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