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: