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QuickBooks for Manufacturers and Distributors: Ideas for Automating and Reducing Expenses

Small manufacturers and distributors using QuickBooks have a number of opportunities to position their businesses to "work smarter, not harder" through automation and improved processes.

Unfortunately, QuickBooks itself will only take these types of businesses so far toward these goals.

FIGURE THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT ON AUTOMATION OPPORTUNITIES

Piggy Bank

Thomas Cutler recently posted an article that addresses the concept of "return on investment" (ROI) when evaluating automation opportunities. This calculation helps a business determine if the investment in new software and/or process improvement will pay for itself and how long it will take for that payback to happen.

To briefly recap Thomas' ideas, here are some of the concepts a business should be considering to reap the benefits of "working smarter, not harder":

  • Acceleration through automation - simply getting more done in the same amount of time
  • Reduction of data entry errors - enter it once and be done with it. Eliminate duplicate data entry wherever possible.
  • Use of barcoding for picking, packing and shipping - reduces the amount of time it takes to receive, move or ship products.
  • Better information - reducing stock-outs and automated ordering are two ways to boost revenue and reduce expenses.

USING THE QUICKBOOKS "ECO-SYSTEM" TO HELP WITH THESE OBJECTIVES

Having worked with QuickBooks since 1998, I can say it is very solid software when it comes to the handling of the money in and money out for a business and providing key financial reports.

However, many small manufacturers and distributors also come to learn they need more functionality than QuickBooks provides when it comes to inventory control and optimization, shop floor planning and control and other non-accounting related tasks essential to the success of the business.

Good news - an entire community of businesses has evolved over the years to develop "add-on" software for QuickBooks that helps fill in areas where QuickBooks is missing functionality or to even improve that provided in the core QuickBooks software.

BETTER INVENTORY CONTROL AND OPTIMIZATION

Here are some applications that can provide capabilities beyond those in QuickBooks:

BETTER SHOP FLOOR CONTROL AND REPORTING

Even the manufacturing edition of QuickBooks doesn't really offer much in the critical areas of shop floor control and reporting. Here are some applications that can help automate and improve your operations:

CONNECTING QUICKBOOKS TO UPS WORLDSHIP OR FEDEX SHIP MANAGER

No need to re-key tracking and shipping information from your shipping software back into QuickBooks. Suggested solution:

MORE AUTOMATION OF BILL-PAYING PROCESSES

Sadly, most accounts payable departments are still using processes and procedures developed in the 60's and 70's. This is an area ripe for automation and process improvement, and the natural choice here is:

Of course, there are investments required for any of the solutions mentioned above. However, it is quite likely that your business will recover many times the investment via better customer service, streamlined processes, reduced expenses, and possibly even increased revenues. I know you would vote for those outcomes!

NEED HELP SORTING OUT YOUR OPTIONS?

Having servied as the CFO for a small manufacturing firm for 10 years and been involved with QuickBooks for nearly 15 years, I can bring a unique set of skills to conversations your business might be having about expanding beyond QuickBooks.

Contact me today so we can discuss where you find QuickBooks lacking some functionality that may be critical to the success of your business.

RELATED INFORMATION

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