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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Keeping Current With MISys Manufacturing

Having been in the manufacturing software business for over 25 years, I have come to appreciate the benefit of having a userbase that is current on the latest version of the software. To be sure, I understand all the reasons why a particular user might decide not to upgrade to the current version.

First is the expense. The marketers of some of the productivity tools I use charge half of the MSRP (or more) to purchase an upgrade to the current version. I know this stings -- and it causes one to question whether the improvements built into the new version are really going to be meaningful. When I shell out that kind of money for an upgrade, it is most always because I have determined that the productivity gain is worth the price.

Another reason for questioning an upgrade is having to learn about new features and adjust one’s methods to accommodate new ways of doing things. In my 25+ years of experience using a broad range of accounting, manufacturing, and office software products, I have found the "fear of learning" new software to be far greater than actually learning it. I've usually internalized the "new features" within an hour or so, mostly because the underlying foundation of the software remains intact.

Because I generally keep up to date on the software I use, getting helpful technical support is not a problem. If my software was several generations old, I could understand the support technician's inability to resolve an issue I was having. For example, if someone asked me for help on MISys/DOS Manufacturing (I know there are still people using MISys/DOS 20+ years after it was released) I would be hard-pressed even to describe the menu structure, let alone tell then how the software was supposed to work. Given that support technicians are human beings seemingly subject the common frailties of the human mind, I can understand why most companies provide support for the current and one previous version of the software.

As the employer of a group of talented software developers and support technicians, I have first-hand knowledge of the effort they make to insure that our software, MISys Manufacturing, works as advertised -- all the time. Naturally, I want every one of our customers to benefit from the efforts of our hard-working development and support teams.

When we were first designing MISys Manufacturing SBM, over 6 years ago now, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our users to keep their software up to date. Like some other software you may use, MISys politely informs you that a new version is available, and offers to let you install the updated version with just a few mouse-clicks. A link in the InfoCenter, available whenever you log in, presents a summary of what's new in the current version. Furthermore, our support technicians work with the current version of the software on a daily basis, so they are thoroughly familiar with its operation and are prepared to provide top-notch assistance to anyone who needs it.

The EULA for the MISys Manufacturing System include free upgrades of every licensed user, so there is every reason to keep up to date with the technical developments as they come along. By keeping current, you help us help you -- and everyone wins!

For more information about the MISys Manufacturing System, go to

Friday, April 08, 2011

US Manufacturing Sector - Productive, but #2

In 2010, the US Manufacturing sector contributed $1.9 trillion to the US economy, growing by 12% over the previous year. The overall US economy at $15 trillion in GDP is by far the largest in the world, dwarfing #2 China at $6 trillion. However, in 2010 China claimed the title of the largest manufacturing economy, displacing the US from that position that it has claimed for the past 110 years. If there is any solace for US manufacturers, it is that they produce roughly the same amount of products with 1/10th of the labor that China does. That high productivity means that US manufacturers are well positioned in industries utilizing automated or high tech processes. Source: IHF Global Insights

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Focus on New Features: Mobile Alerts Come to MISys Manufacturing 5.0

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some observations about the impact of my bank's acquisition by another institution that used a different online banking software package. All in the life of the financial world's food chain, I suppose.

I forgot to mention one change I didn't anticipate (and one that has turned out to be most useful): the software's ability to send an alert to my computer or cell phone whenever some pre-determined event occurs. In my case, I started receiving email messages from the bank every time a withdrawal of more than $10 was transacted. My old bank never offered me this service and, honestly, I never yearned for it. But now that I have it, the security in knowing that some activity is taking place in my bank accounts is a feature I would count among the Top 10 if I ever decided to switch banks.

When were were brainstorming "neat things we could add to MISys Manufacturing" last year, my recent banking experience came to mind. "What if I could get an email whenever an item dipped below the reorder level?" I asked. "What if you don't care that your wire nuts drop below the reorder level, but your connecting rods fall below minimum?" someone countered. "What if I want to know that a purchase order is overdue?" another person asked. "Do you want to receive an alert the first time this occurs, or every time? On weekend, or just weekdays? During the night, or just during working hours?" All good questions to ask.

I can tell you that with MISys Manufacturing version 5.0 in final testing, that the concept of what has become know as "Mobile Alerts" has developed quite nicely. Whether you spend the day glued to your desktop, or out and about with a smartphone tucked in your pocket, I'm confident that this feature will become one of your "Top 10" in the new MISys -- coming soon to a computer and mobile device near you.

Learn more about MISys Manufacturing by visiting the MISys website at

Monday, April 04, 2011

Follow Up, Follow Through

As with training someone to do a task, the training is not complete until the trainee can perform on his/her own. So is the completion of a transaction such as software licensing. The service isn’t complete until the end user has been provided with everything needed to achieve the return on investment that is expected. What we offer includes training, consulting services and priority support.

At MISys, our Customer Service Staff stays in continual contact with users until the conversion is complete. We follow up at regular intervals to check status of the conversion and offer whatever services we have available to help maximize the users’ return on investment.

If you do need help with implementation or conversion, don’t wait for us to call. Do contact us with anything with which you think that we can help.

Visit us online at