Manufacturing - the old fashioned way....back when I worked for a living!
A close friend, who I respect very much, told me that he considers it a ‘fine line’ between Inventory Management and some of the more sophisticated ‘in lieu of’ products that I tend to think of as Manufacturing and Process Management software. But rather than consider myself so stubborn as to ignore the similarities, I have decided to amend the Series of Articles I am doing on Inventory Applications and go ahead and include some of the more specialized products as part of the series. With that said here are examples of the products we will examine in the “In lieu of and Much More” Section.
While many QuickBooks users maintain inventory for the purposes of sale (retailers, wholesalers and distributors), other users have inventory for the purpose of product or process manufacturing. QuickBooks offers what I term ‘light’ (very light) manufacturing through the use of Assemblies (and to some extent ‘Group’ items). While you can ‘nest’ assemblies in QuickBooks, you must use features of QuickBooks Enterprise and/or QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory to achieve even modest amounts of fabrication or batch process production.
If you need capabilities for make-to-order and more customized forms of manufacturing or process production, you should invest in a product that has been designed to provide such functionality. As with sophisticated inventory products, these manufacturing software packages take over control of most functions leaving QuickBooks to essentially ‘crunch the numbers’. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph there are commonalities between these manufacturing packages and the sophisticated ‘in lieu of’ inventory software packages.
Now let me also say that some of the ‘Sophisticated Inventory’ offerings I discussed briefly in my last article as “In lieu of” solutions (such as Fishbowl and ACCTivate), also offer ‘manufacturing’ modules or options; however, I believe most QuickBooks Consultants view them as Inventory vs. Manufacturing products. With that said, let’s look at a few of the products in this category:
- Exact Manufacturing is a complete software solution designed for small manufacturers in diverse sectors such as machine building, plastic processing, metalworking, fabrication, woodworking and others. It is designed to work with QuickBooks (desktop) or QuickBooks Online and offers a streamlined interface mirroring QuickBooks data. Its dashboard design provides a streamlined workflow from quotation to sales order, production order to good delivery and final invoice. I view this product a ‘physical product’ based manufacturing solution, but depending on the configuration it might be considered a distributor/wholesaler alternative. Of course it includes purchases and receiving as well as put-away, location tracking, and stock levels for raw materials, in-production components, and completed products or processes making it a viable alternative for either manufacturing or wholesale.
- E2 Shop System is manufacturing software designed to provide control over the ‘shop’ processes. The software is modular in design providing components ranging from Estimating and Work Orders to Scheduling and Quality Management, Materials management and Shipping are additional components of their 13 modules. One of the modules E2 offers is ‘in product’ accounting; however, they also advertise that they ‘seamlessly’ integrate with QuickBooks as a Gold Certified developer.
- MISys Manufacturing is another ‘modular’ product that focuses on the manufacturing industry. Their ‘basic manufacturing’ module provides the fundamental processes of inventory control, raw materials tracking, and work-in-process along with multi-level bills of materials. Works orders, BOM revision control and production scheduling are all part of this core. When you need truly custom final productions and multiple-variants of standard products, the Advanced Production module meets these needs. MISys offers seamless integration with QuickBooks, and several other major accounting software packages. MISys has one of the best materials requirements planning features available within any manufacturing software; a master production schedule tracks all information concerning current stock, purchases on order, orders in process, and order fulfillment requirements creating a materials requirement plan that serves to automate orders to preclude shortages. This same ‘module’ provides sales forecasting and modeling based upon actual sales history and trends.
- Tractivity is another ‘manufacturing’ intensive application featuring flow/process control, job-shop floor tracking, materials and manpower allocation and real-time management, and full integration with QuickBooks. One of the most interesting components of this product is the ability to take any single component or product and easily tack-on changes, modifications or customizations.
- BatchMaster – I am going to take this opportunity to mention this product even though it will not be included in subsequent reviews since it is a ‘Process ERP’ system more than a ‘Manufacturing system’. This is sophisticated process software designed for the pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic, coatings, and food industries. My own experience with this very elaborate product was in connection with a pharmaceutical client. If you are in need of a product that can handle the requirements of sophisticate quality control this is a fine product that also integrates with QuickBooks.
In future installments of this series we will look more closely at the QuickBooks Add-ons, Add-ins, and In-lieu of products for both Inventory Management and Manufacturing.