Which software for stock accounting?

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John Stokdyk
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There are hundreds of accounting packages on the market, but once you start looking for specific stock functionality, the options start to reduce. Rachael Power and John Stokdyk look at the possibilities put forward in response to one member’s recent query.

The challenges of stock accounting were raised in Any Answers by an AccountingWEB member called Medici  .

Because upgrading the company’s current accounts package was going to be so onerous, the firm decided to look at what else is available and turned to AccountingWEB for advice. This article summarises suggestions put forward by other members and from software vendors who think they may have a solution.

The system spec was i...

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By Seaside
06th Dec 2012 12:55

Another option to consider:

Sage 200 - financial and commercials module for comprehensive stock handling and multi-user, multi-location. Utilisation of Eureka Stock Image Utility and Data Exchange utility, to allow for data integration from other sources. Sage 200 Barcoding using well developed and tried and tested functionality from Datalinx. Financial Reporting through Sage 200 Business Intelligence module uses predefined and customisable data cubes for flexible financial reporting.

Matthew Wood - Coast Business Solutions - Sage Strategic Partner - www.coasterp.com

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06th Dec 2012 13:01

Data Migration

 Comments made by hcwongco and Richard Willis raise an interesting point.  We are a NetSuite Solution Provider who manage implementations of NetSuite for both new and migration customers.  Data migration is the one area which is often not given the focus by the customer within any new system project.  

Most software platforms now have some form of data import capability, mainly driven by CSV output or occasionally by iif of qif formats.  All of these have their challenges which should not be underestimated.  Support for character sets, for example, can cause problems bringing in data such as European customers where there could be a umlaut or an accent in the name, maintaining phone numbers or transaction numbers with leading zeros.  

These factors dont even begin to consider the data transformation which needs to be performed to ensure that the format that comes out of the existing application can be normalised into a format which can be efficiently brought into the new application.

We look at volumes of data to identify those areas of the system it makes sense to import and those it may be better off leaving manual.  Static Data (CRM data, item data) can nearly always be imported however we tell our customers to think carefully about transactional data.  It can be done, but for lower volume customers is is often cheaper, quicker and more accurate to pay a temporary staff member for a short period of time.

The manual method can also provide invaluable process testing, ensuring your new system really can perform the tasks you need and you are getting improvement over legacy systems and software.


Toby Davidson - Director, Innov Solutions Ltd

NetSuite Solution Provider


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06th Dec 2012 13:11

Right Cloud Architecture ...

With the right initial design & architecture almost any Cloud system (true Cloud not legacy ported software) using an industry standard DB (MySQL, SQLServer, Oracle etc.) should be able to fit the bill with scalability; provided it is located on adequate hardware etc.

Arguably a Cloud system that cannot fit the bill by scaling appropriately has not been designed correctly and this is a more fundamental issue than being able to meet the specific stock control requirements of this situation

Although wheter it has the necessary functionality is another matter

Nevertheless it would be interesting to expand upon why '.. Aqilla and Xero said they weren’t in a position to meet the customer’s specification ..', because that could reflect on other areas of their offerings

In any event 'bar code' scanners (keyboard wedge) have absolutely no problems operating over the internet (simply scan the barcode & 'eat' the enter key). As for photo functionality - even if it is missing it only a few days work to program entry of images & subsequent rescaling for saving. Although in respect of images, small ones can be held in the actual DB and streamed to the browser directly from the DB and larger images are either held in the DB (increased size) or separately on disk. The advantage with holding is a Db is the entire records & all fields are in one place and easily kept in step with deletes etc.

That said - if photos are not available how can products be displayed if eCommerce or eOrdering requirements are to be met

As for data migration in a Cloud environment - simple with a web service (api) and if using <tagged> fields (assume Netsuite will) then even easier.

In this respect disagree with @Richard Willis comments on migration issues - because any company selling software on this basis should not even be in the running on a short list

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06th Dec 2012 13:20

Which software for stock accounting

Palladium accounting will fulfill all of Medici's requirements. With a choice of purchase or monthly (no fixed term 30 day termination notice) rental & 3 year no data corruption guarantee.

PM for more information or online product demonstrations.


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By Ray051
06th Dec 2012 15:40

Pure cloud system

You are wise to look at a pure cloud system as I believe desktop software will be obsolete within five years. I am currently looking at Unleashed for a Client. It also connects with cloud accounting systems such as Xero. It seems to have the functionality required and costs around £70 per month.

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06th Dec 2012 16:48

Which software for stock accounting?

Cloud computing will remove the data storage from the premises, I see this as the way that the way small business (garden service, plumber) will go (are going) e.g. being able to invoice a customer on site from a smart phone. I can't see a multi-million enterprises risking their data to cyberspace just yet. XERO requires a 3rd party add on to achieve any sort of resemblance to an inventory system and I've yet to witness perfect harmony between 2 or more applications. You'll also find yourself at the mercy of the 3rd party developer and should the relationship between the parties sour, well.......

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07th Dec 2012 08:12

Why not large organisations ....

@Paul Cleverley

The only slight hurdle to large organisations using Cloud is 'ad hoc' reporting and the endless round of user defined reports (functionality), although why after 1,000 years of accounting no-one has come up with a definitive list of reports (so much for standards) is incomprehensible - otherwise there is no real impediment to large use

Don't forget that once this type of application has been written with the correct design & architecture it can be placed on almost any computer you choose. For example (Visual Studio & SQL Server) the same application can be run under IIS on a portable, a desktop or a server (intranet or internet) with no alteration to the programn (scaleable)

With this in mind the concept of 'risk' takes on a very different mantle depending upon the actual setup employed and there is no more risk than any other approach and less than most

To address the comment '.. XERO requires a 3rd party add on to achieve any sort of resemblance to an inventory system and I've yet to witness perfect harmony between 2 or more applications ..'

Firstly whilst XERO is deficient in this functionality (personally wouldn't have marketed it in this state, but it's their target market), nevertheless the great advantage is that 3rd party apps are able to integrate with the product; and secondly am confused by the comment about '.. perfect harmony ..'

Finally '.. You'll also find yourself at the mercy of the 3rd party developer ..' - is this not the case with any software ? So are we applying greater standards to Cloud than to desktop / client server apps ?

You are correct that a great many of the bottom end Cloud offerings (Kashflow, Xero etc.) are not suitable for large organisations because they target a 'simple' market that does not need additional functionality, however, products such as Netsuite are appropriate. Horses for courses!

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07th Dec 2012 10:29

It is all about getting the due dilligence right...

We are the authors and suppliers of CALIQ, an end-to-end business software solution for multi-channel, multi-brand and multi-warehouse/branch companies.

If we think that finding good new clients is hard, it is nothing compared to the problem faced by companies in identifying who they should talk to and which software and provider will truly understand the current and future requirements of their business. I never envy the decisions these people have to make and I sympathise with them.

All business have competitors and similar companies that they know - you should speak to them first, find out what systems they use and if they are really supporting their business as they need.

I agree with others here, get to a short list of no more than 4 solutions and do the work to make sure that these people really understand what you need, document your requirements in detail, ensure that every aspect of your requirements is demonstrated to you, do not take a "yes it does that" answer.  Get them to load some of your data and show you it processing your products, in the way that you need.

Always get some key staff involved, let them see the software you are considering.  Let them have hands on.  On so many occasions I have been in meetings where the people who process the transactions know far more about the problems they face every day than the management selecting the system.  Only at go-live do these problems surface.  Get them excited about the new software and you will have their support through go-live, a stressful time for everyone.

A comment on Data Migration - this is now becoming a business critical element in changing systems. In the past data was archived or purged, data analysis was poor, companies would expect to "start again".  New business systems implemented today are reliant on historical data for sales trends, demand forecasting, purchasing etc.  Businesses are not prepared to accept a statement being produced with a "balance brought forward" from the old system as one figure which gives credit control a huge reconciliation job until the balances are cleared. 

Make sure that the software provider can get your data out and more importantly, interpret it, maintain its integrity and migrate it at go-live.  Insist on trial migrations before go-live so that you can check that you are happy with its accuracy.

Finally, when you have selected the software and supplier, have a final period of due diligence, make sure that both parties understand each others expectations, what is included in the contract, what might arise as extras.  Ensure that you have declared everything to them that they need, they should know exactly how your business operates by this point. What no-one wants is surprises just before or just after go-live.  Like decorating, the final outcome is determined by the preparation beforehand.

You are embarking on a journey together which will hopefully last a decade or much more - you will need to like and respect each other and enjoy the ride!!




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10th Dec 2012 15:17

What are the real business requirements?

Many of (if not all of) the comments made are valid, but a two edged sword, in that they risk actually making the choice of software tougher.

In deciding on software, the real differentiator is to understand what sits behind those very brief comments that 'stock and reporting' are the critical areas, which the article does without explaining why. 

A case study of mine involves a business that dehydrates natural foodstuffs, taking raw ingredients from the ground, processing them into different grades of inventory - depending on microbiological content and qualities that emerged through the production process - and then matching those in different mixes against customer contracts that called for variable grades of inventory according to the product that the customer was producing at any time.  My client had an added twist in that contracts with customers have to be struck before the growing season, when they don't know what quantity and quality will emerge from the natural process that is crop cultivation. 

As a result, inventory and contract management were the differentiators in looking at software, but the real difference lay in HOW various packages - which on the surface all say they can handle inventory and contracts - achieved the functions that they did. 

The same may well be true in this case of 'Inventory and reporting'.  Well, what is it about the inventory management, or the reports required that makes Medici's business different? 

When you have a short list of candidates on the functional level, prioritised by their support for the business critical success factors, then you can consider the technical issues, the reporting tools, the architecture, the supplier viability and support, the pricing etc.  Missing out that first step will always result in a wasted investment.

Most inventory and accounting packages can indeed handle the 90% of functions that every business needs to do.  The key to this lies in getting to the business differentiators and looking at how the packages under consideration achieve those jobs.

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11th Dec 2012 12:18

Collaboration is the key

The key to getting the right software in place has got to begin with open and frank discussions with all those who are involved in the supply chain process. In order to ensure that the proposed software solution not only fits the business processes of the organisation but will inevitably enable the business to fulfil the demands of their customers, discussions should be carried out with key personel, business processes defined and documented, growth plans taken into consideration and should result in a strategic plan for the future.  It is then and only then, that the company should look at the technology market to see what is out there.   

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By Hudges
12th Dec 2012 08:41

Have a look at OpenERP

I've been going through a selection process with different criteria, and have evetually selected OperERP.  Growing very rapidly.  2000 or so modules to choose from.  More suppport companies each year, and good value.

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17th Dec 2012 15:22

Medici's stock accounting requirements

Hello Medici,

Sorry to be a somewhat late arrival at the party but there is another cloud based accounting solution which could meet your requirements in the inventory area which is accountsIQ; where I work.  So as not to be too partisan I will also suggest that you might want to look at another cloud solution called Intacct, which is quite similar to Netsuite and also from the USA!

accountsIQ is a niche provider operating primarily in the UK and Ireland in the mid market space and can handle multiple warehouses from our platform as well as the other requirements you listed

Import of data from other systems using Web Services to eliminate rekeyingStoring of photos and other documentation next to the stock itemsBar code scanning (though we don't supply devices)SQL Server back end allowing for highly scalable volumes, way in excess of what you have listed above Inbuilt reporting (like Netsuite) using SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) and / or our powerful Excel Add In

We'd be happy to see if we can help if you have not already made your choice.

Kind regards

William Parker

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