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Shared Stock Software Development

Hi,

I wonder if you might be of help regarding a project that we are currently in development of at our company. Let me explain our problem and the solution we've had so far, and why I'd love some input please.

We have 6 companies that all work from the same location.  It's shared by the format of the Directors/Partnerships but they operate individually from an administration level. However, one thing in common is that we ALL share the same stock from our 8 warehouses.

For years, we've been using Sage to manage our accounts and sales, however our business is a unique one (as far as we know) from the point that we are sharing stock, and surprise surprise - Sage does not allow a central stock database between several companies.

We've looked around at a few logistics trade shows on stock management, but so far haven't found any companies that can offer software that will handle this.  Obviously we also need to keep track of sales that are actioned between the group, so that the owner of the product can issue an "inter-company" invoice. 

So we've decided to take the bull by the horns and write some software internally ourselves and its currently in development.

My 3 questions to the lovely accountants are these:-

1) Have you ever come across any software packages that can handle multiple companies (each with their own set of nominal ledger sets and accounts) and yet share the same stock database?

2) Can you forsee any issues that we might have to address while writing this software

3) And cheekily, after we've finished it, would it be the kind of software you feel we might be able to offer the market place? Is there a demand for this kind of software in your experience?

I appreciate that you are all very busy people, so am not expecting you to answer in great lengths, but any indication would be helpful, and in advance I thank you for your time thus far.

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If you can afford it ....

I think that Microsoft Dynamics AX (ERP solution) can be configured to meet these needs.

Not a cheap solution but then you have a complicated business scenario to solve.

IMO developing software to achieve this could get very complicated because of the all the integration to other aspects such as the underlying financial systems.

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13th May 2011 14:22

Oops.. forgot to add..

I forgot to mention that our Accounts Dept are going to continue using Sage to deal with the nominal ledgers and day books etc.  Our software will deal with the following:-

Customers, Products, Suppliers, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, Invoices.

Everything will be grouped together into a batch file which will be supplied to Sage with Nominal Ledger information, Customer Account Code details, Invoice Details and Quantities etc.

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14th May 2011 06:41

One stock control package

Can't you use one stock control package (Sage?) that includes an indicator to which company the stock transaction relates to?

Every month, or whenever you require, you import the relevant transactions into the individual Sage companies.

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By JC
15th May 2011 10:14

Regard each company as a department ....

or cost center within an overall stock warehouse

Then export accordingly by department

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16th May 2011 10:18

I think you have had the answer already
set up a seperate "entity" to hold the stock, and then invoice the individual companies as they "purchase". Sage can handle this no problem.

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16th May 2011 11:11

Nice ideas...

Thanks for your comments so far.

Until now, we have been trying to run the 6 companies separately sharing the stock, however the problems this gives us is that each company cannot see the live stock and has to rely on waiting until the end of the day to then find that we've sold the same pallet of goods several times over.

Whilst the idea of running the stock in departments for each company is a nice idea, it causes an issue administratively because each company is running it's own books, each have their own set of nominal codes (some of which are different to the sage standard set) and we also have the issue of company privacy.

Although we are a group of companies, there is still a respected privacy where we don't expect the staff from one company to be able to access and view the customer base and prices of the other companies that they do not work for.  If you have all the companies running in one, you cannot prevent this.

The system we are currently writing will allow each individual to log into the company that they work for, but each will have live access to stock information. As one company sells a case of product, the others will see that reflected through the database.  Each company will still stand on it's own merit regarding administration, and the system will also handle stock being "owned" by any of the 6 companies.  From this it will automatically create internal invoice transactions so that the "owner" of the product will be able to charge the sister company that purchased that item to sell to its customer.

Thanks again for your thoughts. Each one is being read.

Best Regards

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19th May 2011 11:57

Best of luck - this won't be easy.

We developed such a system quite some years ago for a company who had a shared stock database and single stock file but multiple companies, each with their own brand and operating differently.

So all financials, customer details etc are stored in separate companies but when anyone looks at a stock item from any company they see the same information - we just hold all stock details in company 1.

You do get some interesting issues in maintaining stock valuations when switching between companies - we spent some time ironing this out.

I have to say that in over 20 years of developing our software it's the only customer who worked in such a way.

 

Steve Glaze

PRIAM Software

 

 

 

 

 

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19th May 2011 12:07

you could always try quickkbooks

either to run each company as a class certainly save all that extra bookkkepping

or as centralised stock accounting

how on earthe do you restock and who pays etc

time to jump out of the box

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19th May 2011 12:11

Separate business

"how on earthe do you restock and who pays etc"

I suppose you would need to have the stockholding entity as a separate non-profit business with its own bank account.

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19th May 2011 12:22

Already exists

Hi

You might want to contact Mark Shepherd at Vertigo solutions [email protected]

he has developed a system very similar to the one you describe  that should be able to be tweaked to fit. It is being used by a very complex set of businesses at the moment so should easily be able to fit to yours.

As with any self built/bespoke systems you need to be aware that the people who developed it may not be a round in years to come - so it needs to be built on a relatively standard platform so you dont get held to ransom in the future...

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19th May 2011 12:23

Sage developer

Have you tried contacting one of the many the Sage developers around the country?

As you will need to be able to see the main warehouse stock from within any of the companies, you would be much better off with an integrated system rather than a seperate one, it will be much easier.

You didn't say which Sage accounts you were using but I assume, from the "Tags", that it is a version of Line50.

I used to work for one of the UKs biggest Sage developers and I have no doubt that they'd be able to write such a module for you, though you may have to change to a different version of Sage to get it to work efficiently.
I can put you in touch with them if you contact me.

If you were prepared to look at alternative packages, I'm sure that I can help you find one that meets your needs.

Roger Neale
Perkeo Computer Systems Ltd
07714 670789

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19th May 2011 12:48

Sage Stock

The easiest solution maybe to use Sage 200. By the sound of it a standard version of Sage 200 would meet all of your requirements. Sage 200 would allow you to maintain a singular nominal ledger, but split each component entity by cost centre and subsequently split each component entity by department. The problems would arise from a shared sales and purchase ledger, this could be over come with supplier and customer analysis, (as long as each entity has seperate supplier and customer accounts). A singluar analysed nominal would allow for very easy consolidation. The stock system within sage 200 also has a multiple warehouse facility as well as bins within each warehouse again you would have the difficulty in asigning stock balances to each component entity. Alot of people critisie the intergrated stock and nominal in sage 200 (personally i think its great) but you can switch it off and use it on a periodic basis if you so wish.

the simple answer would be to get in touch with your local sage 200 reseller and they could scope a solution in an afternoon. I would recommend VMS in York but there lots of others out there.

 

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By anagram
20th May 2011 09:45

You could consider Encore e-Bis

Anagram Systems' package, Encore e-Bis, covers all aspects of stock control and business management and we have previously customised it for some of our users to allow for stock to be shared across several companies. It should not be a problem, therefore, for us to meet your requirements at a cost significantly lower than some of the high end offerings such as SAP or Dynamix. If you would like to discuss this with us in more detail, give Andrew Morgan a call on 01403 259551

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20th May 2011 11:14

No Point re-inventing the wheel

The Anagram offering sounds good, there's certainly no point re-inventing the wheel if it fits the requirement.

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20th May 2011 11:53

Interesting Comments so far, thank you...

Just wanted to say thanks for your comments and input, it's generated more interest than I first imagined.

Reading through some comments, I'll let you know what we are currently achieving with the software we've already written thus far.

I understand your comments about having a centralised separate company to keep the stock in, and the others "buying" their stock from that company.  This however does NOT give us the live view of the stock whilst we are in the other companies.

The other problem this causes is that it only allows ONE company to purchase stock.  Currently out of the 6 companies trading, 4 of them purchase certain stock items (one company buys the bulk, but some of the others purchase in specific categories of products akin to their particular field of expertise)

The system we've written so far enables EACH of the 6 companies to have access to the same stock LIVE database, however it also enables each company to own certain stock codes and it will keep track of which company sells which item and create an invoice internally to the company that has sold that item.

It also allows the owner of that product code to set a level, if desired, so that they can keep a quantity back for themselves, like a buffer level.

Each time a cost price changes, it keeps track of the existing cost prices for stock items currently in the warehouse, and applies the new price as previous stock (at old cost prices) slowly reduces. This has no set limit as to how many cost prices it will keep track of against quantities of items in stock, enabling us to ensure that we keep track of accurate GP levels and also intercompany transactions are kept within agreed "cost prices".
 

Regarding some of your comments about Sage, we did enquire about this and was first informed that Line 200 would cope, at around £50,000.  Then we had a phone call to say it would not, but that Line 500 would cope better, at £80,000 but would still need a module written to enable to share stock. However it was never confirmed that it could actually be done in the way that we wanted.

So hence the route we started taking. So far we've been able to strip the entire office process into it's bare components and have built this into the software. And so far it's looking good.

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19th Mar 2012 12:31

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