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Written by: host
7/8/2011 6:38 PM  RssIcon

EFFICIENT STOCK ORDERING SYSTEMS
Terminology: The term “Supplier” is used in a generic manner and covers all companies that supply goods and services including Wholesalers, Corporates, and Distributors.
 

STOCK ORDERING

Stock management can be a major issue for businesses. The time it takes a staff member to order inventory each day, week, fortnight, or month comes down more to a staff management issue as much as a stock management issue. Use of staff time, and more importantly, experience is something that many businesses do not consider in the greater scheme of things. Just as a staff member gets comfortable with the stock ordering system, that person may decide to move on. Yet again, unless very well documented “systems” are in place, this creates major headaches for the business and new staff members who have to be trained.
 

SUPPLIER ASSISTANCE

It also remains a fallacy that your trusted main Supplier can solve these problems for you. There are TWO reasons for this. One is obvious and immediate; you DO NOT purchase 100% of your stock items from just one source. While you may purchase 70%, the other 30% means that you do not have a complete universal solution to your stock management problem. So, it follows that even if they were able to provide excellent tools (including PDA devices, online ordering, etc) the other 30% is still unresolved and creates multiple “systems” within your business for one task. The second reason is a longer term view of your business. You may, at some stage decide to change your main Supplier! If you rely on your Supplier to provide “systems” for your business then you will experience great pain when you try to make that break. 
 

MULTIPLE SYSTEMS

One has to ask why your Supplier has ordering systems for you. It is of course to make your job easier to order from them, and to make it easier for them to receive accurate orders from you. These may be systems that allow you to use a local program or go on to a web site to place orders. This may contain their product catalogue for you to order from as opposed to phoning them up. There are however two issues to consider.

Firstly, you have just done all the “typing” for them into their system, saving them possibly tens of thousands of dollars in toll free phone calls and salaried data entry staff. Thank yourself.

Secondly, you have just created multiple “systems” for one task within your business, given that each Supplier will have a different system for ordering!

Finally, and possibly the most important one for businesses that usually deal with more than one Supplier for same/similar items, there is great risk of double-orders. Let me explain. Let’s just say that one staffer was asked to, and ordered Product A from a regular Supplier and it may have gone to back-order for a day. Then another staffer/owner sees an incredible special from another Supplier or a sales rep, and orders it also. The problem: because the back-order is not in your system (since you are using their systems), your PMS will not warn you of a double-order! You will of course end up with multiple orders.

Traditional thinking has been to use Suppliers systems to order and then for the BMS to import their invoices. While an acceptable method this is not always completly accurate. The goods recieved from the supplier may not necessarily be what the Supplier sent back as an invoice, potentially with errors in pricing and/or quantity sent (dangers of importing invoices). Example: Practice orders 10 units, invoice is sent for 10 units but only 9 in the box. Supplier will send one back-order or supply credit. Do we import financial invoice for 10? Do we wait for credit note and hope it comes? Do we wait for one on back-order? How do we record and follow-up in busy periods for multiple events? All these issues need to be seamlessly handled without sticky notes on your computer or scrawling on your invoices! The PAYMENT run to your Suppliers at month end needs to balance with your actual receipts and not necessarily their invoices!
 

THE SOLUTION

This is how we recommend you achieve efficiency within your practice to resolve all issues mentioned above. For now, try to be selfish and just focus on what your practice needs to achieve. Firstly you need to create a purchase order within HAIRLINKSQL. This will avoid any double orders as the system will look across all pending orders and all Suppliers when you place an order. Purchase Orders can be created in several ways: Manually, Automatically, and via a PDA (highly recommended).


 

Manual Ordering

This is no different to any other system; simply select products that you wish to order from a Supplier and they go onto the order until you are ready to “submit” it. We will come to that later.
 

Automatic Ordering

Use the Automatic Order function within HAIRLINKSQL. This usually looks at the stock on hand, the maximum stock level and then the minimum trigger level so that it can maintain maximum stock that you usually want. You could turn on seasonal ordering – this will default to the same minimum and maximum trigger levels for every month – you are then able to edit and update this for each month of the year. For example, you may want more of a particular retail item in summer months compared to winter months, and so on.



When you invoke the Automatic Order function, a special sub-option/tick box will ask if you wish to take unfinished bills into consideration. What this refers to are bills that are still open in Hospital and other parts of the business such as farm invoices yet to be finalised. If selected, the smart auto-order function will take account of these “out of inventory” items in its calculation algorithm before suggesting quantities for you to order and “submit”. Two further columns needs explanation as well.

Stop Sales: This “flag” can be set for any product at a Branch and/or store level (Note that each branch can have multiple stores). By having this set to Yes, this product will not appear in search screens when billing. This is particularly useful in two ways. The first is where you purchase products for internal use but do not wish staff to be able to bill it out. The second is where you may stock / not stock an item at a branch for store level. The end effect is that it will not appear in searches as well as price list reports or stock takes sheets and so on making it a “smart” feature.

Stop Purchasing: This “flag” indicates if you purchase this item at a branch or store level. This means that if set to Yes, users will not see this product when ordering items in the Accounts Payable Purchase Ordering system. This can be particularly useful where a product may be sold until stocks run out, but no further purchases are to be made (change of stocked brand, end of line, etc). This flag also covers items that you may produce but do not purchase from an outside source. All in all assists with good “systems” within your business.
 

PDA Ordering

There is no doubt that this is, by far, the very best way to manage inventory. A PDA stands for “Personal Digital Assistant” and is a hand-held device with an integrated barcode scanner.

Note that PDA devices supplied by your Supplier may be limiting in that it can only scan and order what they sell. As mentioned before, we are looking at it from your perspective and not the Suppliers’.

STOCKLINKSQL is a complete solution for stock management and is highly recommended. It is a PDA device with custom software that integrates fully with HAIRLINKSQL. For a full and comprehensive explanation please read the appropriate chapter of the manual for STOCKLINKSQL.

It does the following for your practice:

  • Stock Take: This device is Supplier agnostic so you can use it regularly to do stock takes for all your stock. You can do part of your inventory by category or the whole building. Why is it smart? Unlike traditional PDA systems that load the product file to capture stock on shelves to then update inventory, STOCKLINKSQL loads a HAIRLINKSQL generated “Stock Sheet”. This gives the device more intelligence and even allows the user to “find” items that had yet to be scanned and updated (missing inventory in different parts of the building). Multiple STOCKLINKSQL units can be used concurrently at different branches as well. The same STOCKLINKSQL PDA can also be used and rotated at different departments and branches.
  • Scan and Order: This function allows the user to simply walk the whole building and scan items and enter quantities required. The PDA can recognise manufacturer’s barcodes as well as HAIRLINKSQL generated labels and special shelf-talker labels. Once synchronised, HAIRLINKSQL will pull in all the data and create Purchase Orders for ALL your Suppliers (with their product codes) in one go! It does this because each product can be set up with a preferred Supplier (but multiple Supplier-specific codes). Question: What if I am not sure who I may order certain products from (may shop around for best price)? Answer: Simply do not select a preferred Supplier for those products and HAIRLINKSQL will generate a Purchase Order under a SYSTEM / CASUAL Supplier. You are then able to select each item and then “transfer” to another Supplier’s order on-screen as you decide “on the fly”. This is a COMPLETE ordering solution for your practice.
  • Auto-Order Verification: This is an advanced feature that allows the user to generate automatic orders from within HAIRLINKSQL, import these into the PDA, and then scan the shelves to verify and update exactly what they want. This feature can assist to continually check on stock numbers and then update minimum and maximum trigger levels, especially for seasonal sensitive products.
  • To really use STOCKLINKSQL efficiently we recommend that you use individual barcode and shelf-talker labels generated by HAIRLINKSQL. For small or high volume items simply attach Shelf Talker stickers to shelves or inside drawers (eg. consumables) and have the entire business bar coded. Once you have done this, there is no doubt that you will see great efficiency within your business. One reason to use your own labels is that it can print your company name with the description and price; while this gives you “branding” exposure, it can also make any returns easier to authenticate and process. 

        
Product Barcode Label                                    Shelf Talker Label             
 

Receipting Goods

When goods are received, simply use the “Convert Order to Invoice” if prices are available, or “Convert Order to Packing Slip” if the invoice is to come later. This will automatically create a financial invoice within HAIRLINKSQL with all items ordered – no re-typing is necessary.

At this point, best practice is to enter the grand total of the invoice on the top of the screen and select the invoice payment date (HAIRLINKSQL handles a sophisticated open-invoice payment system with date sensitive delayed payment support). Now, simply go down the line of quantity and cost/list price and match it through. That’s the standard approach; it also has more sophisticated options to deal with keeping sell price static, updating sell price, etc. (Please refer to the appropriate section of the Manual on full functionality). Then simply click on FINISH – if the grand total entered matches the total at the bottom it will update stock and financials immediately. If they don’t quite match then you have not checked/counted things as well as you may have thought...is that a short-order I see..... 10 on their invoice but I have only counted 9 in the box? Thank God for not just accepting their Invoice directly into my system!

If there are short-supplied items, the system will give you an option to keep it on back-order or to simply cancel.

Smarts: Note that HAIRLINKSQL has full financials from order to payment, including payment files for internet banking for most major banks – no need to write cheques or load payments manually – and this applies to ALL payments and all Suppliers! There are certain smart functions that user may appreciate:

  • Takes back-orders into consideration when auto-ordering
  • Receipting invoices from Orders can have ad-hoc unplanned phone-ordered items added on
  • Back Orders from a past orders sent on one invoice can be handled with an import/merge option with one-click while receipting – it sorts out the back-order transaction automatically
  • Handles bonus stock in a separate column for clarity, audit, and reporting
  • Account Payables handles Rebates as stock, credit to account, or cash payment seamlessly and in a financially accurate manner. 
Disclaimer: This blog entry is just that, a blog designed to make you think of new and innovative ways to approach problems. It contains the author’s thoughts and comments from technical expertise gained over 30 years in the IT industry. Every reader is advised to make up their own mind and the author is happy to receive any questions via support@cfl.co.nz.

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