Thursday, March 24, 2011

MISys Canada is Established

Today we announced the establishment of two distributors to sell and support MISys Manufacturing Software in Canada.

In Western Canada, Central Nervous Systems will be working with our Business Partners and End Users to help them integrate MISys Manufacturing Software with their accounting packages - Sage ERP Accpac, Sage Simply Accounting and QuickBooks. The folks at CNS are accounting agnostic as they are manufacturing experts first.

In Central and Eastern Canada, CA-Plus will now be the MISys distributor. A long-term business partner, CA-Plus will be providing sales, implementation and first level technical support to business partners and manufacturer end users.

We are optimistic that our new relationships will help us service the Canadian marketplace more effectively. Even though we are geographically close to Canada, there is enough of a difference in our cultural and national fabric to warrant a distribution strategy like the one we are piecing together.

The new website at has more information on both Central Nervous Systems AND-CA Plus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Something New, Something Old

When my local bank changed hands recently and I inherited a new online banking system, I didn’t think too much about it. After a half-hour online, I had learned where to find the current balance on my accounts, how to transfer funds between them, and how to make payments. Things had moved, things looked a bit different, but under the covers, all the same processes were there.

It’s a good thing that people have been using banking systems for a long, long time. Even the old-fashioned ones where you stand in line and wait for the teller to say “Next” before placing your passbook up on a marble counter, work pretty much the same as my new high-tech online banking system.

So what does this have to do with manufacturing software? Well, I got the idea to pull out my experience with my new bank during a conversation last week with Jim, a customer who has been using the MISys Manufacturing System for over 15 years. Jim likes MISys really well. So well that he stopped upgrading his software 6 years ago because “I liked it the way it was” he admits.

But now Jim is in a pickle. His accounting software is so old that, starting this year, technical support for it is no longer available. He’s going to be forced to upgrade his accounting and he realizes it’s high time to upgrade his MISys manufacturing software, too.

Jim’s been a loyal customer for lo these many years, so I agreed to give him a peek at the new version of MISys Manufacturing we’ve been working on for most of last year and plan to release in mid-May. MISys is a lot more complicated than my online banking system, so rather than showing Jim some of the really cool new functionality we’ve built into MISys v5.0, I concentrated on the parts of the program he might be familiar with.

I showed Jim the master files, the physical inventory functions, stock check, most of the stock transfers, and work orders (and just a little bit of what MISys can really do now). At the end of the hour, he exclaimed “Sure, the software looks a lot different, but I can see that, under the covers, you really haven’t changed MISys that much. I think I’ll be able to re-adjust quite readily.”

Truth be told, we have changed MISys a whole lot since the days of MISys/DOS when Jim came on board. I’m grateful that Jim recognized the basic building blocks that form the foundation of the MISys manufacturing software and they’re still firmly in place in MISys v5.0. I’m hoping that other users of legacy versions of MISys will agree with Jim and decide to upgrade with confidence. I can’t wait until they discover some of the really cool stuff they get in the bargain.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Makes MISys Manufacturing Different

One of the questions I almost always get asked when I am speaking about the MISys Manufacturing System is “What makes MISys different from other inventory control programs?”

I hope no one notices but this question always causes me to pause for a few seconds and contemplate the 20+ years that MISys has been in development. Not that it took us 20+ years to write the program, but that it has taken us that long to refine the program into the tool that today’s manufacturers find useful and valuable.

Way back when (I think that was sometime in the late ‘80s), MISys was an inventory control program – one specifically geared to the needs of manufacturing companies – and a pretty good one if I do say so.

Somewhere along the line, our development of MISys began to focus less on the software as an inventory control program, and more as a manufacturing planning tool. We began to understand that, absent an effective manufacturing business management system, manufacturers are inclined to load up on raw materials, just in case. (Hey, if you keep your pantry stocked to the gills with food, you’ll never go hungry.) But is that a good management practice? No!

Because excess inventory (milk and bread, or nuts and bolts) is a waste of a valuable resource ($money) we began to think that the focus of the MISys software should be on helping manufacturers maintain less inventory, not more.

Today, MISys can be used as an effective manufacturing inventory management system. But there is so much more to the software. Which takes me back to the question “What makes MISys different from other inventory control programs?”

Well, I’d have to say “Those other systems help you maintain an inventory. MISys helps you maintain no inventory.”

Not that it is possible to operate with zero inventory (at least not in my experience). But reducing the inventory by 30-50% or more is certainly a worthwhile endeavor.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Customer is Always Right

Wouldn’t it be nice if this was true? …speaking as a customer, of course. In many situations, it is true, e.g. when taste is involved. For example, when buying a living room set, only the customer knows what he/she wants. However, with some things, like a washing machine, the customer may not have sufficient information. We customers are sometimes tripped up by not knowing what we don’t know.

I bought a large capacity clothes dryer when my children were in college. …bad idea. As empty nesters now, we have a dryer that can’t dry small loads. Most of our loads are small these days. The sales person advised me up front but I was more short-term focused. When my children came home, the washer and dryer ran almost non-stop the whole time they were there. Yes, their student apartments had laundry facilities. But, why do it there when you can get help at home?

At the point where I, as a consumer, recognize that I don’t know what I don’t know, I make a judgment as to the focus of the service that I’m getting. Is the representative with whom I’m dealing servicing his sales target, his supervisor’s scrutiny, his ego, or the customer? My assessment makes all the difference in the transaction.

Since the targets of the MISys Customer Service Department are collective (think Three Musketeers), there’s no debate about why we’re here.

Visit us online at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

MISys Manufacturing Cost Roll-up

Whenever I speak with people about the MISys Manufacturing System, I’m often asked what my “favorite” part of the system is. Ha! There are so many terrific parts of MISys Manufacturing that I am really hard-pressed to single out my one favorite.

But certainly the Cost Roll-up function of MISys has to rank high in a hypothetical “Top 10” of great things I know about MISys. Here’s why.

I think about the things people do with MISys: keeping track of stock, dispensing, receiving. Creating purchase orders and production orders, and generating all the debits and credits the accounting people want to see at the end of the month. These are all terrific things that could be done manually, if you really needed to. For sure, it wouldn’t be fun or easy, but it could be done.

On the other hand, cost roll-up is something that you just can’t do yourself. And if you don’t do it, you’re likely to go out of business.

I’ve met a lot of manufacturers who make a widget consisting of $10 worth of parts and who sell it for $8? “Why would anyone in their right mind do that,” you ask? The fact is that, when the hypothetical widget was invented, it consisted of $6 worth of parts, so selling it for $8 made sense. Over the years, raw material prices have ratcheted up. First to $6.50, then to $7.20, then to $8.40, then to 9.10 and beyond. Without any means for tracking these incremental changes, a manufacturing company is helpless when trying to re-evaluate production variance (the difference between the value of an assembled item and its component parts) and to adjust the selling price accordingly. When a manufacturer’s bill of material has multiple levels (as most do) then a difficult job becomes virtually impossible.

The MISys Manufacturing System has the ability to roll raw materials up from the lowest BOM level, up through the entire product structure, so that the cost of every top-level assembled item is always known. Performing a cost roll-up for one raw material item might, in theory, require the re-evaluation of every other item in stock. If any raw material item is used in multiple assemblies (as savvy manufacturers always strive to do) then this computation must be done not once, but multiple times.

This is a task you would never want to tackle with a calculator, pad of paper, and a pencil. The good news is that MISys Manufacturing can completely re-cost the inventory with just the click of a mouse. In a big manufacturing database with a complex BOM structure, this could take a while to run, but remember -- MISys doesn’t complain and it doesn’t make mistakes.

So that’s my vote for the “best thing that MISys Manufacturing can do.”

Wait…I just thought of another, even better one. I’d better save that for another blog post.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Press 1 for English

…ever heard this one? I have, many times. It usually means that the organization is very large and I should pay close attention to the options. I wouldn't want to have to start the list over. I brace myself for the sophistication of the automated call direction system.

I certainly understand the need for a system of this type in some situations. It can be very efficient at routing calls. It facilitates more effective use of the call center’s time, and ultimately, the caller’s. It allows specialists to deal with calls in their specialty rather than interpreting an issue and routing the call appropriately. Hopefully, reducing the amount of time it takes to resolve an individual issue.

This system needs careful monitoring, however. I've encountered times when I get five or six menu levels into a call and get disconnected. My attitude is not enhanced by this eventuality. …especially when I’m looking for resolution of a problem rather than information. When seeking information, patience isn't usually an issue.

At MISys we do use an automated attendant system as well. We don’t however, have several layers of menus or multiple languages. We have the luxury of staff that can address many different issues or can direct the caller to the appropriate party. Languishing in our voice mail system is not one of our options.

And, by the way, when you call MISys and dial 1, you get Sales.

Using the Source

At this point you should have a usable data source that Crystal can use as a conduit into the SBM database on your server. So what do you do with it?

1. Open Crystal Reports.

2. Click File | New and then select Standard Report.

3. Expand Create New Connection.

4. Expand ODBC (RDO).

5. Select your data source and click Next.

6. Enter your credentials (again, If you are using the instance of SQL provided with MISys SBM, contact technical support for this information).

7. Select the database name that you use- if you want to try the report on Sample Data, select SBMSAMPCO.

8. Click Finish.

What you see here might be different depending on which version of Crystal you’re using. Look for a node with your database name and expand it. Then expand dbo and then Tables. You now have all of the MISys tables exposed to the report.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are you User Friendly?

Our survey of existing users of our MISys Manufacturing software earlier this year provided us with some valuable insights into how people are using the software and how they feel about the experience.

When asked what MISys should do, a significant number of respondents commented that making the software more "user friendly" would be a worthwhile endeavor.

I was contemplating this sentiment last night as I worked on a press release using my favorite word processor, Microsoft Word. I've recently converted to Word version 2010 -- the one with the "new and improved" ribbon menu.

Now I'm sure a lot of really smart software designers out in Redmond, Washington worked long and hard in an effort to make MS Word 2010 more "user friendly" than previous versions. To be fair, Word is a complex product (but not as complex as MISys Manufacturing) and I'm not sure whether anyone will ever consider Word to be "user friendly."

I don't know about you, but I've written thousands of documents in my career, and I've learned just enough about Word to do what I need to get done. There's probably much more in Word that I don't know how to use than what I do know. But that's OK. Word is a fine tool, a tool I use every day, and a tool I just couldn't do without. User fiendly? No, sorry.

I had the priviledge of working with the next version of MISys Manufacturing recently and I know the guys out in the labs have been working overtime to make MISys Manufacturing v5.0 more user friendly in response to last January's user survey. While I don't think MISys will ever become a "user friendly" product (like Word, it does lots of really complex stuff), I can tell you that the guys have made some significant improvements.

Going back to MS Word for a moment, one of the things that allowed me to become successful using the software was just learning how it was laid out -- where I should look for the functions I needed.

I think MISys v5.0 goes a long way in helping people understand what's inside the product and how to get to where you want to go. I can't wait until you see it!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

MISys at Sage HQ in Vancouver BC

The MISys guys are visiting with our compatriots at Sage headquarters in Richmond, BC, a suburb of Vancouver. The MISys Manufacturing software integrates seamlessly with two separate Sage products (Sage ERP Accpac and Sage Simply Accounting). The managers of these two products occupy an office building here, so visiting everyone while we were in town for the annual TPAC Conference was a no-brainer.

Our first trip to Vancouver took place way back in 1986 when we first contacted Basic Software Group about integrating with an accounting package that is now Accpac. Simply came along much more recently when smaller manufacturing companies across Canada started contacting us about a right-sized solution for them. Simply enjoys a huge presence in Canada and a great many of their customers are manufacturing companies. Even though their accounting needs are modest (relative to Accpac and other mid-range products) Simply users have the same needs when it comes to advanced production, purchasing, master production scheduling, material requirements planning, and serial/lot tracking. So MISys provides an excellent solution for Simply accounting users. More information about the MISys manufacturing solution for Simply accounting can be found at

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Welcome to TPAC in Vancouver BC.

I’m here in Vancouver BC with a couple of other MISys guys attending the annual TPAC (Third Party Access Conference) which, as its name implies, spotlights third-party application software designed to work with Sage ERP Accpac. Each year, software developers and Accpac business partners converge here for several days of sharing information related to extending Accpac into markets beyond core accounting.

Although MISys will be attending and promoting our manufacturing solution for a range of Sage accounting products (notably Peachtree accounting, Simply accounting, and Accpac) at the annual Sage Insights Conference scheduled for the Washington DC area on July 10-15, 2011, this TPAC conference affords us the ability to be in closer contact with the Accpac partners with whom we work all year.

Last summer, Sage announced its intention to reposition Accpac as a more horizontally oriented accounting system, while focusing on the newly-acquired Sage ERP X3 as the vertical solution of choice. Apparently X3 has a strong manufacturing component, but the fact remains that across most of the Accpac consulting world, “manufacturing” and “accpac” are spelled “MISys.” We’ve worked hard over the past 25 years to create and maintain this close relationship with Sage and Accpac partners and to be regarded as the manufacturing system of choice for Sage Accpac ERP (now Sage ERP Accpac).

Even though Sage’s reorganization has removed MISys from their corporate pricelist, sales of our Accpac-based manufacturing solution have actually spiked in recent months. There seems to be an enthusiastic group of Accpac consultants and VARs who understand and value MISys Manufacturing as the solution of choice for manufacturing companies seeking an integrated business management system. Today MISys enjoys its position as a Gold-level Development Partner.

Last week MISys completed a 4-part webinar series that explore the various points of integration between MISys Manufacturing and Sage ERP Accpac. If you missed attending these webinars, you will find streaming videos covering the same material on the MISys website at

Whether you are an Accpac partner or a manufacturing company looking over Sage Accpac ERP as a possible solution, we hope you’ll take advantage of this valuable resource.

Again, go to for complete information about the Accpac manufacturing solution.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Always and Never

These are terms that are used infrequently in Customer Service. This is an area where each situation is unique. Making hard and fast rules is nearly impossible when circumstances can vary widely. The manufacturing software that MISys develops is a reliable, consistent product and everyone gets the same version. However, how it’s used in the end user’s installation is singular to each company.

This reality presents opportunities for creativity and critical thinking that severely limit our ability to make “always-” and “never-” type policies. Though these would be convenient, they would not likely meet the need. If canned statements would address the questions and concerns that arise, we wouldn’t need the staff of professionals that we currently employ. We know that “canned” is not in the best interest of our customers.

This approach seems to resonate with our clientele. We get continual acknowledgement of our efforts in helping customers maximize the return on their MISys investment.

Visit us online at

Productivity Gains in US Manufacturing

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics published its findings regarding productivity trends in the US for the fourth quarter of 2010. The most encouraging part is the 4.2% increase in productivity for the manufacturing sector. According to many experts, productivity improvements are key to the long term success of the US Economy, which makes sense. This bodes well for the health of manufacturing. Check out the full article at

It is true that increases in productivity can be achieved by reducing the labor force while maintaining the same output, and this did happen often in the 10 years since 2000. So productivity alone is not the best measure of health in a sector. You also have to look at the value and volume of outputs and the number of people employed. McKinsey, the global consulting behemoth, has issued a report that records that in the US there have been steady gains in productivity AND employment for every 10 year rolling period since 1929 (except one).

McKinsey concluded that there is a significant amount of room for an acceleration of productivity in US industry right now from two basic sources: adopting best practices within an industry (lean principles, etc...) and business and technology innovations.

That is encouraging, particularly when a company like MISys plays in the space of helping manufacturers become more efficient.


Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery

We recently visited one of our competitor's web-site and found substantial differences in their look and feel since we had last visited -- all changes that served to mimic the MISys look and feel, even down to the use of a very familiar gear-like logo we've all come to know and love. Terms had been changed to sound more like MISys as well. What remains missing are such staples of manufacturing as WIP, Master Production Schedule-based MRP, Shop Floor Control and much much much more. If you really want a MISys "lite" we recommend the real thing -- MISys Basic Mfg with Purchasing -- you'd still get WIP, and you can add Shop Floor and MRP when the time is right!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Made in America?

Please support American manufacturers.
According to Moody's Analytics, if every American spent an extra 1 cent per day on US-manufactured goods (18 cents a day) that would allow for the creation of 200,000 new jobs.