Doing More with Barcodes
We have been looking at Inventory Management Alternatives to QuickBooks, and for the last couple of articles focusing on ‘Add-on’ programs that supplement QuickBooks with specific feature expansions. Last time we looked at Barcode solutions, and learned that if you have QuickBooks and you want to use barcodes, then Baus Systems had excellent barcode solutions to add-on to QuickBooks. With Baus’ Barcode Essentials you can scan barcodes directly into QuickBooks forms. That is fine and good but what about using barcodes to insure that your sales fulfillment process is getting the job done right? Or using Barcodes to insure that what you receive matches your purchase orders? Or using Barcodes to verify and update stock levels in your warehouse?
Doing more with Barcodes
You don’t implement barcodes solely for the purpose of scanning them, or printing them. You use barcodes to accomplish specific tasks. Grocery stores use barcodes to speed-up the check-out process and maintain accurate inventory counts of what is in stock, and what is selling. A retail store may use barcodes to keep better track of quantities on hand, and reduce inventory losses. A manufacturer may use barcodes to insure that inbound inventory is received as expeditiously as possible, and put away in the appropriate locations.
Well if you are looking for sales fulfillment, receiving, and stock maintenance, Baus also offers some programs to help you with those needs. This article will examine their add-on products for those functions and contrast those features with QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory.
Whether you use Sales Orders, Invoices, or Sales Receipts, Baus offers product versions to handle your specific sales situations and order fulfillments. The process is essentially identical regardless of your sales form (sales order, invoice or sale receipt), so we will examine the Sales Order process to give you an idea how this works. One advantage to using these products results from not having to make QuickBooks available to warehouse or order fulfillment personnel; they get all the information they need using the Baus product.
Sales Order Verification was developed by Baus Systems to give QuickBooks users the ability to verify that the products they are billing out and the products they are shipping out match. The process begins when you produce a sales order inside QuickBooks (Premier or higher for Sales Orders, Invoices and Sales Receipts can use QuickBooks Pro). The information within your sales form is retrieved by the Sales Order Verification program so that the person that will be preparing the sales order for delivery to your customer can print a pick list that they will use to pick the products.
Once the products on the sales transaction are picked they can then be verified with the Sales Order Verification program using a barcode scanning device (or in the alternative by entering the quantities for each product manually.) When the products have been verified against the original sales order, a confirmation report can be printed and/or a message can be sent back to the QuickBooks ‘To Do’ list for review and action by staff, this can then trigger the production of an Invoice showing the order fully or partially fulfilled.
Of course, in my way of thinking the preferred method to do this is to use a mobile computer to perform the same process as described above. With a mobile computer, the picking and verifying process takes place at the same time. Baus uses ‘industrial grade Windows-PC based mobile computers’ for their application. The mobile computer serves as an electronic pick list and as the items are scanned into the computer, they are also verified. After all items on the list have been picked, the products are ready to be shipped and the information is transferred back to a PC so that the confirmation report can be printed and/or a message can be sent back to the QuickBooks ‘To Do’ list for review by the staff.
So we have sold inventory items, and picked and shipped them, but that is only half the inventory equation. We must also buy, receive and put-away inventory, and to achieve this goal Baus offers their SmartScan Purchase Order Verification product. Similar to the way Sales Order Verification works, Purchase Order Verification retrieves Purchase Orders from QuickBooks, it then gives you the ability to scan (or manually enter) items as received on a purchase order. Once the items are received they can be reported from the receiving location by posting a message to the QuickBooks ‘To Do’ list, creating an Item Receipt in QuickBooks corresponding to the Purchase Order, or producing a report of the items received. An optional Verification database can be set-up to track serial or lot numbers for items.
Verify Stock Status
SmartScan Inventory Count can be used to perform physical inventory counts, cycle counts, and periodic inventory audits. Barcode technology identifies the items and quantities on hand. Count information can be printed, saved to various file formats, or transmitted to QuickBooks to adjust quantity on hand. This product can really streamline the inventory process.
I will just mention that QuickBooks Point-of-sale has offered this kind of functionality for years if you invested in one of their physical inventory scanners….scan the item, select the quantity for the count, and post the number back to ‘the mother ship’ (QB-POS); QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory does not presently provide this kind of functionality.
Comparing QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory
With QuickBooks Enterprise - Advanced Inventory (QBES-AI) you can use barcodes to scan information into QuickBooks template/forms such as Sales Orders, Invoices and Purchase Orders; the Advanced Inventory functions, in their present configuration, are based around you having the specific form ‘open’ in QuickBooks and then working your way through the form as you go, barcoding information into the various fields. In effect an individual would need to be able to view the QuickBooks form on their computer as they progressed filling-in the information via the ‘corded USB barcode scanner’.
QBES-AI was designed to use corded barcode scanners that plug into USB ports, my own early testing showed that it worked with the standard corded barcode scanner that was supplied with QB-Point-of-sale packaged systems, but it wasn’t designed to use wireless devices. With that said, I recently saw a Bluetooth barcode scanner from Wasp Technologies that said it was compliant with QBES-AI, still it is only a barcode scanner not a handheld computer.
As I mentioned a little earlier in this article, while QuickBooks Point-of-sale has had an optional physical inventory scanner that uploaded your item list, allowed you to update quantities during a physical count, and then download the results thereby adjusting your inventory levels, no such functionality is associated with QBES-AI, a significant deficiency when contrasted against the SmartScan Inventory Count functionality.
In our next article within this series, we will begin looking at 'add-in' products that tightly integrate with QuickBooks, but retain basic inventory functionality within QuickBooks.