Integration is not just a conceptual topic that I talk about for pleasure – it’s a way to solve real world problems and inefficiencies. The best way to espouse a concept however is by way of example so I thought I’d provide a good one.
I was in the process of writing an RFP for the manufacturing business I own part of. Seeing it’s very much SaaS related, and very much SaaS accounting related, I thought I’d publish it here by way of a kind of a challenge to vendors. Thus far I’ve not found a solution that works perfectly for our use case – the gauntlet is thus thrown down to the vendors!
What we do now
We currently use a virtuemart e-commerce solution and MYOB for our accounting (and yes I detest it!). When a mail order comes in, the slow and laborious process goes like this;
- details are manually copied into MYOB
- stock levels are checked
- payment is manually processed via an online payment provider
- the sale is recorded in MYOB, invoice and packing slip printed and packed up ready to ship
- in virtuemart the sale is closed and the customer notified
Obviously the net result of this is a slow and inefficient process and some glaring failings, namely that we are unable to show live stock levels in virtuemart and therefore customers have no way of knowing if the goods are in stock or not.
To make life complicated we have a strange sort of a pricing structure;
|Pricing Band||Net Price (example)||GST||Freight||Payment Processing|
|Domestic A||100||inclusive||included||Automatic – via gateway|
|International A||100||zero rated||included||Automatic – via gateway|
|Domestic B||50||exclusive||included||On account – terms|
|International B||50||zero rated||excluded||COD – Bank transfer|
|Domestic C||75||inclusive||included||Either automatic or on account|
|International C||75||zero rated||excluded||Either automatic or on account|
What we want to do
A band orders (both domestic and international) are made by customers on our e-commerce site. They’re automatically transferred to the accounting application where, all automatically, the relevant journal entries are made, inventory is adjusted and the like. Payment is automatically processed via the gateway, the customer is sent confirmation and the online stock levels are adjusted. In the morning all we see is an order ready to be printed and shipped.
B band orders are entered by us in the accounting application (for phone and fax orders) or online (by the customers). Either way an invoice and shipping document awaits us in the accounting application ready to be printed and shipped. Invoices and statements can then be emailed or printed from the accounting application.
C band orders can either be entered by the customer in the e-commerce app, or buy us in the accounting app. They’re sometimes on account and sometimes paid via the gateway and freight is included (in the case of domestic orders) or excluded (international) from the price.
The accounting package needs to work with New Zealand standard GST (12.5% on everything except for exports and a few other exceptions which can be set at the general ledger level) but (thankfully given the already complex needs) multi currency isn’t needed.
Some bottom line requirements
- We know virtuemart and don’t particularly wish to change our existing e-commerce solution
- We want to be able to migrate somewhat painlessly from MYOB – preferably including historical data
- We don’t have ERP budget (figure around USD100 per month all up)
- Payroll integration is a nice to have, not a need to have
- If the solution allowed BOMs and raw material stock handling that’d be great, but again not a must have
So there you go
While a little unusual, I can’t imagine that our business is completely unique. The sort of functionality I’m talking about is kind of logical (or so I think anyway). Thus far the closest provider to our requirements has been Saasu combined with some virtuemart wizardry by Slink – but it’s not quite there yet.
So if any virtuemart or SaaS integration wizards out there think they can come up with a solution that fulfills our requirements, please contact me – ben AT cloudave DOT com