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.

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.