dinsdag 28 mei 2013

Sales Reporting in LedgerSMB 1: A brief overview

This is to kick off a series of posts discussing LedgerSMB sales reporting, what the default capabilities are, and eventually what options there are to extend with additional reports.  I have experience building reports that are viewed either in the application or in Excel or similar spreadsheets.

Reporting on sales is very important for any business.  Different businesses have different needs, but often times the first step is determining what sorts of reports are available.

The reports in LedgerSMB for sales break down basically into a few specific areas:

  1. Per customer reports, particularly customer history
  2. Per part reports, accessed under Parts/Reports.
  3. General reports, for inventory management, PNL reporting, and other purposes.
 We will be posting one report, along with details and walkthrough in regular posts over the next few weeks.  We hope that this will be of interest for regular and prospective LedgerSMB users.

maandag 13 mei 2013

Waiting for 1.4: Separation of Duties for Invoices with Inventory

One of the features which didn't make it into LedgerSMB 1.3 was extending the separation of duties interface to include invoices which might include inventory.    Separation of duties in 1.3 was there, but it did not extend to cases where there were inventory movements.

The wait will end with 1.4 which extends the separation of duties structures to invoices with inventory.  With separation of duties now, invoices will post when approved rather than when saved.  This also makes it reasonable to delete and edit the invoices between saving and approving.

One of the big differences however is that cost of goods sold is now calculated at approval time on  FIFO basis rather than at invoice creation time.  Consequently if an invoice is delayed in  terms of approval for an extended time, this may affect COGS calculations   This is unlikely to have significant effects between accounting periods but it could cause minor effects if many invoices from an old period are not approved until after many invoices from a new period (in times of price instability).

This feature gives LedgerSMB users, for the first time, the ability to have all financial data entry performed by users whose work  must be reviewed before it becomes a part of the official record of business.

dinsdag 30 april 2013

Barcode Scanners and LedgerSMB (and other software!)

From time to time I get asked about barcode scanners.  This post will provide some very short guidelines.  This post is about hardware choices only.  For setup issues you will want to refer to your scanner's documentation.  If we get enough questions, maybe I will dive into barcode symbologies in the future, but not today.

Additionally this post will concern itself only with one dimensional barcodes (like UPC, ISBN, EAN, and the like).  Two dimensional barcode symbol systems exist but they are rarely used and for good reason.  In general if you don't know you need it, you probably don't.

CCD/Imager vs Laser Scanner

The first step in reading a barcode is for a light sensor in the scanner to generate a representation of the barcode itself.  This can be done in basically two different ways.

Most simple gun-type scanners that are widely used are laser scanners.  A vibrating laser sends out a  beam as it vibrates back and forth, and a sensor reads that beam's frequency to gather a narrow line image of the barcode.  Laser scanners work much better in low light conditions because laser light doesn't dissipate much over distance meaning that the scanner is limited by what the light sensor can make out size-wise.  This also means that laser scanners work much better also when dealing with reflective plastic covering the barcode, or with other glare issues.  There are gun-type laser barcode scanners that can read barcodes at least a foot away.

The second approach is to use what amounts to a digital camera to take an image of the barcode and then process it.  These sometimes include red LEDs but the range in dark environments is not good and you are limited both by the diffusion of the light and by the sensor's ability to see small details.   Imager barcode scanners are required however when doing some advanced things like 2 dimensional barcodes or the like.

In general laser scanners are preferred.  They are more versatile and in my experience far more robust than CCD/Imager barcode scanners.

Decoding Choices

Once the scanner has been able to recognize a barcode and convert it to raw data, the next step is to decode the barcode and turn it into a series of numbers (and in some cases letters).  Most barcodes on the market decode the barcodes themselves.  Others send raw data to a computer or other device and expect that device to decode the data.  In general there are three relatively common setups.

The first is to use a scanner which uses a keyboard wedge interface.  This has a Y adaptor, one side goes to the keyboard, and when you scan a barcode the barcode comes in as text.  These are all decoded barcode scanners.  The big disadvantage is that the Y connectors are a bit fragile and so the cables do sometimes need to be replaced. 

The second is to use a scanner which connects over USB and tells the computer it is a second keyboard.  Such a scanner delivers the benefits of a keyboard wedge scanner but with less maintenance.  These are preferred where possible and where no advanced POS keyboards are in use.

The third is to use a non-decoded (or undecoded) scanner which connects directly to a point of sale keyboard.  This is the most expensive but option, but these keyboards are often very helpful in reducing space, providing multiple additional functions rolled into one (some have built in trackballs, magnetic stripe readers and the like).  The keyboards here are often the main maintenance points.

I hope this general overview of barcode hardware and setups has proved useful.  Let us know!

zaterdag 6 april 2013

Blog for LedgerSMB users: kicked off by highest monthly downloads since project start

LedgerSMB has seen the higest downloads ever during the past month. With 1662 downloads, April 2007 has finally been beaten.

When comparing the stats it's important to know that the stats from the previous record come from the month the project released its long awaited 1.2.0 release while last month there only was one of a regular stream of bugfix releases.

The conclusion must be that LedgerSMB's star is rising again. With the continuing stream of bugfix releases and usability enhancements for upgrades, the project is visibly showing to be alive and here to stay.

To celebrate this fact Chris Travers and I have decided to start this blog: a place to write about tips, tricks and gotchas in everyday business use.