Job Costing Experience

Hi there,

We are currently investigating IRIS Exchequer to see if it will be suitable for our business.

We manufacture mobile trailers and custom vehicle bodies for various uses and we assign each new build order a serial number which goes through to be stamped onto the product, we use this as our Job Costing number.  We book stock to the Job and then when complete we add % overheads to the job and see how it has performed.  We run a monthly report which lists all jobs completed in that month and analysis of costs vs. invoiced price to see the profitability.  Even if we have an order for 5 of what should be exactly the same vehicles each would be classed as individual jobs and booked to individually.  We book stock, timesheets, direct items/expenses.

From your knowledge of the product does this seem to be a solution we could work with?

Many Thanks,

Claire

Comments
RichardWhight's picture

Job Costing or Works Order Processing

RichardWhight | | Permalink

Hi

Yes, you can do this with Job Costing but I'd wonder is maybe using Works Order Processing would be a better fit. When you said " Even if we have an order for 5 of what should be exactly the same vehicles each would be classed as individual jobs and booked to individually.  We book stock, timesheets, direct items/expenses." I could still do this with Works Order Processing as each Works Order could be made for each unit and then you could use Unders & Overs for the variations on a build. You can book manhours to the Works Order as well as other non-stock items (expenses) against a Works Order. Booking the completed item into stock gives it a serial number that its tracked to sale and costs are recorded on the stock record as well as the Works Order and Sales Invoice.

I have a big question mark about " add % overheads " do you work this out at the end of the month or just add a fixed amount? Bear in mind that once a Works Order has been built then you can't add to it's costs. If this is something you might want to do then Job Costing might be the way to go.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't touched Exchequer for a couple of years so need to just lookup a couple of items but explaining how you calculate the overheads to add on and when you do this would be vital.

Have you approached a reseller or IRIS?

Exchequer

olof | | Permalink

To be honest our opinion of Exchequer or should I say Iris is not that high.. I think they have a core internal culture issue, they are not proud of their product and it seems to be lacking any real development drive...

If there is a feature you need make sure you see it working before you sign on the line..

We have ended up investing just over 1,300k hours so far in building our own interfaces to input and extract data through the Iris API and directly with the SQL DB. Certainly it wasn't our intention to build our own accounts system but there are plenty of inferred / expected features that simply don't work.

Kind regards

Olof

Be wary

mikekirk | | Permalink

 I would be inclined to agree with Olof's comments.

Also, I would be very wary of implementing Exchequer if you are planning on using serial numbers for tracking your stock. From our experience Exchequer's implementation of serial tracking is poor at best, and downright unreliable at worst. So much so we had to take the tough decision to remove serial tracking from almost all our stock.

If your serial number is simply going to be your job number you may be OK, but the Job Costing Module is not something I have any hands-on experience with.

 

Serial

olof | | Permalink

What were the issues you had with serials... other than valuation issues we have not spotted them yet...

Rich 

Best match so far...

claire165 | | Permalink

Thanks you all for your comments.

For those saying stay away - what alternative products would anyone recommend?

We have researched quite a bit over the last couple of years and ruled out the likes of Sage and Opera...we are moving away from a 1 man band as it leaves us too vulnerable and are currently unsupported.

We have had a couple of demo's from IRIS and it also links directly with our CRM software, ProspectSoft which they also sell themselves as IRIS CRM.  This obviously has it's advantages.  We also use IRIS PAYE Master but may look at Payroll Business as this also links straight into Exchequer.

-- % overheads --

We add a set % to our labour cost and set % to raw materials for wastage.

On our current system, we set the job as complete and have the option to add overheads or leave without.  It then does a calculation based on the data in the job.  This can be recalculated and overwritten if any late bookings to the job are done - which quite often happens...

I have a demo CD to install and test the system before we make any decisions so will see if I can get some useful data into that to test.

Thanks for all your comments,

Serial numbers

mikekirk | | Permalink

Other than valuation issues, we also experienced a lot of instability, the client crashing when selecting lots of serial numbers leaving transactions half completed, that kind of thing.

As for recommendations, I don't have anything specific, although I will say that when I looked at Greentree at Softworld 2010 it looked very impressive (although not very pretty). 

Serial/Batch

cyoung | | Permalink

I agree 100% with the comments on the serial/batch module. It is a nightmare to use and is poorly intergrated with the rest of the system. I haven't got time now to list the problems but I have spoken to Iris and it is clear that they are not going to be doing any development work at all on this module.

 

Colin

Iris

olof | | Permalink

Gosh, does no one have anything good to say about this company?

When giving feedback to Iris on crashing etc they made us feel like we are being unreasonable, constantly quoting that all of their other customers are happy…

If they do not actively have resource assigned to develop a module I do not see how they can charge maintenance on it. Honestly I wonder how big their development team is, even with just one person working on it full time I have no idea how it can remain so backwards.

Leopold Stotch's picture

Alternatives

Leopold Stotch | | Permalink

Try Access Group - Dimensions is Exchequer's main competition in the independent mid-market sector, and they are very similar in terms of price and functionality. 

I've seen both in action and while there's not much between them in terms of appearance, the fact that Access has been built around the SQL database from day one suggests to me that it will have less problems (Iris only moved to using SQL a couple of years ago, so there's a bigger risk of bugs not yet having been identified and fixed IMO).

I also have a contact who has spent a lot of money integrating Iris with other third party systems, whereas linking Access to other systems appears to be more straightforward (admittedly I haven't needed to try it in two years running Access).

I wouldn't bother getting a demo CD whichever you choose though - The amount of time it would take to get meaningful data into the system and to learn how to use it properly would be a massive investment of time and resource.  I think you need to get your shorlist of suppliers to give you a demo of how what you need will work and select the solution on the back of that.

I went with Access in the end, and while it's not perfect (I have a number of minor irritations with how things work), I feel like I've made the right choice.

Access

mikekirk | | Permalink

I'd second the comments on Access having used it in the past, it's not perfect (or at least it wasn't 5-6 years ago), but it is generally reliable and is fully functional. Also as it runs on an MS-SQL database you have data that is very open and is extremely easy to integrate into other systems once you understand the data structures.

From what I've been told the MS-SQL version of Exchequer is not really an MS-SQL version at all, it's the Pervasive version running through an emulation layer to allow it to talk to an MS-SQL server.

Don't get me started on Iris's support...... 

Iris + Exchequer

Kevin Gale | | Permalink

 Hi,

It's hard to have nice things to say about something when it seems to have so many ways to spoil your day!

We've had much better support recently with Iris and it's become apparent that our original installation was handled very badly with some key settings not being applied to the server. Iris didn't do the original install by the way.

One key setting that we have only recently been asked to check was in the Pervasive settings. It was "Enable Auto Reconnect" under properties, communication protocols.  This wasn't set true and when I checked on the old server it wasn't set on that either!

If someone were to move to Exchequer, and I could not recommend it, you should consider the following points

Consider virtualisation for the host server, you can clone and apply updates in safety.  We even did some successful bug tracking for Iris by running a sequence of actions in the Bank Rec module; restoring a snapshot and repeating, many times.  Iris finally had to accept the bug, taken 18 months to (hopefully) fix though.

Use the pervasive backup agent, we originally had the awful advice to just make sure everyone's out and copy the folder, easier said than done when using ODBC across the intranet.

If you get to look at the underlying database structure you can perhaps see why Iris aren't keen to develop it.

Those are my thoughts anyway.

Kevin

 

TURBOD's picture

Job Costing v's Works Order

TURBOD | | Permalink

There does seem to be a large number of less happy customers but then forums do tend to bring out those who might otherwise be silenced.....

I think it is fair to say that Iris Exchequer at its core is very user friendly, has some great features including the general drill down etc. but time moves on. What was a ‘Wow’ five years ago is now common place and no software house can rest too long on its laurels. There are also some features and modules that simply do not work and on occasions in the past I have been lucky enough to speak to individuals at Iris who have been honest enough to admit (off the record) that some do not work properly or (Company Line) "Were never designed to fully integrate". Multi-Bins springs to mind… Someone mentioned a culture at Iris where the employees did not believe in the product. I have not experienced this but would say there is a culture of sticking their fingers in their ears and always quoting the company line of how satisfied all their customers are. Listening properly to their customers would be good advice for them. I have noticed an improvement in their general support response times but Iris Exchequer in my experience is a product that once you have signed up to and been sucked into, is a costly and time consuming road to have taken. [Comment moderated - unsubstantiated assertion removed, Ed] When Iris originally did our implementation planning, they specified the Works Order module but had not fully understood our requirements as it transpired. At the eleventh hour just before going live we were handed the Job Costing module FOC to solve the problem. I say FOC, it was initially but since then we have had to pay maintenance and support on both modules, one of which we have not used to date. Reading your requirements Claire, I think Job Costing module could work okay for you, Works Orders as well but as was pointed out there may be some work-arounds necessary. Like the advice already given, test the demo but also get concrete assurances that your requirements will be met before signing on the dotted line. We were sold all manner of features that were to meet our list of requirements that in the end did not work at all or required changes to our business processes to accommodate the software’s limitations or idiosyncrasies. Peter Marsh

RichardWhight's picture

-- % overheads --

RichardWhight | | Permalink

Comments deleted for personal reasons

TURBOD's picture

Job Costing

TURBOD | | Permalink

Exchequer is an open period system which has advantages. We use live stock rather than end of period but like to close off at month end when it comes to adjustments and jobs. The reason for this is that we don't want our WIP Balance Sheet account 'full' of amounts relating to previous periods, especially when jobs might have been started three months ago but not yet completed and invoiced. As such we close all the jobs off at the end of the month which triggers the journal moving amounts from the WIP BS account to the COS P & L account for the month. We then re-open jobs that are actually still in WIP in our factory so that late costs pertaining to that job or further parts and labour can be booked to them.

I guess every business has slightly different requirements. My experience is that the employees at Iris Exchequer either don't fully understand their own system (accounting for the fact that it is configurable in so many different ways) or they are sometimes unable to understand your own business requirements in order to advise and help you understand how their system will work in your business. For us at least it has been a 4 year uphill battle, self-learning along the way and getting to grips with a £100K difference between our Balance Sheet Stock account figure and our Stock Valuation Report Stock figure. With our two accountants scratching their heads, Iris unable to offer any real explanations, it ended last year once we had the Exchequer Tools, Ex-Sync and Ex-Report software at our disposal, enabling us to find out what on earth was going on.

This software has now been used in a similar way by another Exchequer customer who had fought the same issues as we had. So impressed with the product, I ended up investing in the company - Exchequer Dynamics Ltd.

My view is that whilst the software might be supplied under licence for use, the data belongs to the user and as such should be fully accessible. Iris Exchequer in my opinion seem to like making it hard to access for their own financial gain in terms of bespoke plug-ins, on-going consultancy etc. There are fundamental rounding issues when you look closely at stock and the whole stock valuation method and it is the case that many 0.01p’s can amount to many pounds (£) – Beware!! unless you enjoy banging your head against the wall.

My accountants were flabbergasted that Iris Exchequer were unable to tell them why the stock issue was occurring. Their view on the support was seriously tainted and as professionals often asked to recommend an accounting package, Iris did itself no favours.

Peter Marsh

 

RichardWhight's picture

Stock Valuations

RichardWhight | | Permalink

Comments deleted for personal reasons

John Stokdyk's picture

Editor's note: Moderation of TURBOD's comments - update

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

I temporarily removed TURBOD's comments above because of concerns that Peter Marsh was breaking our terms and conditions on self-promotion and abuse.

After a review of the comments and a conversation with Peter Marsh, I have now reinstated the posts having satisfied myself that while they are critical of Iris Exchequer, all of the assertions are fair comments based on his direct personal experience. There was one sentence where I felt he used phrases and inferences that weren't directly supported by the evidence he posted in the rest of his comment.

The trouble for us here - as Peter himself acknowledged in his second comment - is that he's an investor in a company supplying add-on tools to IRIS Exchequer. In this role it is pushing at our restriction on self-promotion to post disparaging comments about the company and its product.

Peter understands this condition of participation on the site and both a review of the text itself and my conversation with him satisfied me that he was making points that were relevant to this thread and provided useful advice to the original poster and other group members. Given the nature of the issues discussed, I will pick up on some of his comments to compile an item on the Exchequer Dynamics story, and to put some of the issues raised to Iris.

I'll report back here when it's ready.

Apologies to Peter and other members of the group if the intervention caused any confusion, but we do want to ensure that conversations on the site remain relevant and reasonable.

TURBOD's picture

Iris Exchequer - Exchequer Dynamics - Job Costing

TURBOD | | Permalink

Thank you to John Stokdyk for his comments.

I must just re-iterate that Iris Exchequer is a great product in many ways but one that I would describe I have a love/hate relationship with. I know too that many Exchequer users feel the same. One thing about the software is that it is configurable in so many ways. Whilst that in many ways can be seen as a big plus point it does come at a price. How well you get on with the software will depending on your type of business, your specific requirements and how well the project scope and management is handle by the Iris staff as well as how it is implemented prior to any go live date. Iris like any company is keen to make the sale but my advice is, do not rush, plan well and consider all areas of your business processes and make sure the product will satisfy your needs. For a business with more complex processes and requirements, you can end up either paying a lot in consultancy after purchase or have to get on a steep learning curve to understand the product and its idiosyncrasies. The products from Exchequer Dynamics are very much complimentary to the Iris Exchequer Enterprise package (Pervasive Edition) not in any way in competition.

As to the original post from Claire, from the brief outline of what her requirements are I would say that Exchequer should be able to cope with that quite easily. Iris would be best placed to advise once they have a full scope off you.

Peter Marsh

 

RichardWhight's picture

Implementation selection

RichardWhight | | Permalink

Comments deleted for personal reasons

5-Star

mikekirk | | Permalink

 Bear in mind that 5-Star are now wholly owned by Iris, so any purchase from them would effectively be a direct purchase from Iris themselves.

Exchequer for job costing

David Carter | | Permalink

If you manufacture mobile trailers and vehicle bodies, I would say this is a standard Job Costing application.  Serial numbers are a red herring here;  they are for distributors who sell hundreds or thousands of products per year and have to be able to track each one they they sell.  My guess is you are only producing a few trailers a month – serial number tracking is irrelevant.

In my own experience Exchequer has been excellent for Job Costing (although my own users don’t allocate stock to jobs, only time, so maybe you should check the stock side. I’m sure that Exchequer has this facility, though.)

On the subject of adding % markups for overheads and asking whether Exchequer can do this, I would suggest that this is the wrong way to look at it.   Instead, use the Report Writer module to get the data out into Excel and add your markups, final costings etc there.

So think of Exchequer is simply a data capture device for collecting raw costs together from various sources, then export the results and manipulate them in Excel.  This is what we do with my own users; we don’t bother with any of the Exchequer reports.

Job osting module would work well

brent | | Permalink

The Job Costing module would fit your scenario fine, the works order module would not.

Job Costing will give you the ability to easily monitor warranty issues by simply putting a sub job for warranties on each build.

There are existing users using Exchequer in a similar fashion.

Using just the basic module should meet your stated objectives, but the addon stuff mentioned above may extend the value of your information - start with the basics, which someone should be able to mockup simply for you and go from there.

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