21 May, 2015
The problem with reading Dilbert strips is that so many of us recognize the dysfunctional patterns of behavior from our own work environments. So the axiom applies — we laugh because it is funny, and we laugh because it is true.
That is why the strip below touches such a nerve with us here at Panatrack.
As Dynamics GP users contact us in their search for a warehouse management system (WMS), many of them who are inventory-centric have little visibility into the source of much of their company’s worth and their ability to deliver on customer expectations. Maintenance-oriented organizations running the most advanced reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) initiatives have a hard time realizing the benefit of increased uptime without visibility of the spares and repairs in their stock room. Organizations may also have a hard time, as pointed out in this article in New Equipment Digest, coming up with accurate information on the fixed assets listed on their general ledger.
These situations are classic sit-com fodder. Somebody has an embarrassing secret, and the tension builds until the secret is discovered to great hilarity. When the secrets take place not on the screen but in your business, it may be hard to find the humor in your situation as that tension builds. The big reveal can be traumatic or career-ending. Do you have an inventory shrinkage problem due to theft by employees? Are employees not recording inventory used on production runs or on billable projects? Do you have to engage in regular cycle counts or physical inventory to uncover these problems? Are stock-outs torpedoing relationships with your customers? Does uncertainty in stock levels force you to keep too much money tied up in inventory, robbing you of the opportunity to grow as an organization?
During your search for WMS or asset management extension to Dynamics GP, you may experience other comic moments as software vendors oversell or mischaracterize their products. And they will have the last laugh as you struggle with your new post-go-live reality. We see these mini-business-sitcoms unfold every day. We see companies that sell standalone WMS software claim their software updates Dynamics GP in real time. It doesn’t. To do that, you need a true extension to Dymamics GP that uses the SQL Server database running under GP as its data master. We see them push cost into the duration of the product lifecycle by forcing customers to buy into an extensive number of support hours. If the product works as it should, why would you need more than a standard maintenance package? Is it because they anticipate regular and recurrent problems? Or because they just want to maximize revenue from the sale?
The element of surprise is important for comedy. Just as we don’t know exactly when the jack in the box is going to come popping out to give us that little start, we don’t know when the punch line is going to hit. This is not an acceptable model for inventory management, asset management or for running your business. So we encourage people to add real-time barcode data capture to their instance of Dynamics GP where appropriate. And in the process of selecting that softare, ask a lot of questions. We feel that the more you know, the more likely we are to wind up working together.
19 May, 2015
Nobody looks forward to conducting a physical inventory. But for users of Microsoft Dynamics GP, there are powerful tools that make this process less painful, including the Stock Count Schedule in Microsoft Dynamics GP.
As the leaders in barcode solutions specifically for inventory and Dynamics GP, we are intimately familiar with this functionality, and offer up the following tips (apart from adding PanatrackerGP as a tool to make the count entry more efficient).
First, we will point out how the Stock Count Schedule setup works. You can create one master schedule or you can create a number of schedules. You can either use the option to define the Site or set up your schedule to include multiple sites. If you are using multiple-bin tracking in Dynamics GP, you will need to include the bins in addition to the site. GP makes this a bit easier with the ability to complete a mass add. There are a number of options for a mass add including ABC Code, Item Class, Generic Description, and Bin. You can define a range for any one of these options.
Only one item-site-bin combination can be included as part of a “started” count, so if you are setting up several scheduled counts, be cautious not to duplicate them. Once your count is saved and you are ready to complete the physical activity of the count, you will “start” the count which then captures the Dynamics GP On Hand quantities that the count will be verified against. You will also be able to print out count sheets or the count schedule will be available to use within PanatrackerGP to capture and submit the counts back to GP’s Stock Count Entry.
If you will have several team members working on a count team, it is important to define the physical areas they will be assigned to count. You may also want to consider purchasing colored stickers which can be applied to the inventory when the count is completed. If you have a second count team, then it may make sense to use two different colors. If you use multiple-bin tracking in GP, you may want to consider creating multiple count schedules based on bin ranges. This can make the reconciliation process a bit easier.
Ideally, all inventory activities should be stopped during the physical count activities. The variance to the count is the captured GP quantity at the time the count is started. Physically moving, taking out or adding inventory from the start of the count to the physical count completion can generate false discrepancies. You may end up recording duplicate adds or reduction to your inventory. If you do need to handle inventory during the count, record the transactions and save them in a batch, but do not post them. During the reconciliation process, access to unposted transactions is available to account for discrepancies. Variance quantities can be adjusted manually prior to processing the Stock Count in Dynamics GP. If you don’t have the luxury of freezing inventory activities, you may also want to consider the Blue Moon QualityCount as an option. PanatrackerGP integrates with that solution in addition to the Dynamics GP Stock Count for efficiently capturing the counts.
Before you start your count, it is recommended that all inventory transactions are posted within Dynamics GP. This includes adjustments and site transfers. You may have allocations on sales transactions and manufacturing orders; however, these allocations only affect available quantity and not the on hand quantity. If for any reason you have sales transactions that have been physically fulfilled — where the inventory has been actually shipped but the sales transactions but need to remain pending processing for the transfer and/or post, create a Smartlist report and save to an excel spreadsheet. This can be used in your final review of variances. Also consider Panatrack’s Advanced Order Fulfillment transaction where the pick moves inventory to a staging or pick bin which can be segregated from your stock count of the stock bin locations.
Once your counts have all be entered, you can view the variances and reconcile to any new unposted transactions, or to your known unposted transaction list that was captured at the start of your process. You may want to consider setting up a Smartlist for your Stock Count to create an Excel spreadsheet for easier analysis.
Once you have reviewed and made any adjustments to your final variance quantities, then your Stock Count is ready to process in GP. By processing the Stock Count, the variance transaction is automatically created. If you have used the Smartlist and Excel option, you may opt to process your stock count prior to adjusting your variances, and set the variance transaction so it does not automatically post. You can then move your analysis to your spreadsheets and then make changes to the variance transaction prior to posting. This may be easier if your Stock Count Schedule has a large number of items or if you have a number of variances.
Add efficiency and automation to your stock count activities with the PanatrackerGP inventory management solution for Dynamics GP.
Panatrack Vice President of Business Development Pam Burnham is a respected expert on inventory and asset tracking and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Her background includes both hands-on and management experience in accounting, operations, sales and computer technology.
15 May, 2015
After joining Panatrack just long enough ago that I how to work the coffee machine and transfer calls, I am feeling the ground under my feet. Panatrack is a fraction of the size of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software company I left to come on board and join my longtime associate Michael Burnham in this endeavor to help make friends and influence people. But the company is an established and venerable as any other independent software vendor (ISV) in this industry, and I stepped into this new role with confidence.
Many of the challenges ISVs and Microsoft itself are facing are very familiar to me. Other issues Dynamics GP users struggle with will present me with a bit of a learning curve I look forward to assaulting.
You can’t have worked in software marketing long without trying to help people understand the challenge of evolving enterprise software products to a more cloud-friendly infrastructure. I think Panatrack is positioned pretty well here, with a robust, thick client that communicates with Dynamics GP perfectly well over web protocols without a terminal server intermediary. It will be interesting to see how Dynamics GP evolves as Microsoft continues its focus on its Azure product, but I am confident that Panatrack is well-positioned for this future.
In a time of tightening financial regulation and asset based lending for working capital and acquisitions, asset management is a top priority for many of you. Involvement in fixed asset accounting rather than maintenance-focused asset lifecycle management will have me doing some late night reading.
I have had the pleasure of working with some pretty smart people over the years in the area of automatic data capture (ADC), and I came on board with a strong appreciation for barcode software that extends a core ERP application. There is no substitute for this approach in companies that undertake a large number of asset or inventory transactions. And Panatrack is the vendor of choice for this type of solution for Dynamics GP.
Dynamics GP is used as the general ledger for some large organizations, but can be an attractive solution for small to medium enterprises. It will be a joy to delve into this part of the economy that is on a growth surge now and in the years to come will probably drive more new jobs than the enterprise space, which some folks say is ripe for a bit of a correction in the event that interest rates come back up. I have worked with and for closely-held businesses most of my life, and look forward to becoming re-acquainted with this part of the market where transparency and honesty seem to work well as a business strategy.
The size and scope of the Dynamics GP ecosystem means we at Panatrack will have to work pretty hard to break through the clutter and let value added resellers (VARs) know about our unique value proposition. Between the large number of VARs and the broad spectrum of prospective customers across multiple industries, we know we have a communication challenge on our hands. Yes, our ultimate goal is to sell you on the reliability and stability of Panatrack’s robust ADC solutions. But after decades during which the industrial trade media have withered and suffered horrible attrition, we know that it is contingent upon us to provide you, our partners and future customers, with good information and insights into the technology and trends that affect your business software decisions. We will learn together, you and I, about the technology and how to use it to solve your business problems.
Because my post-secondary educaton lo these many years ago involved learning from some serious hard-nosed journalists, my own approach even to my work as a shameless software shill is to be honest and direct and really try to provide a public service. We have on staff here not only people with deep insights into ADC technology, but also people who can provide expert advice on how to leverage the underlying functionality of Dynamics GP. Among our ISV and VAR partners, there are also insights we will curate and share. So you can expect that we will be packaging up these insights, collected over coffee or scotch or whatever else, into bite-sized morsels you can easily digest on a regular basis.
You will be hearing more from us as we launch new products, forge new relationships, and true to our Midwestern values, strive to be the type of go-giver that Zig Ziglar said we should be.
You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. ~ Zig Ziglar
So tell me … what do you really want? And how can we help you get it?
28 April, 2015
Or, Why You Need Both Inventory Management and Inventory Control
Any lean manufacturing guru or APICS trainer will stress role of inventory management in achieving business efficiency. It is no secret that stocking too much inventory ties up cash that could be used for other purposes and having too little inventory will result in stock-outs and back orders to the point where the ability to serve the customer is damaged.
That is the no-brainer and is well-accepted and well-understood. There may be a distinction however between what we typically think of when we use the term inventory management—the pull-based replenishment systems, the Pareto analyses to determine how different SKUs should be treated, etc.—and the actually ability to achieve visibility and control of the inventory as it exists on the ground. Some business dictionaries see inventory management and inventory control as synonymous.
But what of the purchasing organization that might make the best decisions they can about inventory management but does a poor job recording what was purchased, which project or product the purchase accrues against, and if and when that inventory was in fact received in the quantities intended? The wheels fall off the wagon in a big hurry if theory and practice are not related. Or what of the business that strives to keep inventory levels within established parameters but finds that parts or materials may be consumed without an adequate record? Or perhaps there is a record of inventory consumption but it does not get entered in the system until days or weeks after the fact. How functional is an inventory management system that lacks inventory control or inventory tracking?
Even enterprise resource planning (ERP) software appropriate for small to medium inventory-related enterprises like Microsoft Dynamics GP, has powerful inventory management tools. In Microsoft Dynamics GP, there is some pretty advanced functionality for available to promise (ATP), advanced picking and landed cost. There is functionality dubbed Inventory Control as well, focusing on multiple costing methods, tiered pricing, alternate vendors and serial/lot tracking for selling items more efficiently.
But at Panatrack, we see inventory control as the place where the inventory management rubber of Dynamics GP meets the road. Your approach to inventory management is conceptual. What is actually going on with your inventory is concrete, and this requires concrete ways to reflect the true state of inventory in the warehouse. Which brings us to our first reason to make inventory control a top priority.
- Without sound inventory control, you are not in a position to execute on an inventory management process. Perhaps your process requires you to re-order on a given part or sub-assembly when you reach a certain threshold, but parts are taken from the store room or warehouse without being recorded, or at least not hitting the system until the end of a day, week or reporting period. In some cases, when there is a run on a popular item, hours can make a difference, and instantaneous visibility of part consumption is desirable. You don’t want to be promising the same inventory to two or more different customers, do you?
- Call it what you want … shrinkage, theft, losses. Whether you are in manufacturing, distribution or retail, human nature dictates that some material will disappear from any inventory-oriented business. If you think of your warehouse as a bank vault, you can start to imagine the different ways a bank controls their “inventory.” Deposits and withdrawals are carefully monitored. You can achieve the same degree of control in your inventory operation! And once you do, shrinkage will become less of a problem in part because you will have concrete data that enable detective controls of where your inventory is going.
- Many companies struggle with the aforementioned challenge of employees not recording inventory transactions. But sometimes they also struggle with a lack of transparency in purchasing and receiving in terms of what is ordered, what is received and then what inventory is released and available for production.
Even in the presence of the most noble and enlightened inventory management practices, lack of inventory control or inventory tracking will be a barrier to progress. That is one reason that barcode scanning for inventory control is such a popular add-on for a system like Microsoft Dynamics GP. When we automate the entry of large number of inventory transactions, they appear in Microsoft Dynamics GP instantaneously. We are no longer introducing human keypad error into our processes. And we can collect data at critical control points in our operation so we can ensure our inventory management plans are being executed.
THAT is the difference, in our minds, between inventory management and inventory control. You can find out more about our approach to inventory control, check out this whitepaper, Getting the Most from Inventory Management, Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics GP and Barcode Technology.
13 March, 2015
Here is a quick overview of the key new features
Microsoft Dynamics® GP 2015
We’re ready for GP2015 for both on-premise and hosted environments. (Don’t worry, we still support GP10, GP2010, and GP2013 too.)
FDA UDI and GS1 Barcode Support
The FDA has established a Unique Device Identification system to identify medical devices through their distribution and use. This system makes use of a single barcode that concatenates key information in a single barcode through the use of Application Identifiers.
Our new barcode parsing engine allow you to capture item, lot/serial, and other details with just a single barcode scan. We even support most custom user-defined barcode data formats to make your team more efficient.
Advanced Pick and Pack Features
Our Order Fulfillment transaction was always packed with functionality. But for many organizations, a single-step pick and pack isn’t always practical.
We’ve now introduced a two-step pick and pack workflow option. The Pick Transaction presents the pick list and allows the user to pick items to a movable bin or permanent staging area. Next, use the Pack Transaction to confirm and pack to a shipping container.
Other new features include warehouse zones, picking paths, and additional fulfillment optimizations.
Enhanced License Plate and Pallet Control
Move and transfer a group of inventory with a simple scan of a serialized unique ID (commonly referred to in the ‘biz as a “License Plate”). We’ve further expanded the use of this concept to go beyond the order fulfillment function: now group your items and apply a license plate at any point during your inventory management process.
Accurately and quickly record the items returned by customers and update the RMA transaction in the GP Returns Management module.
Case and Multi-Pack SKUs
Do you have barcoded items that represent a case or pack? Panatrack has extended the GP Manufacturer Item Cross Reference to associate with the corresponding unit-of-measure. Scan the barcode and PanatrackerGP automatically defaults the corresponding UoM for the transaction.
Site-Transfer Requisition and Fulfillment
Do you need to replenish stock for satellite locations or departments? Our Directed Transfer infrastructure provides the ability to create internal requests to transfer inventory. Enter, view and edit internal requisitions from our portal. Then, provide the warehouse team with an on-screen pick list to fulfill the requests and complete site transfer transactions.
Optionally, use a ‘via’ site to track in-transit inventory and enforce confirmation of receipt by the destination site. Remove finger-pointing by confirming the transfer at both ends.
New PanatrackerGP Dashboard Features
Along with the new Transfer Requisition and Bin Management consoles, we have a fresh new look. We’ve also enhanced our configuration interface, \added reporting tools, and added supplemental label printing support.
Handheld-scanner users can now create their own “favorite transactions” menu. Add your commonly-used transactions and gain quick access from a single menu screen.
6 March, 2015
Panatrack is once again excited to take part in Microsoft’s Convergence conference this year. Come and meet us in Atlanta, March 16 – 19, 2015!
At Microsoft Convergence, you’ll have a unique opportunity to network with other users and explore new solutions. Participate in interactive training sessions and group discussions.
Stop by our booth at #847, and learn how we simplify the tracking of inventory and assets for Dynamics GP.
24 November, 2014
Your sales representatives may be able to sell products while they are at a conference or meeting with customers; however, do they have access to critical inventory details and the ability to capture orders or complete sales transactions at the point of the sale? If you are using paper-based systems, the answer is likely ‘no’. Not only can this lead to inventory problems but it can also lead to unhappy customers. Streamline field sales and control inventory by implementing a stronger business tool with real-time inventory for Microsoft Dynamics GP.
Paper-based processes can be inefficient, especially for employees that make sales or service equipment outside of the office. Filling out paperwork in the field, then bringing those forms back to the office to enter the details into your business management solution is time-consuming and creates a delay for managers that need up-to-date financial and inventory data. Customers experience delays for orders that need to be entered for shipment or delivery from the warehouse. In addition, as customer and inventory details are transcribed from paper forms into your business systems, there is a risk for data-entry errors. Making financial or inventory decisions based on old or inaccurate data could lead to expensive mistakes.
The PanatrackerGP Field Sales and Inventory solution can streamline field sales and services activities and provide real-time data for your office team. As sales are completed or inventory is used on a job site, your field team can record those transactions with PanatrackerGP Field Sales and Inventory solution which is integrated with Microsoft Dynamics® GP. Sales or service employees that carry inventory with them will have up-to-date inventory status as they record transactions used during field services or complete a direct sale transaction. In addition, an order for later shipment or delivery can be captured. Cash and check payments can be accepted for multiple transactions, a signature capture is available to confirm delivery or receipt of products or services, and, receipts can be printed for customers. Transactions are stored on the device if real-time connection isn’t available; otherwise transactions can be easily submitted back to Microsoft Dynamics GP when network connection is available.
PanatrackerGP will eliminate paper-based recording and redundant data-entry of your sales, inventory, and service-related transactions. Add accountability and a more efficient process by implementing better technology. Contact Panatrack to learn more on Inventory & Asset Tracking solutions available for Microsoft Dynamics GP.
17 October, 2014
As the 2014 GPUG Summit draws to a close this afternoon in the wonderful city of St. Louis, the entire Panatrack team would like to take a moment and thank all the attendees and sponsors for their contributions that make this a premier Dynamics gathering. We are sure everyone has had their fill of knowledge, tips & tricks, and good times during this exciting week. We know our team had a wonderful experience connecting with customers and partners from all over, providing them with as much information as possible about the inventory capabilities present within Dynamics GP.
If you happen to be interested in a personalized web demo or would like to continue exploring how PanatrackerGP can significantly (and easily!) extend to the power of Inventory Management within Dynamics GP, please contact our team at email@example.com or by phone at 262-361-4950.
Thank you to all who were part of making these 5 days a rousing success. We look forward to seeing you all at the next Dynamics event!
13 October, 2014
Panatrack is proud to be a sponsor and exhibitor at this year’s GPUG Summit in St. Louis. Over the next 5 days GP users from all over are coming together for one of the premier networking and knowledge sharing events in the Dynamics Community. With sessions to cover any questions you may have combined with an expo featuring the most popular an effective ISVs GPUG is sure to send all attendees home with something new to share.
Stop by the Panatrack Booth #1413 to speak with our solutions team and learn more about the Inventory, Fixed Asset & Mobile Sales solutions we offer. Panatrack will be happy to answer any questions about our applications and even take the time to show off some of the recommended hardware. Keeping with the GPUG spirit we want you to leave having had the opportunity to learn more about the potential of Dynamics GP with the addition of the PanatrackerGP Solutions.
If you cannot make the GPUG Expo, please feel free to contact our solution team at 262-361-4950 or firstname.lastname@example.org
28 August, 2014
You may have only started out with a few key products but business has grown and so have your product lines. It’s nearly impossible to track dozens or hundreds of the product variations that are passed through your warehouse every day. Add additional warehouses or regional distribution centers to that equation and you may find yourself swimming in inventory data that may be questionable, if not outright inaccurate, which can lead to an even bigger nightmare. Tame out-of-control inventory with a better business management tool.
A small volume of products may be easily managed by specialty software or simple spreadsheets; however, as business grows, these entry-level solutions may not be able to keep up. Manually counting and handling inventory can also lead to skewed data, which could cause procurement to order more inventory than is necessary or not enough. Customers that experience delays or stock-outs could become frustrated and turn to a competitor. Support your growing business with a better technology, a robust warehouse management solution such as PanatrackerGP.
PanatrackerGP brings time-saving automation and barcode technology to speed up and improve accuracy behind inventory management. You can use barcodes to track raw materials, assemblies, and finished products as they enter, move around your warehouse, and are shipped to customers. PanatrackerGP also enables tracking of items that may be shifted between bins, if using multiple bins, or between warehouses and distribution centers. You can have accurate inventory data and know where it is located in real time.
Configuration settings in PanatrackerGP Transaction Manager enable you to define your unique data capture routine. Hand-held barcode computers and the easy-to-use interface will improve productivity throughout the warehouse. You can also add features to integrate PanatrackerGP with order fulfillment, project accounting transfers, shipping and receiving, and other parts of your manufacturing or distribution operations. Use the features that make sense for your team and your business operations and tame the chaos associated with inventory management.
If your business and product lines are growing and your business solutions aren’t, it may be time to implement better tools. Contact Panatrack to learn how to tame out-of-control inventory with PanatrackerGP.