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NolaPro: The Right Tool for the Job?

For many small- to medium-size businesses, point-of-sale software is often out of reach cost-wise. There are many solutions out there, but most are either unaffordable or too complex to use. Fortunately, companies like NolaPro are creating original and affordable open-source tools to meet the needs of small to medium business POS. Is NolaPro the Right Tool for the Job? Jack Wallen finds out.

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By Jack Wallen
For many small- to medium-size businesses, point-of-sale software is often out of reach cost-wise. There are many solutions out there, but most are either unaffordable or too complex to use. Fortunately, companies like NolaPro are creating original and affordable open-source tools to meet the needs of small to medium business POS. Is NolaPro the Right Tool for the Job? Let's find out.
Read a concise summary of NolaPro's strengths and weaknesses.
The first step is to unpack the tar ball file. The unpacked tarball will create a new folder called nolapro_XXX (Where XXX is the release number.) Inside of that folder will be two files and another folder named nolapro. Move the nolapro folder into your Apache document root and point your browser to http://ADDRESS_OF_SERVER/nolapro (where ADDRESS_OF_SERVER is the actual IP address or domain of the hosting server. Once there you will see the window shown in Figure 1.
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Now it's time to configure the database. As with all applications that require databases, I use phpmyadmin (as shown in Figure 2 above) for this task.

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Correctly configure the database you created with phpmyadmin. Once you have these settings done, hit the Next button to move on.

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The tables have been created in the NolaPro database. Now click the "Continue here..." link to move to the final step.

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It's login time. As you can see you will log in with the username "admin" and the password "pass". This should most certainly be changed asap.

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It's time for the initial configuration. As you can see the information you need to supply will depend upon your business. You MUST fill in all the information. Once you click the Save button you will be redirected to log in again (same username and password as before.)

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This is your initial screen. Obviously the bulk of the screen is dedicated to entice you to purchase add ins for Nolapro. It's the icons that we want to pay attention to.

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Of these four icons the far left choice will be your friend. This icon is the actual Point Of Sale icon. This is your cash register. You are not ready for it yet. Before you visit that there are a few tasks to take care of.

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These icons represent the bulk of your work. Your first task is to click on the Admin icon which will open up a set of icons on the left side of the screen.

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These are the admin tasks. The most important of these is the Admin Setup. Click on this to expand the setup menu.

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There are quite a few items you can configure within the Admin Setup list. One very important task, especially if your installation will be used by multiple persons, is to create user accounts for those who will use the system. To do this click the User Add/Update link.

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From this screen you can Add, Edit, or print a list of users. To create a new user click the Add button.

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In the top portion of the user add section you will enter the straight-forward information. There is nothing here to trip you up.

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The bottom portion of the user add section allows you to define which modules the user will have access too. Once you have finished the sectup, click Add to add the user. Once you add the user, they will appear in the user listing along with what modules they have permission to access.

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If your business deals with retail products, the inventory section will be the bulk of your work. This is where you manage inventory which will be sold through the POS. This is crucial. Click on the Inventory Setup link to expand the list of icons.

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Here are some important tasks to undertake. The first you want to handle is is the Standard GL Accounts. The "GL" stands for General Ledger. This is where you are going to define things like standard markup , default location, accounts to use, etc.

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One of the most important aspects to configure is the Default Price Level. If you do not configure this, prices will not show up in the POS. By default there are two options "None" and "Retail". Select "Retail" and remember that is what you chose. The rest of the configuration will be dictated by your business needs/location. Click "Save" once you are finished.

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You can configure your own price levels with NolaPro. Say for instance you want to have a price level for your employees. Click on the Price Levels link from the left navigation and click Add. Name the price level and click Save. Now you need to go through Standard Markup to finish this task.

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Click on the Standard Markup link to reveal the screen above. Click on the Edit button to reveal two levels: Retail and (the newly added) Employees. As you can see they are both set at 0.00. Say you want your Retail mark up to be 100ò0and your Employee markup to be 50ò0off. To do this enter 100.00 for Retail and .5 for Employee. Click Save.

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Click on Price Levels (from the Left Navigation) to reveal you Price Levels changed. You are now ready to move on.

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Let's say you sell hair products. You have three brands you sell: Brand A, Brand B, and Brand C. It would make report generation much simpler if you created categories for each product brand. To do this click on Item Categories and click Add.

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Enter the name of the category, select if it is seasonal (nice touch) and click Save. Once you have done this the product brand will show up in Item Categories.

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Before you finally are ready to enter a new item you need to add a Vendor for that item. If you do not have the vendors to select from once you create an item you will not be able to edit vendor information. So make sure you have all vendors created before you begin. Click on the Payables icon from the top row and then click Vendors.

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To create a new Vendor you click, obviously, New Vendor. From this same menu you can also print out a list (or labels) of your vendors (nice touch.)

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In this top section of the Add Vendor page you need to enter the Vendor company information. The only required information is the Company Name.

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Again this information is not required, but it will make your life easier when printing reports or contacting vendors.

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You can click the check box to add the information from the top (if the "Order From" information is the same.) Here you can also enter telephone contact information, email, and image.

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The final section asks for payment types allowed, vendor terms, default accounts monies will be removed from, and customer account numbers. Once you are done, click Save to add the vendor.

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Now it's time to add items. Click the Items link in the Left Navigation (under Inventory) and click Add New Item. This will take you to the item add screen where you will enter a good amount of information for your new item.

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When you are adding items use an abbreviated code for each item. You can run a check on the item code to make sure it's not already in use. Make sure you select a vendor (that you have added) in this section.

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This section is more for product information. Once you have finished this section click Save to add the product. Your product is now in the system and is ready to sell in the POS. You can also run reports on the item as well as edit the item. But you also have to adjust the items inventory. To do this click the Item Adjustments link from the left navigation.

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The first thing you do is to select the Category. This will narrow down your selection. Once you have done that click the Next link.

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To make an adjustment click on the item name to bring up the inventory adjustment screen. There you will have a text box where you can add or subtract to that items inventory. Adjust your inventory and click Save. A popup window will open letting you know the item has been adjusted. Now you are ready to being using your NolaPro installation as a POS.
The Right Tool for the Job?
I have successfully installed and used Nolapro in the company I work for. It's a simple, reliable, and affordable means to an often overwhelming end. This open source POS is a powerful solution solution for anyone wanting a powerful POS solution without breaking their business' bank.
Read my concise summary of NolaPro's strengths and weaknesses.

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