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.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The benefits of business reports

After you’ve set up an ERP solution for your business, are comfortable with its basic functions and the routine it enables for your company, it’s time to take the next step. Namely, answer the question of how I will allow my company to run better, how will I optimize it?

Surely, that’s a broad problem and there’s lots of things that can be done depending on many factors. The one thing though that is necessary to have before you can even begin to break down the problem is data.

In other words, if you want to reach any meaningful conclusions about your company, you need to drill down in what’s called business intelligence and make reports which will allow any problems and pain points to come to the surface.

Any ERP software should be able to make at least a number of basic reports which should also be customizable across time and all other relevant factors (locations, products and their value, etc). In megaventory, it’s easy to create the following types of Reports - easily selectable from the top menu.

1. Availability Levels.
In one handy report you can have the full information regarding the current state of your inventory across all of your locations, your products (and any versions/types of them) including obviously goods that are in transit. This allows for real-time tracking of your inventory, supplements you with all the information necessary to make timely purchase orders and ensures you don’t run out of stock (although setting up alerts for certain levels also helps prevent that).

 



2. Gross Profit.
This helpful report allows you to drill down across time and across your product range and categories in order to understand the products that are the most and least profitable and how that changes with time. Although any manager will know the best and worst sellers without even looking at the report, such information allows for other less obvious results to surface.

 



3. Inventory Value. This is another important report that breaks down the value of your products per the location they are stored and allows you to constantly be able to track your company’s assets - a factor crucial for keeping your financials accurate and consequently making solid business decisions.

 



4. Product Movements.
It’s important to be able to tell which of your products move the most and this report is the one to create if you’re after this information. In conjunction with the next two reports, you can understand far more about your business than the general impression you get from following the everyday process - or what accumulated experience may indicate.

 



5. Purchase/Sales Orders.
Knowing which product is bought or sold the most per location is another very practical bit of information allowing you to make corrections to the way your business runs. For example, locations that seem to sell a certain product more may need support (another supplier close to them or perhaps another store in the future), products being sold showing a spike at a particular location may indicate an opportunity and so on. The number of conclusions from studying this type of reports is virtually unlimited.

 



6. Works Report.
If manufacturing plays a role in your business, understanding how relevant figures such as quantities, costs etc change with time for each of your product and its components can also provide tons of information on how to improve your work flow.

 


Having collected all of the necessary data is usually just the first step - although obviously without it no further progress can be made. Once you have the basic numbers you can move on to either combine them, find out more detailed data, review and evaluate the performance of your staff, extrapolate them to try to forecast your future needs, etc. In any case such reports are an essential measure to start understanding your business - otherwise you’re essentially flying blind.

A case in point is the Eastern European Mission, an NGO which helps spread the Bible to those who need it. Since the project spans a number of countries in the Eastern European region, tracking inventory levels and having a complete and real-time image of where is what and associated costs is extremely helpful. It allows the EEM to take their efforts to the next level by minimizing their logistics overhead and focusing more on their core noble goal.

"Our organization has remote warehouses in several different nations of Europe. Megaventory allows us to maintain organizational control and prompt customer service by providing real-time data for our inventory and orders. It simplified our reporting by having all data in one central place." Bartosz Rybinski

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cloud ERP better for your finances, the environment, the child in you

We haven’t done an industry roundup post in quite a bit now and it’s time to see what’s going on in the outside world. Here are a few news items worth absorbing.

Money in the cloud

Traditionally, one of the industries among those that affect a business which resist the most against change is the finances/accounting department. It has been clinging to the on-site ERP model for a long time but CFOs now shift towards the cloud as well. Companies such as Workday (recently many financial extensions went live), Adaptive Planning (which acquired business intelligence reporting MyDials) and NetSuite (driving its billing module sales without ads) have all been making moves to invest on the cloud.

The cloud is green

Karin Wilson of Software ThinkTank points out another excellent argument why cloud ERP makes more sense than traditional hosted solutions - it’s greener! Based on a study, having less infrastructure in-house (servers etc) not only means less money on energy bills but also a reduced carbon footprint. So if the environment is a priority for you, there’s a another reason to go to the cloud!

Let the Games begin

Network World has a nice - but lengthy - piece on our favourite latest trend by which business software is becoming increasingly more consumer-like - think using an inventory management service that’s as intuitive and user-friendly as using Facebook. Only the piece takes it one step further: forget consumerisation, it’s about gamification! Soon doing work on your business software will have similar features as playing a game - keeping score, earning badges, involvement of virtual goods and currencies, etc. Can’t wait for the game to start?

Have you found any bits of news worth sharing? Share them in the comments below or on Twitter @megaventory.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Handling Sales with your ERP software

Sales Orders

Sales is the arguably the lifeblood of your business and efficiently handling the sales order your customers issue is as such crucial. Here’s how easy it should be to issue a sales order.

First, pick Sales Order under Orders

Choosing Sales Order from the main menu


Once picked, you need to choose the Client that is to receive the Order - simply typing the first couple of letters should be enough to bring the details and auto-complete half the form.

Start typing to fetch Client data


The other half can be filled by completing product details - such as the product code (SKU) or the product description along with other applicable details. Stock information is also readily available in real-time to notify you from selecting a low-stock product or sending the item from the wrong location.

The product entry is easy and fast


Once product details have been filled in, click on 'Verify' to lock the product details of the Sales Order.

Verification requires the Inventory Location to be chosen

 
The only thing left is to decide whether the action will be recorded as just a change in the inventory or whether an invoice will be issued as well. The former is useful in the case of a Sale on Consignment (explained below in this post).

The choice of the Document Type to issue at the time of shipping

 
Closing the Sales Order will make the Sales Order and all the documents that were created against the Sales Order strictly non-editable.

Closing the Sales Order completes the process and makes the Sales Order non-editable

That way -in a few minutes- you can start and complete a Sales Order to one of your clients! A megaventory client that uses the feature efficiently is infraredsauna.com.

Infrared Sauna is a US-based company in the business of innovative infrared light saunas (instead of the conventional steam ones) with sales from all over the world and partners in 3 other countries (Australia, Belgium, Malaisia). With such a varied and wide network of business it is crucial to handle orders efficiently - especially given that saunas are expensive and hard to transfer due to their size (so ordering and inventory mistakes are not an option).

Sales on Consignment

Another popular type of sale is by consignment, i.e. when your business has transferred your products to a seller (e.g. a shop) while still owning them. It’s only when the seller manages to move your product that you issue a Sales Invoice to the client. This way of making sales can also be handled by the above Sales Order system - just by appropriately choosing the Document Type to issue upon shipping. Invoicing of the shipping documents can then be performed at a later time.

For example, lomography.co.il, an Israel-based online shop about lomographic cameras and accessories. Apart from the e-shop, the business sells their product via a number of other physical retail shops in the city of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, while they cooperate with labs which help customers develop their films.

This means there’s a need to track where is what across a network of quite a few locations and for a highly specialized product line. That’s something that could translate to a huge administration overhead but is made easy with inventory management software.

Pre-Sales and Purchases

Most of the times however and unless we’re talking about an established relationship with your customer a sales quote must take place before the actual order happens. Sales quotes should ideally transition seamlessly into sales orders if accepted - you can see how this should flow in this post on pre-sales.


And of course in order to make sales you have to make a purchase first (either of the product itself or the materials its made of). That’s why a proper ERP package comes with a function called Purchase Order (or an equivalent). That’s essentially the opposite of a Sales Order by means of which your business purchases products (or materials) from a supplier and your inventory levels increase accordingly. You can see examples of all three functions (sales, sales quotes and purchases) in this short tutorial video.