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  1. #1
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    Default Small machine shop software recommendations

    Hello, we are a small shop with only 3 people and 2 lathes. We are extremely busy and finding it very hard to keep up with the orders that we need to machine as all of our orders are machined when ordered.

    I have been looking for software for years. Tried a few that didn't work out either because they were too complicated, too much going on or just didn't fit our needs. I couldn't even come close to affording most of them out there anyway.

    All I'm looking for is something simple that we can record the customer info, order info and status/progress. I don't care about accounting, invoicing, job costing etc at the point I just need something to keep a record of the orders so we can schedule them and get them done.

    Any recommendations? I'm sick of hand writing everything and papers getting lost.

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    You need to first look at simple "task list" software on the web. Something like Trello would probably work. It is very simple and if you are just keeping lists of orders for scheduling. You might have a board for each lathe, and each board would have categories for the various order / scheduling phases. I use it for my small shop and it's free.

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    If you are setting something up, you should have it do shipping and invoicing too. No reason to set up a system that won't integrate in your accounting software.

    If you don't have an accounting system, you are doing business wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by _EMF_ View Post
    All I'm looking for is something simple that we can record the customer info, order info and status/progress. I don't care about accounting, invoicing, job costing etc at the point I just need something to keep a record of the orders so we can schedule them and get them done.

    Any recommendations? I'm sick of hand writing everything and papers getting lost.
    You may look at Smartsheet: Work Management and Automation Solutions for meeting your specific requirements.

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    We use quick books and that's what my accountant uses so I don't want to stray from that program for our accounting / invoicing needs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShopPLanner View Post
    You may look at Smartsheet: Work Management and Automation Solutions for meeting your specific requirements.
    Quote Originally Posted by twabscs View Post
    You need to first look at simple "task list" software on the web. Something like Trello would probably work. It is very simple and if you are just keeping lists of orders for scheduling. You might have a board for each lathe, and each board would have categories for the various order / scheduling phases. I use it for my small shop and it's free.
    Thank you for the suggestions, I will check them both out.

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    EMF,
    Consider AllOrders. They were the first QuickBooks gold partner providing an add on solution for the stuff QB doesn't do. We are a startup and this is the second company I have set up to use AO. The last company has about 14 seats of AO and 2 of QB. We currently have 4 seats of AO and 2 of QB.
    We buy absolutely everything using AO. That includes stuff like paper towels, rubber gloves, you name. This lets you find a product you like and continue to use it. We print a PO for the guy going to Home Depot with their SKU number and nothing gets forgotten and they bring back the right thing.
    It does work orders for the shop, sales orders for jobs, purchase orders for vendors, and inventory if you want. We don't use inventory as we operate with the least amount of inventory that is practical and keep it to a minimum using an AO generated Pick List. Materials for multiple jobs get ordered by Work Order or Sales Order and a custom reciever we created tells the shop what jobs get what materials and how much of each. Another custom label printing routine prints bin labels for the recieved materials.
    They are a very responsive company too. Our manager just got back from a 3 day AO retreat to get him totally up to speed and he raved about how useful it was.

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    What about just using Google Sheets? You can have access to it anywhere on any computer. Make multiple tabs; quoting, active jobs, secondaries, completed jobs. You can also use color coding for whatever situation you may need.

    We use this so anyone in the company can see what stage a job is at, at any given time.

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    Everything based on spreadsheets suffers from the same problem. Spreadsheets are single user oriented. As soon as you have two or more the data isn't shared and then you waste time or make mistakes. A multi-user system built on a relational database (sql) means all data is used and stored once. Updating anything updates everything! When we buy materials costs get updated directly from the POs. When we pull up an old qoute to do the same job again it applies all the new costs automaticly. We can see exactly where we used something and how much we used, and where it came from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhlucas View Post
    EMF,
    Consider AllOrders
    Wow......I had a look at the pricing
    It quickly goes up over $2000 adding basic features.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkmc View Post
    Wow......I had a look at the pricing
    It quickly goes up over $2000 adding basic features.
    So ask yourself this: If this software will increase our productivity even 1%, will it be worth it? Presumably, there must be some savings or you wouldn't be looking at it. Here's a simple way to look at some of the expenses in your shop:

    Things that make orders: labor, materials, machinery & tools.
    Things that make those other things more efficient: Stuff like the software you're considering.

    Either you don't really need it or you're just not doing the math (or maybe doing it correctly). If that software makes you 5-10% more efficient, you'll soon wonder why you ever waited so long to get it. Three people = likely at least $150K in wages and then there's the value of your machines running. A 5% improvement would possibly get you about $10K more of "input" every year or about $40-50K in sales. Now how does that $2K look?

    The only "flip side" to all of this is to make sure and do your homework that this will do the trick. Too many people buy software thinking it will be easy to use or they buy the wrong software for what they need.

    The Dude

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    Quote Originally Posted by dkmc View Post
    Wow......I had a look at the pricing
    It quickly goes up over $2000 adding basic features.
    The base package is for two users and their licenses allow installation on many computers as long as not more than two need to work at one time. We have four licenses shared among about 8 of us currently. Each user of the 8 has their own user name and permissions. So it is a very fair way to do it. When we were searching for a system at my last job we got quotes from other vendors that started at $50K PLUS customizing for us! It is a tool like your CNCs, your fancy $600 boring bar and such. At my last job the lady in purchasing used to take one to two weeks to order all of the materials for one of my projects (about 300 unique items). With AllOrders it dropped to two days! We were tracking ordering mistakes because it was costing us so much time and lots of overnight shipping. We stopped doing it because it became so infrequent as to not matter any more.

    I am not pushing AllOrders here, I'm pushing integrated software that multiplies your effectiveness. I did it with spreadsheets 30 years ago. Then I wrote my own system in Borland Paradox. Then I used Parts&Vendors at two companies which worked well, but has been discontinued. Finally AllOrders at two companies. This isn't doing the same thing over and over expecting better results. This is about actually getting those results!

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhlucas View Post
    The base package is for two users and their licenses allow installation on many computers as long as not more than two need to work at one time.
    Well, the website does make you work a bit to figure out
    the pricing. So...I'll ask you....
    What IS the base price, and does the 'base package' have enough functionality to actually be useful?
    Many of the ERP/MRP packages flash a 'basic system' or entry level price point, and then it turns out it's pretty much useless without additional modules.
    Also, what are you using beyond the base package if any?
    And finally, what version of Quickbooks are you using it with?
    Just curious...if you don't mind.

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    Why not just use QuickBooks as your scheduling software? The features aren't explicit but you can create custom fields for dates and such for tracking. You can't really schedule that I'm aware but it's easy enough to setup a spreadsheet as a Gantt chart.

    Edit. Didn't mean use QuickBooks for your scheduling as I later mentioned but can use it to keep track of due dates.
    Last edited by Jay Fleming; 02-21-2017 at 06:52 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by _EMF_ View Post
    All I'm looking for is something simple that we can record the customer info, order info and status/progress. I don't care about accounting, invoicing, job costing etc at the point I just need something to keep a record of the orders so we can schedule them and get them done.
    There is a software tool called Schedlyzer Lite for optimally scheduling high-variety production in job shops which employ multi-functional machines and multi-skilled workers. See whether it can sufficiently meet your requirements using a free trial copy.

    A brief YouTube video on this tool is available to know more about its functionality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Fleming View Post
    Why not just use QuickBooks as your scheduling software? The features aren't explicit but you can create custom fields for dates and such for tracking. You can't really schedule that I'm aware but it's easy enough to setup a spreadsheet as a Gantt chart.

    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk
    I've been using quickbooks since V1 for DOS. I now use Quickbooks Enterprise, although the 'sales order' part later became part of smaller packages.
    Enter multiple PO;s as incoming sales orders, and than print an 'open sales order' report and there are your multiple overlapping part orders listed by part number in chronological order. SO if you have 4 PO's for the same part with overlapping delivery dates they are right in front of you.
    You could build inventory parts with parts required for the job but I have never done that.

    Enterprise is built as a multi user software, but there is a single user version if you search for it

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    Quote Originally Posted by _EMF_ View Post
    Hello, we are a small shop with only 3 people and 2 lathes. We are extremely busy and finding it very hard to keep up with the orders that we need to machine as all of our orders are machined when ordered.

    I have been looking for software for years. Tried a few that didn't work out either because they were too complicated, too much going on or just didn't fit our needs. I couldn't even come close to affording most of them out there anyway.

    All I'm looking for is something simple that we can record the customer info, order info and status/progress. I don't care about accounting, invoicing, job costing etc at the point I just need something to keep a record of the orders so we can schedule them and get them done.

    Any recommendations? I'm sick of hand writing everything and papers getting lost.
    We are a little larger than you, but not that much. Last fall we started using Realtrac. The website is Realtrac ERP Performance Software. We had tried one other ERP before. I find Realtrac a lot simpler than many of the ERP and the price point was fairly affordable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by munruh View Post
    We had tried one other ERP before. I find Realtrac a lot simpler than many of the ERP and the price point was fairly affordable.
    What was the other ERP you had tried and what was the reason for the switch?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gustafson View Post
    I've been using quickbooks since V1 for DOS. I now use Quickbooks Enterprise, although the 'sales order' part later became part of smaller packages.
    Enter multiple PO;s as incoming sales orders, and than print an 'open sales order' report and there are your multiple overlapping part orders listed by part number in chronological order. SO if you have 4 PO's for the same part with overlapping delivery dates they are right in front of you.
    You could build inventory parts with parts required for the job but I have never done that.

    Enterprise is built as a multi user software, but there is a single user version if you search for it
    Quite an idea. I will look into this.

    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snipes44 View Post
    What was the other ERP you had tried and what was the reason for the switch?
    Exact Online by Jobboss. It was very much oriented towards accounting more than manufacturing in my opinion. Tracking time on jobs was very clumsy with it. There were other little nuances that just took extra button clicks. We really like the online part of it though. You log in through your browser window and they have a good iOS and Android app also.


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