SoftwareAccounting / Inventory software for Linux

 

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
41719.1 
Hi, I am looking around at software for Linux.

In particular right now, I am seeing a need coming for a pretty strong inventory control related aspect:
- Parts
- Sub assemblies
- Assemblies
- Location
- Value at each stage if possible
- Possibly integration with UPS shipping, if possible

I have used some very simple stuff in the past, but this is going to be a bit more complicated than a spreadsheet.

My guess is that this usually is inside of accounting packages, but I am not sure.

I recently moved from win to Linux Mint for desktop.  In a perfect world, a linux based solution would be nice.

Not sure if this is practical, but I am envisioning having this on a small server on site, for multiple users (1 -10) to have controlled access.  It would be nice to have remote access, but I am unsure about the security aspects of doing this.

There are a ton of accounting programs out there, but I wondered if anyone has experience (good or mixed) so I can avoid at least some of the more obvious pitfalls.

It doesn't have to be free, but I don't have $10K either.

Thanks

Harry

 
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.2 In reply to 41719.1 
Would this be enterprise resource planning stuff? Haven't used any but there's a list here:
http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20091129070817552/ERP.html

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
41719.3 
Thanks for the leads.   Damn those are expensive.  It would feel like I am paying a tax on everything we do.

It reminds me of why I keep using spreadsheets.

I need to keep looking though, as what we are doing is not sufficient.
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.4 In reply to 41719.3 
Wait, what? The ones I linked were all free/opensource, I think?

I did a bit more reading around last night (I have a supply chain  management exam in 3 weeks which includes a section on ERP stuff) and Openbravo seems to have a pretty good rep (especially as it has an active community and lots of tutorials), it's free to download but you'll probably have to invest quite a lot of time working it out: http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20091129071035537/Openbravo.html

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If Feds call you and say something bad on me, it may prove what I said are truth, they are afraid of it.
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  koswix     
41719.5 In reply to 41719.4 
(Ah yes, they all seem to pimp very expensive hosting and support packages. If you're comfortable learning the tech and have a spare linux machine you can set it up yourself for free, though: http://www.openbravo.com/product-download/ )

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If Feds call you and say something bad on me, it may prove what I said are truth, they are afraid of it.
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  koswix     
41719.6 In reply to 41719.5 
((Or not - the deeper I go the more confused I get. God-damnit they are expensive))

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 From:  koswix  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.7 In reply to 41719.1 
OK I'm more confused then ever with openbravo now. Their price guide mentions that the community edition is free (but with limited feature set), but when you try and get it on their website it asks you to register for a free 30 day trial of the community edition :?

There are other options out there, and I think most of them provide some level of free functionality - you'd only start paying once you  need to process squillions of transactions, and at that point it would most likely work out much better to pay for it and better organise the business.

ERP seems to work best (only work?) if you embrace it from the ground up, though. Ill conceived implementation have a tendency to break companies: http://higheredbcs.wiley.com/legacy/college/turban/0471229679/add_text/ch08/fowmeyer.pdf

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If Feds call you and say something bad on me, it may prove what I said are truth, they are afraid of it.
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 From:  Kalsarikänni (DSMITHHFX)  
 To:  koswix     
41719.8 In reply to 41719.7 
Remind me to never go into business.
"Force Trump to spend as much as five minutes with one of his own supporters." - Secret Republican blueprint for stopping Donald Trump
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  koswix     
41719.9 In reply to 41719.7 
Thanks for looking into it, and sort of verifying what I am seeing on cost.  It looks inexpensive, but the monthly or annual fees per user are pretty significant.  Apparently, this is pretty common in accounting software, although I am not really sure why.

Accounting software does not need to change all that often, or it seems like it. 

While in a perfect world, software would be precisely tuned to how I work, in reality, I use software every day that is made for many and adjust the way I work to deal with it.  Great Plains used to be a pretty good package at a reasonable price - until MS bought it.

Anyway, will continue to look into it and maybe post some examples of monthly cost / features in case anyone is curious.

 
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.10 In reply to 41719.9 
I'd certainly be interested - I have an exam on this stuff (well, related to it anyway) in a little over a week! 

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  koswix     
41719.11 In reply to 41719.10 
It gets tricky as you go up in feature sets.

When I look at these things from a "sales man" perspective, it is really handy to have the information in one place, but also there are conversations and "explorations" that you have with customers that would drive most accountants and production managers crazy.  While the ultimate goal is to try to lead the customers toward standard products, it isn't always possible, and sometimes non standard payment terms are important.

From a "production control" and "service department" perspective, it is really useful to know part numbers, drawings, sub assemblies, assemblies and how it fits together.  Of course one of the challenges is that there are multiple valuations for any item:
- What was paid for the parts when purchased in low quantity (1- 10)
- What was  paid for the parts when purchased in volume  (100 - 1000 at a time)
- Cost to store in inventory
- Labor to assemble to its current state
- Tax value
- value due to aging and obscelescence
- price that is being used to transfer it from one internal department to another
- retail or wholesale price to the end customer as a complete "product"
- retail or wholesale price to the end customer as a spare part
- FIFO
- LIFO
- Other stuff I have not thought of
- cash accounting approaches to life
- accrual accounting approaches to life
- sales tax value (which in the US varies wildly, even town to town within the same state)

I am trying to move my mind from the engineering and sales side into the accounting / production side to really start grasping this stuff, and it isn't all that straightforward.

Good luck on the test.

Harry


 
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.12 In reply to 41719.11 
Another area that gets tricky is customer support vs production commitments.

There is a lot of push to absolutely minimize inventory, and just stock the absolute minimum of parts to build something.  At the same time, customers that have purchased products, especially for production machinery, want very fast repairs.  A down system could stop their entire production line, so there is pressure to complete a repair in 2 - 4 hours, with big penalties for each hour after.

This makes it very interesting for the "existing down customer" need vs "production commitment to delivery new equipment" when a part is sitting in inventory, now double committed, or might even be on an existing, built machine, nearly ready to ship out the door.

What is the value of a part that can be purchased for $20 each, minimum purchase quantity 100 each only, you have only 1 in stock, but need 3 ?

I have no idea, but it feels like $ 2000 / 3 =  nearly $800 each.

Harry
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.13 In reply to 41719.12 
My understanding (admittedly limited and likely flawed) of the ERP approach is that it expects you to adapt to the ideal process, rather than trying to fit the ERP solution to your existing processes. I can certainly see the benefits from doing that (essential working towards a best-practice setup), but the upheaval in an established company must be staggering (indeed: see the Fox Meyer example of how not to do it!).

The course I'm taking is called Supply Chain Management and it's been a real eye-opener, to me at least, of the various ways of approaching an entire supply chain (from raw materials, production, stock levels, customer delivery etc.) and the various methods of accounting.
 
Quote: 
What is the value of a part that can be purchased for $20 each, minimum purchase quantity 100 each only, you have only 1 in stock, but need 3 ?

I have no idea, but it feels like $ 2000 / 3 =  nearly $800 each.
Yes that is a difficult one. There's all sorts of things to take into account - storage costs for the unused items, opportunity costs because your cash is tied up in 'useless' stock, depreciation of the assets, reliability of a part that's stored for long periods etc. etc. etc. But then as you say you may have a requirement to be able to supply that part very quickly, so you'd need some fairly indepth failure analysis to work out how many you need to keep in stock. As for the extra you had to order, perhaps it's better to store them (which incurs costs as mentioned) or maybe it's better to dump them cheap on another market, cutting your losses and hopefully recouping some of the capital and reducing the unit cost of the ones you sold?

My exam is largely a thinking-out-loud exercise, so your thoughts are genuinely useful to me! Referring to real world examples is essential, and being able to refer to an example my lecturer hasn't come across before (even if it is 'some guy on the internet said...') is definitely worth something!

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If Feds call you and say something bad on me, it may prove what I said are truth, they are afraid of it.
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  koswix     
41719.14 In reply to 41719.13 
quote: koswix
My understanding (admittedly limited and likely flawed) of the ERP approach is that it expects you to adapt to the ideal process, rather than trying to fit the ERP solution to your existing processes. I can certainly see the benefits from doing that (essential working towards a best-practice setup), but the upheaval in an established company must be staggering (indeed: see the Fox Meyer example of how not to do it!).


My exam is largely a thinking-out-loud exercise, so your thoughts are genuinely useful to me! Referring to real world examples is essential, and being able to refer to an example my lecturer hasn't come across before (even if it is 'some guy on the internet said...') is definitely worth something!

You are exactly right about the upheaval in companies.  Intel is a good example, they tried to adapt either SAP or the other major brand (oracle ?) to the company's method of doing business, failed, and had to change how Intel does business to match how the software works. 

I am glad that my limited understanding of ERP and accounting is potentially useful to you.  I would not mind hearing the ideas of how ERP and GAAP deal with those questions, if it is ever convenient to post the info.

In general, I agree that accounting and ERP are not such different concepts, company to company, that massive customization should be needed.  That is a little bit of what irks me at the same time, it isn't that expensive to roll out a standard software product, why are accounting / erp packages so expensive with ongoing monthly fees? 

A lot of the older ERP products would auto order a part based on a High / Low quantity trigger, regardless of if it was being used a lot, or not.  Production purchasing was triggered by increasing the part count by adding a project name to each part.  I don't think that is used much anymore.
 

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.15 In reply to 41719.14 
How did your accounting test go?
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 From:  koswix  
 To:  Harry (HARRYN)     
41719.16 In reply to 41719.15 
I think it went well - I was able to use our 'conversation' to add a bit of depth to one part, so if I don't get an A+ I'm blaming you!

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If Feds call you and say something bad on me, it may prove what I said are truth, they are afraid of it.
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  koswix     
41719.17 In reply to 41719.16 
quote: koswix
I think it went well - I was able to use our 'conversation' to add a bit of depth to one part, so if I don't get an A+ I'm blaming you!

 :-) Great to hear.  As far as blame - sure why not, I get blamed for lots of things.  I have pretty thick skin at this point.

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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
41719.18 
Well, back to looking at accounting software again.

Didn't make a decision before - so back at it.

More or less the same goals as before:
- Even though the data is not really "super secret" or anything, I prefer to host it in - house to avoid loosing it in case the hosting company goes out of business.
- Needs to support bill of materials and sub assemblies
- Trying to avoid quicken variations
- Mostly use linux mint, but have not yet gotten my wife off of her mac
- The company is pretty small - like real small.  Still, would be nice to be able to support growth and not have to dump it if / when we reach 100 people.

Open to ideas.
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
41719.19 
Starting to look at the accounting software Ledger SMB.

Anyone have any experience with it, especially related to inventory of parts and assemblies?

Thanks

Harry
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 From:  Harry (HARRYN)  
 To:  ALL
41719.20 
Gave up (at least for now)  on ledger smb.

Now looking at WebERP.

Hired a part time consultant to advise me on things like this.  We have known each other a long time, and he is a retired customer of mine. (purchasing manager of  a company I sold to 8 years ago.

Just to be clear, we had a very clean business relationship with no BS.  Very trust worthy guy, which is a big deal since anyone that you let into your business at this level basically has access to your business credit card.

 
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