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QStock by MSA Systems, Inc.
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QStock by MSA Systems, Inc.
QStock Mobile - 'Picking an order'
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QStock by MSA Systems, Inc.
QStock Mobile - "Receiving a PO"
Last time in our series on Inventory Management we began looking at what I refer to as the “Add-in” Applications. These programs have a tight integration with QuickBooks typically allowing QuickBooks users to perform many of the ‘sales’ and ‘purchasing’ functions within QuickBooks, but expanding the capabilities of QuickBooks Inventory. Among this group are the ‘Advanced Inventory’ & ‘Advanced Pricing’ subscription products offered by Intuit for QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. Next time we will be looking at these Intuit products. But today we want to review a product from a company called MSA Systems called QStock.
QuickBooks, inventory always begins and ends with an Item and a Quantity, as well as the associated 'cost' and 'sale price' of that item. For the most part that pretty well sums up the total capabilities of QuickBooks inventory management. As a result of the limitations of QuickBooks inventory features, inventory intensive companies need to perform inventory transactions that can’t be adequately tracked in QuickBooks unless you subscribe to the Advanced Inventory functions available only to QuickBooks Enterprise customers.
Some businesses attempt to use spreadsheets to track what QuickBooks can’t. The more physical locations, warehouses and drop-shipments you use in your operation, the more complex inventory becomes, and the more spreadsheets you need to cross-reference. Now add requirements for inventory with Lot or Serial Numbers and/or Expiration Dates, and you have created a situation that even QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory can’t handle (it has no inventory expiration date tracking). In these cases QStock maybe the answer you are looking for, especially if you want to be in total control of your inventory software without "controlling-subscriptions" or 'cloud connections' to worry about.
QStock is software that is completely integrated with QuickBooks to track inventory across multiple warehouses and locations, track serial and lot numbers, expiration dates, and other factors. QStock takes your same QuickBooks item and quantity information and then adds associated data like Locations, Warehouses, Barcodes, Row/Shelf/Bin assignments, Serial or Lot Numbers, Expiration Dates, and other mission critical inventory data. Tracking all of these variables, as well as tying them manually to your QuickBooks cost, price and quantity records would be nearly impossible, but when QStock is integrated with QuickBooks complex inventory management is simplified. Best of all you get all of this capability from software running on your own server, under your own management.
In my earlier introduction last week to QStock, as one of the ‘add-on’ inventory management products, I noted that all data tracked in QStock is passed back to QuickBooks in a way that QuickBooks inventory numbers are not only always accurate for both ‘counts’ and ‘values’, but they match, up-to-the-minute the ‘counts’ and ‘values’ in QStock. Many of the 'in-lieu of products' only update QuickBooks once a day, and may simply adjust the total value of the inventory asset account without impacting the item list.
One of the things I like about the ‘add-in’ inventory products is not being required to learn a new way of doing everything, and certainly QStock meets this standard. You can still prepare estimates or sales order in QuickBooks, and those are eventually passed on to QStock for fulfillment related tasks, but the quantities that QuickBooks reports on-hand when you prepare those documents are identical in both software applications. The ‘in lieu of’ Inventory Products don’t work that way, they generally remove all inventory item functionality from QuickBooks and typically mandate that you initiate sales within their product rather than QuickBooks, thus an entirely new learning curve is required for QuickBooks users. Users of QStock find the appearance and layout of screens easy to learn because they mirror the same basic layout found in QuickBooks itself; although recent updates to the QuickBooks interface have somewhat diminished the similarities. Still the same these basic similarities make learning QStock very easy.
So let’s look at the QStock Sales Order processing function a little more closely. When a Sales Order is entered and saved in QuickBooks, you can either perform a manual sync to QStock or simply wait for the next scheduled sync to occur. In either case, the Sales Order will be synchronized to QStock. Any changes from this point forward to the Sales Order will also be synchronized to QStock provided either a manual or scheduled sync occurs (you set the frequency of scheduled sync's).
For most applications, Sales Orders in QStock will be processed using QStock ‘mobile’ which is their ‘mobile computer’ application designed to automate the pick, pack and shipping processes, as well as the receiving, and put-away processes. The barcode based wireless scanners allow the warehouse staff to efficiently complete their daily tasks in an organized way, and in far less time than any manual system. (Slide 2) Directed picking means warehouse workers find products in their appropriate locations the first time, rather than waste time trying to find what they need to ship. Once a Sales Order has been fulfilled, it is synchronized back to QuickBooks as completed so that the Invoice can be issued to the customer from QuickBooks.
While you can perform the fulfillment steps on a PC, you are best off using your PC to run the software’s real-time monitoring console to determine the exact status of any order. Information from each mobile terminal keeps the monitoring console up-to-the-moment during each process performed by QStock.
Purchasing follows a similar pattern; users continue to prepare purchase orders within QuickBooks and the quantity information for your purchase can come from the sophisticated reporting and track records for each item found within QStock. Once you have entered the PO within QuickBooks, the PO also flows to QStock via either manual or scheduled sync. Receiving and put-away of items to the appropriate location, warehouse, row, shelf and bin are performed within QStock typically using hand-held devices. (Slide 3) Item receipts created in QStock as part of the receiving process synchronize to back to QuickBooks both to maintain balanced inventory between the two products, and to provide documentary support for the Vendor’s Bill to be processed in QuickBooks. When it comes time to process a physical inventory count, QStock automates and streamlines counts and adjustments and syncs the updated data back to QuickBooks.
As if that wasn't enough, QStock also offers work order functionality expanding upon the basic components of the software to allow users to create complex assembly items and calculate Bill of Materials that reserve stock and automate stock acquisition. Once again the mobile hand-held devices are used in the picking of work order components, tracking of builds, and automation of other complex manufacturing processes such as back-flushing, overage/underage tracking, and finished good stocking or isolation.
QStock runs on your own equipment, there are no subscription costs, monthly equipment rentals, or ‘internet clouds’ to link to. Compatible mobile terminals are available from a number of professional equipment manufacturers, they are not sole-sourced as with some other inventory management products.
Connectivity between QStock and QuickBooks occurs via the SDK, and can be set-up in just a few minutes on the same computer/server as the QuickBooks Server and Company File. QStock uses a Microsoft SQL Server database and will run on either Microsoft SQL Server or SQL Server Express (which is free of charge from Microsoft).
All in all, QStock is a very QuickBooks user friendly way of expanding Inventory requirements, keeping most of the QuickBooks functions within QuickBooks, streamlining and improving inventory related activities such as order fulfillment and receiving, and maintaining a higher accuracy of inventory accountability. It is easy to install, configure, use and maintain all within your own network and operating platform. You are neither reliant upon a distant licensing computer to verify your subscription to keep your critical inventory features running (as with QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory), or having to connect through an internet ‘cloud’ to process your warehouse or manufacturing functions (as with Rapid Inventory). You are completely in control with QStock.
QStock is a registered trade name and product of MSA Systems, Inc. of San Jose, CA.