Thus far in our series on Inventory Management we have been examining ‘Add-on’ products that gave additional functionality for specific components of QuickBooks. Starting with today’s edition we are migrating to what I refer to as the “Add-in” Applications. You may recall that 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 by providing a wealth of new and more complex features. In my way of thinking, these are the first real ‘inventory management applications' we will examine in this series.
Among this group are the ‘Advanced Inventory’ & ‘Advanced Pricing’ subscription products offered by Intuit for QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. Obviously the one thing that makes these products unique, is the fact that they are actually Intuit products, and are built-into the QuickBooks product itself, you simply can’t access these extra features without subscribing to them. We will be looking at the Intuit products in our third segment of this ‘Add-In’ product review.
There is an Add-In product I will soon be reviewing called QStock from MSA Systems. QuickBooks users purchase QStock, and install it on their local area network, once it is installed it integrates with QuickBooks in a very close linkage that allows QuickBooks users to continue to generate customer sales and inventory purchases using the normal QuickBooks data entry methods. QStock puts all of the Inventory extra supporting functions like bar codes, serial/lot numbers, locations and sub-locations, expiration dates, etc. in a separate database outside of QuickBooks but still on your own server. This extra data is tied to QuickBooks via the QuickBooks Items, as well as some accessory linkages.
As I mentioned both Sales and Purchasing transactions are initiated and completed in QuickBooks, with only the middle steps like order fulfillment, shipping, receiving and put-away being performed in QStock. When Sales are fulfilled, the data is sent from QStock back to QuickBooks for customer invoicing; in the case of inventory receiving that data is sent to QuickBooks to be matched up with the Vendor’s bill upon arrival. A manufacturing option that expands capabilities related to assemblies and process tracking is available. One of the things I like best about QStock, and all of the ‘Add-in’ products as I call them, is the fact that throughout the inventory related processes (sales, manufacturing and purchasing) both inventory quantities and values match in QuickBooks and these ‘Add-in’ products at all times. We will look at QStock in greater depth in our next article within this series.
The Third Add-in product on my list is AccuCode’s Rapid Inventory, a product which at one time was marketed by Intuit as QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions Warehouse Management. Rapid Inventory is a ‘web-based’ product to which users subscribe on a monthly no-commitment basis. Because it is web-based it uses the QuickBooks ‘Web-connector’ utility to link the Rapid Inventory data held in the cloud and the QuickBooks data on your server. Since I wrote a rather in-depth article on Rapid Inventory just a few months ago, I do not intend to rehash all of those details within this review. But here are a few of the major highlights about Rapid Inventory, as I see them.
- When QuickBooks is linked to Rapid Inventory sales transactions are initiated in QuickBooks, the data then flows to Rapid Inventory where the ‘additional details’ are matched up so that the order can be processed (picked, packed and shipped) within Rapid Inventory, only after the order is processed is the information sent back to QuickBooks as a completed sales transaction for invoicing. A similar approach is used for purchasing; purchase orders prepared in QuickBooks are received in Rapid Inventory and then the data is transmitted back to QuickBooks as a completed item receipt to await the vendor bill.
- Rapid Inventory is completely integrated with QuickBooks to track inventory across multiple warehouses and locations, track lot and serial numbers, expiration dates, and products in transit as well as ‘on hold’. Barcode scanning is integrated, and not just for product identification, but for location, product type, lot or serial number, and many other ‘programmable’ characteristics.
- Rapid Inventory takes your QuickBooks item and quantity information and then adds additional attributes such as Warehouse, Location, Serial/Lot Numbers, Expiration Date, and Hold Reasons. This combination of the QB items and the RI attributes creates complex inventory capabilities, and each unique combination of attributes creates a new inventory variant.
- The data tracked in Rapid Inventory is passed back to QuickBooks in a way that QuickBooks can understand and process the information. This means that when you view inventory in QuickBooks it is accurate in terms of both ‘counts’ and ‘values’. When preparing an estimate or sales order in QuickBooks, the quantities on hand will be accurate; when creating a purchase order in QuickBooks, the quantities displayed on outstanding purchase orders will also be accurate.
- Rapid Inventory users are notified of open sales orders for fulfillment, open purchase orders for receiving, and changes in bills of material, as well as new or changed items on either a PC or hand-held computer or mobile device with their recently added Apple and Android offerings. At any remote location, such as a warehouse around the corner, in another state or around the world, Rapid Inventory users can pick orders for delivery or shipment, process those shipments, and return completed orders to QuickBooks for automatic invoicing. When products arrive at a warehouse, they are received against open purchase orders and are then ‘inventoried’ into the appropriate location including bin, shelf, and rack or even ‘floating’ locations.
I have used Rapid Inventory in several installations, one with inventory receiving and shipping facilities as far away as China. Even though I have never been a fan of ‘cloud solutions’, if you want to keep QuickBooks functions almost the same as they naturally occur within QuickBooks, but you need a comprehensive set of enhanced inventory capabilities, and you also need those inventory features in ‘remote locations’ away from your QuickBooks based Headquarters, Rapid Inventory is a great solution.
As always, we are interested in hearing about your own experiences with any of these inventory related solutions you may have worked with. Give us a shout in the comments section of this, or our prior articles on inventory.