By Tim Grant, Inventory & Manufacturing Software Consultant for QuickBooks Users
People tell me I’m a pretty mellow guy. I’m usually pretty calm. I’m not quite Mr. Rodgers, but it takes a lot to get me riled. However, since we deal with a lot of inventory-based customers using QBES, it’s what is not in the product that, well, gets me hotter than a bowl of Texas chili at a Ranger’s game.
I realize that one of the functions I’m talking about technically has to do with Advanced Inventory, not just this Enterprise edition. However, they’re really a part of the same package since you can’t have one without the other, and it’s the distributor who needs to incorporate this functionality into their workflow.
1. No expiration dates for lot numbers. If you’re a food or pharmaceutical business, lot number tracking is essential. Since the days of the Tylenol scare, bottlers and manufacturers must track every lot that comes from their suppliers, as well as marking what they ship to their customers. This is standard practice.
But just like peanut butter and jelly, you have to have expiration dates to go along with the lot number tracking. For many food companies, this is a requirement. We’ve lost several QuickBooks Enterprise ‘sales’ to food and pharmaceutical companies because it lacked this function. Otherwise, we’re left with peanut butter stuck to the ‘woof of ma mouf.’
The dreaded workaround. People will tell you there is a work-around for this, and there is. The only way you can track them is by putting the expiration date as the prefix to the lot number. At least this way, you have a list of either a current list of transaction numbers through the Quantity on Hand by Lot Number report, or a historical list through the, ‘Transaction List by Lot Number’ report, which is confined to a specific lot number. The problem is you cannot separate out the true lot number with the date. So, you’ll have ‘11-25-13-445698’ as the number. What if you’re the sales manager and you want your reps to discount all items that will expire in the next three months? What if management wants a consistent lot number sequence per item, so the ‘coder’ has to stop and check the last number used for that product? If you two are combined, how will you stamp them separately on the product? A much simpler, separate field for both would be so much easier.
2. No secondary approvals on purchase orders. Imagine you’re management of a distributor who parcels out food products to restaurants. You tell your purchasing agent to order one hundred cases of non-returnable caviar, but your disgruntled, hung- over employee adds a zero on the purchase order. The truck arrives and you watch your bank account drain with 1,000 cases of fish you can’t offload fast enough. Wouldn’t it have been better if there was a second line of defense before placing these orders? In QuickBooks Enterprise, I wish there was.
The dreaded workaround. Some people would say just set permissions to prevent this. Yes, with Enterprise, you could limit the operator to only create and modify the purchase orders. However, that still doesn’t block them from emailing it. And the approver still has to double-check the numbers the person entered to make sure they’re correct. Managers like to ‘auto-approve’ orders of a certain limit, and review those above it. This is not currently possible the way POs can go out now.
3. No usable work orders. This one really gets me. Have you looked at the, ‘work order’ template in QuickBooks? It’s the same as a sales order. In fact, it’s the same type of transaction. If all you were doing was ‘picking’ single line items, it would be OK. But what about assemblies? It just lists them as one line item. It’s the same as listing, ‘cake’ on the work order. So, what are the ingredients (components)? How do we make it? What are the instructions? None of that is listed.
The dreaded workaround. One idea floated out there is to print the ‘work order,’ and combine it with a printout of each of the assembles attached. Although that lists the ‘ingredients,’ it doesn’t explain the work to be done with any special instructions. It will get very confusing with multiple levels of assemblies. In this case, there really isn’t a workaround, and manufacturers are left flabbergasted.
There are other functions in the QBES Manufacturing and Wholesale edition that I wish was done better, but these take the cake, so to speak.
Excuse me. All of this talk about inventory – peanut butter and jelly, caviar, cake -- is making me hungry.