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.