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    Default Do you use spreadsheets and are you willing to share them?

    Hi everyone. I'm pretty sure this is my first post. If not, it's my first in a long time. I've been a lurker here for quite a while.

    Over the last year I have been slowly planning to start a machining business. Recently, circumstances have pushed me to up my timeline. The Bridgeport should be here by the end of the week. Phase 2 (which used to be Phase 1) involves a Haas TL-1 lathe and I hope to have that producing parts by the 4th of July, if not sooner.

    So, one of my many tasks is to develop a way to keep the business side of things organized. I plan to create my own "ERP" using Excel. Between my intermediate Excel knowledge and my willingness to learn more, I know I can build what I want from scratch. However, I am hoping maybe some of you have already done this and can give me a jump start to save some time. I would appreciate any help and will definitely share what I come up with as it develops.

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    Do you have access to ... well MS Access instead?

    I know a whole lot of people are trying to squeeze water out of Excel for everything, but at the end of the day it is still just a calculator with a big brain.
    MS Office Professional 2019 is still available as a permanent license, and I'm willing to bet that there are Office 2013 or even older versions of office which can be had for a song.

    Lots of IT folks are po-pooing Access ( often with reason ), but for a small(er) outfit it is a perfectly adequate and very capable relational database.
    I've built mine some 20+ years ago when I had time, and kept on adding in smaller things here and there as the need arose.

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    Yep. I have both. But I know Excel well enough to make a go at it. Access has a much higher learning curve.

    I would love to build an Access db at some point, but right now I know I can make a functional Excel workbook much quicker and with less headaches. And what I do in Excel won't be wasted effort as the data I collect can be easliy imported into a future Access db.

    That said, if someone wants to donate their version of an Access machine shop database to me, I'd love to give it a go.

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    Do you have any customers or jobs lined up once your equipment is installed and operational?

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    Yes. I currently have 3 jobs just using my drill press. Two more confirmed and many possible/likely waiting for the Bridgeport and TL-1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post
    Do you have access to ... well MS Access instead?

    I know a whole lot of people are trying to squeeze water out of Excel for everything, but at the end of the day it is still just a calculator with a big brain.
    MS Office Professional 2019 is still available as a permanent license, and I'm willing to bet that there are Office 2013 or even older versions of office which can be had for a song.

    Lots of IT folks are po-pooing Access ( often with reason ), but for a small(er) outfit it is a perfectly adequate and very capable relational database.
    I've built mine some 20+ years ago when I had time, and kept on adding in smaller things here and there as the need arose.
    Wholeheartedly agree (well, maybe not about access specifically, but generally)

    I hate excel. It's the single most overused piece of software in the world after Windows. There are better tools for just about every single use case that people will fire up excel for.

    For managing a business, a relational database (even if it's access ) is absolutely the correct tool for the job.

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    Paging DMFTom!!

    Paging DMFTom!!


    Paging DMFTom!!

    Paging DMFTom!!


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    schmidty13,

    I recently started a side gig business and have found that my financial software (I happen to use "Wave" but Quickbooks, or Quicken would work too) has been extremely useful to organize contacts and keep track of due dates, creating estimates/quotes and invoices, tracking profit/loss, managing bank account, etc. The only thing I use Excel for is quoting calculations and basically keeping notes on how I did something. I use Excel because I can think with it and am not fighting the software, I totally agree that it is not the best solution for pretty much anything but it just works.

    File organization is KING! I structure my files in the simplest way I know of which is c:/documents/customers/contact name(business name)/123456(project number)

    To elaborate, I have a folder called "Customers" which lists all the people/businesses I have done estimates and/or work for. Then, I list the name of the person with business name behind like this: Dave Johnson (Boeing) and in that folder is a text document with contact information. Then, folder with project number that matches the number of estimate I sent out thru my financial software and EVERYTHING for that project stays in that folder with sometimes a painful number of text documents with notes.

    I hope you find something helpful from this, it has been working for me so far.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourDumore View Post
    Do you have access to ... well MS Access instead?

    I know a whole lot of people are trying to squeeze water out of Excel for everything, but at the end of the day it is still just a calculator with a big brain.
    MS Office Professional 2019 is still available as a permanent license, and I'm willing to bet that there are Office 2013 or even older versions of office which can be had for a song.

    Lots of IT folks are po-pooing Access ( often with reason ), but for a small(er) outfit it is a perfectly adequate and very capable relational database.
    I've built mine some 20+ years ago when I had time, and kept on adding in smaller things here and there as the need arose.
    Yes I'm one of those IT guys poo-pooing Access and Excel. Microsoft Office products are personal productivity tools and should not be used for enterprise data management. MS Sql Express is an actual database with most of the bells and whistles of the enterprise MS SQL Server. And unlike Access, it's free. That's right Free. Now SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is also free. So you can get into high quality DB for the learning, and not have the risks to your data associated with Access.

    You can still use Access or Excel as a front end for your data if you prefer. Hope this helps.


    Best Regards,
    Bob

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    OK. Maybe I need to give some perspective to what I'm asking. I'm a one-man shop, and will almost certainly remain that way. This is my (hopefully early) retirement plan. I foresee doing dozens of jobs per year, not hundreds or thousands. While the computer nerd side of me would certainly love to have a database of some kind one day, an Excel workbook will not only work just fine, it will also take much less work and time to create. And time is something I don't have any extra of; I have a full time job, am starting this new side business, and am also going to school part time. So, while I know those of you advocating for a database are doing it with the best of intentions, unless someone does the work for me, it isn't a possibility at this time.

    And I want to take a quick second to rebut the Excel haters. I used to agree 100% with you. However, in my role at my current job I deal with spreadsheets a lot and see what they are capable of (and their weaknesses). I have also sought out instruction in Excel and have seen things it is capable of. To say Excel is almost always the wrong choice is not true anymore. It's absolutely correct to say that people use it for things it wasn't intended to do when it was created. However, modern Excel is a far cry from what it was 40 years ago. There are a ton of features in it now that enable it to function quite well as a small database.

    Now that we've all gotten that out of our systems, back to my original question: Do you use spreadsheets and are you willing to share them?

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    @ EOLSON

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have QuickBooks and am still exploring it's features. I'm on the fence about how many of them I'll use. (Other than the core financial tracking features, I mean)

    Your file saving structure is identical to mine. Great minds!

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidty13 View Post
    Do you use spreadsheets and are you willing to share them?
    I've terminated staff - or HAD them terminated - for using them.

    A DB can be easily audited. You need that in any bizness. An unlocked spreadsheet is potential anarchy. Too expensive to audit. Bean-counters use them much as if they were "Post it" notes. Temporary scratchpads for sub-calc on the quick and dirty.

    That's all they are good for. More than that, they are too much work to maintain well.

    You are not the first person with a need.

    Quickbooks has all you need and more. There is a DB engine under it, and it protects its files very well.

    Lots of folks are not even aware it can schedule time, do quotes, estimate jobs, do payroll and taxes, organize customer contacts, manage materials ordering by category, track inventory and value it, order goods, sell goods, manage supplier contacts, generate invoices automatically and send them out by email or hard-copy on schedule or when manually told to do.

    Has had such features for nearly 30 years, already.

    And it is extensible with external tools.

    We taught our one to print Swiss bank "gyros" with OCR and Luhn codes so well the young Swiss lad doing it by running an ISP to pay for University ended up a Director of the Swiss bank he used as a teenager to clear his invoicing. Five years at McKinsey in between was helpful, but there you have it.

    I HAD built accounting systems from scratch.

    Quickbooks meant we could go and run the biznesses instead of f*****g with all that overhead.

    Your choice. Masturbate Microsoft for their gain. Make money for your gain.

    You will NEVER meeet a customer who hands over a thousand bucks for the goods you just made him and then says "Oh, BTW, here's an extra hundred bucks because you play with ever so clever spreadsheets!"

    That s**t is overhead. MANY wannabee "small bizness" owners START with kitting-out an "office", pee-cee.. all the PAPER pushing overhead they think makes them a "real business".

    That's deadly.

    CUSTOMERS come first. Then DELIVERABLES.

    World is full of clerks-for-hire - "scorekeepers, not players" - sometimes wives or GF's - who can do the other s**t in ten percent of the time a Machinist or cabinetmaker or plumber has to take away from MAKING or FIXING the stuff as gets PAID for.

    More importantly - planning the future and seeking ways to make it happen. Historical numbers do not do that FOR you.

    "ERP" is what you need WHEN you have already grown a serious bizness. It doesn't "create" one.

    Minimize the cost and f**k-with time wasted on overheads, because that hundred bucks that ain't coming from the customer comes right outta your own overworked and - worse-yet - DISTRACTED ....ASS!

    You get to f**in' with the "numbers"? Which bean-counter is doing YOUR job while you are not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidty13 View Post
    @ EOLSON

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have QuickBooks and am still exploring it's features. I'm on the fence about how many of them I'll use. (Other than the core financial tracking features, I mean)

    Your file saving structure is identical to mine. Great minds!

    I think you will find QuickBooks will handle more than you may have initially thought. The way I look at it, if you are a one man band you have to have financial software anyway, so might as well us it to its full potential. It might be worth taking a few online classes on QuickBooks, its nice to see at least how someone else uses it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EOLSON View Post
    I think you will find QuickBooks will handle more than you may have initially thought. The way I look at it, if you are a one man band you have to have financial software anyway, so might as well us it to its full potential. It might be worth taking a few online classes on QuickBooks, its nice to see at least how someone else uses it.
    Dont spend money on online classes when you can watch youtube tutorials for free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanASM View Post
    Dont spend money on online classes when you can watch youtube tutorials for free.
    That could hold true for just about anything these days....

    However, time is money.

    wasting time watching free videos that don't tell YOU what YOU need
    is a waste.

    You get what you pay for.

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    Love em or hate em

    Quickbooks is the answer

    THey still sell a license, tho they don't want to admit it

    perhaps an old version on ebay

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    Quote Originally Posted by EOLSON View Post
    I think you will find QuickBooks will handle more than you may have initially thought. The way I look at it, if you are a one man band you have to have financial software anyway, so might as well us it to its full potential. It might be worth taking a few online classes on QuickBooks, its nice to see at least how someone else uses it.
    "Back in the day.." I had come off ten years where the subordinate, but larger, US Biz unit made McCormack-Dodge General Ledger available to us (the holding company) off their twinned 3080/3090 IBM's. They reported in US Dollars to US AICPA & IRS rules.

    I had to dual-report to AICPA rules in USD PLUS to UK rules in GBP.

    ...plus one of 16 OTHER currencies.

    It was easier to duplicate the M-D mainframe functionality in RBase for OS/2 for the Financial Accounting than it was to try to get modifications that rolled-up cleanly. Then add the other currencies, plus a lot more for the Management Accounting - a VERY different need, what with FOREX part of our future forecasting, pricing, and strategizing in general, worldwide.

    COULD HAVE run the same toolset in RBase when I retired and the HKG, EU, and Swiss entities were grown from fresh eggs.

    The "International" Edition of Quickbooks - coded by Oz & Kiwi's AFAIK - needed near-zero tweaking to "JFDI". Multiple currencies, for example, we simply tweaked the per-client "Discount" percentage - which was unbounded - and edited a report or three so the calculation became the FOREX rate instead, for dual-currency invoicing and rollup.

    Powerful enough, even that early 1990's version of Quickbooks, that it ran 16 years for multiple companies, and still runs yet today, never once upgraded.

    As part of a "Virtual machine" on a stripped to bare bones Windows NT4, Service Pak 3 "image".

    That has migrated from Win on bare metal, to OS/2 InnoDB Virtual PC Alpha, then Beta, thence to Qemu on Slackware, FreeBSD, Apple OS X G4 and Wintel, DragonFly BSD, Vector Linux, and OpenBSD, all as a Qemu / "Q" critter, and still on the Win NT4, SP3 image it was rolled-out on.

    Painless as such things get, 1994 or so to the present day.
    Never the least bit of upgrade costs nor "version Hell", either the OS or application, QEMU being F/LOSS software, and the Win NT license paid-for but the one time.

    It's only double-entry bean-counting, after all.

    Help and guidance are built-in.

    Luca Pacioli himself could be up and running with Quickbooks within the hour and not even need to care about whether the menus were in English, Latin, or medieval vernacular Italian.

    We went on to do all sorts of clever work and/or heavy lifting in PostgreSQL on Unix, DB2 on Big Blue, "Ora-clay" on "Itanic".

    Never had to give a thought to Accounting, though.

    Quickbooks JFW.

    Why mess with - as Bill Godbout put it when I went to re-code drivers for his Disk One S-100 FDD controller to run with 16-bit Motorola CPU instead of 8- bit Z80/8080:

    "Reinventing the wheel, alone, and in the dark!"

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    I have a supplier thats doing well over $10M a year still using quickbooks manufacturing and has no intention of changing. I was visiting his shop a while back and it looked like a quite powerful system for a cheap software. I use Mac Numbers (Macs version of Excel) daily but if I had to start a small shop I would go with Quickbooks for manufacturing for a startup.

    QuickBooks Enterprise for Manufacturing & Wholesale | QuickBooks

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    I have a supplier thats doing well over $10M a year still using quickbooks manufacturing and has no intention of changing. I was visiting his shop a while back and it looked like a quite powerful system for a cheap software. I use Mac Numbers (Macs version of Excel) daily but if I had to start a small shop I would go with Quickbooks for manufacturing for a startup.

    QuickBooks Enterprise for Manufacturing & Wholesale | QuickBooks
    I've always had Visicalc/Peachcalc/Lotus 1-2-3, "Reflex", Quattro Pro, Star Office / OpenOffice / LibreOffice "to hand", but as said: "scratchpad" toolsets, not for heavy lifting or anything durable.

    Only TEN million? QB doesn't care how BIG the numbers are. Only how many it must handle to the minute.

    It CAN need some nicer hardware and a fast network, when teaming multiple posting clerks, Accountants... as we did for some of our clients as a "revenue" installation, configuration, then support service.

    .. and for "Financiers".

    Those of us who ...ermmmm.. shall we say "bend"? - the beans others merely count!


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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    Your choice. Masturbate Microsoft for their gain. Make money for your gain.
    ...or masturbate Intuit for their gain. It's not like QB is free.

    I'm well aware of it's capabilities, and the more of those capabilities you want, the more money they want. And that's fine, capitalism at its best. However -at this moment in time- I choose not to pay for those extra capabilities because I have another option that I feel is the better choice for me and my business.

    You will NEVER meeet a customer who hands over a thousand bucks for the goods you just made him and then says "Oh, BTW, here's an extra hundred bucks because you play with ever so clever spreadsheets!"
    I don't plan on using Excel to impress anyone. I'm doing it because it will work for me.

    "It's always easier to criticize than to create."


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