The Desktop Accountant Newsletter by
July 2005 - Conference Update, pc/MRP
Software Arts, Inc. - MRP Inventory / Accounting Solution
Author: The Sleeter Group Created: Wed Jul 27 22:04:36 2005
Software Arts - pc/MRP Inventory / Accounting
pc/MRP is a fully integrated MRP/Inventory/Accounting program that can use QuickBooks as its accounting module. pc/MRP comes complete with 10 integrated modules, Inventory, Bills of Materials, Stock Room, Purchasing, Receiving, Work Orders, Sales, Invoice, Customer and Vendor Addresses.
pc/MRP allows companies using QuickBooks to implement an MRP system while continuing to use QuickBooks as their accounting module. Companies can manage multi-level BOMs (up to 100 levels deep) and their associated costs (pc/MRP supports Standard Cost and Average Cost). pc/MRP’s MRP Module allows companies to generate MRP Reports (Buy, Push/Pull, Visual Timeline). pc/MRP’s Stockroom Module allows companies to issue parts and sub-assemblies to sales/work orders and later receive them back as completed assemblies.
By Ann Lundquist, a Product Planning Analyst for Motorola in Tempe, AZ
"....feature rich.....It will be hard to find a package that will bring you more bang for the buck...."
PC/MRP is a basic MRP package that supports inventory management, a work order system, bill of materials, (BOMs), purchasing, receiving, stockroom control, accounting and invoicing. The extraordinary low cost of the feature-rich package makes it very attractive for a small business application. The standard software package provides a strong set of report functions such as shortage lists, pick lists, pick list labels, costed BOMs, purchasing, receiving and cycle count reports. The accounting and invoicing functions will not be reviewed in this article.
The context of this review is a small business unit within a major Fortune 500 company, in support of 70 employees, a stockroom containing 5,000 unique parts, and an annual $10M purchasing requirement for several complex products.
The Program is coded to run in the DOS and Windows environments of IBM PC compatable systems. For this review. the pc/MRP Multi-user version is being run under Windows 95 on a Microsoft LAN with 53 peer sites. All computers on the LAN are at least 33 MHz 486 machines with 8MB of RAM minimum.
PC/MRP FOR DOS is compiled with Quick Silver, and the Windows version is compiled with FoxPro for Windows. The multi-user version of the program has a database provision for one- billion part numbers and is intented for LAN use (A single-user version is available for $395). Any version of the program may be upgraded. When pc/MRP is accessed on the host node, network speed is not an issue and program latency is quite acceptable. When a network transaction is involved, database extracted reports can require serveral minutes. Increasing the performance of the host node to a 100 MHz Pentium produced a marked improvement in report generation speed.
THE MANUAL READS as if it were written as a programing design document. It is quite complete and is divided into 17 chapters that correspond to the actual logical sections of the program. Neither the manual nor the program contain any form of tutorial.
Since the program is built on top of a relational database, it imposes some restrictions on the form that numbers can assume and still be auto- incrementing.
The manual does a good job of helping with initial design of database entries.
INSTALLATION AND LEARNING:
INSTALLATION instructions for pc/MRP and its optional software modules are clear and easy to use. The program is kicked off through the use of icons at the Windows program manager level.
The current version of pc/MRP for Windows is directly ported from the DOS version and makes little use of pull-down menus or other standard Windows GUI structures.
The heart of the pc/MRP program is a part master database. To efficently learn the program, the relationship of the part master to the rest of the modules must be understood. All parts stored in the database are given an internal part number to assure unique identification. This creates some confusion, because the real third-party part number is found in a "Model Number" field. The relationship to a bill of material is only through the internal part number, which takes some getting used to.
Adding the Time Phase Planning module provides Just-in-Time information not available in the standard package. The Password module limits group access to some of the database critical areas, the use of which we found necessary as we increased the size of the community of users.
For the user community at large, learning how to use the program has been swift and painless.
EASE OF USE
ONCE YOU BECOME familiar with the systems terminology and its unigue part numbering scheme, pc/MRP rates an eight on the ease-of-use scale (with 10 the easiest). This software has been installed at two subcontractor sites to monitor their separate inventory databases. The installation and use of the systems has gone quite smoothly.
THERE IS AN ENTIRE chapter in the manual devoted to error identification and defination. When a system error occurs, a number is visable on the screen. The user must refer to this chapter to discern the root cause. After our user group got past the initial learning curve, system errors have become extremely rare.
SOFTWARE ARTS is a small business owned by Doug Spencer. The company has three employees, which means that a support call usually finds its way into a voice mail system. In our experience, return calls are received within 30 minutes. Once you are able to explain a situation to the company, resolution is nearly always assured.
I have made at least 30 different requests to modify the initial software package which we have been using since 1993. These enhancements have been made to either make the software more user friendly or to better service our business requirements. All changes have been reasonably priced, and, depending on the level of difficulty, executed within two or three weeks. Most of the optional software is not owned by Software Arts and modification of it would be either more difficult or impossible.
THIS SOFTWARE would be most advantageous for a small to mid-sized business that wanted to run its entire operation from one software package. The very best feature of the product is its price performance ratio. It would be hard to find a package that will bring you more bang for the buck. Amoung the program's best features are its wide selection of report generators, automatic pick label generation, cycle counting, serial number and lot traceability, direct to supplier P.O. faxing, theoretical and actual job costing, and sales tracking options. Also, you can place orders against the top level of a product or against lower level BOMS (this is especially useful in a spares enviornment).
THE DATA IS NOT presented in a traditional bucket format. The information you are looking for is not always in an obvious place. The internal part number verus model number takes some getting used to. Exception reporting by part number/model number is not presented in a one-shot approach like other traditional MRP systems. Reports are not always formatted to meet your business needs. You can reformat, but this requires an understanding of FoxPro. Scrolling and pegging are not consistent with the Windows model.
Although there are shortcomings to pc/MRP, I consider them minor inconveniences, that are far outweighted by what it offers to you in total. pc/MRP presents a simple to use system for running a small to med-sized manufacturing business, and is priced well below its competitors. The program is designed around a set of relational databases, which allow either a partial of full implementation of features and a "pick and choose" use of program modules. There is no capacity planning modes in this software and pc/MRP assumes infinite capacity.
Our internal corporate mission has been enhanced by the use of this product. It helped us master a very difficult stockroom situation and our on-time deliveries are a direct result.
Ann has pointed out the fact that pc/MRP does not present the traditional bucket format. The standard version of pc/MRP contains a one bucket MRP module, which tells you what to order but does not tell you when to order them (i.e. does not break the orders into time buckets). We offer an optional add-on module, Time Phase Planning for $295 that does tell you when to order the parts and when to begin assembling the products. Time Planning is an infinate bucket (each day is a bucket) time phase scheduling module with pegging.
Ann also points out in her review, we do not have control over the third- party external modules available for pc/MRP. This is a byproduct of our originial decision to use standard dBase/FOXPRO.DBF files instead of a proprietary file format. This can be a blessing or a detriment depending on your point of view.
Using a standard .DBF file format instead of a proprietary file format provides the following advantages:
The drawback to using standard .DBF files instead of proprietary file format are:
The last two years have seen a significant increase in the level of interest in MRP systems. MRP has again transformed itself into a broader system, referred to as enterprise requirements planning. And MRP systems have become easier to use and are available on many platforms. This month, we look at "pc/MRP" from Software Arts, a representative of this second trend.
THERE ARE serveral features that make this product noteworthy. The first is that it is produced by a very small firm. Second, this product has developed a reputation for providing its customers with a great deal of bang for the buck. Third, because it integrates accounting functionality, it offers more than MRP alone. [Steve Melnyk]
Software Arts touts power of pc/MRP purchasing software
By Susan Avery Purchasing January 13, 2000
pc/MRP from Software Arts, Santa Clara, Calif., is a fully integrated MRP, accounting and inventory program (www.pcmrp.com). The software has 10 modules that can be used on a standalone or integrated basis.
The modules are: address, inventory, purchasing, receiving, sales, invoicing, bills of materials, stock room and accounting. All can be accessed through pc/MRP's main menu.
pc/MRP can be configured to support manufacturing, distribution or retail operations. pc/MRP's multi-user version allows multiple people to enter purchase orders (POs), invoices, etc. at the same time on PCs networked with any of the multi-user networks such as Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Novell and Workgroups for Windows.
pc/MRP contains a number of advanced purchasing features. Among them:
- A purchase price variation report found in the accounting module.
- Automatic ISO 9000 supplier performance reporting.
- Option to automatically generate POs from an MRP generation.
- Capability to fax POs from a PC.
- Option to create blanket orders.
- Option to create part numbers.
- Option to create supplier addresses.
- Support of both PO units and standard stocking unit.
pc/MRP's purchasing module allows users to enter, edit, and print POs and reports. In addition, reports can be sent to disk and POs can be faxed directly from a PC (requires Fax, modem card). Address and part number information can be scrolled and imported from their respective modules. Entering a PO automatically increments the on order quantity in the Partmaster File. More than 100 different reports can be generated including consolidated order requirements, all overdue purchase orders, all purchase orders for a month, and purchasing history reports. Each purchase order can have up to 9,999 line items. Each line item can be taxable or nontaxable, have its own due date and discount.
Enter a PO
To enter, edit or print/display a PO or PO report, a user simply selects "modules, purchasing," and the purchasing function he or she desires to run. Selecting "new" will bring up pc/MRP's purchase order data entry screen. Typing in either part of the description or part number will automatically insert the correct part number, description, model number, PO unit, unit cost and manufacturer into their respective fields. A pop-up window appears allowing users to select from one of three primary suppliers listed for the part. Selecting the desired supplier from the pop-up window automatically fills in the supplier's address, terms and account number. Changing the quantity triggers pc/MRP to do a price quantity look-up and insert the correct cost for the quantity in the cost/unit field. Pressing the add button adds another line item to the PO. Pressing the back button goes back to a previous line item. Pressing the jump-to button views and jumps to any line item in the PO. Clone and breakdown buttons can be used to create a multi-line item blanket order with different delivery dates for each item in less than 10 seconds. Date and time required fields automatically track and generate ISO 9000 supplier performance reports based on delivery times (pc/MRP automatically tracks the date and time delivered).
Entering a PO automatically increases the on-order quantity of the parts in the partmaster. Entering a receiver automatically increases the on-hand quantity in the partmaster, decreases the on-order quantity in the partsmaster, and increases the quantity received in the PO.
© 2004, Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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