Thursday, December 15, 2011

Year-End 2011 Tips

Here are two year-end tips from the very talented Sonia Gray, ERP Practice Manager,

Correcting lot tracking assignments
Prepared by Sonia Gray,
December 2011

If you’re using Lot Tracking in MISys Manufacturing, year end often includes cleaning up old unassigned lot tracking records and making sure all lots are reconciled.  I often get questions from clients on how they can correct lot assignments or correct quantities on hand of items that are lot tracked.

It is important to note that correcting lot entries in MISys requires that you do them in a particular order. You cannot assign a lot number to a transaction if the system does not have a quantity of that lot to assign. Additionally, items tied to parent items require that you assign the parent item first, then the child items.  Therefore, reversing those transactions require that you do them in the reverse order.

A great tool for correcting invalid lot assignments is the “Undo SLT transactions” function. This function puts the transaction back on the “Assign SLT numbers” screen so you can redo the assignment.

Again, the trick is to reverse things in the right order. Think about the end result of your transaction, then step backwards through it to “undo” it. For example, if you need to correct a lot assignment that reduced stock (i.e., dispense stock transaction) you must reverse it first before you can reassign any other transaction related to it. This puts the lot number quantity back, which then makes it available to reassign. Viewing the lot tracking history will be helpful in retracing your steps.

Redirecting Locked Fiscal Periods
Prepared by Sonia Gray, ERP Practice Manager -

One of the new features in Accpac is the ability to lock fiscal periods by module. While this is a great control feature; it can cause errors with other applications trying to send transactions to a locked period. Wisely, MISys has given us the ability to redirect our entries if it encounters a locked fiscal period.

When processing period end (under the “Accounting” menu), simply check the box “Redirect Locked Fiscal Periods” which will allow you to put in a new period end date.  Very cool!

For more on MISys Manufacturing, take the 6-Step Tour at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Cost and Benefit Of Shop Floor Control

Technically, shop floor control is a component of MRP II because it deals with the allocation of labor and other resources used in various production tasks. The theory is that by accurately controlling and analyzing the amount of planned and un-planned work done on any particular production order, you can derive a very accurate cost for everything you make and thus produce a financial statement that will bring tears to the eyes of any CPA.

We believe there is great benefit from implementing a shop floor control system, mainly because it provides am insight into you production activities that cannot be achieved otherwise: a line by line view of each task (or operation) and, ultimately, the ability to analyze how well your production workers met their efficiency (and profitability) targets.

Without a shop floor control system, you will know something is wrong because you won’t be making as much profit as you expected.

With a shop floor control system, you will know that the guy who does the welding in Operation 17 of some product they make reliably takes twice as long to complete his work as was projected, sending the estimated to actual variances for the job through the roof. Or, that on that big, potentially profitable job that was completed last week, an expensive component was broken and had to be replaced.

All this sounds great – and it is – except for one thing: in order to implement a useful shop floor control system, you must demand that:

  • Accurate routings (detailed operations and the estimated time/cost for each) are available and thoroughly documented.
  • There is a reliable system in place for recording the actual material, labor, and overhead used in each operation (read people with stop watches and clip-boards running around the shop, writing down numbers and entering them into the computer).
If your reaction to that idea is “Fat chance - it will never happen!” then, for all the good that shop floor control could do, cross it off your wish list.

The MISys Shop Floor Control module allows you to define all the Work Centers where various activities occur in your plant. It maintains a Production Calendar so it won't schedule any production activities when your plant will be dark. You tell MISys when each Work Center will be open for business, when it takes a lunch break, etc. Finally MISys allows you to specifiy the material, labor, and overhead associated with running the Work Center.

When Shop Floor Control is enabled for MISys Manufacturing, muli-level bills of material, expand with routing details -- a detailed record of the operations that must be performed in ordered to produce each assembly.

MISys Manufacturing has a robust system for recording the time your Production Department spends on each assembly step. By combining this information with what MISys knows about the cost of running each Work Center, the program can produce very detailed and accurate
production costs analysys.

Without a doubt, implementing a shop floor control system like that found in MISys Manufacturing has significant costs in terms of setup and tracking. But there is no finer way to know exactly what your production is costing your organization.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is MRP? MRP I & MRP II Defined

Material Requirements Planning (MRP I)

Following the strict APICS definition, MRP (more accurately MRP I, read MRP-one) is a system that helps a manufacturer plan their purchasing and production activities, and when necessary, create the required purchase orders and production orders in time to meet customer commitments.
This leads to the Great Paradox of Manufacturing:
  • An inventory control system helps you maintain an inventory of your materials.
  • An MRP system helps you maintain no inventory of your materials.

Without an MRP system, manufacturers typically react by purchasing material they might need. With an MRP system, manufacturers purchase material they definitely do need. Which do you think is a better use of limited financial resources?

Many manufacturing systems combine the distinct functions of MPS (Master Production Schedule) and MRP into one called MRP. It is possible to create an MPS without an MRP, but not possible to create an MRP without an MPS. If you are convinced that the software you are considering performs the functions described here, then strict adherence to the terminology is not that important.

Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP II)

As the term implies, Manufacturing Resource Planning (aka MRP II, read MRP-two), is an extension to MRP I that goes far beyond planning and acquiring the materials needed for production, but every other resource related to the successful operation of a manufacturing plant, including people and machinery.

Some impressive demonstrations can be made by manufacturing software vendors selling “fix all your problems with one click” systems. In our opinion, MRP II requires a level of sophistication far beyond that of most of our prospective customers. Ford Motors and Caterpillar depend on MRP II to run their manufacturing operations. MRP II is a big job – one best reserved for the big boys.

Few low-end to mid-ranged manufacturing systems offer MRP II, but if they do, beware. Systems that perform real MRP II functions cost hundreds of thousands, often millions of dollars. If the system you are looking at claims MRP II capabilities for far, far less turn your fluff detector to stun.

MISys Manufacturing v5.0

MISys Manufacturing is best described as an MRP I system, although it does have a few MRP II-like features, including the powerful Capacity Manager. This tool analyzes the load every active production order is placing on available resources (work centers) and displays where and when capacity overloads are occurring.

Using the tool, you can manually reschedule the offending production orders to take better advantage of available resources.

For a few hundred thousand dollars more than what MISys costs, an MRP II system might do this automatically, but if you disagreed with the planning decisions it made, you'd think you'd be better off with MISys Manufacturing.

Invest the next ten minutes of your time and take the 6-step tour. Download the MISys Manufacturing brochure, fact sheets, watch the demo videos, get a price estimate and more.


Related Video: "What is MRP? Why do I need MRP? A demo with MISys Manufacturing & Sage 50 Quantum Accounting"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top Tips: A guide to successful software implementation from MISys Manufacturing

Of the 7000+ software installations we have performed, the most successful implementations came from businesses that did their homework!  It boils down to these critical steps:

Define Goals
What are your pain points?  And what would success look like? Invite others into the conversation and listen to multiple perspectives.

Get and Maintain Buy-In
Consider the impact on the organization and make sure you have buy-in from the top to bottom. Revisit and reinforce the commitment to a new software implementation every step of the way.  If you don’t have it, don’t do it.

Don’t “Buy the Brochure” - Get the Real Story
Most marketing materials make software seem about the same. They’re not. Get a demo of the software. Ask the hard questions and make sure it meets your needs. Find what fits and what doesn't.

Assemble Your Implementation Team
This team will make sure that the software they selected will be implemented without surprises and on time.  Everyone on the team will have an important role to play, but it will be vital to assign one very capable person with the time and authority to manage the implementation. If you’re not confident that you have the proper expertise on staff, don’t wing it.  Consider outsourcing.

“Assemble Your Implementation Team” (PDF Format)
This document is a great conversation starter and highlights the roles and responsibilities required for a smooth implementation.

Visit us online at

Monday, September 19, 2011

What Good Are Simple Planning Tools?

Manufacturers who are suffering at the hands of bloated inventories, missing deliveries, and angry customers don’t usually bring up planning as one of their objectives in acquiring a manufacturing system. “Who’s supposed to be steering the boat when both of us have to be down here bailing the bilge” they cry.

Assuming there is some real hope of staunching the flood and relieving at least some of your staff to do some steering of the boat, you should have a good look at the tools prospective manufacturing software like MISys offers for simple planning.

By using the word “simple” we mean planning that is not necessarily time-phased. It is a view of the world that looks straight down at the tips of your shoes, but it is a valuable view nonetheless.

The most rudimentary manufacturing software should feature some sort of shortage report which will alert you to items whose stock level is falling below a pre-determined level or “reorder point.” In the MISys Manufacturing system, this called the Buyer's Advice Report. It lists every item where the quantity on hand, plus on order, is less than the reorder report.

Running this report once a week and dropping it on the desk of the purchasing manager would be a vast improvement over what you are doing now – most likely roaming through the stockroom groping in empty cardboard boxes. But the MISys Buyer's Advice Report has some very special abilities that help you create corresponding purchase orders automatically. Be sure to ask your MISys sales agent to demonstrate this for you.

Given that you can maintain reasonably accurate inventory records and bills of material, you should be able to perform some decent production planning, too.

If you know what you have in stock today, and you know what you want to make, and you know how to make it, then your manufacturing software should be able to perform a “what-if” analysis and alert you to impending shortages. Based on the results of this what-if analysis, you could either change your production plans, or purchase any of the material you will need to complete it. The Basic Manufacturing module of MISys includes a simple yet powerful Stock Check function that allows you to perform just such an analysis.

Even the simple planning tools described here can go a long way to helping you reduce your inventory holding costs and achieve one of the major objectives for acquiring an automated manufacturing control system.

You can explore the Stock Check capabilties of MISys Manufacturing by watching the streaming videos at


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sunday - September 4, 2011

One of the great things about living in a small rural community is that whenever there is a need, the populace turns out to assist. Such is the case in Woodstock (and all over Vermont for that matter) as citizens mobilize to help those who suffered the most loss during last weekend's flash floods.

Since school is scheduled to open on Tuesday, Disaster Central has been relocated from the Woodstock Elementary School to the fire department's Station #2. The continuing relief effort will be directed from there, coordinating with Woodstock Emergency Services, the Vermont National Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Fresh water, food, bedding, and clothing donated by Woodstock residents is being distributed free of charge to anyone who needs it.

This is nominally a holiday weekend as the country celebrates Labor Day on Monday, September 5th. In all likelihood, you won't notice a let-up in the efforts to put the town back in shape and ready to welcome visitors for the annual folliage season.

Here is some great aerial photography of some of the flooded areas in Vermont.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

Saturday - September 3, 2011

On my 3 mile trip through Woodstock to the MISys offices yesterday, I started counting dump trucks -- ranging from small 7-yard models up to the big 30-yard haulers. Count: 23 trucks in just 18 minutes. Each of these is loaded with rocks and gravel being used to fill in the massive ditches that used to be roads.

Today we learned that the State of Vermont has decied to allow the removal of material from the Ottauqhechee Riverbed. What used to be a lazy stream with no more than a few inches of running water in mid-summer turned into a swift-running river 25 feet deep and 4-times wider that it had been the day before Irene struck. Now that the water has receded, the wide, shallow riverbed resembles the surface of the moon.

Topsoil on one of the few remaining cornields is being pushed back and piled up in preparation for the contruction of a rock crushing plant. In a few days, a giant machine will be delievered and set up in the old cornfield. Boulders from the riverbed will be fed into one end and crushed rock from the other end of the machine will be loaded into dump trucks and carted off to wherever a few more yards of fill are needed. Sourcing crushed rock locally will spare each truck a 30 mile round trip.

Immense progress is being made restoring Vermont's roads and bridges. Good thing, too, since the fall tourism season will soon be upon us. Now, more than ever. we need to get the word out that Vermont is open for business.  Our friends and neighbors run the restaurants, hotels, country inns, B&Bs, and other tourist attractions. They are working hard, despite great personal loss, to get ready for visitors from out of state. They desparately need your business. Won't you come see for yourself that we are still one of the prettiest towns in America? See


Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday - September 2, 2011

8:00am: MISys is back up and running!

MISys now has electric service and we are back up and running!  Unfortantely any emails sent to us after Monday of this week were bounced. 

If you received a bounce notice (or just didn't get any response) please resend it and we'll answer it as soon as possible.  All phones and email accounts are now working. 

The roads will take some more work.

Thanks for all your support, prayers and best wishes as we struggled through this mess.

The MISys Guys!

5:00pm: MISys Community celebrates with town-wide potluck supper.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Thursday - September 1, 2011

The MISys offices in Woodstock, Vermont remain closed after severe flooding related to hurricane Irene over the weekend. The town is slowly recovering from massive washouts, the failure of the town's water system, and the public utilities. Watch this news report.

The transformer that supplies power to our building is still attached to the electric pole, but the pole is laying on the ground, half submerged in a thick layer of mud.

The town's water supply was disabled when the storm surge took out an 8" main and emptied the contents of the water tank into the Ottauquechee River. Pumping the dry tank caused further failures of other equipment which must be replaced before pumping can begin again. The water company cannot promise a date when service will be restored.

Each morning we check with the electric utility company about the chances of getting power restored so that we can bring our servers up, including our email server. Their latest advice is that we might get power back by the end of Friday.

We are able to respond to emails sent to We can answer many sales and customer service-related questions, and some technical support requests sent to this address.

As soon as power is restored, we can be back in business, even without running water. Hopefully everything will be back to normal by the beginning of next week.

That said, we are mindfull of the many friends and neighbors who have lost everything in the recent storm.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Case For Multi-level BOM Revisions

Many inventory control systems list a bill of material as a key feature. If you are talking manufacturing, you will need multi-level bills of material. You can do very simple assembly work with single-level bills of material, but real manufacturing requires a multi-level bill of material to describe the entire product structure.

The MISys Manufacturing System sports a 16-level BOM capability. And you can have up to 4 billion items at any level. This allows for truly massive product structures.

In the MISys system, a Bill of Material is much more than a pretty picture of what you build. MISys uses the BOM for a number of functions: from backflushing assembly operations, to mutli-level cost roll-ups, where used analyses, available to promise projections, and much more.

From time to time manufacturing companies change the way they build things. This change may be inspired by a better design coming out of Engineering, a clever cost reduction, or a substitution necessitated by a vendor part shortage. Unless you can convince me that you have been building the same assembly the same way since just after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and you promise you will never ever change it in the future, then make bill of material revision control a requirement of your dream manufacturing system. Changes always – and should – happen. Be prepared for them.

MISys gives you the optional ability to create as many revisions of a Bill of Material as you wish. Each Revision Number can be a letter, digit, or a combination of the two. In my previous experience designing and building super-mini computers, we used digits to track changes to the BOM as the design progressed through engineering. When the design was released to manufacturing, it acquired a letter revision, starting with A. So you instantly knew that any product bearing the Revision A was unchanged since its original release to manufacturing. I still like that methodology.

Check out the MISys Manufacturing System's support for multi-level Bills of Material and full revision control by going to

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Started With MISys: Here's What's Next

Anyone using the MISys Manufacturing System for the first time would have every reason to ask "Now what do I do?"

That's why the new version of the system includes a comprehensive Getting Started Guide designed to lead you by the hand as you configure and set up the system.

You can explore the Getting Started Guide even without installing a copy of MISys Manufacturing by watching this instructional video.

We hope you'll discover that installing and setting up MISys Manufacturing is really quite easy if you use the tools we've provided. Request a trial copy of MISys Manufacturing by going to


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Are you familiar with the MISys User Guide?

On a regular basis I'm in touch with users of the MISys Manufacturing System who are unfamiliar with the wealth of information contained in the MISys User Guide. "Oh great! Could you send me a copy" they ask?

To their amazement, the MISys User Guide is built into the product, ready to spring into action with just a keystroke or mouse-click. And it employs some computer sleight of hand so that the Guide opens to the right page whenever you need to look something up.

If you don't have a copy of MISys Manufacturing running right now, you can explore the User Guide by watching this short video.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Selecting Multi-currency/tax Manufacturing Software

If you never trade with partners outside the United States, it is likely they will never need any multi-currency capabilities in your manufacturing software (or your accounting software for that matter).

However, in this ever-widening global economy, more and more domestic manufacturing firms are purchasing raw materials from partners who do not trade in US Dollars. If you are among these, you will need some ability to create and print purchase orders in the native currency of the raw material supplier (called the “source currency”) and convert the applicable amounts to the native currency of the accounting system (called the “functional currency”).

If you are looking for a multi-currency capable manufacturing system, ask the software supplier how the currency exchange rates are maintained. Calling the bank on a daily basis to check on the exchange between East Borindian Rallods and US Dollars is neither efficient nor a good way to make friends with your local bank CSR. Today, exchange rate information between every publicly traded currency is published online. Make sure your software can easily store this information.

If you live or work in a jurisdiction where taxes are assessed on purchases (such as in Canada or the United Kingdom) your manufacturing software must have the ability to calculate the applicable VAT, GST, HST, or PST due on any purchase order.

Governmental taxing authorities have complex rules for accurately calculating and reporting the taxes due on purchases (often involving taxes on taxes) so you will need to know whether the multiple tax capabilities of the software you are evaluating are sufficient to meet the needs of your client and the regulatory authorities.

The Sage ERP Accpac accounting system has strong multi-currency and multi-tax capabilities. You can learn how it integrates with MISys Manufacturing by going to


Friday, August 12, 2011

Manufacturing and Distribution Inventory Control

Regardless of the size of your company and the complexity of your manufacturing process, we urge you to enforce a strict set of part numbering conventions and inventory control procedures.

If your company is small and operating on a shoe-string, this demand may not make you many friends, but it is one you must make. Bad habits are hard to break – but in this case time never heals.

If you have only 50 raw materials and 10 sub-assemblies, insist that each have a part number and each be stored in a controlled stockroom. If you allow free access to the inventory, all your efforts to manage your manufacturing business will be for naught.

While you have your management's attention and you are in the process imposing new policies and procedures, establish once and for all how raw materials, sub-assemblies, and finished goods are to be segregated.

In general, only the items you sell belong in your accounting system’s inventory control database. Obviously this includes the finished products you make, but it may also include a quantity of selected raw materials or sub-assemblies you make available for sale as spare parts.

Ultimately, all the raw material items you naively entered into your accounting system’s inventory control database – things you don’t ever sell – will want to come out. These belong in the manufacturing system’s inventory control database.

If this looks like a daunting task, don’t make a big issue of it right now. The better manufacturing systems will offer some sort of item import feature and, if your accounting system supports item exports, an hour or so of work on your part can save many hours of tedious and error-prone re-entry. It’s something to look for in your choices of manufacturing software. Make a note for future reference.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Manufacturing and Sales Order Entry Integration

Arguably of lesser importance than integration with the accounting system’s general ledger or sales inventory module, but still of potential importance, is effective integration with sales order entry. Depending on the type of manufacturer, or the number of sales orders you process in any day or week, this may or may not be a significant issue.

The basic concept is that you will create a sales order for some product (or list of products) you will deliver to a customer on a specific date. Customers tend to be fussy about the date part. If these products are things they make rather than purchase for re-sale, then they will need to convert the sales order into some type of production order.

Here’s a question to ask yourself: “If I were to receive 100 orders for the widget I make, would I create 100 production orders? Or would I create one production order for 100 widgets?” The answer will provide you with significant insight into the way your current manufacturing “system” actually works.

If the answer is “Oh, we don’t create sales orders, we just build to replenish our sales inventory” then that’s the end of the story. No integration with sales order entry is necessary. Don’t press the software vendor for it.

If the answer is “Of course, we’d create 100 production orders” then you will certainly want to make sure the manufacturing software has some automated means to create a unique production order from each corresponding sales order. And when it does, make sure the production order includes a reference to the sales order number.

On the other hand, if the answer is “We’d obviously net all the sales orders into one production order for 100 widgets” the problem gets simpler to solve – or a whole lot more complicated – depending on your needs.

Some of the more rudimentary manufacturing systems in the market would simply add up the number of widgets on all the sales orders and produce a production order for the total quantity. That’s the simple part.

But what if each of those sales orders, even the orders placed on the same day, contain various customer ship dates based on either the customer’s need for product or your ability to produce? At this point, three types of manufacturing systems surface:

Good Nets the total sales order requirement and creates a production order for the total required quantity.

Better Nets the total sales order requirement and creates a production order for the total required quantity on the earliest customer ship date.

Best Nets the total sales order requirement and creates one or more production orders for the total required quantity on each customer ship date.

The issue at hand here is whether the sales order to production order conversion process is date sensitive.

Good systems create the production order but ignore the customer ship date issue entirely.

Better systems consider the customer ship date, but avoid thorny scheduling issues by simply using the earliest date.

The best manufacturing systems schedule production orders for that work is completed just in time to meet customer commitments. Software that performs at this level is clearly more expensive than systems that take the easy way out, but considering the objective you set for justifying the cost of a computerized manufacturing control system, it may well be a price you are willing to pay.

Remember our story about the menu-planning disabled shopper? Think what could happen if you could effectively plan your purchasing and production based on actual customer shipments? You could avoid having to horde “just in case” inventory, reduce your storage/warehousing requirements, and build nothing until you actually needed it. How much would all this be worth in monetary terms? Staggering.

Designing Your Own Custom MISys Interface

Since MISys announced the impending release of an API (Application Programmer’s Interface) for bar code system integrators in July, there has been increasing interest in developing custom applications on the part of MISys consultants and even a few end-users.

In the past, several clever programmers have figured out ways to add special functionality to MISys Manufacturing by tapping into the MISys database. On the surface, this seems like a good idea but it can actually lead to some very severe integrity problems.

As an illustration, imagine that you wish to add your own data to a table that contains four columns:

2 2 4 1
2 3 5 0
2 4 6 1
3 2 5 0
3 3 6 0
3 4 7 0
3 5 8 0

Even if you aren’t that clever as a programmer, you can probably figure out what data you should add to the first three columns in this table, right? But you would be hard-pressed to know what you should write in Column D.

Really clever programmers might be able to guess at the value for Column D. (Warning: the program depends on the correct value always appearing in Column D in order to function as designed.)

My point is that, absent an insight into how the program actually uses the data in this table, it is impossible for you to write new data (rows) without corrupting the database.

That’s a problem that is solved by the use of an API, designed by the people who know exactly what Column D is for and what data it should contain.

If an API existed for this imaginary example, the programmer would set the values for Column A and Column B, then call the API which would set the value for Column C (Column A + Column B) and Column D (1 if the values in Columns A and B are both even numbers, otherwise 0).

If ever you have the urge to write a custom program that manipulates the MISys database, I hope you’ll remember this article, slap yourself once or twice, then contact MISys Customer Service (802.457.4600) to find out whether an API is available to accomplish the results you desire.

As of this writing, the only API that is avaible is one that automates certain shop floor transactions so that bar code system integrators can write applications that interface proprietary bar code hardware to the MISys Manufacturing System.

If you have other needs, please submit them to Thanks!


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Inventory Control Add-ons for Core Accounting Systems

Possibly one of the most confusing aspects of creating an integrated accounting/manufacturing management system is about how inventory is kept. In larger, industrial-strength Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, there is usually a clear distinction between finished goods inventory (often referred to as “distribution inventory” or “sales inventory”) and the raw materials inventory. Indeed, ISO-9000 standards and other “best practices” dictate that the finished goods inventory and the raw materials inventory must be kept physically isolated and controlled separately. ERP systems respect this need for isolation.

It is likely that you have never heard of ISO-9000 – and have never given much thought to “best practices.” Consider yourself fortunate if you have in place some formal way to control inventory (a controlled stockroom). More than one of our clients, using a “take what you need” inventory control system, has wondered why their manufacturing operations seemed to be so horribly out of control. The answer is, obviously, “You must start by controlling your inventory.“
If I run into such a client, I stop the discussion right there. Deliver the dose of tough love: “Build a wall, build a fence, hire a stock clerk. Just do it – today!“

If you have an existing accounting system, there is a good chance that “Inventory Control” is listed among its many features. Of equally good chance is that the inventory control module of your accounting system deals only with the sales distribution side of the house, not the manufacturing side.
Many manufacturing companies make the mistake of trying to use their accounting system’s inventory module to help them control their raw materials inventory, work in process (WIP), and sub-assembly production. Only after typing in thousands of raw material part numbers and attempting to perform the most basic manufacturing processes do they discover how ill-equipped their software is to perform the required tasks.

Writing software to control a sales distribution inventory is relatively simple; while the software needed to effectively control the inventory needed for a multi-level product structure is quite complex. Accounting software vendors usually take the easy route and include a module which addresses sales distribution inventory. Rarely do they tackle the thorny job of manufacturing inventory control.
If you need a manufacturing inventory control system, don’t expect it (or a good one) to be included in your accounting system. Expect instead to spend significant time, effort, and money selecting a right-sized manufacturing add-on for your accounting system.

Check out:


Running at Sage Summit

Sage Summit was last month in a humid Washington, DC. Like most other frustrated athletes, I was looking for some outlet for exercise during the stand-at-your-booth, graze-all-day conference. I hit the running path early one morning, and ended up running alongside a fit, energetic guy. "You here for the Sage Summit?" he asked. "Yes, I work for a third party developer from Vermont" I responded. "Oh. You must be with MISys." Always pleasantly surprised to get that instant recognition, I asked "How do you know MISys?" "We sell your product out in California. I'm Mark Severance with Arxis." As I stopped early on that run, Mark sent me an email later that day and said "running at 5:45am with Rob Johnson," author of Kick Your Own Ass. Oh man. I recruited Sean Fitzsimmons, a martial arts athlete with Central Nervous Systems in Vancouver to join us, and the four of us hit the path on a 10k run. "I'm not a runner," said Sean. "You are today, bubba" said Johnson. DC in the summer is 90% humidity even at 5:45am. It was really a cleansing, full body kind of sweat. In the end, Rob and Mark pranced on ahead as Sean and I brought up the rear. Two days later, Sage organized the 5k National Harbor Walk and Run, an out and back along the Potomac on the same bike path. Mark had already left the conference, and Sean said "I am not a runner." So it was Rob, me and about 300 other people at 7:15 in the morning in the casual, but well organized run. Rob ended up winning the race in a 6:38 pace, I finished 5th in a 6:52 pace. (I ran as a bandit, not having signed up in advance.) This was the first conference I've attended where I have found other runners looking for some running event and camaraderie while pounding the pavement. I am definitely going to look for them again at the next conference, as it brings a different dynamic to the event the makes it better rounded. Good stuff.

Create a Report: Stock Threshold Info 2

Continuing from our previous discussions, you are now ready to add some data to our report. Considering that we’re calling this a “Stock Threshold” report, we probably want some core item information and the various thresholds. Some of this data is in MIITEM, the rest is in MIILOC.

Versions of Crystal vary, however, there should be a frame to the right that contains Database Fields and should have the two tables listed. Expand these nodes and you will see the fields that are available. Start by adding MIITEM.itemId and MIITEM.descr to the details of the report (don’t forget column headers if they don’t get automatically created). To do this, click on the field and then drag and drop it in the details section of the report. Now add the following fields from MIILOC- minLvl, ordLvl, maxLvel, ordQty.

Once you have done this, look at the Preview of the report. You should see a tight listing of items and their thresholds.

This report is a nice foundation. Next time, well discuss some filtering.

Visit us online at

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Create a Report: Stock Threshold Info

Previously we talked about getting Crystal Reports connected to your MISys Manufacturing (no longer SBM!) database. Once that’s done, what can you do? While there are limitations on what can be done with custom fields and some of our more complicated reports that required processes, the whole database is otherwise available to you. In this simple example, we will demonstrate getting stock threshold information so that you can display them.

While you could just go to the Item Location file (MIILOC) and display the items and their thresholds, you may want to include other pieces of information from the Item record (description, unit of measure, etc.) So, we’ll start with MIITEM.

Create a new report in Crystal. Select the Data Source you created previously (using the required credentials and select the appropriate database name). You need to drill down into | dbo | Tables to get the table listing. Control-Click on MIILOC & MIITEM and bring it into the report and click Finish.

Now you can bring in the desired fields you want. Next time we’ll discuss a little more on this report concept.

For MISys Manufacturing technical support, visit us online at

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Only a Number

I often feel like I’m only a number when seeking service as a customer of some institution or other. Sometimes, the bigger the institution, the more the feeling is supported by the service. It’s an unfortunate statement but an experience I’m sure that many of us have shared.

You know what I’m talking about, when the person representing the institution has an air of “let’s move this along; I’ve got other people to deal with”. Impatience is frequently a characteristic of someone who regards a customer as a number, not someone the institution values and wants to serve. …or, someone that the institution recognizes as essential to its existence.

Being a “large” institution can sometimes allow this attitude to exist among its representatives. Because, after all, there are lots of other consumers available. A focused effort must be made to prevent it from happening. It can be prevented. Large institutions can encourage a feeling of importance to all customers. The hospitality industry makes a very public effort in this regard. Advertising campaigns are often focused on the uniqueness of the guests and how the services accommodate them.

Manufacturing Information Systems recognizes its need for customers, not just numbers. Our entire staff is acutely aware that customer numbers are solely for identification for administrative purposes. People essential to our mission license our software and are treated accordingly.

Visit us online at

Friday, July 22, 2011

Custom Reporting for MISys Manufacturing v5.0

Over our 25-year history developing and deploying manufacturing software for small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies, we've leared quite a bit about our customers' needs. For example, we've learned that, no matter how many standard reports you build into the software, your customers will want more. It seems as though every MISys user has some specific report in mind that they just can't do without.

Over the evolution of MISys, each version has included some form of custom reporting capability. Way back when we started, only software installers and consultants created custom reports for their clients. So the tools we offered required a good deal of technical expertise on the part of the designer. More recently, we've seen a significant up-tick in the number of software end-users who wish to mine the data hidden in their manufacturing systems.

The problem for us has been that the vast majority of our end users don't possess the technical expertise required to effectively user popular report design tools. They tend to think that data exists in one large, flat file and all you need to do is pick the fields you wish to  display in a custom report. Don't dare mention words such as database engine, SQL queries, relational tables, inner joins and such.

The MISys Development team has been working on ways to let our customers mine the wealth of data contained in a MISys database. Until recently, our focus has been on tools intended for our business partners who typically have a working knowledge of SQL databases and industry-standard reporting tools like SAP Business Decision's Crystal Reports.

Unfortunately, SQL database engines such as Microsoft SQL Server and reporting tools such as Crystal Reports are far too complex for the avaerage business owner to use successfully. And yet most of our customers have legitimate needs for custom reporting capabilities in their software, ranging from making a minor adjustment to a purchase order form to creating complex production scheduling reports.

At MISys we are currently evaluating an array of third-party reporting solutions in an effort to find just the right mix of power and user-friendliness so that users without any other options can create their own reports for MISys Manufacturing. We are resigned to the possibility that a solution we adopt may not be capable of solving every custom reporting need. After all, the MISys database hasn't become any simpler over the years. But with more MISys systems being sold every day, the pressure is building for us to find something that is suitable for the common man.

Business partners and MISys users who wish to learn what they need to know to create custom reports using the tools available in today's MISys Manufacturing version 5.0 are invited to attend a webinar on Thursday, July 28th. Register for this webinar by going to

Just remember, these are the tools available today: very powerful, but not as user-friendly as we'd like. Back in the lab, ideas for a much friendlier data mining and reporting tool continue to percolate.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reconciling Purchase Orders and Invoices

Today I was asked how to resolve a "problem" when a MISys purchase order and the supplier's invoice don't exactly match.

I have seen purchase order software that required the invoice amount to match the purchase order amount. In my mind, such software is indeed the "problem" because in my 25+ years of working with manufacturing companies, such a match rarely occurs.

To begin, it is common for a supplier to fulfil a purchase order in dribs and drabs. They may ship what they can against the PO and send you an invoice for the partial shipment. You may receive several partial invoices for one purchase order. Properly designed software must accommodate this fact.

A second reality is that the price you are quoted by the supplier and the price you are billed are sometimes different. You may argue that the price on the invoice order should match the price on the purchase order. If the invoice amount is higher, you should complain vociferiously. But what if the invoice amount is lower? Should you insist on paying the higher amount? Probably not.

Third, there may be additional costs applied to the invoice that did not appear on the purchase order. Shipping charges, delivery preparation/crating, import duties, brokerage fees, and taxes are just some of the costs you can expect to see on the supplier invoice that are normally absent from the purchase order.

In summary, the supplier purchase order and the supplier invoice rarely match, and properly designed software handles this reality in its stride. The MISys Manufacturing system was designed so that the actual acquisition cost for any material you purchase can be computed accurately. This is particularly important for manufacturing companies because the cost of any finished good item is computed from the sum of its component costs.

When processing purchase orders (including processing a corresponding supplier invoice) MISys works to determine the amount you paid for any raw material item (this is often called the "landed cost"). Matching the PO and invoice amounts is not a problem after all.

For more information about the MISys Manufacturing system, visit

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sage Summit Generates Great Ideas for Using MISys Manufacturing

While we were demonstrating the new Mobile Alerts module at Sage Summit 2011 in Washington DC yesterday, a particular partner who was impressed with the program's ability send him an email when/if he ran short or blue widgets asked a thought-provoking question.

"If MISys can send me an email telling me that I'm running short on blue widgets, could it also send my supplier of blue widgets a similar email alert?"

The answer is YES! Terrific idea!

Given that the setup for each email alert allows you to specify a To and a From email address, there is no reason you can't address the alert to your supplier instead. Our only reservation about using such a system for automated ordering (what the Sage partner had in mind) is that you should also set up some sort of confirmation protocol with the supplier. After all, you don't want to be having an argument with the supplier when your production line is shut down: "But I sent you an email. Did you check your spam box?"

Perhaps future versions of MISys Manufacturing will exploit the need to automate ordering procedures. But for now, using the Mobile Alerts module is a great first step.

Watch this video about using MISys Mobile Alerts at


Sunday, July 10, 2011

MISys at Sage Summit 2011: Pre-conference Workshop

Yesterday we hosted a couple dozen Sage business partners who traveled to Washington DC a day early to participate in a full day of training on MISys Manufacturing for Sage ERP Accpac, Sage Peachtree Quantum, and Sage Simply.

Because we were able to gather a select group of top-flight partners for this year's conference, our "training" workshop focused on aspects of selling and supporting MISys Manufacturing. (Detailed training on the MISys Manufacturing modules is now available from MISys University.)

From the early feedback we've gathered, our partners felt the effort they had made to attend this workshop was well worth it. Indeed, we were able to address many of the issues important to our resellers and consultants in the field. Terry Merrill, Director of Strategic Partnerships laid out the opportunities MISys provides to partners who wish to extend their practices beyond core accounting. Charlie Kimbell, VP of Sales & Marketing, helped the participants identify and understand the needs of a number of customer profiles. Michael Byrne, Director of Marketing Communications was able to help partners tap into the wealth of online services available on our website.

A portion of the workshop was dedicated to an overview of the new features in MISys Manufacturing v5.0 which was released just over a month ago. Dave Brown, MISys President & CEO took the workshop attendees through an overview of the new MISys desktop and other usability improvements, the new Mobile Alerts module, and additions designed to make MISys Manufacturing more suitable for job shops.

The session was most beneficial to the MISys guys, too. We always bring home some good ideas for improving our product and servcies. Dave got a great idea for a way to extend the reach of our Mobile Alerts module. Michael and Charlie especially liked the suggestion that partners receive a confirming email whenever they register a sales lead on the MISys Partner Portal.

SPECIAL NOTE: We are pleased to announce that the MISys website had been updated with this new functionality within an hour of the meeting's close. (Proving that the MISys guys may be expensive, but we're fast!)

With the workshop over, MISys has set up in the Sage Summit Exhibit Hall ready to meet other Sage partners who wish to learn more about the functionality of the software that has become the manufacturing add-on of choice for Sage ERP Accpac, Sage Peachtree Quantum, and Sage Simply.

If you are attending Sage Summit 2011 yourself, please visit us in Booth #302.

Otherwise, you can learn all about MISys Manufacturing for Sage accounting by visiting one of these web pages:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Speak Softly

When I was tempted to "haul off" on someone today, I was reminded of the words to a favorite hymn:

Speak gently, it is better far
To rule by love than fear;
Speak gently, let no harsh word mar
The good we may do here.

Speak gently to the erring ones,
They must have toiled in vain;
Perchance unkindness made them so;
O win them back again.

Speak gently, 'tis a little thing,
Dropped in the heart's deep well;
The good, the joy that it may bring,
Eternity shall tell.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Manufacturing for QuickBooks Overview

Wherever I go, I'm asked to explain exactly how MISys Manufacturing turns QuickBooks into an industrial-strength manufacturing system. That's a very good question given that we market MISys as an add-on that turns QuickBooks into an industrial-strength manufacturing system.

The problem is that answering the question completely requires the better part of a day. Most of the people who ask me this question are planning to commit just a few minutes to getting the answer. However, I've learned that a good place to start is to describe what MISys does in terms of adding on to QuickBooks and then move into a little explanation of what kinds of manufacturing companies will find MISys useful.

I've also found that the point is best made with a brief demonstration of MISys by first creating a sales order in QuickBooks, then retrieving that sales order into a Master Production Schedule, and ultimately creating a Material Requirements Plan (MRP).

Most manufacturers know what an MRP is -- but many of them have quite a negative view of it. Since Oliver Wight began proselytizing for MRP (MRP I and MRP II) back in the 1970's, the technology developed a reputation for being cumbersome, expensive, and confusing. But that was in the day of IBM 1620 mainframes and 80-column Hollerith cards. Times chnage.

When we designed the MISys Manufacturing software, one of our primary objectives was to implement MRP in a way that was accessible, affordable, and easy to understand. In a demonstration of the software, letting MISys create all the necessary purchase orders and production orders with just a few mouse-clicks certainly gets people's attention -- especially those who think the results of an MRP resides in a box of green-bar paper.

You probably have your own ideas about what an accessible, affordable, and easy to understand manufacturing add-on for QuickBooks should look and feel like. I'd be interested to hear your reaction to the video I posted at

Thursday, June 23, 2011


My instinct is often to delete them when I get one via email. They rarely arrive at a convenient time. How meaningful are my responses going to be anyway?

Then, I consider Manufacturing Information Systems’ surveys. We are very eager to know what our users and Business Partners think. We truly pore over the responses that we get. This is one way that we get direction for improvement, not only of the functionality but of our service as well.

The “comments” section is of particular interest to us. This is where users can get very specific to address something not covered by the questions already posed. I actually did get a follow up call from a vendor who allowed “comments” on a survey that I had completed. I was dissatisfied and the vendor followed up to get more details. The survey was apparently of interest to that vendor as well.

We do want to hear from our users and partners, what we do well and where we could improve. Unparalleled customer service is the target and users’ feedback can help us hit it.

Visit us online at

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What is an ERP system anyway?

I don't know whether I should blame the full moon, but it seems like I've been hit with quite a few inquiries of late asking "What is an ERP system?" Or just yesterday, "What do I get in Sage ERP Accpac that is missing from Sage Peachtree?"

Since my business computing experience dates way back to IBM 360's and mainframe-based products like SAP and MAPICS, I have a perspective of what a true ERP system is -- one that may not be so universally shared today. Indeed, a great many people don't even know what the acronym "ERP" stands for. Since I got my start, computer hardware has become much smaller and computer software much larger.

To me, an ERP system helps manage all aspects of a business with one fully integrated software product. By that measure, Sage Peachtree Quantum Manufacturing Edition (powered by MISys) could rightfully be called an ERP system. It provides all the functionality a manufacturing company needs to run their business.

Sage product marketing is certainly within its rights not to apply the ERP moniker to Peachtree QME, as it is to drop manufacturing from its Accpac ERP product. Whatever they choose to call their various products (Peachtree, Accpac, MAS, and Simply) I believe each is a very complete solution that "helps manage all aspects of a business with one fully integrated software product."

I am impressed with MAS 500 as a credible ERP system for manufacturing companies. Sage Peachtree, Sage ERP Accpac, and Sage Simply are also strong offerings because they are seamlessly integrated with MISys Manufacturing.

For more information about integrated manufacturing solutions for Sage accounting go to:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

When MISys customers fail.

In the 25+ years Manufacturing Information Systems has been selling PC-based manufacturing software, we've successfully placed thousands and thousands of systems in small and medium-sized businesses. But every once in a while, we hear from someone who has decided to return the product under the terms of our no-quibble money-back guarantee. Even though the returns as a percentage of our total sales is infinitessimal, each one hurts.

We have known for a long, long time that the Number One reason our customers fail in their attempt to successfully implement a MISys Manufacturing system, is lack of management committment.

Now, we're not saying that after a lengthy product search and evaluation process, followed by and expenditure of many thousands of dollars, a new MISys owner just loses interest. Rather, we think it is a matter of them failing to adequately assess the work and resources needed to properly deploy a fairly complex business management system.

Using the MISys Manufacturing software isn't anything like using a product such as Microsoft Powerpoint. You don't just throw it on the desktop and say "Here. See what you can do with this." Implementing MISys requires some detailed planning, re-examination of existing proceedures, design of new procedures, and long hours of data entry and verification.

My inspiration for writing this came last week with a phone call from a prospective MISys customer we'll call Mary.

Mary described  to me the process her boss had gone through to identify MISys as the product they wanted and their delight in the functionality of the software. Mary told me that her "regular" job was to handle all the accounts payable and accounts receivable for the company. She said the boss had asked her to help bring up MISys Manufacturing by working through her lunch hour. Her reason for calling me was to ask whether I thought she could be succssful without the involvement of others in the company. "None" I asked? "None" replied Mary. "And what about the boss?" "Oh, he's too busy" Mary added.

Now, I commend anyone who has completed a lengthy evaluation process and selected MISys but, to be honest, Mary could be my poster-child for failure. To make matters worse, I don't think there is anything we could do to insure Mary's success. She could enroll in the next MISys Training Workshops, but I'm quite sure that the wealth of information our trainers deliver would be just overwhelming to anyone working alone, like Mary. I'm trying to set up a conference call with Mary and her boss to candidly explain the importance of establishing a dedicated implementation team to work on MISys, including continuing supervision and support from management.

If anything about this scenario sounds familiar, take heart. If you don't give up on us, we won't give up on you. If you're worried that you don't have the necessary resources allocated to your MISys project, then please set up a conference call with your team and our Customer Service staff. After all, we've had thousands and thousands of successful MISys installations, and quite a few got off on a shakey start. Your company has already made a significamt investment in MISys. They don't want to lose it. If things aren't going as well as you'd hoped, maybe it's time for some tough-love from the MISys guys. The only implementations problems we can't help to resolve are the ones we don't know about.

Whoa! Hold the Phone.

If you're like me, when purchasing new software, there's a great urgency to get it installed, log in, and start clicking. That approach probably works with a lot of productivity software such as Microsoft Office. After all, no one ever sat me down and explained to me the theory behind Microsoft Word, or tried to explain its inner workings. This particular software, software that I use almost every day, is pretty much magic to me. And that's perfectly OK. I learned everything I know about Word by "wandering around." That is, trying stuff until I eventually produced the desired result.

I can't say the same approach would work for people attempting to implement a software product like MISys Manufacturing. Sure, you can learn a lot by wandering around, but I think doing so would lead to many more horrible mistakes and take many times longer than necessary.

In my experience learning how to use complex software products, I've often thought "Hold the phone. Could someone just explain the basic concepts and theory behind this product? Having that insight would make all the future learning go down much easier."

When building the MISys Manufacturing System, we added a big section, right up front in the documentation, called Theory of Operation. The objective of this section is to help people understand what MISys is trying to do, and from the 30,000-foot level, the basic concepts in play within the product.

Last week I found myself putting the finishing touches on the Installation Guide for the new 5.0 version of MISys Manufacturing.  Appropriately, the Guide takes you step-by-step through the process of getting the program installed and gets you to the point where you are logged in, ready to start clicking away.

Then, in a flash of introspection, I thought "Whoa! Hold the phone. Don't we want MISys customers to understand a lot more about this product before they get to this point?" Of course!

So this week, I've banged out another document I'm calling the Pre-installation Guide. It's the document you should read and understand before you ever install the MISys software. Hopefully, the Pre-installation Guide will give you that 30,000-foot view that will make all the learning you have ahead go a bit easier.

You can check it out at
Tell me what you think!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Is MISys a company or a product?

On a regular basis, I'm asked whether MISys is the name of our company or our product. The short answer is both, but the State of Vermont has no record of a company called MISys. That's because MISys is a "dba," that is a nickname for our official company name which is Manufacturing Information Systems,  Inc. Looking at this name, you might think "oh, I get it. MISys, short for Manufacturing Information Systens," but you'd be wrong.

The actual birth of the name MISys happened about 25 years ago when a company called Microcomputer Specialists, Inc. became the first third-party developer for Basic Software Group, the company that invented Accpac. The way it worked back then (and we're talking about the era of MSDOS) was that in order to function as an Accpac add-on, you installed your programs in a folder named xxSYS. Basic Software Group (BSG) awarded each developer a 2-character "application prefix." When BSG spun the wheel for us, we won the prefix "MI." From that time on, our programs could be found in the MISYS folder.

Before we had adopted an official name for the product, Accpac dealers around the world started referring to the product as MISYS. A few years later, we joined the crowd (but we diddled with the capitalization just to help people pronounce the word correctly).

For the next 10 or so years, we hung on to the company name Microcomputer Specialists, Inc. even though callers would ask "Is this MISys?" Over and over we would reply "No,this Microcomputer Specialists" but our product is MISys.

After a while we began to realize the futility in trying to maintain our old corporate entity. So one day we sat down and tried to figure out a new name for our company, one that would fit better with the nickname "MISys." When Manufacturing Information Systems was suggested we jumped on it because the name very well described how our corporate mission had evolved. As an added bonus, people assumed Manufacturing Information Systems has been our name from Day 1.

So now you know the Real Story of how the names MISys and Manufacturing Information Systems were born.

Today we don't care whether you call us Manufacturing Information Systems or MISys -- as long as you call us. We love it when you call us. Or visit our website at

Monday, May 23, 2011

MISys Manufacturing v5.0 is LIVE!

Drum roll, please!

After months of development and testing, MISys today rolled out its newest version of MISys Manufacturing software to existing customers and business partners. "5.0" has many improvements. The ones I am most excited about are the ones that make the software easier to use and understand as well as get up and running. Manufacturing is complicated, with more moving parts than other industries. MISys Manufacturing has many layers that have been created to adress their complex needs - it is a big program. The new useability improvements make it easier to navigate the program so it isn't so overwhelming to new and existing users. Even a marketing guy like me can understand it! We can't wait to find out what customers think about the new improvements.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MISys Manufacturing v5.0 supports QuickBooks Advanced Inventory

In December of 2010, QuickBooks introduced its Advanced Inventory module for QB Enterprise, allowing customers to inventory goods in multiple locations (warehouses, service trucks, etc...) and to make transfers between those locations. This had been a shortcoming in their program which they adressed.

MISys Manufacturing v5.0 integrates with this new functionality, showing stock status in those locations and alloting transfers of finished goods to those locations. For more information about the QuickBooks Advanced Inventory functionality, watch their introductory video at

Mary Brettman of Mobile CFO, a MISys Business Partner, focuses on the needs of manufacturers using QuickBooks. She discusses the integration between the Advanced Inventory module and MISys Manufacturing v5.0 on her blog at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MISys Production Orders

When writing about the MISys Manufacturing System, we frequently refer to “Production Orders” to describe an electronic document that is used to drive and guide production. Truth be told, there is really no such entity called a “production order” in the MISys software. We just use the term when it is inconvenient to distinguish between Work Orders and Manufacturing Orders.

The MISys Basic Manufacturing module includes Work Orders in its function set.  A Work Order is a list of assembled items that you wish to build. Information about how each assembled item is built comes directly from the MISys Bill of Material.

Work Orders were a mainstay of the old MISys/DOS. They became popular when manufacturers first discovered the art of “backflushing” that is, removing from stock all the components indicated by the bill of material and putting the finished good back in stock.

Work Orders disappeared from the MISys turf for a few years, but are back in full force in MISys Manufacturing v5.0.

At the same time, we recognize a whole class of manufacturers that build variations of standard products, something similar to what the bill of material indicates, or something similar to what they built in the past. For these people, the Advanced Production module offers Manufacturing Orders.

Manufacturing Orders are similar to Work Orders in that they guide your production activities, but Manufacturing Orders provide far, far more flexibility if you need to vary from a standard bill of material. MO’s also allow you to track production costs on a job-by-job basis because you indicate what material you actually used to complete a specific MO.

For manufacturers who assemble strictly from the bill of material, Work Orders are a fine solution. However, for those who demand flexibility from one production order to the next, Manufacturing Orders are what you want.

Here is a link to the Advanced Production factsheet:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What's New In MISys Manufacturing v5.0

With the release of MISys Manufacturing version 5.0 imminent, I have posted a document describing the major changes to the software. Go to for details.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Honey versus Vinegar

As a child I made the observation that “vinegar” was usually not the way to go when seeking satisfaction for a malfunctioning purchase. My father had a short fuse. His initial approach when returning something defective was even tempered. As soon as he sensed any resistance, the person handling this customer’s service was in for a challenge. The discussion was sometimes unpleasant.

He usually tried everything that he could to make it work before going back to the vendor. Unfortunately, by then he was frustrated as well as disappointed.

I preferred not to have this type of encounter when I returned a purchase that didn't function as advertised. The “honey” approach was more effective from what I could determine. Dad used it occasionally, like when he’d contributed to the malfunction. (For example, if he’d used it improperly to begin with, thereby contributing to the problem. Written instructions can be useful.)

I fancy myself as somewhat mechanical. When a piece of equipment broke down, I diagnosed it and sought a replacement part. The one I bought didn't solve the problem. So, I went back with the “honey” approach and immediately got another at no charge. This one didn't work either. Same process and I got another one. I got three new parts, with no unpleasantness, before I realized that my diagnosis was wrong. (Having used the “vinegar” approach would have caused me much more embarrassment than I experienced.)

MISys’ Customer Service professionals have served both approaches in meeting our end users’ needs. Whatever their concern, if there’s a possibility that we might be able to assist, we welcome the opportunity. We too are consumers and also use a variety of software products, so we do have empathy in inventory.

Providing service so that end users have a positive experience with MISys Manufacturing is why we’re here. Honey or vinegar, let us provide or direct you to the service you need to realize all of the benefits that you anticipated from licensing our software. Your return on investment (ROI) is important to us too.

(For the record, honey is preferred.)

Visit us online at

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Small Enough to Manage by Feel and by Walking Around

Just spent time with the President of a small manufacturer of cable and harness assemblies. They assemble multi-conductor cables for "wire jockeys", printing labels on the plastic coating on the conductors that are then bundled together into one cable to reduce time on industrial job sites to figure out which wire goes where. They specialize in short cable (100 feet long and up) lengths. I visited him to look at the systems he uses to run his business. He uses a multi-tab spreadsheet to calculate quotes for each job. The spreadsheet is a work of art, developed over a number of years, that takes into account the nuances of the cable business - different gage conductors have different weights, costs, time to print, the number of spools used for a job, etc... He updates the material costs on a weekly basis based on market value, necessary because of the changes in copper prices in particular. The spreadsheet has formulas that reference different tabs to calculate the final quote, building in a reasonable profit margin for the business (less than 25%). One of the tabs on the spreadsheet is a printable document that he sends to customers by fax, and manually creates a single-line quote in Peachtree (Pro, I think).

His two pain points in running the business are that (1) he doesn't have a very good way to track his inventory, particularly the short lengths of cable that can be re-used but are not inventoried once separated from the 2,500 ft. spool, and (2) he can't measure the true profitability of each job with the systems he has in place. An additional pain point is the potential for an error in the quote work-up, because the cells on the spreadsheet are not locked and can be inadvertently changed.

Could MISys Manufacturing solve his pain points? Sure, but it is more firepower then he needs. It is a small operation, and he is intimately involved with the whole process, able to see the entire production process and see his inventory, including short scraps of cable that can be re-worked. Like most small manufacturers, his estimates of the costs are really close, validated by his month-end financials which include a monthly physical inventory. And because he enters all of the quotes himself, he can use his intuition and a couple of key ratios (gross margin on materials, hourly rate calculation) to control the prices and costs. Real pain will set in if the business grows in volume or product diversity, making it so he can't review each quote or manage by feel and by walking around. Then he will need a solution like MISys Manufacturing to better manage his inventory, his shop floor and his costs, and have a system that is scalable so that other employees can participate in the management of the manufacturing process.

Until that happens, we will remain colleagues in manufacturing, not vendor and customer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Can You Hear MISys Manufacturing V5.0 Coming?

Judging from the distant rumble in the hallway outside of the MISys Development Department, you'd get the distinct impression that a new version of the MISys Manufacturing System is speeding down the track.

While we won't reveal the exact date out of respect for Murphy's Law (if something can go wrong, something will go wrong) an ambitious schedule for the release of MISys Manufacturing v5.0 was agreed to last year. Since then, the Development, Customer Service, Technical Support, Marketing, and Sales departments have been working in concert to make it happen on target and on schedule.

Many moons ago (well, probably about 300 moons ago) we used to just code and code and code until we decided the software was ready to ship. That was before we attracted the attention of Intuit and Sage. Now deciding when the software is ready to ship isn't as easy as it once was. Our strategic relationship with these companies requires that our software integrates seamlessly with half a dozen different accounting systems. Release promotions have to be designed months in advance, help systems developed, product documentation updated, business partners notified well before the product release, web pages updated, and "what's new" webinars planned.

So, once we get near the agreed to release date, there's a heavily loaded train steaming down the track behind us. At the same time, our reputation for developing great software, reliable software, earned over the past 25 years is put to the test, And test we do! Our Technical Services department is now in high gear trying to break the software every way they can.

Not that programmers don't test the software they write. They do! Its just that programmers test to make sure the software does what they intend it to do. Our Technical Services department is staffed with people who, it seems to me, have a mean streak when it comes to testing software. You see, these guys go out of their way to break the software, doing things the software was NEVER intended to do, and making sure that no really bad things happen, appropriate error messages appear, and graceful recovery paths are apparent.

While MISys, Inc. is far smaller than any of the software companies with which we partner, we take the development and delivery of world-class software just as seriously. When you see a message appear on your screen that a new version of MISys Manufacturing is available, pause for a moment to think of all the people who worked tirelessly for months on end to make this release possible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Now where did you leave those spare parts?

Today I had an interesting water-cooler conversation with one of the MISys salespeople over a prospect who is hung up on where to keep his spare parts.

In general, it is customary to transfer finished goods to the sales distribution inventory as soon as they are produced. But what about raw materials? Most every manufacturing company has an array raw materials that they also sell as spare parts.

So the question remains: should spare parts (raw materials that you sell) be maintained in the manufacturing inventory or in the sales inventory? As with many things, there's more than one answer to the question.

  • One option is to maintain a small supply (safety stock) of the raw material in the sales inventory. For example, if you keep 5,000 widgets in the manufacturing inventory to support your production needs, keep 5 widgets in the sales inventory just in case a customer wants to purchase one as a spare part. If you are using MISys as your manufacturing software, set the minimum and maximum stocking levels in the sales inventory to some low level (i.e. 5) and allow MISys to periodically replenish that inventory from the manufacturing inventory (Sales Transfers | Range To Sales).

  • Another option is to keep all the spare parts in the manufacturing inventory. When an order for a spare part comes in, write a sales order for it, then allow MISys to transfer a quantity of the item from the manufacturing inventory to the sales inventory sufficient to cover the unfulfilled sales order(s). Since MISys Manufacturing provides high-level functions for transferring inventory from manufacturing to sales (or from sales to manufacturing) this process that can easily be run once a day or so. All spare parts orders will be handled at the same time.

For more information about the MISys Manufacturing System, visit

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More On A Simpler MISys Manufacturing Version 5.0

Yesterday I wrote about a new way you can simplify the MISys Manufacturing System menus by hiding entire navigation panels. When you are done, you'll leave standing only those panels you need to get your job done.

Today I'll continue that conversation by exploring the Shortcuts feature that allows you to create easy-to-use shortcuts to the MISys Manufacturing functions you use most frequently. In the new My Menu panel (MISys Manufacturing v5.0) you'll find a menu entry called "Edit Shortcuts." When you launch the function, MISys will display a list of the default shortcuts. Edit these by removing the ones you won't need, then adding (drag and drop the function name from the left pane to the right pane) the shortcuts you do need.  When you save your changes, the My Menu panel will be populated with your list of custom shortcuts. It's as simple as that!

When you are done, you'll be left with just the navigation panels you need to do your work, and shortcuts to give you 1-click access to the functions you use most often. Every user can have his/her own customization which is retained from session to session.

For more information about the MISys Manufacturing System, visit

Monday, April 18, 2011

MISys Manufacturing 5.0 Is Simpler Than Ever

When we surveyed MISys users last year, we heard from many that they'd like the program to be simpler and more user-friendly. "I work in Purchasing. All these things about Production and Accounting just confuse me," wrote one user.

Enough people made comments like this that we got right to work figuring out ways to simplify the product. As it turns out, there has been a way to simplify MISys Manufacturing (or at least to make it appear simpler) for quite some time. Problem was, the function called "Navigation Panel Options" was buried deep in the product menu where almost no one was likely to find it.

Starting in version 5.0 the Navigation Panel Options function moves up to the dashboard where you are certain to find it.

For example:

If your job doesn't have anything to do with production, click to uncheck the Production checkbox and presto! - the Production panel disappears.

If you don't even know an accountant, click to uncheck the Accounting checkbox and sha-zam! - the Accounting panel disappears. MISys is getting simpler already.

With just a few clicks like this, you can clear away any navigation panel that you don't find useful. Your settings will be saved so the next time you log in to MISys Manufacturing, you'll feel like the program was custom-tailored to your job function.

For more informantion about MISys Manufacturing, go to

Thursday, April 14, 2011

MISys Hybrid Sales Model

MISys sells its manufacturing solution for a number of different accounting families, including Sage Peachtree, Sage Simply, Sage Accpac, and Inuit QuickBooks. We began selling our software to Accpac users in 1986, exclusively through Accpac partners (resellers).

Today, Accpac partners are the primary means for selling MISys manufacturing software and these partners earn competitive commissions for their sales efforts. Sage Peachtree accounting is sold both by Peachtree Certified Consultants (CC's) and by Peachtree Inside Sales. QuickBooks is sold primarily through retailers such as Staples, Office Depot, etc. and to a lesser extent by Intuit Software Vendors (ISV's). Sage Simply accounting is sold almost exclusively through Canadian retailers.

In order to serve such diverse accounting markets, MISys has developed a hybrid sales model in which its sales staff wears two hats:

  • Expert Sales Assistance: MISys salespeople help resellers close deals by providing expert assistance when a resellers requests it.
  • Direct Sales: MISys salespeople develop and nuture sales leads when no reseller has been identified.
Since the invention of the World Wide Web, manufacturers in the market for a right-sized manufacturing solution are likely to Google keywords such as "accpac manufacturing" or "mrp for quickbooks" and be led directly to MISys' front door. In competitive markets served by resellers, a prospect is likely to shop around, contacting multiple resellers just to see where they can get the best deal.

The reality is that any MISys sales opportunity has come to us directly and through at least one, usually multiple resellers. So the question is: Who's lead is it anyway?

At MISys we are determined to treat our partners fairly and honestly, so we have developed a sales lead registration system that protects resellers from encroachment by others (including ourselves). Each sales lead gets a date/time stamp that clearly identifies who registered the lead first, clearly establishing ownership. Once that ownership is established, it is always honored (unless the reseller informs us otherwise).

When a reseller registers a sales lead, they accept or decline assistance from a MISys salesperson. If they decline, the reseller receives their full commission when the sales closes. If they accept sales assistance, their commission is marginally reduced. Interestingly, the majority of leads registered accept expert sales assistance.

If you are a software reseller and have a sales lead for MISys, please register it now at so you will be fully protected.

Bucking the Offshoring Trend

Perhaps you saw the ABC television show Made In America where every non-US made item was removed from a "typical American suburban" home. No surprise that in a very short time, the home was stripped bare.

Apparently a number of US manufacturers are rethinking some of their production practices, including reversing the trend to subcontract manufacturing to China. In a Wired Magazine article entitled "Made in America: Small Businesses Buck the Offshoring Trend" author Brendan I. Koerner explains why many manufacturers are coming to grips with the headaches and hassles inherent in offshore assembly.

Koerner writes "In early 2010, somewhere high above the northern hemisphere, Mark Krywko decided he’d had enough. The CEO of Sleek Audio, a purveyor of high-end earphones, Krywko was flying home to Florida after yet another frustrating visit to Dongguan, China, where a contract factory assembled the majority of his company’s products. He and his son, Jason, Sleek Audio’s cofounder, made the long trip every few months to troubleshoot quality flaws. Every time the Krywkos visited Dongguan, their Chinese partners assured them everything was under control. Those promises almost always proved empty...The headaches had finally become too exasperating to bear. And so, on that flight, he turned to Jason and said that he was done with Dongguan. “I can’t do it anymore,” he said. “Let’s bring it home."

Read the entire article or listen to Robin Young's interview with Brendan Koerner.

We can assure you that every bit of the MISys Manufacturing System was built in Vermont, USA and that no animals were harmed in the process. If you're in the market for a manufacturing business management system produced by people who are committed to supporting the local economy, go to

MISys Manufacturing 5.0 Sneak Peek: Action Maps

Thought it might be nice to wet everyone's appetite about the upcoming MISys Manufacturing 5.0 release!

The new release incorporates a major new feature, which we are calling Action Maps, to greatly simplify using MISys Manufacturing to do common tasks. Action Maps provide access to common tasks for Physical Inventory, Purchasing, Production, and Planning in the form of a live visual flow chart with arrows showing the usual steps for the Action in the order they are normally done.

Each Action Map step is represented by an icon, and each icon has an associated help button where you can click to find out more information about the step. Clicking on the step icon navigates you to the user interface in MISys Manufacturing where you can perform that step. Some of the Action Maps include multiple flow charts representing different scenarios of use depending on your own manufacturing application.

The Production Action Map in MISys Manufacturing 5.0 includes three different diagrams indicating the typical steps for using MISys Manufacturing to do Basic Assembly of Standard BOMs using Work Orders, or Custom Manufacturing using Manufacturing Orders for either Build to Order or Job Shop style usage.  A sample of the Action Map for a Manufacturing Order use for a Job Shop is shown below (please note that the details may change before the final release):

This scenario of use utilizes a Manufacturing Order as the basis for a quotation for a job, where the Order may change (material and/or price) as a result of iterative conversations with the customer.  When the quote has been finalized and the customer has accepted the quote, this process provides a way to converting any temporary non-stock items with material that will be inventoried, a way facilitate ordering any necessary parts or building any needed sub-assemblies, automates creation of an associated Sales Order in the integrated accounting system, and then actually completing the order and transferring the finished product to sales inventory for shipment to the customer.

MISys Manufacturing 5.0 Action Maps also include four different scenarios of use for Planning including Shortages Today, What If Today..., Future Shortages, and Future What If...

Please be patient, MISys Manufacturing 5.0 is coming very soon (we are working hard to finish testing) but it is our company policy to not publish the release date prior to it actually officially be available.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Historical Note: How MISys Uses The Accpac SDK

When MISys became the first third-party developer for the software family that is now known as Sage ERP Accpac, we were actually the first developer to license and use the Software Development Kit (SDK) engineered for the purpose by Basic Software Group, Ltd.

The MISys software engineers wanted to seamlessly integrate their manufacturing solution with the Accpac accounting modules, thus eliminating time consuming and error-prone importing and exporting. Since each product used an industry-standard database, MISys could have easily read the data it needed from the accounting database tables. But writing the data back was another matter. We had no idea what business logic rules had to be obeyed. With thousands of rules in play, violating just one of them would allow MISys to corrupt the accounting database. Not a good idea.

Rather than risk that eventuality, MISys licensed Basic Software Group’s SDK, a collection of programs (often referred to as “classes” and “methods” but also known as “views” in Accpac parlance). By using the SDK, an external program like MISys Manufacturing can safely pass data back and forth to the accounting modules because the SDK handles all the business logic rules.

About the time Computer Associates had acquired the Accpac software, a brand new SDK was released that featured an MS Windows-based user interface and an innovative System Manager to handle many administrative tasks. Accpac SDK-developers like MISys were encouraged to run their programs from within the Accpac System Manager, although some developers who required more exotic screen and file manipulation, chose to run their programs outside of the System Manager. Whether inside or outside the System Manager, every developer used the Accpac SDK -- the only reliable way to interface with the accounting business logic.

Several years ago, MISys moved its MISys Manufacturing SBM outside the Accpac System Manager in order to take advantage of Microsoft’s brand new .NET class libraries, while maintaining its compatibility with the Accpac accounting modules.

With the release of each new version of Sage ERP Accpac, MISys engineers carefully evaluate changes to the Accpac SDK and adjust the MISys Manufacturing code as necessary. We strive to release an updated version of the manufacturing software within 90 days of each accounting release, usually much more quickly.

The current version of MISys Manufacturing SBM is fully compatible with Sage ERP Accpac version 6.0. Our engineers are currently evaluating the SDK for Accpac 6.1 in preparation for a future release of MISys Manufacturing SBM.

For more information about manufacturing for Accpac go to