barcode labeling software is CFR Part 11 compliant, and is capable of printing GS1 and HIBC required to generate the AIDC technology labels for UDI compliance, with support for thermal and thermal transfer printers. TEKLYNX is headquartered in France with operations in the United States, Europe, Japan, China, and Singapore. For more information on how TEKLYNX can help organizations in the medical device and healthcare industry, visit http://www.teklynx.com.