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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inventory optimization: Megaventory integration with Salescast

We've been hard at work the past couple of months and we're now ready to announce another solution Megaventory has to offer - we're happy to announce the integration of our service with Salescast by Lokad!




Lokad offers Big Data applications for commerce businesses such as protection from competitor price scraping, phantom inventory removal, out-of-shelf checks and others. Most importantly however, they also offer Salescast, a premium inventory optimization service.


Salescast aims at answering two very practical questions every merchant has to tackle on a regular basis about their products: when to order and how much to order of it. All Salescast needs is a list of the items you want answers for and their sales history. Once this is uploaded and processed by Salescast you are informed of an alert/reorder level - i.e. how many items you need to have left in the stock before you make a new order - and how many of those items you need to order.

The process is amazingly simple with Megaventory! Whenever you're at the On-Hand Inventory and Alerts screen you can select the products you're interested in and hit the Salescast Analysis button.







This automatically sends the data to Salescast where you can login, configure and run the optimization analysis with just a click. The end result is a report which includes the products along with the valuable information of when to order what.




 

The alert levels which have resulted from the smart SalesCast algorithms can then be imported into Megaventory in the usual way through the Data Import module.







As already mentioned it's up to the user to select the products and the location they want to run the Salescast analysis for. That way you have maximum flexibility and you can find answers both about specific warehouses for example but also for the business as a whole (useful for calculating future expenses, for example).


To summarize, Salescast empowers Megaventory and by extension any serious entrepreneur with a very useful feature for better stock management. What's important here is that this is done not by generating vague reports and getting lost in spreadsheets; instead it all comes down to literally two numbers which are the result of a few mouse clicks.

To top all that, this is something both Lokad and Megaventory offer for free! So what more could a business owner ask for? Go ahead - start an account in Megaventory and link it to Salescast.



Stay tuned for the announcement of the next integration we've been working on. It's coming soon - can you guess what this is?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Business software: one solution or multiple ones?

A question which frequently businesses have to address (whether they realise it or not) is how exactly they will cover their business software needs.

Some go for the one-size fits all approach whereby they buy a full suite which is aimed to cover each and every aspect of their business from sales and CRM to marketing and inventory management.

Others go to the other extreme and adopt a different solution per task which needs to be done in their operations. A different solution for their CRM, something else for their ERP, a third for document management, a fourth program for communication and so on eventually piecing together a complete picture.




Where does the right answer lie? One might say it depends on the business and better yet somewhere in the middle but we believe the most efficient approach is nearer the 'fragmented' method.


Here are its advantages:

  • Picking different business software per task allows you to pick the best and more focused solution for the problem at hand. You can pick the ideal solution for doing your accounting, the optimal way of email marketing, the best way to monitor your sales. The opposite approach may give you a simpler all-in-one-place view but not necessarily one that is accurate or useful.
  • Cost considerations also work to the fragmented solution's favor too. Trying to put together the custom complete solution you want is a never ending process which will just keep sucking money from your actual business. Why not adopt multiple cloud solutions which generally are very cost-effective and require no significant upfront investments
  • Flexibility is an additional bonus. These days it's very easy to stay behind when it comes to following technological developments. Why stay tied to a legacy CRM for years when you can change CRM solution for the best out there as often as every year if a better alternative comes up?
  • Employee training is also less of an issue for cloud solutions.Usually they are much more user-friendly and 'light' in terms of features which mean they are easy to learn and master - at least compared to having to impose to your employees seminar hours of teaching them different software 'screens' they will be using.

Of course the approach we suggest has its drawbacks too.

It means someone has to be paying attention to technological developments and to scour the market for the best solution match for the business. If the immediate stakeholders are not up to the task there are business consultants which can do that but in any case that's not an insurmountable obstacle.

Finally care must be taken to prevent situations such as 'vendor lock-in' (i.e. finding your business unable to export company data from an existing solution) or needing expensive custom software to bridge applications (such as connecting your ERP to your ecommerce platform) but again that's something which can be addressed.

Overall, the model of the future when it comes to running a business is to combine the best of different apps into a number of flexible business processes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Megaventory in social media

Here in Megaventory we're dedicated to offering the best possible support to small and medium businesses and the entrepreneur struggling to juggle many tasks on a daily basis.

The best way we do this is -of course- through our online inventory and order management ERP solution but it's not just that! We realize that apart from those who benefit directly from using  Megaventory there are those who consider investing in an ERP solution, those that want to learn more about this subject, those that have not even heard of the benefits it provides and everyone in between.


It is for those entrepreneurs that we've had for quite some time a presence in a number of social media channels - so that we can be available in the medium that best suits each entrepreneur individually.

So, apart from subscribing to this blog you can also:
Like us on Facebook:


Follow us on Twitter:

Follow us on Google+:


Follow us on LinkedIn:

Subscribe in YouTube:


Just make sure to connect with us in your preferred platform and learn all about our latest updates, catch up on industry developments, read insightful posts on online ERP solutions and generally stay in touch. At the same time if there's a channel you feel we're missing let us know in the comments below!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taking the government to the clouds

CloudPro is reporting how yet another part of the US government has decided to phase their systems to the cloud.

In particular it's the Department of Interior (DoI) which is asking none other than Lockheed Martin to build them the infrastructure which will allow the DoI to move from on-premises solutions to cloud computing. This is a one billion, possibly ten year project (or longer) and by the end of it most of the reported 400 different points where DoI data is stored (from data-centers to simple closets) will have been transformed to a much more leaner and secure infrastructure. 

CIA has also reportedly struck a deal with Amazon to move aspects of its operations to the cloud. This all paints a familiar picture of cloud technologies allowing operations to become more centralized, greener, more secure and all around more efficient.


 
However, there is another positive aspect to such already good news. Yes, it does give the signal to vendors and buyers alike that cloud computing is the way to go. But such efforts will also set and adapt the necessary guidelines for a business to operate wholly or partly in the cloud at particular quality level and above.

This is particular important for suppliers selling cloud-related infrastructure and services to the government. Government departments such as the DoI and the CIA going through these exercises - as part of the US Federal Data Center Consolidation initiative - will provide (or update) the guidelines for what a vendor needs to do in order to be compliant.

The aspect of compliance and standards is one of the last issues cloud solutions face (especially when it comes to applying them to government problems). The consolidation process is long - 3 years in the 5 year long program, there's still no inventory of how many data centers need to be consolidated overall - and the results will take a bit to be appreciated but it will provide valuable lessons on how to eventually fully transition to the cloud.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Five things to ask your cloud provider



The HRIS World has a post about the five most valuable questions to ask when choosing a cloud provider. 

Although typically you'd need much more information obviously in order to evaluate a vendor we thought we'd tackle the questions ourselves too. So here it goes:


How secure is your cloud?


The megaventory.com website is certified by RapidSSL™ and offers a secure SSL connection option so that user credentials and business data are safely encrypted over the transmission channel. Other than that, security is handled as part of our hosting approach by reputable hosting provider Hetzner. This ensures that qualified professionals set and optimise all the necessary security parameters ensuring nothing is overlooked. At the same the Megaventory personnel is responsible for performing necessary security upgrades that no issues ever arise.


What services do you provide?


From order (quotes, sales and purchases) to inventory management and from reporting (business intelligence) to light manufacturing monitoring, Megaventory is an ideal ERP solution for the small and medium business. A more complete list of features can be found in the signup page.

If any particular features - whether minor or large in scope - are necessary for a client we can readily incorporate them in our development roadmap effectively including them as fast as possible.


How flexible is your cloud?


Apart from the custom development mentioned above, Megaventory can be adapted along a number of parameters. Users, locations and product codes can be added on the fly with no disruption to operations - similarly such features can also be removed equally seamlessly.

Megaventory can be localised by language or adapted to specific industry needs and particular lingo (or even down to the level of specific business characteristics) by the business itself (ie without the need for requesting external support). So far it has been translated in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Greek and has also been adapted to four verticals: Small/Personal Business, Franchise Chains, Manufacturing and Consumer Electronics.

In addition to this if further development is necessary there is an API layer which can be used to access most of Megaventory's functionality without the need to use the web interface.


What is your downtime history?


Despite constant development and addition of new features, consistently since Megaventory's start back in September 2010 (and actually even earlier), downtime has been kept to an absolute minimum. Major updates occur at monthly or every two months on average while minor issues are implemented on a weekly basis. Such updates occur at weekend nights to ensure the least possible disruption and it is essentially due to these planned updates that any downtime occurs.


How much tech support can I expect?


Tech support is available via email and most support tickets are answered in the first hour or two. Moreover, voice calls can be set up for free with every new account subscription. These one-to-one training sessions are designed to help the new business get started with Megaventory.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How you can have just enough security

In the beginning of August two important security events took place in the US: DefCon and BlackHat. Although interesting in their own right at many levels, along with the recent news on government agencies being able to track and monitor individuals online, they have helped draw attention to security issues and spark that discussion from various angles.




Passwords are dangerous


So for example there's this movement to do away with passwords altogether; the argument being that passwords - or at least their (mis)management - provide an attack vector to a company's data. There's a large discussion with pros and cons about it but the fact remains that passwords have been being declared dead for about a decade now. Alternatives such as biometric, two-factor or item (e.g. watches) authentication have been implemented to some extent but none is still as ubiquitous as the password. And such a prevalent method to go away will need many years still as such changes in behaviour and habit are difficult to change. And that's without taking into account the cost of alternative authentication ways.

The cloud is dangerous too


A recent security issue widely discussed is the usual practice of employees bringing their own device (BYOD) to work. Whether that's a laptop, a tablet or simply their smartphone it's an attack vector for hacking into your business. If for example such a device from a single employee is connected to the company's Google Apps account and it's compromised, then that's enough. The BYOD practice is already under a lot of criticism but that's only the beginning as the next iteration is already here. Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) are yet another issue businesses have to worry about: employees bringing their data and other information to the company network by means of their personal cloud computing choice. Whether that's their Dropbox account or their Google Drive account these are all in theory means by which company assets can be compromised.

And protection is impossible - and expensive


And if this wasn't enough, analysts claim that if you want to at least offer some protection to your company you can not protect it by buying SaaS as relying on the cloud for protection is anything but foolproof. Instead you have to cough up for hardware, specialised expertise to set the hardware up and following that monitor it by spending even more money.

Or maybe not...


This may all spell doom and gloom but as we've said in the past provided you take some common sense steps to avoid the basic dangers out there you really shouldn't worry about that part of your business. All this discussion is essentially fearmongering to get you to buy the latest and greatest solution.

A simple common sense approach is enough to keep your sanity, address such issues and move on to getting things done.

  1. Rely on experts to handle security and maintain your IT overall - whether that's a cloud service or a specialised software house.
  2. Outsource everything that isn't your expertise - doing such things on your own or in-house may save you a bit of money but will result in much more lost in the long run.
  3. Take the easy solution now and when you've outgrown it, only then buy a more complete customized one.
  4. Adopt some best practices (ask an expert on what they are!) and rely on the reasonable assumption that a small or even a medium business is largely unlikely to become a hacking target.

It's as simple as that really.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Games in enterprise software

Recently the e2benterprise blog organised a bit of Twitter event - a discussion around the #ERPChat hashtag - on an interesting subject: ERP gamification. In particular, the question was if there is a role for gamification in ERP software. You can head over to their blog some of the insights brought forward by the chat but here's our view.

First of all, what is it?


Gamification generally means simply introducing some sort of game mechanics in a platform so its users are more engaged for more time. The game mechanics involve a number of elements such as user evolution, competition among users, credits which can be bought or exchanged for virtual items, badges for identifying expertise or goals achieved, rewards, etc - the list is quite long and can encompass many things.


 


Examples of such game mechanics are popular from FourSquare (which allows people to earn badges based on their check-in activity and become 'mayors' with perks in some establishments) to freelancer.com (which ties engagement with the site with 'experience levels' which in turn affect chances a freelancer has to win jobs). When it comes to gaining reputation points, gamification can be found in diverse projects such as StackOverflow and Slashdot - in fact "traditional" fora have been doing it even before the advent of Web 2.0.

So, how can it apply to enterprise software?


The same principles apply. Set up a layer of gaming on top of otherwise dull or at least unengaging tasks and people will be just a bit more (or a lot more) inclined to do them. Or at least that's what the theory says. But it's not just the theory. Games - provided they've been designed to be addictive (think World of Warcraft) - have already been proven to be able to draw and keep people into doing very repetitive and otherwise tiresome tasks (exactly like work must look like for many people after the first 6 months). And for what in return? For what might seem as useless at face value as allowing your account to go from level 19 to level 20. Big deal, right? Not if you already have invested months of your time on taking it to level 19. Even more so if we're not talking about a fictional concept but essentially your career in the company which pays you your salary. People will even feel justified to feed their 'addiction'.

So will it catch on the enterprise world? It does seem like a fad which has been coming and going especially in the consumer world so it may be a harder sell for employees (let alone employers). To some extent some large corporations have implemented gamification systems. But, yes, it's something that can become (even more popular) - and for a couple of reasons:

  1. It's fun and motivating. It makes people want to get involved more and enjoy themselves working while others who are more competitive have another reason to get things done at work: they can brag and they can be looked upon as experts - with the badges to prove it.
  2. Above all the reason it's likely to happen is that it may be able to address a significant pain point known for a long time when it comes to businesses and software. Adoption. Adding a game element might allow more people to get involved in the new ERP and actually use it - resulting in a more efficient use of the ERP.
  3. There's a another even more long term reason why business software gamification may work. It promotes the social aspect of business and enhances interactivity among employees - something which is also bound to make things more interesting for all involved. Already decision makers are interested in making their business more social but currently that's being done via consumer platforms (such as Facebook).

All of the above arguments for gamification are of long term scope. If anyone includes them now in their ERP offering they will be 'nice to have' features - when other more pressing problems have not been solved in the business software world. Once they have been addressed only then will we be able see gamification boom.

So yes gamification may have a place in the ERP world but it's time is not now.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Partnership announced between 4C Predictive Technologies and Megaventory

We’re excited to announce a new partnership between Megaventory and 4C Predictive Technologies!


4C is a Saudi Arabian company offering a wide range of services related to business intelligence for the retail sector. Their services fall in three broad categories: Visual Merchandising, i.e. product handling (inventory management, picking and packing, etc), Visual Intelligence, i.e. providing visual information about products’ layout but also Visual Technologies, i.e. other digital information services such as content communication and messaging, signage, etc. Obviously we’re talking about broad offerings which can cover many needs for the retail professional all from a single vendor.

Their client base is quite broad as well, ranging from companies in the food and beverage industry to car dealerships and from distribution businesses to the banking sector. Clients include most of the Saudi Arabian banks as well as other entities from that geography.

4C has been using Megaventory for some time now by integrating our solution with their infrastructure. By making use of our platform 4C has been managing their inventory and stock and replenishing banking-related products such as marketing brochures (eg for bank products, such as loans) and other similar material.

The following video gives more information about what is it that 4C excels in - can you find out where Megaventory's contribution comes in?




We’re excited to be able to cover the inventory needs of 4C and to be actually part of the efficient and helpful ecosystem of services they have created.

Friday, July 26, 2013

3 enterprise software wins for cloud computing

 

We’re 100% convinced that cloud computing in one of its many forms and variants is the next logical step for enterprise software. It’s advantageous to legacy/on-premises approaches in all but a few factors (such as regulation and compliance issues or where extreme customization is necessary – but even these are addressable) and the concept keeps spreading every day.

Here’s three notable instances of cloud computing becoming even more popular – based on three articles we picked up in the news in the past week or so.

Google gets serious about enterprise


Last week, Google announced their collaboration with Egnyte, a company which provides a file sharing product upgraded with security, administration, permissions, auditing and other features usually needed by companies. Such features are currently missing from Google Docs which was initially designed with the end-user in mind instead of a company and Google fills the gap using this integration with Egnyte.

Although this may mean a lack of foresight in the part of Google (designing something without their paying customers in mind) it also mean they are serious about offering the cloud to businesses and want to have a role in the industry.

Google gets (more) serious about enterprise


In the recent Q2 earnings call Google also mentioned enterprise software and the fact that they plan to focus more in this division of theirs. That’s something which will only add further credibility into doing business the cloud way which incidentally is what the Google way is. According to the report, Google partners welcomed the news – they expect the move to boost reselling of already hot products such as cloud-based Google Apps.

Although according to estimates enterprise software makes up no more than just 5% of Google’s business, if that giant is shifting its weight towards companies using the cloud as leverage then that must mean something about where things are headed.

Even the CIA does it


It has all been but confirmed that CIA will be teaming up with Amazon to create the private infrastructure the former needs with the support and know-how from the latter. So CIA too is going the way of the cloud - presumably even for truly mission-critical projects. Given that they are primarily all about sensitive information management it is a good indicator that after all security issues can be handled fine in the cloud even if parts of it are not under your immediate control (i.e. not in a server at your business’ basement).

So there it is - more and more confirmation of the cloud computing model piles up by the day from a number of sources. What more do you need to give it a try?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Realistic cloud ERP expectations

Reading the news I picked up this interesting post on cloud ERP expectations held by businesses and professionals interested in an ERP implementation, written by ERP consultant Brett Beaubouef.

Most professionals in the ERP industry – and that includes us! – have been evangelizing cloud ERP as the next big thing which has come to address any and all issues of the previous generation ERP, rescue business processes, cut costs, drive efficiency upwards – the list grows longer and longer by every post on the subject. It would seem cloud ERP is the genie in the lamp!



While cloud ERP is a definite technological advancement which is here to stay and can solve many inefficiencies of the past, it is also a useful exercise to take one step back and be open about where cloud ERP cannot actually deliver miracles. As Brett says it is much better to have an informed customer who knows what to expect rather than a customer with unrealistic expectations.

So for all the benefits of cloud ERP, what are the points you shouldn’t be expecting wonders in?

Some training is necessary


One of the basic advantages touted by most modern online ERP solutions (well, at least Megaventory) is that it is actually easy to pick up and its users are able to understand how it works fast and with little time spent in training. Although that’s true, it is also important to stress that the word ‘little’ in the previous sentence is not ‘no’ for a reason. While the time needed to familiarize oneself with a cloud ERP is much less than with traditional platforms (which could in some cases require weeks of seminars) a business has to actually allocate some time for its employees to learn the ropes.

Depending on the company size and the features to be covered by the ERP it can range from a single day to a few days (but rarely more than a week) before employees are completely comfortable with it. But still a maximum of a week is a short training period especially in today’s fast moving market.

Prepare for some change


One of the benefits of adopting an ERP solution for your business – especially if you’re switching from a spreadsheet or (worse a pen and paper) method – is that your business will also ‘inherit’ a number of new best practices. The reason why this happens is simple: the creators of such applications know the subject in depth – either by having studied it or due to real-life working experience or both – and they have ‘encoded’ this knowledge in the way the application was developed.

As a result, chances are that things your business has been doing in a specific way will now be done in a slightly different way. It may look strange and counter-intuitive at first but it is necessary to adopt the new way in order to benefit from the ERP. After all, improving the efficiency of your business is why you installed a cloud ERP in the first place – you should allow it to work its magic on your processes and let it modernise them.

Only so much customization


Taking the above point one step further it may seem odd that you will not be able to do some things you could do with your previous model. The reason for that is that although there is significant room for customization in a cloud ERP solution, actually its business model does not allow for every single customization possible. That’s what would happen in a hosted model and it would not usually end well.

The point of a cloud ERP – and the mentality behind it – is to adopt a lean methodology for your business processes and run your company in a flexible and efficient way without all the bells and whistles which maybe after all were slowing your operations down.

(Of course, if some custom features are absolutely necessary most vendors would be accommodating in developing them for you – we know we would be! – but they should not be the priority).

Other types of costs


No, we’re not talking about hidden costs. Although online ERP (and online software in general) purchased on a subscription basis is much cheaper than buying hosted licenses, the business must still account for some other costs.

To begin with, setting up your cloud ERP in exactly the manner you prefer even though not as time-consuming and costly as previous generation solutions, will require some experimentation (or hired consulting) until you get it just right. Once there, the data you already have from your previous method have to be imported; whether that means manually entering them into a spreadsheet or adapting an existing spreadsheet, it can still take some time depending on the complexity of your business. Also, as mentioned some training, even if for a short period of time, will be necessary during which the business will operate suboptimally.


Accepting the above is bound to result in a more conscientious change of business process based on solid understanding. And although this may all mean that cloud ERP is not a silver bullet it also puts things in the right perspective and makes what to expect clearer. Needless to say though, even considering the above, the cloud ERP approach will still mean a huge improvement in business operations.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Localisation in Megaventory

As mentioned in the previous post about the recent German localisation of Megaventory, it is possible for any admin user to change any text in the application.

Such changes can be in either the native language or the exact terminology preferred. This helps to address the peculiarities of language but also allows the different ways different industries and businesses express themselves when they refer to things which are similar in principle.

Once this has been done the environment the employees will be working in becomes much more customised and familiar which results in a much more efficient work flow. And this is just one example of how Megaventory caring about usability translates in a better experience for the employees and an overall improvement in company efficiency.

In other words, it's one of the simple methods we've come up with in order to increase ERP usage and adoption among employees. This is generally a major concern when deciding to buy or upgrade an ERP solution: will my business actually make the most of it? Well, such easy localisation is another measure to ensure this.

And when we say easy, we mean it. It's as simple as visiting "Localise Megaventory" in Admin, Account:


Once there, all texts in the Megaventory application are available to be edited:


This is a one-off effort which should take less than a day to complete - and of course can be revisited at any point. The end result is a Megaventory account practically exactly the way the business it supports prefers it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New feature - German language in Megaventory

We're once again excited to announce that yet another language has been added to the list of languages Megaventory supports - German is live and debugged! You can find the German language version either from the top flag icon or here.



 

Currently we formally support 6 languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Greek) while there are many unofficial translations (i.e. not fully tested) ranging from Japanese to Arabic. Soon we will be releasing more localizations so that a larger part of our audience can manage their business in their native language.

This is also an excellent opportunity to mention that any admin user can localise their Megaventory account both to the language they prefer but also to the specific industry terminology - or indeed the preferred terms used in the particular business. But more of that in a following post.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Customer Perspective: how Lacrima benefits from ERP

This is another post in our series where we present a sample of our wide range of clients - and how the use of an ERP fits their needs.

In order to better demonstrate the varying industries and types of clients we have selected Lacrima - a small non-governmental organisation which has members across three countries. These members are offering part of their services and expertise in the past years to the organization in a form of voluntary work.

Their services cover a wide range of things but in the past couple of years they have been focusing on developing and producing retail hardware. The most recent examples include shooting sports accessories, fuel consumption monitoring sensors among others - i.e. they don’t focus on specific industries.

The diverse and broad range of services - all simply under the same umbrella of hardware design - as well as the geographically spread out team means there’s a challenge in what Lacrima does and most importantly how it manages everything.

The loose network of Lacrima associates quickly realized that they needed a system for managing the individual way they work. They could have gone for a custom, ‘heavy’ solution that would address all their specific needs but would also become obsolete fast and cost a lot. Instead they decided to use a lean, flexible and cost-effective approach in the shape of an online ERP which could provide fast and practical results.

“We are developing hardware and building prototypes with people at three locations in three different countries. Megaventory allows us to keep a good track of the components, sub-assemblies and their movements between our locations”

Jirka Jirout

Overall, the unique and specialized needs of Lacrima are being successfully met by a simplified and practical Software as a Service solution, such as megaventory. In addition to this, it’s exciting to realize that both an irregular NGO-type entity as well as more traditional types of companies are served equally well by the same service!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Handling manufacturing of products

One of the features included with business software should be the capability to handle at the very least some sort of manufacturing of your products. Even if your company is not strictly speaking a manufacturing company it is very helpful to have in your workflow a best-practices method by which a set of products are combined into a new one. Being able to apply this workflow in your particular needs and monitor the process is something which is very likely to come handy.

But what does "manufacturing support" mean? It’s handling the overhead in gathering the various components (the so called Bill of Materials) which are necessary to put together a product from their various locations or suppliers where they are stored or purchased from. It then involves tracking their construction into a single product and consequently handling the resulting inventory needs - updating relevant stock levels and costs.

It is easy to imagine the logistics complexity involved for any given company with an established business cycle. Receiving an order (or multiple orders) for a certain volume of products which need to be manufactured is something that could easily go wrong, over schedule or out of budget.

This does not need to be the case though - the adopted business software is there to make such tasks much easier and minimize their risk by following best practices.

Megaventory, in particular, simplifies things considerably while still allowing for the job to get done efficiently. First, just click on the Work Order module:




 

This asks you to answer three very simple questions - what you need to make, where you need it made and how many of it you need manufactured.




All questions are very simple and straightforward and made even simpler by the predefined answers available to help you out - e.g. the product to be made.



 

So once that's done, you’re taken in the main manufacturing control interface. Lots of information's there but the most important bit is the Bill of Materials in the bottom - the components you will be needing to fulfill this work order. These have to have been filled in ahead of time - but extra components can be added on the fly too.




 

Once you're confident you have all that's necessary, just click Allocate Components.





Now is the time to input the number of finished goods which will be manufactured/produced by the Work Order. Their corresponding components will be checked to ensure you do not order more than you can make and if it can be done you will be allowed to proceed. This will set the Work Order at the stage of "In Process".


When the goods are ready you can receive the entire batch or as they become ready you can start receiving them partially - until they have all been completed.



 

Finally, the work order closes and the process wraps up.


 

At any point of course you can go back to correct mistakes or change the progress accordingly.

It is also important to note that this process and work flow is both adequately structured and flexible enough to be able to cover a wide range of scenarios. In practical terms this means that we have had clients who have used the Work module from setting up booth stands with various electronic components to packets of multi-flavoured soup.

Friday, June 14, 2013

PRISM: the case for realism

As the dust settles after the recent Guardian revelations that the US Government has systems in place to monitor information online, various sources are starting to analyse what this means for the future of enterprise software, cloud computing and generally the prospect of doing business online.


For those of us in the industry, the dangers of placing your data online are not new. Ongoing cyber attacks - especially from China - has been in the focus of discussions for months now. Security has always been one of the main issues and perhaps - along with service availability - the basic concern voiced when talking with new customers and collaborators.

The recent events are likely to make even more business rethink the prospect of moving some of their software online but fortunately things are not as grim as portrayed by some. Let’s break down the situation to some distinct cases.

Size does matter

For one thing there are large and medium businesses and then there are small and very small ones. The first category, the larger they are the more likely to be a target for online snooping for whatever reason - either from the government itself, a competitor from abroad or something else. These types of business have a lot more to worry about and should be alarmed by the recent developments. However, they probably are already aware of the dangers and have already taken measures either by customised, hosted or otherwise protected solutions or by some sort of hybrid approach.

The second category, the rest, are simply too small to either be worth the trouble of becoming a target or of affording to be properly protected by extreme measures. But their best protection is their size - why would anyone bother with a small business minding its business? There’s always of course the possibility of a rogue hit but what extreme is justified to protect something from a one in a thousand (or more) danger?

Don’t try this at home

The other thing to note is the type of protection itself. Many evangelise (and will increasingly do so from now) that companies will or should start moving their data either behind firewalls or on privately owned clouds.

Again the solution of take everything off the internet and put it behind a firewall is an approach offering protection. This means having or being able to own the expertise to appropriately set things up. The key here is appropriately. A firewall - and similar measures - not set correctly is quite dangerous in itself. Perhaps the complacency it offers is even more dangerous than knowing you’re not protected and need to do something.

The complexity increases exponentially when considering buying and setting up your own cloud. In other words, if you can’t handle a firewall, something much more elaborate will definitely need more resources than you can afford to maintain its security.

So unless what’s at stake is really that valuable and expensive it’s probably best to make sure management of your infrastructure happens at the hands of experts. This doesn’t mean outsourcing it. Instead it actually means “letting go of it” to be in the cloud, in a quality data center somewhere where dedicated expert personnel will allow it to have the best possible protection. That will happen in bulk along with businesses of a similar profile as yours - but that’s ok. It’s good enough.

Time to relax

And what more could you ask for in this overcomplicated business setting but for someone to take care of the infrastructure issues in an efficient, value for money approach?

PRISM and similar initiatives which may or may not exist in other countries are a serious issue for individuals and the society. They are potentially a significant issue to be addressed by large companies. But smaller companies should probably have at least off their minds.

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Pricing Policy as of July 1st

As most of our customers and followers in this blog and elsewhere know, developing and running Megaventory has always been and still is an exciting adventure we've been on for the past few years. It gives us purpose and fulfillment and we hope to have helped our customers along the way into running their businesses better.

Over the past couple of years we've introduced many new features, made Megaventory elaborate while at the same time keeping it simple, squashed bugs, listened to customer feedback, designed new capabilities and started the cycle all over again. Indeed, just comparing the first early milestone of Megaventory -the stable version of September 2010- with its current version, is enough to understand the long way we've come.

We have however reached another important milestone. The product has matured and is past its growing pains stage but the business is evolving too and we're starting to feel its growing pains. We understand its needs - we always listen to the requests of our customers - to expand and integrate with other services, for example. We know the points which need further improvement.

To be able to fulfill those requirements we need additional resources and it is for this reason that we've taken the hard decision to increase prices on Megaventory to approximately USD9.90 per user per month. This may seem like bad news but in reality it's not if you think about it.

  • We're still one of the best value for money solutions in the market given the competition rates and the features we offer.
  • We've kept a low price point - way lower than the competition has been - for three years now and in the meantime added a ton of new features.
  • We're also giving you plenty of time to consider your options and one of them is that you can actually keep the existing pricing plan - just go to your administration console and extend your subscription for however long your want to keep it.
  • Finally, consider that this will bring an improved support and development of the service your business has grown alongside with.

All existing customers have been notified already so if this is news to you, you should check your mailbox. The new pricing plan can be found here and will go into effect on July 1st. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact us if you require any clarifications.

We hope that you will continue to support us in this next step we're taking in evolving Megaventory - and consequently your business as well - into our vision of becoming the best ERP solution for the small and medium sized business.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Megaventory April 2013 Upgrade

On Sunday the 7th of April we are releasing a major upgrade that will introduce the following improvements/changes:

- Purchases Report

This new report displays data related to Purchase Invoice documents.

Purchases Report

The existing Gross Profit report will be renamed to Sales Report and its functionality will remain the same.

- List of Documents (Inventory Transactions and Invoices list, Sales Quotes list, Sales Orders list, Purchase Orders list)

The Related Documents and the Document History will be made available from the list of documents. Users will be able to instantly view these data without the need to opening each document individually. Moreover, users will be able to add a manual history entry (for example a comment) to the document.


Adding a manual entry in the history feed


- Adding extended barcode scanning support
A new option is made available that will allow users to use their barcode scanning devices without the need to touch the keyboard nor the mouse when adding rows to documents. When this option is chosen, the cursor will automatically move on to the next row after each scan. This option will be set per user of the account and will be accessible under the product form while creating a document. The codes recognized are the product SKU, the product EAN and the supplier SKU of the product.


The "Products are added using a barcode scanner" option will be found under the Product Details tab

- Adding the product quantity to the clipboard
This powerful new feature will allow copying products to the clipboard with their quantities. The feature can be used, for example, in copying all products from a sales order and pasting the products in a purchase order form.

The quantity field is added in the Clipboard

 - Populating the Inventory Taking spreadsheet with Clipboard items only
Users will now be able to populate the Inventory Taking spreadsheet by clipboard items only. This is handy in case quantity adjustments need to be performed on a few products only rather than the whole product list.

Users can populate the Inventory Taking spreadsheet by products on the Clipboard

- Improvements in Pricing Rules
  1. Adding the average cost as an option under the Base Price while creating a Sales Pricing Rules. This option will allow users to create a sales pricing rule using the average cost of products as the base price.
  2. Rounding Option in the base price. This will allow users to define the rounding method for the base price in a pricing rule

- Adding the address field in Inventory Locations
Inventory Locations will now include an extra field that can store the address of the inventory location. The address will also be visible in printouts.

- Adding the "Non-Allocated quantity in Work Orders" metric.
This metric will allow users to account for the quantity that is not yet allocated to Work Orders and thus, need to be ordered/purchased from a Supplier. The new metric will be visible in the On-Hand quantity and Alerts module.

Due to the many changes involved in this upgrade, a downtime of around 2 hrs is expected starting at 6PM GMT.