More xTuple Review

Since I work a good bit in manufacturing and distribution, items are important. I’ve been looking at the video on items. There is a good bit of functionality here. The devil, though, is always in the details, and I highly recommend that any business looking for an ERP solution do a Needs Analysis (NOT A RFP) before moving forward. For more information on Needs Analysis, check out the Guide To Selecting Busness Software. And if you want to know why an RFP isn’t my preferred method, listen to ceoTechCast #11 – 5 + 1 Reasons Not to do an RFP.
Here are a few of my questions after watching the items video:

  • What costing methods are supported? Standard? Average? Weighted Average? LIFO? FIFO? Specific (since it supports serial #s)? It appears that average, standard, and something called Job are the only cost types available.
  • How are Sales and COGS G/L Accounts controlled? It looks like the cost side of this is controlled through the Cost Category on the item. What happens if this is changed when there is inventory quantity and cost of the item on hand? The sales category looks to control the sales side of this.
  • Why is there a need for a G/L Series Discrepancy Account? The description says that it is used for penny variances due to rounding. These simply shouldn’t occur in G/L entries in a robust application. Here is the page describing the account:
  • Is there a way to handle drop shipped items and special orders?
  • Can you copy old orders or POs to make new orders or POs?

I’ll stop there with the review. There seem to be a number of things in this product that should be carefully considered in a Needs Analysis.
(Per the Creative Commons license, this must be reproduced IN ITS ENTIRETY.)
There is some good and some bad in this application. It has a good bit of functionality from an operational standpoint, but the things I found in a brief review that have been left out give me concern about whether it represents a broad enough application for use in an average business.
If price is a concern, QuickBooks Enterprise Solution (disclosure: my company works with this product), Peachtree (disclosure: we don’t work with this), and an add-on manufacturing solution like MiSys (disclosure: my company works with this solution) will prove equal in functionality and probably less expensive than this solution.
User pricing for the two pay solutions is above charges for some of the major manufacturers.
I would consider this application only if (a) you have a commitment to open source and a programming background, (b) it has specific features you are looking for and does not lack for features you need, or (c) you have looked at other solutions and believe this one is better.

A QuickBooks Blog Entry

Block does a good job of pointing out the advantages of QuickBooks vis-a-vis Peachtree here. If you are thinking of purchasing one or the other, you might want to consider his ideas.
He is correct that there are a large number of QB add-ons, and that the SDK provides an API (application programmer interface) that is very functional. I suspect however, that the number of downloads of the SDK indicates more that it is free and there is interest than that this many products will be built for QuickBooks. One should also know that some of the add-ons will not work together so if you need one, you’re good. If you need two, be sure they are compatible.
The point that is omitted is that almost no one purchases QuickBooks because it has all the features they need. They purchase it because it is (a) very inexpensive (I almost wrote cheap), and (b) many bookkeepers and CPAs know it. These are very important considerations, and are part of the reason that Data Guidance Group supports the product.
However, with any software selection, it is important to understand the needs of the business before purchasing. There are some things that QuickBooks does not do or does not do well which indicate a need for other options. There are also things that SAP or J D Edwards does not do or does not do well. All of these need to be considered.
To put it succinctly, a partner in the CPA firm I worked for 20 years ago once asked me, “What is the best computer?”
My answer (still): “That all depends on what you are trying to do.” QuickBooks vs. Peachtree, QuickBooks add-ons

Peachtree vs. Quickbooks

Here’s an interesting blog post comparing Peachtree to QuickBooks a friend of mine, Brian Tankersley, recently Tweeted about.
I don’t disagree with anything David Chermak wrote. The problem is that the article is from the perspective of an accountant, not a businessperson. Some of the other items are just “par for the course” in any stable accounting package.
The items listed for comparison are interesting: prepayments, payroll accounting, depreciation, tax minimization and compliance, and useful, sensible reporting. My trouble with this list is that it doesn’t address the key issues that businesses generally start to look for software to solve.
Here is a list of some things that small and mid-sized businesses need: cost control, costing (of jobs or manufacturing), inventory, order tracking, shipping, purchase controls, quotes, payroll checks, lot and serial number tracking, service billing, and recurring invoicing. The blog post below seems to focus more on what Accountants need from software than what businesses need from software. Accounting records should be the byproduct of a system that makes a business money by collecting and reporting the data the business needs.
QuickBooks Vs. Peachtree ォ Abacus

xTuple Quick Look

A post or so ago, I was talking about OpenSource ERP. Someone posted a comment that suggested I look at xTuple. So here’s the look.
First of all, xTuple isn’t GPL, it’s CPAL. In fact, two editions of xTuple are proprietary license. Qualification: I am not and do not wish to be a lawyer. (No, I didn’t read the fine print, I don’t have time to read the fine print.) If you want a quick and dirty overview of CPAL, here’s one. CPAL is a mod of the MPL license used by Mozilla for Firefox, though. IT IS NOT GPL compatible.
Second, if you need multiple warehouses, manufacturing, stock transfers between warehouses, serial or lot numbers, manufacturing (MRP) or a host of other things, you’ll have to pay to get them. The pricing includes a couple of options: annual licensing (you pay every year per user to use the product), and a perpetual licensing with upgrades (like what all the top 10 packages have). The pricing for the perpetual license and the support is actually higher than what you woul pay for equivalent functionality with some of the more popular solutions.
Third, the CPAL edition includes only basic, one location inventory, order entry, some work orders, and some CRM. BOMs and kits are available.You can have multiple locations in the warehouse, but there is no detailed documentation to indicate whether this is what is usually called bins with put and pick functionality or if it’s something much simpler.
I got to this point in the review and clicked on several links on the site to review detailed specs on the product versions of xTuple. I’ve been waiting long enough to have saved this post and gone to get breakfast (in the next room).
Sorry xTuple or OpenMFG (which was the previous name), I can’t wait any longer. Might get back to you in a couple of days when the site works better.

Twitter Tweets are Pointless Babble Says a Study

Here’s a study that revealed that most Twitter “tweets” are pointless. No joke. But…used properly, Twitter can be a business tool. This is discussed in ceoTechCast 17 at
>>As if one were needed, a study revealed that most tweets on Twitter are considered “pointless babble.”
Report: Most Twitter Tweets ‘Pointless Babble’ – The Channel Wire – IT Channel News And Views by CRN and VARBusiness

Open Source ERP

Over the weekend, a friend of mine that teaches CPAs about technology, Brian Tankersley, emailed me about open source ERP. I’ve written about it, but not for a while. Thought I might post why.
I got down to two products. I got both of them installed (names removed to protect the guilty). Got them to work on both Windows and Linux; actually got them to work on several distributions of Linux.
Then I bought the manual for a few bucks because the UI wasn’t really intuitive. By that I mean that I couldn’t figure out from the online help and the sample data how to add a customer and an item and invoice the item to the customer. After I got the book, I got an invoice to come out. Then I started searching for a report that would show the debits and the credits (accountant stuff) that had been generated.
Then I looked some more.
And I read the book (see, Honey, I really do read the instructions!).
And I read the book some more.
And I printed some more reports.
I looked for all the good names I’d found for 25 years: transaction, transaction details, etc.
And then I gave up.
That was about 10 months ago.
Never found those transactions.