Megaventory Blog - Online Inventory Management Software, Order fulfillment and Control System
This is the company blog for megaventory, an online software that helps small businesses that buy, sell and manufacture physical products to manage sales, purchasing, manufacturing and inventory. We blog about new features and updates but also about enterprise software, small businesses, cloud computing and the industry in general.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

megaventory 2.6 upgrade (code named: Roma)

We are very happy to announce our v2.6 upgrade. This upgrade has introduced some breaking changes to the way Purchase Orders, Sales Quotes and Sales Orders are handled. We explain these changes below:

1. New interface
Since we have introduced a procedural, step-by-step, way to handle orders and quotes we needed to come up with an easy way to help users easily follow through the complicated supply chain steps of a Purchase Order, a Sales Quote and a Sales Order. Here's how the new template looks like (in this example a Purchase Order):

A Purchase Order in the new Template

Note that the text of the old status flags (In process, Invoiced, Paid, Cancelled) has now been reset to: "Custom Order Flag1, 2, 3, etc.". Users wishing to keep their old text in these flags should visit the 'Localize megaventory' page (under the admin panel), look for the 'Custom Order Flag' text and change it accordingly.

2. Multiple file/contract uploads per document
We now allow multiple file uploads per document. The upload mechanism can be found under the 'Related Contract or File' tab.

3. Partial Shipments/Partial Receipts
This feature has long being awaited by our user base and we are really excited to introduce it to megaventory. Users can now choose the quantity to receive against a Purchase Order or the quantity to ship against a Sales Order. Moreover, users can choose to ship/receive now and invoice later or even invoice partially a shipment. Here's how the interface looks:

Partial receipt of products against a Purchase Order

4. Complete History of user activity logs per document.
We now keep a complete history of logs per document so that anyone can see a detailed timeline of the actions performed.

5. Action buttons and related inventory transaction documents
The action buttons control all the operations of the document (in this example the Purchase Order) and all these operations are now performed using web-services so as to minimize page response times. Also, every related document to the order (in our case a Purchase Order) appears under the related documents tab. Here's a screenshot displaying both these features:
Screenshot showing the Action Buttons and the Related Documents tab

6. [Sales Orders only] The 'on-hold quantity' has been replaced by the 'non-shipped quantity'

We now allow a Sales Order to be created even if there is no availability for the products included in the Sales order. All availability information becomes visible to the user at the time of adding the product to the Sales Order. This is shown in the following screenshot:
Sales Order showing the availability information per product per inventory location

Finally, due to the way Purchase and Sales orders are now handled in megaventory, all existing orders (created on or prior to Tuesday the 24th [Jan-2012]) will be:
- Set to the 'verified' status if they were in the 'open' status or
- Set to the 'closed' status if they are in the 'fully shipped' status.

If you have any more questions regarding those breaking changes, please use the support panel of the application (under the help tab) to send us your support ticket. Also, if you want to give us feedback, you may leave your comments below.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Market research: Erply.com – the feature-full SaaS ERP

Following up on the previous posts and in an effort to help people decide what is the best ERP solution for them we will be looking into other service providers in the industry. If you don't know what ERP is, you better read this thread instead and come back later.

We’ll be looking into Software-as-a-Service companies who have major offerings of ERP and operations management – perhaps complemented with a few other minor features. However, the emphasis will be on inventory and order management ERP software. ERPs that focus mostly in accounting will be excluded from this market research since these software form a category on their own.

In order to keep the comparison structured and easy to follow we’ll be following the criteria set out in the post explaining how to choose an ERP solution.

The concept of the market research it to look for a suitable platform for your MegaComp, a business with 4 locations and 9 employees in the apparel industry.

So, first on our list is ERPLY at erply.com.

Features: Simply logging into the service it’s clear that ERPLY is a feature-rich service which can cover Point of Sale (PoS), CRM, quoting, invoicing, making payments and purchases, handling inventory. Adding all these modules in a single interface surely needs a bit of effort which has not been done in ERPLY's case; the result is somewhat crammed and counter-intuitive. The capability to have an integrated POS (Point Of Sale) interface with just a click of the button is definitely a big plus for MegaComp and something we feel has been a huge driving force for ERPLY’s adoption and hype.
Data visualisation & export: Reporting is another section where it does well if you’re interested in having every possible feature available for MegaComp. However, the resulting output is -as far as we could see- entirely unstyled for our taste and simply lays out the data - one would expect something just a bit more fancy. Talking about data, the ability to import your business email in the platform makes for an important step towards integrating everything at a single point - definitely a step in the right direction.


Usability: We’ve found the interface overwhelming and hard to navigate. The design should help make sense of the numerous features but it ends up being simply like a spreadsheet with a few cells removed for clarity. On-site help and/or tutorials could have made a difference but they’re not there. On the other hand, the recently launched credit card reader for the iPad POS version takes the service and this particular user scenario to a whole new different level of quality.
Security: Security and backup is something ERPLY takes seriously by owning various servers across the world under specific protocol and surveillance. The various levels of security covering issues from credit card information storage to customer data being accessed only via ssh and https protocols are more than enough to relax even the most paranoid businessman - although there probably aren’t that many of those in the small and medium business tier (or if there are, their number is decreasing).

Data import: The data seem to be importable by the regular CSV method – although we had to verify that by a Google search instead of seeing an option somewhere on the interface. We should also mention of course that ERPLY integrates with established e-commerce platforms (e.g Magento, Opencart, etc) which makes it very appealing if you’ve already invested in them.

Maintenance: Support-wise there are adequate options in the shape of email, phone and a (rather sparsely populated) zendesk installation. As usual though, having a dedicated team protecting your data and handling all the platform maintenance issues (instead of you managing servers, software etc) removes a huge worry off your mind - especially when backed by a professional solution like erply.
Miscellaneous: We were pleasantly surprised by the fact that erply.com supports multiple languages and is partly localized to even include Greek company types in its categorization – although we’re not sure erply.com is as impressive in other languages. We bet that the extensive localization lies on the fact that ERPLY started in Estonia and the founders understand that there is a significant non-english speaking market for ERP SaaS offerings. Also, the capability to work offline is another serious plus especially if you want to take the POS module in an expo or generally in the field.

Cost: MegaComp -a 9 employee and 4 locations company- would have to pay 225USD/mo. That can be too much if the business is basically only now starting. On the other hand, the single location, 2 user version works with 50K product codes for 70USD/mo - a quite good value for money option.

In short, ERPLY is a feature-rich, very decent solution. One might say it is too rich in features and focuses less in the usability; its user interface is counter intuitive for the average employee who wants to get the job done instead of getting lost in the tool. If you are specifically looking for a POS software, then you should definitely consider it. But even if the POS is not your basic criterion, erply.com is a major player in the market and should be given serious thought.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why megaventory?

In some previous posts, we have covered the business software basics. For a review, see series of blog posts on what is ERP, why you need ERP, how to choose ERP and why cloud ERP is better. We also posted a very interesting study regarding business software adoption and what’s necessary for people to use ERP. The time has come to see how does megaventory stack up against those criteria and help you decide whether megaventory is the right tool for your business or organization. 

For the sake of argument let’s assume you run an imaginary company, MegaComp Corporation, a 9-employee company in the apparel industry spread in 4 locations within North America with worldwide operations. Your MegaComp Corporation has not been around that long but it’s enough to start feeling the pain of holding it all together using Excel or Google Docs. As such, you are on the market for a solution to organize your business primarily in terms of inventory & order management.

Features: Megaventory lies in the sweet spot between features and usability. We are not SAP, Oracle or Netsuite and we don’t want to be like them. They are designed to cover large enterprises with hundreds of different operations. Small businesses like  yours have completely different needs: you need a set of features to run MegaComp Corporation effectively but not such a heavy set that will distract you from getting the job done. The features should primarily aim at tracking the flow of inventory and the changes from sales and purchases. All interactions between MegaComp Corporation and your clients and suppliers should be handled and logged in a simple and easy manner. At the same time, a good reporting tool will give insights about which products sell best or worst, their availability and total inventory value - to name just a few of the figures you, as a manager, might need.



Data visualisation & export: Megaventory provides a pleasant and helpful platform where you and your employees can easily understand and follow through on what’s going on in the company at any given time. Obviously, the data should also be easily exportable in all common formats for use outside the application, for example by collaborators.


Usability: We have put a lot of effort to keep the learning curve of megaventory as low as possible with a design that is so simple and subtle that it doesn’t get in the way. Explanatory diagrams are important in the layout and bring to life what’s going on when someone performs an action. Online help tips provide on the spot clarifications eliminating almost any need to contact support. The initial set-up tutorial of megaventory is self descriptive and -at the same time- explain the basic functionalities of the software.
Security: The industry standard is present in megaventory.com with 128-bit encryption being used for login and data transfers while daily & weekly server backups provide insurance against disaster. All in all, we address most concerns a small business owner might have for his business data.
Data import: The usual approach of uploading a CSV with the various company data is available while we also offer spreadsheet templates which make data import as effortless and fast as humanly possible.



Maintenance: Since megaventory.com works purely on the cloud we take all of your maintenance worries off your mind and we handle everything in the background including hardware and software upgrades, repairs and backups. Other than that, there is email support for those rare times that something does go wrong or needs clarifying – and of course we’re available on this blog and Twitter!

Miscellaneous:  In the latest update, we are pushing the necessary feature of partial sales and purchases and we’ll introduce history logs along with a number of other features. It is also worth mentioning that megaventory supports 8 languages other than English and can be seamlessly used from a tablet platform.

Cost: Our pricing is probably the sweetest asset of megaventory.com with starting packages going for as little as USD29/month for 5 users & 5 locations making it ideal for your MegaComp or any other small and medium business. That is as low as 6 dollars per user per month. You simply cannot get a better deal than that.

Megaventory scores high in all major points! It offers a feature-set that covers most needs of a typical multi-location small business while at the same time enabling a super rapid adoption due to our expertly designed user interface.