Case Study: Barry Linnard
I am Barry Linnard and I have worked as an independent IT consultant for more than 30 years.
My specialization has been the selection and implementation of IT systems in small to medium sized manufacturing and distribution businesses.
This started with the early MRP systems and has progressed to include the latest sophisticated ERP packages.
About a year ago, I began chatting with the founder of a small gin distillery down here in the south west of England. His business had been a small cottage industry serving local customers but had grown and was now selling to large retailers.
This had brought its own problems. His systems were based on a leading online accounting package, spreadsheets and lots of paperwork.
As sales grew, the larger retailers were asking for proof of traceability of ingredients.
Accounting for alcohol to the tax authorities was becoming more complex and risked penalties if mistakes were made.
The need to broaden the product range and development of new flavors and ingredients meant keeping track of costings, formulations and purchasing requirements. This was becoming well beyond the capabilities of spreadsheets.
With multiple batches of a growing range of ingredients with expiry dates, labels, bottles and finished product, stock control was becoming virtually impossible.
Other problems like administration and accounting, which are common when a cottage industry gets bigger, compounded the difficulties and started to take up more of their time which meant less time to spend producing the product.
The need was for an online system to address these issues that was as inexpensive as the accounting package, could be linked to it, and was easy to implement and operate. I started researching what was on the market and came across SOS Inventory from Saddle Oak Software.
I spent a few days with the free trial offered by SOS and I was immediately impressed. What is more is it has been designed and developed to synchronize with the accounting system.
SOS Inventory is so much more than an inventory control system; it is a complete package which embraces sales and purchase orders, multi-level bills of material, product costing, process recipes with co- product, and by-products.
Sound stock control with batch and serial number traceability and reports are flexible and customizable.
My only concern was how complex and time consuming the implementation of SOS would prove to be for users who are good at what they do but are not technically minded.
I need not have worried. The user interface is intuitive and uses terminology which is familiar to the user.
Functionality is very flexible and can support manufacturing which ranges from building a car to making gin!
Recording lot or serial numbers is not difficult when the data volumes are small. As the database grows, being able to maintain the discipline of the recording, attempting to trace the origins of a part or ingredient (backward tracing), and then also track its use in other products and sales (forward tracing) becomes too complex for manual records or even spreadsheets.
SOS does this for you, guides you through the process and limits the chances of your making mistakes.
I found Implementing SOS Inventory to be much less complex and time consuming than many others I have worked with.
Support is amongst the best I have experienced because you are dealing with the developers and solutions to issues are delivered extremely quickly.
I have now implemented SOS for two companies. They both took to it very quickly and are using it successfully. I would happily recommend that SOS Inventory should be seriously considered by any SME looking for an entry level system and SOS Inventory punches well above its weight.